Photo by Martin Abegglen
Team Loudr frequently fields a lot of heavy questions about the state of digital music distribution. While we enjoy thinking about these questions, we think that the most important questions are the seemingly small ones that artists answer on a daily basis by making decisions about how, when and where to sell their music.
As fellow builders of music tech, we are big fans of iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and all the rest, and have immense respect for what these companies have created. Above all, we are big fans of artist choice. When you port your music to a new distribution channel, you should be aware of how you will be paid for sales or streams of your music, and then make decisions based on that information. After all, if a platform is taking a significant cut, you may consider whether the marketing value outweighs the hit you’ll take on royalties. (Sometimes, it does.)
Some artists choose to put their music into as many commerce streams as possible, from Spotify to iTunes. Other artists choose to distribute their content on piecemeal basis: perhaps the single will turn up on Hype Machine, the live album on Spotify, and the rest of the catalog on the artist’s site, where it can be purchased directly.
In Music Marketing, One Size Does Not Fit All
We believe in providing tools and in encouraging artists sell their music in the way that makes the most sense for the music. Thus, distributing music on Loudr is non-exclusive, and Loudr earns 15% on every download with no upfront or out of pocket payouts.
It has been fascinating for us to see the results of the distribution calculation, in the form of how artists tell their fans about where they can buy the music.
Tell Your Fans Where To Buy It
We didn’t tell these artists to push their fans to Loudr over other platforms, but they did anyway. We like to think it’s because of our handsomely designed site, but it’s entirely possible that they just decided that they would keep more royalties from downloads sold on Loudr. It may be a difference of a few percentage points, but at scale, that difference can be significant.
Regardless of how you choose to make your music available, we encourage you to ask the hard questions about how you will be paid. You should think about how the distribution platforms relate to each other and to you. If your goal is to have as many people buy music directly from you as possible, we recommend encouraging your fans to buy direct from you. You might even be able to offer a better price when they do, since even after the split, you’ll still end up ahead.