For those of you who visit our family of websites on a regular basis, I'm sure you have seen our ads for digital distribution. For those that haven't, I'll give a quick run down on both the distribution and on the background's of the companies offering.
I moved to the Delaware Valley in 2004 in an attempt to further my career in radio/TV. I'm originally from Akron, Ohio, a Wilmington, DE sized city about 30-40 mins south of Cleveland. My introduction to music was around the age of 14. I was 1/3 of a Hip Hop group named Renegade Squad, a solo artist, an engineer and I produced beats for a handful of artists in and around northeast Ohio (mostly Hip Hop). I fell into radio while in college. I was always passionate about media, however there was a large part of me that hoped it all would lead me closer to music. In a way it did.
So, back to the present. In addition to the above, I also work as Vice President of A&R for an upstart record label based out of Charlotte, NC called BIMMG (Black Ink Management and Music Group LLC). I also program websites for a small graphic arts company based out of Chicago called Three12Design (www.three12design.com), but that's another story. Let's just say I have a hard time sitting still. Anyways, back to BIMMG. BIMMG carries worldwide physical AND digital distribution through a partnership with Bungalo Records and Universal Music Group Distribution. BIMMG is owned by VA native, Ron Hatchett. In the early 90's, Ron also was a Hip Hop artist, except he toured with the likes of Tupac and DPG (Dogg Pound). A year or so ago, Ron's passion for music brought him to create BIMMG, an all service music group who also maintains a strong focus on product development in a digital world. How did Ron and I link up as business partners? That happened through a shared relationship with Hip Hop artist EasiMoney aka I.E., again, that's another story.
Two small, Indie start ups (BIMMG/Monster Ent) navigating the dark waters of the current entertainment industry. Both offering worldwide digital distribution to artists. What does this all mean exactly???? Why would an artist come to a management company for digital distribution? So, as I stated earlier, we have been fielding a lot of questions regarding the service and figured it would be a good idea to do a blog post providing as much information as possible.
To start off, I would like to share we are all very thankful and lucky to be able to offer these services to artists. Both Redeye and Bungalo are great organizations, and each relationship has been strong to date. So, what is a digital aggregator?
Digital Aggregators: These people supply all the content to digital music retailers. They are the middle men between artists and online retail stores such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rhapsody and so on. If you want to be distributed digitally, you will need to go through a digital aggregator.
Who are they? Well, unless you have been living under a rock. Actually, even people under rocks would know this. Unless you have been living on another planet, you've heard of TuneCore, Reverbnation and CD Baby. I think it's safe to say these three are the top indie aggregators at the moment. So, these companies take your music and deliver it to the stores. Each one has a different way of making it happen in terms of costs, contract, process, fees, etc. These three companies could be considered the founding father's of the indie digital sales movement. They're great because they make it possible for all artists to be sold by major digital retail outlets. If these companies had of never existed, independent artists may still be fighting to be sold on a large scale.
For more information, check out this nifty comparison chart - www.mosesavalon.com/digital-distributors-choose-the-right-one-for-you
Direct to Fan: There's also direct to fan digital outlets like Bandcamp that are excellent, but these companies don't deliver product directly to iTunes for example. So, they don't necessarily fall under the digital aggregator label. Well, at least not yet they don't.
Other Avenues: So, where do companies like Monster Entertainment and BIMMG fall into the discussion? Good question. In addition to Indie digital aggregators, who are mostly concerned with the individual artist, there are also major and independent distribution companies who deal mostly with record labels and entertainment companies. ME and BIMMG, because of direct partnerships with major and independent distribution companies, are able to offer the amenities of major digital aggregators.
Bungalo Records gives BIMMG the power of UMGD's (Universal Music Group Distribution) digital distribution network, which is currently the largest in the world. So, picture Redeye USA, but on a major level with global reach.
So, regarding how it all works, that's really it in a nutshell.
Us vs. Them: So, why should an artist choose us over them? You had to of known that there would be a value proposition placed in here somewhere right? Well, let's look at it this way. It's not so much of an us vs. them type of deal as it is an opportunity for an independent artist to put a few more people on his or her team in terms of marketing and publicity at virtually the same risk/costs of a major digital aggregator. Our services aren't offered to everyone and our deals aren't open to the public. Trust me when I say we aren't rivaling any of the big three indie aggregators in any way. It's truly our goal to break an artist, therefore it's in our best interest to promote, and to push for prime placement of our products. We invest time and money into promoting our releases. And, not to in any way knock the process of a major digital aggregator, especially one of the big three because they have truly provided a great service for indie musicians, but we are a bit more focused on quality not quantity.
Bottom Line: At the end of the day it all depends on how the artist views his or her business. What does the artist value? Some artists have a hard time giving away any percentage of their record sales regardless of the offer. Others don't mind as long as it makes cents.
FAQ: So, I'll use the rest of this post to briefly answer some questions that I've received when speaking to artists about digital distribution.
Why do we need to go through you? Can't we just go directly to Redeye or Bungalo? Look, we are not in business to hold any artist back from building any sort of relationship they desire. Feel free to communicate to whomever you want whenever you want. However, if I may provide more insight. Remember earlier in this post when I compared distribution companies to independent aggregators? Companies like Redeye and Bungalo typically prefer to deal with labels or companies that are either established, with a budget or involved in developing a decent roster of acts. It's like a one stop shop for them. It's not in their interest to handle distribution submissions from a million different developing artists. Deep down, I'm sure a company like Redeye would like to. Unfortunately, it's just not a feasible business model for them. This is why companies like Tune Core, Reverbnation and CD Baby exist. Companies like BIMMG and ME are here to aid in product development. It's our goal to get you to that next level.
What type of budget are you offering my artist if we were to sign with you? This is not a record deal. This is a distribution deal based on a licensing agreement. So, basically the artist gives us permission via a license to distribute their original material and we distribute it through our network. We will not in any way own the material submitted to us. Therefore, we don't deal in points, we deal in percentages. These percentages are based on what the artist is seeking. If you are simply seeking distribution and nothing else, you will most likely see a bottom line rate assessed that's similar to CDBaby's. We don't charge any set up fees or ask for yearly payments. However, even in this instance we still promote our releases and seek optimal retail placements. Sounds like a win, win to me. Now, if you are seeking a specific amount of promotion along with your distribution. Then, we begin to access costs for specific services and outline a negotiated percentage structure that makes cents for both sides. Artists managed by either company receive special rates.
What type of promotion do you offer? Both ME and BIMMG have the ability to offer a multitude of promotional services, however it all depends on budget and project need. We have an in house staff of ten that works tirelessly, day in and day out, promoting our artists and projects. We have built solid connections within the industry that allow us to service everything from record pools to record labels. As a result of the deals with our parent companies we are offered access to networks that would normally cost additional out of network. Whether publicity, licensing, radio or web building if we can do it and it makes sense we will, if not, we do hire out and we do invest.
Do you offer distribution for labels? We do offer distribution for labels, either on a per project basis or for a term.
What if my songs are on iTunes and I want to do a re-release through you? Unfortunately, we can't release material to iTunes if it is already in iTunes. We only deal with original, cleared, unreleased material. The songs would need to be removed from the system before being submitted to us.
How long are your terms? We typically work on a per project basis for 1-2 years.
What if we get started and then we hate it? Look, the last thing that I would ever want to do is force someone to work with me. It kills my mood and I like my mood alive. If you get started and you feel like we aren't doing a good job, then you can leave. No questions asked. We will stop all promo, unlicense your material and have it removed from our systems. Life goes on and everyone is happy again.
How do I apply for distribution? Send us a demo! Please don't send us actual mp3s. Links to your music and/or Facebook page is fine. Emails are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Who put the bop in the bopshubopshubop? We don't know the answer to this question unfortunately. However, if I were to guess I would say Liam Neeson.
THANKS for taking the time to read through this. This post will probably be updated on occasion with more information and/or answers to additional questions as we move along. My hope for now is that I've at least been able to shed some light on our company backgrounds and service offerings. If there's anything here that's unclear or that needs further explanation please, don't hesitate to reach out!