Downloadable in Dysart: Digital Distribution

by SaskMusic

August 6, 2009 in Ask Percy

Should my band be considering using digital distribution for sales?

- Downloadable in Dysart


Hey DD,

Thanks for the question...this is one that seems to keep coming to the surface. The short answer to your question is that there may be potential success in your band using digital distribution, but that depends entirely on what you do with it. There are normally two forms of digital distribution: online sales of a physical recording and digital download (i.e. MP3).

All right...I'll cover online sales first, as most people are quite familiar with this type of distribution. Selling your CDs over the internet is a great way to get your music into the fins of your fans. Most independent artists are going through established, online retailers because they have all of the software and infrastructure in place. Two of the most familiar companies are CD Baby ( and Indie Pool ( However, there are some great companies out there and a lot of the traditional distributors also have an online e-commerce portal. I recommend that you do some searching around, read all of the information carefully, and choose the companies that work best for you.

Obviously, digital download is quickly gaining ground and market share (iTunes, Napster, etc.). How do you get onto these sites? Well, that's a good question. These big sites want to deal with "aggregators" - companies that have a large catalogue, and that way they are dealing with one supplier as opposed to thousands of individual artists. CD Baby is a good example of this type of distributor, and one of the options available to an independent, unsigned artist without major distribution. Once you become a participating artist in CD Baby, you have the option to make CD Baby your exclusive distributor for online digital distribution and they target the major download sites. They take 9% and you get 91%.

Regardless, just because you have the pearl in the clam, it doesn't mean anyone is going to buy it. The key here is to market, market, market. I know, most artists would rather create music than market, but it is important to succeeding in this business. And, there are some really simple things that you can do. Make it clear on your website where your fans can buy the music and provide a link; remember to promote your CD sales from the stage (where and how they can get it); find out if your fans want to be able to download your music digitally (this trend is obviously growing more rapidly in some genres than others); talk about where fans can buy the CDs at interviews; set up a MySpace site and start connecting with potential fans. I could stay on this section forever...but that gives you a few ideas to start with.

With literally millions of recordings available, you need to take charge and get people to those sites. If you are able to do that, and you have a great marketing plan that embraces the new music industry, then yes, it has potential. Look at it this way: you can't just toss a lure into the water and expect the fish to bite, you have to wriggle it around and make them aware that it's there!

Until then, keep swimming!



Originally published Winter 2005.

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