Q4 special: How distribution can make or break a modern album release

Q4 special: How distribution can make or break a modern album release

Distribution is set to play an even more central role in every record's success as audiences and outlets diversify, according to a series of industry executives.

With consumer preferences ranging between a host of different DSPs and digital options to an ever-increasing demand from a variety of physical formats – sold in shops and D2C online – those at the forefront of the distribution sector have told Music Week that getting this element of a release right is crucial to ensure a project's success, particularly during the busy Q4 period.

“In modern music, a good distributor should be leveraging data and tech to help their clients get products to fans faster and cheaper,” suggested Marley Dennis, MD of vinyl manufacturer Hoxton Vinyl and Essential Merch. “Quality distribution can increase an artist campaign’s visibility significantly. It can bring in new customers, and be the difference between a successful release and one that doesn’t live up to its potential."

Proper Music Group MD Drew Hill  (pictured) agreed, suggesting a distribution fail can have far wider implications other than impatient fans.

“Quality distribution can make or break an album,” he declared. “As distribution plays out in the background, it is an often overlooked yet vital component of the music ecosystem. It also supports record stores and keeps music on the High Street, leading to impulse purchases and an in-person discovery experience.”

With recent chart battles coming down to large physical sales, Republic Of Music MD Mark McQuillan explained that the correct distribution can yeild real returns in terms of improved chart places.

“Distribution services are still incredibly important as many bands still rely on physical sales for the bulk of their revenue around an album to help fund the promo teams and tours they need to do around each release,” he noted. “Without a good distributor, artists aren’t getting the attention and pitching that they need. Anyone can get a track on Apple and Spotify, but building numbers requires real strategy only a good distributor can offer.”

Andrew Sparkler, EVP, global business development at Downtown Music Holdings, confirmed too that while uploading music digitally might be easier than ever, actually ensuring a track was widely distributed in the digital sphere was not so simple.

“Distribution services are critical in the modern music business as they offer creators the opportunity to quickly and easily release their music across all of the digital music platforms,” he argued. “There are hundreds of digital services around the world and an artist needs a trusted distributor to ensure the proper administration and royalty collection of their music.”


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