Good Deal? $99 = Lifetime iTunes + Amazon Distribution

Most artists are broke, or at least struggling to generate meaningful income from their music.

In that reality, what’s the right price for distributing their music?  Last year, Tunecore faced a huge backlash after raising their annual rates to $50 for one album… but then again, is $50 a year really that much?  Actually, it depends on the artist: the stats say that many artists struggle to recover that investment, and that doesn’t include hobbyists, preservationists, and other passionate artists who aren’t looking to make a profit from recordings.

Of course there are other models.  Just glancing at the biggest players, CD Baby takes a cut on sales, while ReverbNation charges $35 but also comps additional releases within bundled packages.  But is there another sweet spot out there?

There’s an interesting pricing model now coming out of South Korea: Music Spray is now offering unlimited iTunes, Amazon and other distribution endpoints for $99 – for life.  That is, unlimited releases for as long as you, your band, or your musical voice is alive.  Here’s their jab at the bigger, more established US-based distributors…

“As a direct distributor for iTunes, once you become a member for just $99. ‘Music Spray’ will never ask for any annual fee or impose any hidden fees, unlike overseas companies providing the same service who charge a yearly membership fee.”

Several problems crop up immediately.  This is currently geared towards South Koreans with Korean language support only.  That said, there seems to be considerable traction, and a near-term global expansion plan includes support for English and Chinese.  Which means at some point, this could make sense for any artist anticipating digital revenues of more than $100.

But wait: is this just a crappy model, offered by a company unlikely to make it past a few years?  Actually, this could make sense for Music Spray and its parent, Pison Contents, simply because almost every band breaks up eventually.  That means the $99 sunk cost will probably be vastly underutilized by most artists.  But the question is whether Music Spray will be there for your lifetime.

 

21 Responses

  1. Janette

    This is a good deal and coincidentally we at Symphonic Distribution have a very similar offering! Not spamming 😉 Our option 5 has a 1 time fee of $500 and you get distribution on the same retailers , including iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Beatport while retaining all NET earnings and while working with a US based company. Plus to fee for releases sent. Anyways…good read and still pretty cool to see a foreign company pushing something that seems to benefit artists.

      • Janette

        Oh well…gotta promote that these services ARE offered here in the US, bigger cost but every company has its business models. Ours is tailored for the type size of record label we are looking for.

  2. Broken Record

    Why is it whenever the discussion turns to digital distribution you always see companies at the bottom end of the scale touting themselves??

    Have some dignity guys.

    • Big Swifty

      Because, when the service your company provides is essentially identical to other companies’ services you have to market any way you can.

  3. David@indigo

    Tunecore charges 50$ per year per release. Not 50$ per year if memory serves.its one of the most expensive services.

    Anyway, the concept of doing all the admin and support for a growing number of artists without a fixed annual fee or a percentage of earnings sounds like a dead fish. Contrary to what artists like to imagine, digital distribution is not a work free process.

    Forgetting everything else, book keeping alone for thousands of tiny statements is a major Annual cost for distributors. The concept of 99$ for life is to good to be true. It is non sustainable.

  4. lifer

    They’ll be bankrupt soon and your lifetime deal will be sold for pennies on the dollars to a vulture who will bundle your catalogue with thousands of others and sell to an AYCE streaming company that pays no royalties.

  5. tommy corman

    It’s not really that great of a deal. Most musicians find it daunting when a company wants that much money up front. Plus, I’ve never heard of this company and they have no track record.

    Another aspect to consider is that most of these companies FAIL and end up quitting because they can’t sustain their business model. Then all those artists that signed up for “lifetime” service feel cheated and are left out in the cold.

    The company to look out for is ADEDistribution cause they only charge $5 a month so it’s easy to start things off and try it out if you’re an artist whose never done this before.

    P.S. ADEDistribution is at http://www.aded.us

    • Amil Shaw

      ADE Distribution is a scam! Their owner is Makell Bird is known for ripping off artists. His site even looks shady. Who would sign up for a service that’s using blogger?

      If you want service go with RouteNote or TuneCore as they are way better than ADE Distribution.

  6. Big Daddy

    As an artist, we’ve used TuneCore, SongCast, CDBaby, RouteNote, and RecordUnion. THEY ALL SUCK and are expensive over time. I might do what that other guy said and check out that ADEDistribution site. Can’t beat $5 a month cause lunch costs more than that.

    • David@indigo

      What is your main beef with the companies you mention?

    • Broken Record

      To prove my point again, here is another bottom of the ladder distribution company surrendering their dignity.

      ADE – get some achievements and then shout about them. Please stop spamming every board going, you are not helping yourself.

  7. OBV

    If you aren’t making $50 in sales each year on your album, you have much bigger problem at hand…

    • Watch Out...

      you might just get accused of “spamming” with your username by “broken record” here! EEK!!!

  8. Audiofool

    Cost is one thing – and i agree there needs to be some upfront cost largely because there needs to be some disincentive for people releasing music recorded via their webcam mic.

    But then again you have to look at what the services provide in terms of services.

    Tunecore, for example, provide trend reports from iTunes.

    Record Union, for example, provide daily stats from Spotify.

    CD baby also have some interesting things going on.

    I am not sure what Music Spray or others provide it terms of performance data etc. but its important to consider these points too.

  9. Freak2Freak

    I have actually dealt with many and currently do use symphonic, their deal is not as good as that other sevice claims but onething is for sure if there are any issues or communication they answer quick and also they seem to have great connection with the stores as at times weve gotten charted and featured.

  10. Larry

    I’m an artist just starting out. I got a referral to a company called catapult and they only charge $20 per album with no annual fees.. for distribution into just about every major music service out there. Apple has referrals for all their top “aggregators” out there. I looked at the different ones and for my purposes (I only have 2 albums out) .. it was the best deal.

    I’ve seen some of the ones that charge yearly fees and have to ask myself.. what exactly are they charging for? The only reason I can’t deal with iTunes direct.. is because I have less than 10 albums to distribute.

    • David@indigo

      Here is what they are charging for

      Keeping your master on disc

      Invoicing all the various services

      Making sure they pay the invoice

      Accounting for all ingoing and outgoings

      system upkeep

      answering your emails about formats featured artists etc etc

      paying someone to do all of this.

      There is no such thing as a free lunch.