A music distribution deal is different from a record deal, where the distribution company does just one thing for you, distribute your record into shops. If you know how to get a record deal and want to go that path, proceed, as they will take care of distribution for you. But for the artist who wants to retain their “indie” roots, an excellent way to expand your audience is with a distribution deal.
A distributor is not going to hand out a contract to just anyone, so what is the best way to get a deal?
The most necessary element is proving your salability as an artist, meaning you need to be exceptionally skilled at self-promotion and already have a track record of sales before you can expect to get picked up. You will want to play anyplace you can get a gig, and try to get recurring gigs, whether at a coffee bar, record shops, or bars. Offer copies of your CD at these gigs, and attempt to get your CD into local record stores based on the buzz from your local gigs.
Whenever possible, make contacts in the local music scene and with the press who writes about bands and artists in your market and genre. The music business is all about who you know. Essential resources for self-promoting artists today is the web and social networking. Market yourself through Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Google+ and even MySpace to make certain your album can be discovered as widely as possible.
Keep the buzz high and make downloads available on your website, or via Amazon, SoundCloud, iTunes, or any other forum where music fans congregate. And keep track of your sales numbers, distributors are looking for strong music that is already selling, not duds that no one wants. You need to prove that there is demand (market) for your music.
When you feel that you have shown yourself as having a market, be prepared to make the next step and send out copies to distribution companies who sell the stores and market(s) that you want to be in. If you made contacts previously, now is the time to call them back up and ask if they can assist you in getting a distribution deal.
Mail a physical CD or email an electronic link to your record to distribution businesses by finding the contacts information either through people you are networking with such as attorney’s or various industry guides that list the general contact information for anyone you would like to talk with.
Once a distribution business is interested, you will need to thoroughly analyze the terms of the contract. Consider the advantages distributors offer including how easily it will be to distribute? Frankly, if you have a good record and a sound that is popular you may do better handling distribution on your own. For this reason, you must understand precisely what you are being provided by the distribution company to make sure it can get you to where you want to go, either faster or cheaper, than doing it yourself.
Musicians are artists, which means for many they would much rather outsource the business aspect of selling their record so that they can focus on music rather than business. For this reason, a distribution deal is normally a preferred path for most bands and solo artists who are up and coming. There is a reason after all that even when a band or artist breaks thru to mega success, and though they could afford to hire a team to handle distribution, most do not. A record or distribution company simply has the depth of talent and experience to handle your business in a way that a solo artist simply cannot.