Proper Distribution

By Vangel Vlaski, Senior Label Manager, Proper Distribution


Proper For Web Use

An insight in to Music Distribution with Vangel Vlaski, Senior Label Manager, Proper Distribution.

Music Distribution in Summary

Music Distribution can be described as the engine powering the recorded music industry. It facilitates the journey of your music in whatever format, from you, or your label to the marketplace where people can purchase and enjoy it. Equally, and quite importantly, it facilitates the journey of the revenue collected from all sales, streams and downloads back to you. That is the simplest way to describe this arguably complex service, which in many ways complements and connects the work of all other ‘players’ in recorded music.

Outside some of the major record companies  which  have their own global channels, there is a vast and interconnected international network of independent distributors which operate in various forms of partnerships to enable the release of recordings and albums on a global scale. Imagine the effort needed to have an album from  a small label or individual artist made simultaneously available in a large number of territories, retail shops, across a multitude of platforms and formats. That is a mammoth task that distributors specialise in and enable.

Career Pathways

There are perhaps surprisingly many paths an individual can take within distribution. From working in the distribution centres, which means being close to the product, to managing the logistics of transit and packaging. Working with labels in label management, working with retail shops in sales or establishing relationships with Digital Service Providers (DSPs – Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Deezer et al). Working with in-house PR or marketing teams, to providing legal aid in business affairs, royalty reporting and accounting teams. There are also opportunities with the design of assets, product and manufacture management. Plenty of possibilities, and a couple of key pre-requisites: work hard and love music.

Planning Your Own Individual Approach As An Artist

There isn’t an overarching ‘right’ approach, as artists develop in different circumstances and different areas (e.g. live, recording, publishing etc.), and distributors vary in the type of services they provide. Having said that, one of the key conditions is having a strong and growing core following already in place. Added to that, it’s quite important to have a general understanding of the structure of the industry and ‘who-does-what’ set of responsibilities. Approaching a distributor should  happen  well  before the intended release date and with a clear vision for the impending campaign.

Distributing material is so much more than just making it available and it is the collective work of many people in making it successful.

Finally, if the early-career artist  is  looking  for  a  vehicle to make their music available digitally, without much release-focused support, while they get all these different stakeholders on board (publishers, labels, distributors, agents, lawyers etc.), they need to ensure that they are not tied to a distribution contract they cannot exit or upgrade easily.

A very general, but wise piece of advice I came across a long time ago goes along the lines of: ‘Be the person (artist/band/industry professional) in the room that everyone wants to see succeed!’ which can relate to many aspects, such as talent and creativity, but also good manners and communication skills. Be nice and excellent!

Proper Music – Reasons For Success

Success comes down to our team and our ethos.  We treat every release and label with the same care, diligence and enthusiasm and many of our culturally diverse team members have a background in running labels, being artists, but also running or working in record shops. So, we collectively have a deep understanding of the different aspects of this  industry  equation.  Furthermore,  many  of our clients specialise in particular genres or formats,   so having a diverse, highly knowledgeable team means we can respond to the growing demand for bespoke customer relations and market insights. Equally, we view our retail partners as individuals and develop a clear, deep understanding of their market, needs, and specialisations.

Distribution in a Dominantly Digital Music Industry

The reason distribution exists is because there is a real and practical need for it. The new business models that have come about with the advent of digital technologies sometimes disguise the reality that for the vast majority of artists ‘traditional’ models are still important. Instead, they inflate the value of the outliers and success stories built via circumventing these ‘traditional’ approaches. Too often the industry has been portrayed (and sometimes  on good grounds) as a bloodsucking demon that contributes nothing and lives off exploiting the craft of the talent, but that is a vastly inaccurate, heavily distorted and negatively simplified overview of the industry. Popularity does not happen in isolation. It is heavily influenced and propelled by the hard work and passionate championing of many gatekeepers including TV/radio, other media presenters, local shops, venues, promoters, and also sales reps and label managers at distributors. It’s no use talking to the same 100 fans without having the whole industry mechanism to amplify this message and grow that following.

Important Revenue Streams for Modern Day Musicians

The future consumption of music looks very multi- channel, but having said that, in many ways it already   is. The industry is based on what and how fans want to experience or interact with creative content – which in an ever-changing environment is constantly being re- evaluated and modified. Digital income will be increasingly important although the ownership model is slowly being replaced with the access to content model. Branding and commercial associations are already big revenue streams for some artists, as well as neighbouring broadcast and performing rights. Alongside this, touring and live alongside physical albums, customised rich editions for super fans and merchandise apparel will continue to be important, as well as new licensing and synchronisation possibilities which will arise from VR, AR and any new future technologies. Having the knowledge of how to interact with all of these to suit the particular ‘scene’ will be the currency of the future, much like it is today.

VR and New Technology

Any development in technologies will always be embraced by us at Proper, and in general in the industry. There are numerous companies making strides in this area and for any technology to be desirable and popular, one needs the content to go along with that, which is where suitable distribution comes in place. Imagine the possibilities! Providing unprecedented access to gigs, writing and studio recording processes and curated produced content to any fan that has a VR headset is just the tip of the iceberg. Gamification, alternative ways to experience albums, gigs and access to artists are going to develop and that bodes well for the future.

Vangel Vlaski

Senior Label Manager, Proper Distribution

By Vangel Vlaski, Senior Label Manager, Proper Distribution

Proper For Web Use

An insight in to Music Distribution with Vangel Vlaski, Senior Label Manager, Proper Distribution.

Even though we can't meet you in person, we can still show you around the conservatoire and answer all your questio…
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