Can you switch distributors or use multiple ones?

Distribution is vital in the process of sharing music to the world. Any artist who wants to make a name for themselves needs a music distributor to advance their career. 

But what happens if you want to switch music distributors? Is it even possible?

Is it possible to switch music distributors, or even use multiple ones?

Why would an artist want to change?

Artists may opt to switch their music distributor for a variety of reasons, and the decision often stems from their desire to enhance their music career and maximize their opportunities. 

They may contemplate a change when they find themselves dissatisfied with their current distributor. This dissatisfaction could be due to issues like poor customer support, delayed payments, or unfavorable revenue-sharing agreements.

A significant motivating factor could be the quest for better distribution opportunities. Artists may seek a new distributor that can provide access to a more extensive network of streaming and download platforms, or that distribute immersive audio

More options in terms of metadata can be an important reason to switch distributors. Comprehensive metadata makes it easier to collect and distribute royalties generated from music, and it also benefits listeners by helping them identify the content and its creators, ultimately improving their music service experience. That’s something we, at MusicTeam®, are dedicated to provide.

For those with ambitions of global expansion, the choice to switch distributors can lead to tapping into a distributor’s strong international distribution network, facilitating music presence in different regions. 

Flexibility in contract terms and exclusivity can be highly appealing. Artists may seek distributors that grant more leeway in these aspects, allowing them to maintain more control over their music.

The availability of clear and insightful reporting and analytics tools can also be a decisive factor. Artists often value distributors that provide comprehensive data on sales, streaming performance, and listener demographics to make informed decisions.

How to switch music distributors

There are several steps to take when switching music distributors, especially regarding your data, to make sure there won’t be any errors when migrating them to the new platform.

Keep in mind that everything must be identical. Always. Otherwise, you might face the risk of duplicating your content.

Get your ISRC and your UPC 

ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique identifier assigned to each audio track or music recording. It helps in tracking and managing your music across different platforms and territories. Before you switch distributors, it’s crucial to gather a record of all your ISRCs from your current distributor. 

The same goes for the UPC (Universal Product Code) or EAN code. This code is assigned to the whole release, whether it’s an EP, a single or a full album (the product).

These codes are tied to your sound recordings and are essential for tracking your music’s performance, and royalties, and ensuring a smooth transition to the new distributor.

How to find the ISRC of a recording

You can typically find your ISRC in your current distributor’s dashboard or reporting tools. They are usually listed alongside each of your music releases. 

Get all the metadata

Not all distributors offer an easy way to export your music metadata and you will be required to provide it again to the new distributor. Write exactly the same information, the recording title and the artist names of each recording, use the same audio files and the same artwork. Make sure that you use the same original release date for your release as well.

Tip: MusicTeam® has an upload tool, which allows you to upload your audio files and apply some metadata to all recordings to help you provide your music metadata efficiently.

Wait for the new release to be live before taking down the previous one

This one is also very important. Even if this implies having a kind of double release, you must wait until the new release is effective before withdrawing the previous one from your old music distributor.

Careful planning and attention to detail during the transition process can help ensure a seamless change of distributors while preserving the integrity of your music catalogue. Remember other considerations such as contractual obligations with your current distributor, notice periods, and any fees or costs associated with the switch. 

Can you use multiple music distributors?

Yes. But you’ll have to do it for different releases. Using multiple music distributors simultaneously can be a complex endeavor that can lead to various challenges in your music distribution efforts. 

It’s important to be aware that most music distributors typically require exclusive rights for the content you distribute through their platform, which means you cannot use another distributor to distribute the same music during this exclusivity period. Violating these exclusivity agreements could result in issues like the removal of your music from platforms or potential legal disputes.

Things to keep in mind when considering more than one music distributor

One significant challenge when using multiple distributors is the potential for conflicting metadata for your music. This can lead to confusion among listeners and streaming platforms due to inconsistencies in track titles, artist names, album art, and other important information related to your music.

Another consideration is managing royalties and payments. Different distributors may have varying payment schedules, reporting methods, and minimum payout thresholds. Juggling multiple distributors can make it challenging to keep track of your earnings and ensure you receive proper compensation.

While technically possible to use multiple distributors, it’s not a common or recommended practice for most independent musicians and labels. Instead, you might want to explore alternatives such as switching to a new distributor if you’re dissatisfied with your current one, distributing specific releases through different distributors with careful planning, or seeking distribution agreements with aggregators that can provide more flexibility for your distribution needs. Before making any decisions, review the terms and conditions of your distribution agreements, consider seeking legal advice if necessary, and meticulously plan your distribution strategy to avoid complications and conflicts.

Choose MusicTeam® to distribute your release

Are you considering switching music distributors? If so, think about adding MusicTeam®, our music platform for independent artists, to your list. As a DDEX member, we uphold the highest standards when it comes to your metadata and rights. To make sure you will receive all the royalties you deserve, release your music with us.  

Published On: October 4th, 2023Categories: Music Distribution

About the Author: Chloé Dagenais

Co-founder & Head of Product of MusicTeam®. She graduated from Berklee College of Music in music business and from Birkbeck University of London in information systems. She wrote her thesis on the rights management for songwriters and performers in a digital world and it is through to her vision that MusicTeam® was developed.