What is Digital Distribution?
Digital distribution is a service by which music and/or video content is being distributed via the Internet in digital format to various online music services (download stores and streaming services) which then exploit downloads and/or streams of this music for any sort of portable music devices and PC’s used by consumers. Where a traditional physical distributor would ship out your physical albums to stores, EPM Music distributes digital copies of your music to various music services such as iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, AmazonMP3, eMusic, Zune, LastFM, Spotify, etc.
Please note certain major online music services such as iTunes, Play.com and Spotify require artists and labels to use a digital distributor such as EPM Music to make their music and video available in their stores.
Why can’t I use more than one digital distributor?
Just like in the physical world, there can't be more than one distributor bringing the same album and/or video to the same music service. Most of the professional digital distribution companies, like EPM Music, work with the same music services. Having more than one digital distributor can create problems when two different distributors are delivering the same album to a certain music service. The music service will and can only pay out one distributor, not both of them. Most music services will not accept content from labels with more than one digital distributor and music services generally make sure that there are no cross deliveries.
How do I deliver my Content?
Releases are delivered over the Internet with our LMS (Label Management System). All labels/accounts have their own secure log in area to manage their label from: upload new releases, overview previous releases, statements, sales statistics, promotional tips, etc. Audio is always to be delivered as an uncompressed audio format: wav or aif files at 44 khz, 16 bit, stereo. EPM Music than converts the audio into the different formats each music service requires. Metadata info must be filled out for each release and artwork uploaded, which is all done via the LMS.
What is Metadata?
Metadata is a critical part of all deliveries as it is the easiest and most effective way to identify your products. Metadata is submitted in various formats (XML or Excel document) and typically has over 30 fields, including but not limited to:
Explicit – Y/N
UPC / BARCODE
With EPM Music it is just a matter of filling out the online boxes with your release and track information, then submitting your audio and artwork. We will convert this to XML, Excel or whatever format each music service requires.
What is 'Genre'?
A music genre is a category that refers to pieces of music that share a certain style or "basic musical language”. It is often the case that a song can fit into more than one genre. You may choose several genres to place a song in. eg: folk / dance / electronic / techno / house / electro etc.
What formats are there?
WAV - WAVE or WAV, short for “Waveform Audio File Format”.
WAV is the recognized industry standard sound/audio file format, developed for Microsoft Windows (but also compatible with Mac), which stores audio as a waveform file on a computer. It is an uncompressed format. WAV files can easily be converted into other compressed file types. Professional users or audio experts may use the WAV format for maximum audio quality.
AIFF – short for “Audio Interchange File Format”.
AIFF is an sound/audio file format developed only by Apple Macintosh computers, which stores audio as a waveform file on a computer. It is an uncompressed format. AIFF files can easily be converted into other compressed file types. Professional users or audio experts may use the AIFF format for maximum audio quality. There is also a compressed variant of AIFF known as AIFF-C or AIFC, with various defined compression codecs.
MP3 - MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3.
MP3 is a compressed digital audio file that allows for fast and easy transfer over the Internet by making the digital audio file relatively small while still sounding like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio (usually WAV or AIF) for most listeners. An MP3 file that is created using the default setting of 128 kbit will result in a file that is about 1/11th size of the original audio. An MP3 file can also be constructed at higher or lower bit rates, with higher or lower resulting quality.
AAC – short for “Advanced Audio Coding”. ACC is a standardized, lossy compression and encoding scheme for digital audio. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates.
FLAC – short for “Free Lossless Audio Codec”.
During compression, FLAC does not lose quality from the audio stream like MP3 or AAC. FLAC works in a similar way as a zip file does, but specifically for audio. Audio sources encoded to FLAC are typically reduced to 50–60% of their original size. FLAC playback support in portable audio devices and dedicated audio systems is limited at this time compared to formats like MP3
WMA – short for “Windows Media Audio”. WMA is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft similar to MP3. WMA Pro, a newer and more advanced codec, supports multichannel and high resolution audio. A lossless codec, WMA Lossless, compresses audio data without loss of audio fidelity.
SDII – short for “Sound Designer II”, sometimes seen abbreviated as SD2 is a monophonic/stereophonic audio file format, originally developed by Digidesign for their Macintosh-based recording/editing products.
The SDII file has become a widely accepted standard for transferring audio files between editing applications. Most Mac CD-ROM writer software, for example, specifies SDII or AIFF as the file format needed when making audio CDs. The SDII file has also become accepted among personal computer audio application developers. This makes transferring audio from Mac to PC platforms much easier. When used on a PC, the file must use the extension of ".sd2".
Apple Lossless / m4a – is an sound/audio file format developed by Apple Macintosh that is generally used for music bought on iTunes. All current iPod players can play Apple Lossless-encoded files. Apple claims that audio files compressed with its lossless codec will use up "about half the storage space" that the uncompressed data would require. Testers using a selection of music have found that compressed files are about 40% to 60% the size of the originals depending on the kind of music, similar to other lossless formats. Furthermore, the speed at which it can be decoded makes it useful for a limited-power device such as the iPod.
Where and how can I get an UPC / BARCODE?
EPM labels can also purchase a barcode from EPM via the LMS, when filling in the release info. The barcode is assigned immediately and the costs of the barcode will be deducted from your following statement.
What Is An ISRC?
ISRC stands for “International Standard Recording Code”. An ISRC is a unique international identifier for tracks on sound and music-video recordings. It is an extremely powerful tool for royalty collection, administration, and anti-piracy safeguards in the digital arena.
THE ISRC FORMAT CONSISTS OF 4 CODES:
Country Code: The registrant's (sound recording copyright owner) country (2 characters).
Registrant Code: The code of the registrant that allocated the ISRC (3 characters).
Year Of Reference Code: The year in which the ISRC is allocated to the recording (2 characters).
Designation Code: The code assigned to the track by the registrant. This code may not be repeated within the same calendar year (5 characters).
It is comprised of a 12 character alpha-numeric code.
For example: GB-Z03-99-32476
You will be provided with the Country Code & Registrant code (in the example above GB-Z03) by your national ISRC company. The rest of the ISRC code is to be created by the label itself for each track. For example the first track on a label first release in 2010 would be: GB-Z03-10-00001, 10 being the year and the last 5 digits being the track number that year. The last run of digits must always be 5, so the 10 track in 2010 would be GB-Z03-10-00010
Why do I need an ISRC?
An ISRC is a unique code for each individual recording. Therefore your sales are tracked by the ISRC code and it is crucial in making sure you receive your royalties. Some stores (including iTunes) demand ISRC codes for every single track submitted (in addition to the above mentioned UPC / EAN codes).
EPM Music cannot obtain these ISRC codes for you. But the procedure for generating them yourself is very easy. All you need to do is contact your National ISRC Agency and ask for a ISRC Registrant Code, this is free of charge. You can obtain info on you national ISRC contact from this website link: http://www.ifpi.org/content/section_links/local_associations.html
What is a stream?
In terms of multimedia, a stream is a non-saveable transfer from a digital retailer to a user’s device (PC/Mobile device). This type of media is sometimes used as a preview of the purchasable download files, or just to listen to from your PC and/or mobile device.
How long will it take for my content to go live?
The various music services all have different "ingestion" periods. EPM Music has a minimum delivery period of 3 weeks prior to the scheduled release date. But we recommend you to deliver your audio and metadata to us at least 5 weeks prior to the release date in order to be sure that your release is available on all music services on the specified release date.
Can I deliver back catalogue as well as latest releases digitally?
Yes. Even though most sales are generated in the first 2 months of a release, back catalogue will continue to sell. The more content is available on music services, the more sales you will generate. Don’t ever assume your physical content won’t “work” in the online or mobile space. And unfortunately at the moment if you don’t make your music available for legal purchase online, someone else will make it available illegally, so why wouldn’t you want to at least offer people somewhere to buy the music legally.
Be aware that digital format, like vinyl, also has a shelf life. After several weeks the sales from a new release will drop dramatically (as would do with vinyl as the stock runs out, digital has a similar shelf life even though there is no physical stock) and regular new releases are essential if you want to keep sales income up.
What stores do you distribute to?
Click here to see a full list of the stores we distribute to. Not all stores necessarily will accept your label or music. Like with record shops some are genre specific and some may just not want to stock your label.
Why and how can I submit my video for distribution?
In recent years, video has gone from being a marketing tool to being a great way to make revenue. There are more and more opportunities coming into the market place where income can be generated from videos via mobile phones, game consoles and online music and video services like Youtube, iTunes etc. Due to multiple encoding formats, it is important to submit your video in the highest possible quality, uncompressed formats are always best. Contact your EPM label manager for more info on videos.
No home videos eg videos created with mobile phones are acceptable.
When should I expect to see sales?
EPM statements are quarterly, with territory and store statistics.
How can I improve my sales?
There are a number of ways to improve sales including:
* Get your entire catalogue distributed and live on all online music services.
* Take advantage of any promotional areas or features which online music services provide eg: charts, store players embedded on your website/s. These can be obtained from EPM’s ‘promotional tools’ page (this can only be viewed by labels distributed by EPM).
* Prior to release date, promote your release to the media via press, radio, the Internet and DJs (club) to get DJ chart feedback, features, reviews and plays on air. Just as with physical releases good feedback helps to hype your new release and make the music services pay more attention to the notion of featuring it, taking charts or adding banners to generate more sales. EPM Music further offers a full promotions service covering press, club and radio on a global level to help you generate more sales. For more information please click here.
* The method of improvement which is most forgotten: tell your customers where they can buy your music, and when a new release is out. List or link to outlets on your artist website, flyers, social network sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.
* Keep regular releases coming out, be consistent.
If I sign up with EPM Music do I lose ownership of my music?
Absolutely NOT! By agreeing to our Digital Distribution Agreement, you allow EPM Music to become the exclusive digital distributor of your music for the time specified in the agreement. EPM Music does not take ownership of the music but only helps you to facilitate the process of spreading your music digitally across music services around the globe.
What if I have 'covered' someone else’s song on my album? Can I still use your digital distribution service?
In order for EPM Music to distribute your music digitally, you must own the copyright in the sound recordings you would like to include OR have permission from the original copyright owners to do so. Even if you have covered someone else’s song (ie: a song you didn't write or don't own the rights to), EPM Music can still submit it to music services. However, it is YOUR responsibility to determine if you have permission and pay the applicable royalties once you have received payment.
Does EPM Music support (time-limited) exclusive release dates to music services?
Is my music guaranteed to get placed on all music services EPM Music works with?
No. Each music service has the right to refuse your each and any of your releases. Common reasons for refusal include the quality of the recording or cover artwork, or a pre-existing release with the same UPC/ISRC. There are also music services that focus solemnly on a specific music genre.
Do I indeed own the rights to the music?
What if someone else has uploaded my music without my permission?
What shall I do if I see my releases available illegally at an online forum or filesharing website ?
My music is available online and I know I've had sales. Why are my sales stats and accounting statements not reflecting this?
Sales stats are not reported in real time. We receive sales reports from music stores at varying intervals.
Can I customize which music services I would like to use?
Not at this time. In principal, the music you uploaded to our services shall be made available to all music services we work with. At the moment it is not possible to ‘cherry pick’ music services.
Can I set the price of my music?
Not at this time. Sales prices and streaming fees of your music are determined by the music services themselves.
Is this distribution digital only or does it include physical CDs as well?
No, EPM Music is digital only.
Can I sell physical copies of my music?
Not through EPM Music's digital distribution service, but you are free to do so yourself or a physical distribution deal.
What if I made a mistake upon uploading?
PLEASE double, and triple check everything before you submit your releases via the LMS (Label management System). Changes and corrections are a slow, time consuming and manual process with most music services. Changes and corrections are effectively equivalent to a take-down and repost. Any changes and/or corrections will likely delay your release for weeks and may involve additional fees (correction fee as stated in the contract in Appendix II).
How long will my release be available?
Your release will be made available to all music services EPM Music works with for as long as you are under contract with EPM Music and as long as your music is accepted by the music services.
How long does it take to get my releases up on the music services?
This varies for each music service, but can be as much as 6-8 weeks.
Once you have uploaded your music, EPM Music delivers your music to the music services straight away. Major music services like iTunes and Spotify are constantly ingesting a lot of content so it generally takes 5 to 6 weeks for them to get your content live. 5 weeks can be very tight, depending on how many tracks these music services are ingesting that week. If you are promoting towards a specific release date, EPM Music advises you to upload your release at least 6 weeks before the planned release date. EPM Music lets you specify your own release date, so if you want it available ASAP simply put down the present date and we will get it live for you as soon as we can. If you want to specify your release date for 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 16 weeks, whatever you wish, then you can specify that and we will make sure it doesn’t go live on any of the music services until that date.
How do I remove a release from any of the music services?
If I cannot find my release upon release date, what should I do?
If you have any problems with release dates or questions leading up to release week then you can contact your account manager and he or she will respond as quickly as possible. We try to answer all questions within 24 hours (weekends not included). But you can also give us a call at the office. Office phone numbers and email addresses can be found on our contact page.
Can I give my music away for free in the music services I chose?
Unfortunately, non of the music services permit you to set the price customers pay to download or stream your music or music videos from their sites. When a download or stream happens, you will always be paid the required pay rate, but it's solely up to the music services to set the price their clients pay. And they won't let you give it away for free.
Which artists have EPM Music worked with?
If my question isn't answered here, what can I do?
You can email your question:
You can also call the EPM Music office on +31 433 217 581
For promotions please call the EPM London office on +44 20 8566 0200