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The importance of selling your music digitally

5 April 2009 1,309 views One Comment

If you’ve not been keeping an eye on the news recently, you might have missed the announcement from EDC that they have decided to shut down their Blackburn manufacturing facility on the 31st of December this year. From then on, all of their manufacturing operations will be moved to EDC’s Hannover facilities. As one of the last remaining CD manufacturers with facilities actually located in the UK, this has come as sad news – not only for the Blackburn’s local economy and the company’s employees, but for the entire music industry in general.

Jack Straw, the Blackburn constituency MP, has already expressed his sadness at the closure, although this news may not have come as a total surprise to those working at the company – they had already handed over large contracts (such as their manufacturing deal with Universal Music Group) at the end of 2008.

IFPI LogoWhilst the combination of a decline in CD sales and a faltering global economy will not have helped EDC’s fortunes, by contrast digital sales are steadily increasing. The last 12 months has seen a year-on-year increase of 25% – and in January, Reuters reported on the latest sales statistics from the IFPI. These show that digital sales account for more than 20% of global recorded music sales (in the USA, this figure is higher, at around 33%) – the market value of global digital sales is currently pegged at an astounding $3.7 billion.

Given the smaller costs to labels, artists and music fans, this should come as no surprise. However, it is crucially important not to neglect the continuing importance of releasing your music on CD and vinyl alongside all the various digital platforms.

Time for a little history… Like many other music labels, EDC has been one of Revolver’s key partners for some time now. Their Blackburn facility has been providing manufacturing services to labels big and small for many years now, and through more than a few name changes. Here’s a quick list of their various owners through the past few decades:

  • Philips & DuPont Optical: from 1982 – 1996
  • Polygram Music Distribution: 1996 – 1998
  • Universal Manufacturing & Logistics: 1998 – 2002
  • Disctronics: 2002- 2003
  • Deluxe: 2003 – 2006
  • EDC: 2006 – present day

Philips were the co-creators of the Compact Disc; EDC’s Blackburn facility has been a key player in the music industry since it began operations in the 1980s. To date, it has produced between 40 and 50 million CDs for labels as diverse as Deutsche Grammophon and Universal – as well as countless DVDs and LaserDiscs.

However, the closure of EDC’s Blackburn plant is not the death knell for the ‘physical retail’ sector of the music industry. If you’ve stepped into a music shop in the past five years or so, you will no doubt have noticed an increasing amount of vinyl (both 12″ and coveted limited edition 7″ releases). On the web, companies like Amazon, Juno, Play and CDWOW are still going strong. Arguably, there are more albums available on CD today than there has ever been before – and there is still a healthy demand for CDs from artists, labels and retailers. As an artist, you understand how important it is to give your fans what they want – your music, available everywhere

So for artists, why are digital downloads so important?

It’s important to understand that digital downloads are not just important to have; it’s far more important to have digital downloads on all the major platforms to reach as many music fans as possible – and it’s crucially important that you ‘do it right.’ What do we mean by this? Three things: strategy, coordination and expertise.

There are many companies who offer services to artists to help get their music onto iTunes, but many only do the bare minimum for your money. They can become quite expensive if you want to sell more than a handful of releases through them. Even worse, many of these companies did not even exist a few years ago – not what you could really call a ‘knowledgeable company’! By contrast, our Revolver Digital service has more than 30 years’ worth of knowledge and experience in the music industry (Revolver Records has been in business contiguously since 1978).

If your aim is to cover all the angles and reach as many of your music fans as possible, here is where our services come into their own. Working with us, you can formulate a solid strategy for releasing your music – from the first promos to the final product. As well as making your music available on all the popular digital platforms, we can also arrange other important services such as txt2buy (otherwise known as SMS shortcodes). Not only can you sell your music on iTunes, you could send a txt2buy code to your fans via MySpace which allowed them to download your latest single before it was released elsewhere.

Taking it one step further, you could even offer fans free exclusive bonus tracks when they come to one of your gigs – by printing the shortcode on their ticket (or announcing it during the gig between songs), it’s an amazingly personal way to offer something a bit special to your biggest fans.

Working with Revolver Digital doesn’t end there.

As well as simply releasing your music, we can coordinate with all the important people involved to make sure your music is out there for people to buy exactly when you want it to be. Want to simultaneously release your latest single on CD and iTunes, and make sure that they both appear at exactly the same time? It’s sorted.

But what about this – imagine you had a gig coming up, and you didn’t want to have to carry 200 copies of your CD (they’re very heavy!) as well as all your gear, your instruments, and your merchandise. By offering your fans a ‘combo’ package at your gig, you can increase sales and solve a problem at the same time. Your fans can buy a copy of your music by SMS shortcode, and get the CD posted to them… And included in the price, they can also download a digital copy, included in the price, to listen to on their phone or audio player before the CD arrives!

You could sell this package at a slight premium, and your fans get instant satisfaction and the best of both worlds – digital audio files to play straight away, and the very highest quality version on a CD, to either add to their collection or share with their friends.

Even if you don’t already have your music on CD, we can arrange that. (We can even produce your artwork!) Getting your music pressed to CD can become very expensive for an independent artist – the paperwork alone involved with getting a CD produced has been known to reduce some to quivering wrecks. However, Revolver has almost 700 CD & vinyl releases under our belts – we know how to ‘do it right’. You might think arranging these kinds of unusual packages would be a nightmare to coordinate without expert help… And you’d be right – but this is where our wide range of expertise comes in.

With Revolver Digital, it’s as simple as asking… We sort it all out for you, so you can focus on making great music.

Revolver Digital provides all inclusive, ‘no strings attached’ solutions for small labels and independent artists alike. Where some other companies charge you for the package and then charge you again for the extras (including some necessities such as ISRCs or barcodes), all this comes as standard with our services. But perhaps more importantly, you get the opportunity to develop your musical career in partnership with one of the country’s longest-running independent music labels – something money can’t buy.

So, if you want to take your music to the next level, get in touch today. You can email us, call us… or even send us a letter. We look forward to hearing from you!

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