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Digital Distribution

At Jazz Connector on 18th February 2021, members of Ireland’s jazz and improvised music scene gathered together for a professional development session on:

Henriette is the Market Development Coordinator for Europe and the UK at CD Baby, the largest global digital distributor of independent music. Her role includes building and maintaining relationships with local CD Baby artists and commercial partners, coordinating the production of industry events for the company and assisting with the development of CD Baby’s international business. Prior to this, Henriette worked at trade association WIN (Worldwide Independent Network), spent a number of years working as a stagehand in Melbourne, Australia for major recording stars like Rhianna, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen, she has interned for a range of companies, most notably Music Ally, the reputable digital marketing, industry news and strategy company.

You can watch Henriette’s webinar here:

Points discussed included:

What to consider when choosing a distributor

  1. Fee structures (flat fee/subscription models, percentage cuts)
  2. Payment (Do they pay out to you quarterly, by amount, can you change it?)
  3. Platform/portal (Do you get useful information in a usable format from your distributor?)
  4. Relationships (Do they have good relationships with the platforms that are your priority, or are there likely to be problems?) e.g. music can be distributed to the wrong profile based on similar names
  5. Contact (Can you actually talk to someone from your distributor?)
  6. Additional services (Do they offer marketing, mastering, landing pages, short links? What value for money are you getting?)
  7. Publishing (e.g. CD Baby Pro links with SongTrust so that you can easily get the income from publishing of your work)
  8. Sync (Do they offer services around sync? These can be expensive separately)
  9. Structure (Are you confident that it will be clear and easy to upload your files correctly?)
  10. Genre/regional expertise (Does this distributor have experience in the genre or region you are prioritising? Relationships with curators?)
  11. Independence (How customisable is the service to your needs?)

See the Distribution Revolution Report for more in-depth research

Different Platforms

  • Make sure that your distributor understands digital streaming platforms, especially according to genre and region (e.g. CD Baby have an international network who can advise on particular markets. They release to 150+ platforms)
  • Use all the data platforms have to offer, know where to put your marketing with a small budget
  • Spotify
    • A major one in UK/Ireland, others may work better in other markets
    • Use the Spotify for Artists platform
    • Artist’s Pick can be very useful in collectively promoting each other with your colleagues
    • CD Baby can fast-track verification on Spotify
    • Submit your tracks for playlist consideration early on - 3-4 weeks ahead of release date
  • Tik Tok
    • Your distributor can deliver a short clip of your track to Tik Tok, which can be used in videos
    • If you think it might appeal to your audience, it may be worth experimenting
    • New trends can go viral very quickly on this platform - it’s a daisy chain of interactivity
    • The Tik Tok Mailing List is useful
  • Apple Music
    • A key platform for jazz in the UK
    • Apple are more likely to provide support if you are using their tools, e.g. update your profile with images etc.
    • They provide Shazam stats
  • Amazon Music
    • Offers data from Alexa which can be useful
  • Deezer
    • A growing platform, very big in Latin America.

A week-by-week release plan


Makes sure you have your meta data and codes (ISRC etc) in place. Jazz Connector with IMRO may be a useful reference.


  • Have your marketing, pre-saves etc. in place
    • A tool like can be very useful (pre-save landing pages for use on socials, web, email, competitions, email campaigns, ad builders etc.
  • Pre-saves are a key part of your campaign
    • It’s a small ask but builds a community of fans
    • You can reward fans with, e.g. a private video of an acoustic version
    • Number of followers on a platform is key for algorithm playlists.
  • Press
    • Include an EPK, so people can see you in a one-page (IMC Guide on creating an EPK)
    • DO NOT send attachments to press (they can be filtered out or remain unopened because of potential viruses). Use a link to a googledrive or Dropbox instead.
      • Send a smaller number of quality emails, not a mass email
      • Relate to the journalists other work, e.g. ‘Dear Name, I enjoyed this thing you did, you might like this because…’
  • The Unsigned Guide is a source of contacts especially in the UK
  • Radio
    • Don’t underestimate radio
    • Producers can often be a better contact point than presenters, search for their email addresses.


  • Submit your track for playlisting
    • Editorial playlists on platforms can be difficult to get into, but third-party playlists often have dedicated followers. Many contact details are available online.
    • For Spotify, provide as many data points as you can (genre, mood, etc.) to be available to more playlists
    • Your release will automatically appear in Release Radar for people that follow you, so try to build your followers.


  • Digital advertising
    • Instagram/Facebook are the most powerful digital ads for the least spend. Curate your reach carefully, you can re-target as you go.
    • Youtube
      • Is often used as a streaming service, especially outside of Europe. 2bn people consume music on Youtube
      • CD Baby deliver to Youtube, check your distributor does this
      • Lyric videos, live videos similar content are useful for building your following.


  • Use smart links from your website (e.g. Linkfire, SmartURL, Songwhip)
    • Direct fans to whatever their preferred platform is
    • A casual fan is not likely to go back and look for your music on another platform if they are directed to one they don’t use.
  • Connect with fans
    • Try and build two-way communication with fans, on social media or on on genre-focused communities, e.g. Reddit.

Getting towards your 1000 true fans


  • Keep building towards your next release
  • Aim for steady engagement not huge peaks and troughs
  • Streaming platforms often work best for tracks, not albums
    • This depends on your fanbase, but regular releases can help maintain engagement, keep conversations going
    • Playlists work on new release (You can release back catalogue music if it hasn’t been digitally released)

Further references

  • Midia has a lot of deep data available, including platforms and demographics etc.
  • CD Baby’s Free Musician Guides offer a number of resources for marketing etc.
  • The DIY Musician Blog regularly publishes articles on a wide range of useful topics
  • IMC’s Resources section includes articles on various areas of marketing, production and more.
  • Remember to sign up to IMC’s Musicians' Newsletter to keep up with funding opportunities, professional development, interesting articles and more.

Subscribe to our Youtube channel for recordings of Jazz Connector and lots of interesting performances.

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