If Jeff Price and Derek Sivers Had A Baby, It’d Be Makell Bird

Makell Bird of ADED.Us Music Distribution

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Jeff Price of TuneCore
Jeff Price ex-TuneCore
Derek Sivers ex-CD Baby
Derek Sivers ex-CD Baby
Makell Bird of ADED.Us Music Distribution
Makell Bird of ADED.Us Music Distribution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA – Friday, October 17, 2014 (Indie Music Guide)

I can’t help but feel energized whenever I hear Makell Bird speak. From all outward appearances, he is the voice of change in a room full of corporate clones. In January of 2012, he began promoting his latest venture (ADED.US Music Distribution) and is one of the few people in the music business who is willing to divulge the secrets of it. Hearing him navigate through the ins-and-outs of the music business is like hearing Doc Brown give Marty McFly that speech about how dangerous time travel is, right before Marty jumps in the car.

From the standpoint of someone who spends a great deal of time writing about the music industry, I am immediately reminded of two other men who have changed things dramatically in the music business: Jeff Price and Derek Sivers.

Jeff Price was one of the founders of TuneCore and eMusic. He is definitely one of the most vocal people in the music business, and can also take you through the ins-and-outs of it. On the flip side, Derek Sivers has a passion for programming and web development that most people in the music industry simply do not have time for. Derek created CD Baby, and in 2008 he sold that company to Disc Makers for a reported $22 million. We don’t know how much Jeff Price made money-wise (personally) while working at TuneCore, but I’m sure he doesn’t have any money problems either.

I can see both of those traits, being outspoken and a developer/geek, in Makell Bird. Keeping that in mind, when I decided to interview him, I brought those two names up… and you’ll be surprised at his reaction…

  • Q: What made you want to get into the music business?
  • A: Well, when I was about 12 (in 1994), I would watch artists like Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, and Coolio on MTV. And, as I was watching them, I just felt a sense of power in their voice. They could say anything they wanted to say and the whole world would watch them, listen to them, and (sometimes) even copy them. It made me feel like music was the most powerful art form in the world.
  • Q: Can you give us some details about how you got started in the music biz?
  • A: I started an independent record label in McDonough, Georgia, where I was living at the time in 2000 shortly after graduating high school. It was called Angelic Destroyer Entertainment (A.D.E. for short). I mainly started it as a way to get my rap songs out and I would record other rappers in the area that I knew. In my circle of friends and around ‘the hood’ I was known as ‘the white boy who could help you record a rap song’ [laughing]. That’s because I was the only guy around who could record, mix, and release songs… and I was doing it for all of them for free. I knew that I had knowledge that they didn’t have and that I was in a position to help them and I did.
  • Q: How did you end up starting ADED.US Music Distribution?
  • A: I actually started out (in the music distribution business) as an artist. I was just looking for a way to get me and my partners music ‘out there’. The first company I used to distribute our music was SongCast. I honestly didn’t like the way things were being handled over there. So, I started using other distribution companies like WaTunes (defunct), RouteNote, and Record Union. While I was with Record Union, I joined their AnR program and recruited well over 1,000 artists on my own. I was, by far, one of the most successful recruiters they’ve ever had. But, once again, I didn’t like the way things were being handled and I finally got fed up enough to say “The music distribution business needs fixing”. So, I decided to create a company that took the best parts of ‘these’ companies and I left out the bad parts. Obviously, I added certain elements that I felt were needed. I’ve been in the music business since 2000 but I’ve been in the music distribution business since 2008. I started building my catalog of music by signing independent artists to distribution deals and then started securing contracts left-and-right to supply our catalog to these stores. In 2012, we were already dealing with the ‘big 4’ brands: iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Google. By the end of 2013, I had increased that number to over 1,000 stores across the globe, divided across several major brands.
  • Q: You know, when I think about you, I am reminded of Jeff Price and Derek Sivers, do you know who they are?
  • A: Of course, you know, Jeff and Derek are basically the pioneers of this music distribution business. If it wasn’t for them, ADED.US Music Distribution might not have existed. They broke down those doors and built a business that wasn’t there (before). And that opened the flood gates for independent musicians. And when you combine that with (the fact that) the price of music producing software was going down, it’s apparent that there are millions and millions of musicians out there who (once again) need my help.
  • Q: Being that TuneCore and CD Baby are now controlled (more-so) by venture capitalists, instead of people who are ‘actually’ in the music business, don’t you feel like the underdog sometimes?
  • Well, you know what? Any time I’m considered the underdog, I’m just gonna bark loud enough for them to hear me. Because I have a Napoleon complex and I’m not afraid to use it. (laughs)

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Music Distribution: How To Sell Your Music On iTunes

The good folks at ADED.US have just released a video tour of their site outlining the sign up and submission process with step-by-step instructions. Take a look:

Best watched in full screen at 1080p quality (click the buttons on the bottom right to adjust this)

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How To Get An Itunes Connect Account

iTunes Connect
The iTunes Connect log-in screen

Anyone who has ever wanted to distribute their own music knows how important being on the iTunes Store is. So, quite naturally, one might find themselves on Google searching for the following terms (for the most part):

One of the very first things you may come across is a web page from Apple saying you should get an iTunes Connect account. Well, let me assure you, this is a lot easier said than done! Right now, let’s not even get into the differences between the iTunes App, the iTunes Store, iTunes Connect, and iTunes Producer. We’ll move along under the assumption you have some type of understanding towards that…

First off, even as you’re applying, you probably don’t realize that the following 3 things are going to happen right after you apply:

  1. Apple is going to check whether or not you applied from an Apple Computer (like an iMac). If you applied from anything but an iMac then you can forget it! However, they won’t reject you immediately. That brings us to our second problem…
  2. It’s going to take them 3-6 months to get back to you on whether or not you are “worthy” enough to have an iTunes Connect account, and there’s a 99.9% chance that you are not worthy. Which brings us to our thrid point…
  3. Apple is going to do a background check. I don’t mean a criminal background check or anything of that sort. I mean, they are going to research you and your “company” to see if you “qualify”. Chances are you don’t and here’s why…

Now, I don’t mean to put a dark cloud over your head and discourage your efforts but facts are facts. Apple prefers to deal with big name companies and people who know what they’re doing. In order for Apple to consider you a distributor, they’ll be looking at some key things. Here’s some questions you should be asking yourself before you bring yourself before “The Great Oz”… I mean Apple…

  • How long have you been in the music distribution business? – If you’re just starting out in this field then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account. Most of the distributors Apple deals with have been in the music business for decades and even the digital distribution companies have been hovering around since 2003 when the iTunes Store was first opened.
  • How many artists do you represent?  – How many artists are represented within your catalog? If it’s less than 300 artists then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account. Most distributing labels have 1,000s of artists in their catalog.
  • How many songs are in your catalog?  – If it’s less than 2,000 then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account. I’d say 2,000 tracks is the bare minimum and you have to realize that some of these distribution companies have millions of tracks from thousands of artists in their catalog.
  • Are you business savvy? – Do you speak “the language”? The people at Apple (especially the ones working at iTunes) are not stupid. They can spot a fake when they see one. If you fill out applications and send them messages which might make it appear as if you have trouble understanding and using “the lingo” then you can forget doing any business in the music business, and that goes double for the music distribution business.
  • Do you know how to properly format audio and image files? – If you don’t submit files to Apple’s specs then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account.

So, after all is said and done, you would’ve probably wasted 3-6 months of your life wondering why Apple rejected your application. What they’ll do next is ask you to sign up with an aggregator (distribution company) that deals with independent artists and labels. Obviously, Apple would much rather deal with a larger company with a delivery system already in place than to deal with a new fish who doesn’t know what they are doing. You may see them suggest the following companies: ADED.US, CD Baby, TuneCore, ReverbNation, etc.. Of those companies, ADED.US (http://www.aded.us) (a/k/a ADEDistribution) is by far the cheapest and easiest to work with for those of you starting out. They have plenty of information to guide you through the distribution process, including how to properly format your files. The other distributors can get a bit pricey and they tend to move a bit slower when it comes to processing your material and making royalty payments back to you.

If you were to somehow manage to get an iTunes Connect account then Apple would expect you to do the following:

  • Sign contracts (with proper banking info) with all the various stores in all the various countries
  • Have UPC and ISRC numbers for each and every song and album in your catalog
  • You would be given access to an app called iTunes Producer to help you send (deliver) your catalog to the iTunes Store for ingestion. Apple will expect you to know how to fully operate this software before you can successfully send them your catalog.

Well, I hope this article has helped clarify the “do’s and don’ts” versus the “needs and wants” of what it’s like trying to get an iTunes Connect account. Y’all come back now, ya hear?!?

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Sell Music On iTunes www.aded.us A Spanish and Portuguese guide

For our friends in Spanish and Portugese speaking countries, here are some search terms to help you get to http://www.aded.us

Para os nossos amigos em espanhol e português países de língua, aqui estão alguns termos de pesquisa para ajudá-lo a http://www.aded.us

Para nuestros amigos de los países de habla hispana y portuguesa, aquí hay algunos términos de búsqueda para ayudarle a llegar a http://www.aded.us

vender música en iTunes por http://www.aded.us gratuitos | vender música en Spotify para http://www.aded.us gratuitos | vender música en la obra de google para http://www.aded.us libres
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sell music on itunes
sell music on itunes

CD Baby vs ADED.US Music Distribution

aded.us music distribution logo

If you’re a musician, chances are that, at some point, you’re going to want to sell your music on itunes, amazon, spotify, google play, etc.. And when you do, you will be shopping for the best distributor for the job.

So, the classic choice comes down to quality vs. quantity. If you don’t mind forking over a huge chunk of money up front then you’ll probably want to sign up with CD Baby. But, before you do that, let’s take a look at whether or not that’s the best decision.

CD Baby likes to boast and brag about the amount of money they pay out to their artists from time to time. But the question you should be asking yourself despite these numbers is: How much money is CD Baby making off the artists? So, let’s dig into that…

CD Baby recently raised their rates (again). They currently charge $12.95 to distribute a single and $49 to distribute an album. Now that’s per album per year. CD Baby is what you might deem a “set it and forget it” kind of company. Meaning once they get your money, they’ll put your album up onto the stores and that’s the last you’ll hear from them. There is no checking things and verifying things portion of their business.

A relatively new company is trying to fill that gap. ADED.US Music Distribution (f/k/a ADEDistribution) bills themselves moreso as a service company. Their prices (in the long run) become drastically lower than CD Baby’s as well. Instead of paying a big chunk of money up front, if you become a member (at $5 a month) you are instantly entitled to cheaper distribution rates. This rate starts at $3 and it doesn’t matter whether you’re distributing 1 song (a single) or up to 19 songs (an album). You also have the ability to skip the monthly payments and pay for a year’s worth of membership up front for $45, instantly saving you $15 off of what would be a $60 annual cost were you to pay monthly.

They also do something CD Baby doesn’t. They build custom artist pages and verify the store links for your music so that you can track and promote with one click, as opposed to CD Baby’s generic, non-informative, auto generated pages.

Now, ADED.US doesn’t currently have contracts with as many stores as CD Baby, but here’s something CD Baby probably won’t mention. Most of those “extra stores” CD Baby delivers to aren’t lucrative for the artist because they just aren’t that popular with music buyers. ADED.US focuses on the top selling stores (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play and some others) but does have plans to expand to include other stores in the future.

Now, let’s focus on the numbers again:

If you were to distribute 2 albums with CD Baby, it would cost you $98 over the course of a year. If you were to distribute 2 albums with ADED.US, it would cost you $51-$66 over the course of a year depending on whether or not you chose the annual ($51) or month-to-month ($66) plan.

Click here to sign up with ADED.US

Uodate: ADED.US has since unveiled their ‘Ultimate Package’. Artists that sign up for this package are given 12 ‘distribution credits’, meaning that they can distribute up to 12 projects every year at no extra cost. When you pay for the Ultimate Package, it covers all of your membership and store placement fees as well

CD Baby Review

aded.us music distribution logo
This info provided courtesy of the MakellBird.info blog

We’ve decided to further explain the ins-n-outs of digital distribution by showing comparisons of the top companies in the field. Today we will examine the pricing and payment structures of the CD Baby and ADED.US Music Distribution

Cost for a single: 
ADED.US Music Distribution (aded.us) $5 a month + $3 per single, album, EP you are submitting
– Cost for a single: $9.95
– Cost for an album: $49
– Only pays 91% of royalties (this is how they get more $ out of you)
– Pays 2 months after product is sold
– Time it takes to appear on iTunes: up to 2 weeks (they claim 48 hours)
Winner: ADED.US Music Distribution The amount of money you’d save with ADEDistribution in the long run, assuming you plan to release more projects in the future, is a huge discount compared to CDBaby’s pricing scheme. This also means that ADEDistribution has a much lower start-up cost than CDBaby: $8 vs. $9.95 or $49
Cost for an album:
CD Baby $49/year
ADED.US Music Distribution $3 one time fee for members
WinnerADED.US Music Distribution no explanation necessary
Percentage of royalties you get back from the distributor:
CD Baby: 91%
Time it takes to see your album on iTunes:
CD Baby 2 weeks or more
WinnerADED.US Music Distribution no explanation necessary
Time it takes to receive royalties back:
CDBaby 2-4 months
ADEDistribution 25-45 days after the month in which product sold
Time it takes to get a response from company:
CD Baby up to a month or even NEVER (according to a lot of angry customers)
ADED.US Music Distribution less than 24 hours, reports have shown sometimes even with 4 hours
Final Verdict: Numerous complaints from unhappy customers along with long wait times all around and high pricing make CD Baby undesireable in these times and they simply can not hold a candle to ADED.US Music Distribution

Digital Distribution How To Sell Music on iTunes FaceBook Spotify Twitter Amazon

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The word digital distribution seems to be more geared towards the film and game industry. It’s almost as if people forgot that this term was first used to describe the process of selling your music on stores or sites like itunes amazon spotify facebook and twitter.

In terms of a list of aggregators or a list of distributors in regards to those that work with independent musicians, the best distributor is ADEDistribution the best distribution company is ADEDistribution at http://aded.us

They teach you how to sell put your music songs a song on itunes amazon spotify facebook amazon twitter etc.

Thanks to the information posted on the MakellBird.info blog we have been able to determine two things:

  1. TuneCore Review still not better or cheaper than ADEDistribution
  2. CDBaby Review still not better or cheaper than ADEDistribution

If we were to compare the companies, ADEDistribution vs. TuneCore WINNER ADEDistribution

ADEDistribution is better than TuneCore

If we were to compare the companies, ADEDistribution vs. CDBaby WINNER ADEDistribution

ADEDistribution is better than CDBaby

Sign up with ADEDistribution at http://www.aded.us

How to sell music on FaceBook

Being that FaceBook is currently the largest social networking site in the world, it is imperative to find a niche customer base to advertise or direct market your music to. Never doubt the power of word-of-mouth. And now, on to the business of selling your music on FaceBook…

I will divide this tutorial into 3 sections/steps:

  1. Finding a distributor
  2. Getting your links
  3. Building your buttons

1. Finding a distributor

Obviously, if this is your first go-around at selling your music online, you’ll want to deal with the distributor with the lowest start-up costs and is geared at doing exactly what you want. Currently, the best digital distribution company for music is ADEDistribution. They have several tutorial videos aimed at helping you better understand the distribution process and promoting your music online through direct marketing. They also happen to have the lowest start-up costs and are much cheaper than services like TuneCore, CDBaby, Songcast, and OneRPM.

If you haven’t already, click here to sign up with ADEDistribution

2. Getting your links

Once you’ve fully signed up with ADEDistribution and paid to distribute your single, EP, or album, ADEDistribution will then place and sell your music on itunes, amazon, and spotify. The time varies as to when your content will appear on these stores. When they do appear on these stores, you will need to search for your music’s listing on each individual store. Once you’ve found the page for your music, you will need to copy-n-paste the links to said music into a notepad or spreadsheet. Your links should look something like this:

This is a single by MrGullers called “Never Let Me Go” and it is distributed by ADEDistribution

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/never-let-me-go-single/id557797870

To get this, right click the album title and click COPY LINK

http://open.spotify.com/album/06riPAyeflsBJt1WAgyJSF

To get this, right click the album title and click COPY LINK

http://amzn.com/B009PU4TLM

To get this smaller version of your Amazon link, click the little envelope/e-mail icon on the right hand side of your album’s page. A smaller window will pop up showing you the Permalink. Copy-n-Paste the Permalink.

We will use a blank example and a modified example (using the links above) in step 3

3. Building your buttons

What you want to do now is build cross promotion buttons that will effectively promote your music from the 3 stores (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify) to the 3 largest social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+)

Here is the blank example of the prepopulating button code for FaceBook. Copy-n-Paste theses code into your notepad near your 3 store links from earlier and only change the AddYourLinkHere part.

iTunes to FaceBook
<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=AddYourItunesLinkHere” target=”_blank”><input type=”button” value=”iTunes x FaceBook” /></a>

Spotify to FaceBook
<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=AddYourSpotifyLinkHere” target=”_blank”><input type=”button” value=”Spotify x FaceBook” /></a>

Amazon to FaceBook
<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=AddYourAmazonLinkHere” target=”_blank”><input type=”button” value=”Amazon x FaceBook” /></a>

Here is the what the modified example (using the links from MrGullers’ music) would look like.:

iTunes to FaceBook
<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=&#8221;http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/never-let-me-go-single/id557797870” target=”_blank”><input type=”button” value=”iTunes x FaceBook” /></a>

Spotify to FaceBook
<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=http://open.spotify.com/album/06riPAyeflsBJt1WAgyJSF” target=”_blank”><input type=”button” value=”Spotify x FaceBook” /></a>

Amazon to FaceBook
<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=http://amzn.com/B009PU4TLM” target=”_blank”><input type=”button” value=”Amazon x FaceBook” /></a>

That’s it! Now, just copy-n-paste your new code into your webpage or blog post and you will have fully functional one-click buttons to promote and sell your music on FaceBook.

Click any of the buttons below to see our example work!