The "Traditional" Music Distribution Deal ...
The standard music distribution deal is based on what used to be the only distribution model in the music business.
The old model went something like this...
You find a record company which finances manufactures, distributes, promotes and handles publicity.
You, as the artist or creator earn royalties after the label recovers the costs.
The label owns the copyright and the masters.
So, in the above scenario your distribution comes as part and package of the record deal you sign with the label.
You can see why the record deal WAS the Holy Grail for musicians and bands.
Record labels were the gatekeepers to the distribution companies who were the gatekeepers to the retailers.
You had to therefore accept the fact that in order to get your music CD distributed in stores, you needed a record deal.
This is no longer the case because the Internet flips the old world of music distribution on it's head.
So you now have 360 deals, traditional deals, license deals, profit sharing deals, manufacturing deals and the self-distribution model.
Confused? I suggest you spend some time and absorb this article in which David Byrne explains the above deals in detail.
You'll notice five deals and one model, because self-distribution is not a deal.
Deals involve you handing over various rights in exchange for a range of services which include distribution of your music.
Self-distribution is the only model where you retain full rights over your music and other activities.
You'll find it hard to get a music distribution deal unless you already have some kind of track record of success or can clearly demonstrate your commitment to promotion.
So, forget about the music distribution deal at first, you can always sign one later when you have a better position to negotiate good terms. Think for now simply about how you will connect with your fans.
You can use various music distribution companies to handle your online and offline distribution, you can sell music from your web site and at shows, you can directly approach local stores and retailers.
Do what you can yourself and outsource the rest. You don't need a deal. Get started.
All the best,