In the past...Fast forward to today...
... record label distribution was a big deal. It
was in fact one of the reasons the record deal became the holy grail for
any aspiring musician.
Most distribution companies worked only with labels and not with artists directly.
You either signed with a label or worldwide distribution was out of your reach. Lucky for you and me, those days are gone.
... and we "ain't in Kansas anymore, Toto"!
You probably know by now that you as an artist or music producer can distribute music worldwide without the need for major label distribution deals.
You're most likely also aware of the digital music distribution companies you can use to get your music on iTunes or other online music marketplaces and retailers such as Amazon and Spotify.
Yes, the big four (big three yet?) music groups and the labels they've gobbled up can still get you into physical stores you'll have a hard time getting in yourself.
They can get you into those CD stores which are closing down all over the place, or the other stores which are selling DVDs and console games to stay in business.
Remember: Less and less people are buying CDs and more are buying digital downloads. Do you really need a traditional record label distribution deal? I say no, you don't.
You also have options for your physical distribution. For instance, at the time I write this...
... CDBaby.com can get you into local CD stores through a partnership with Super D and Amazon.
... Tunecore have also hooked up with Amazon Disc on Demand to offer physical distribution for your music.
So, there's no need for a record label distribution deal when you have so many options at your disposal to self-distribute your music. You can get pretty much everywhere the labels can get without having to sign that 360 deal of death!
The great thing about this is that you can now start you own label, keep your creative integrity, your rights, your masters, your business equity and profits and get your music straight into the places where your tribe spends money.
That all said and done, there is a time and place where a record label can be of benefit. In fact, you won't become really big, like top 1% big without the help of a good label. Still, if you don't have any momentum built up then most labels won't even give you the time of day. So, start off with the independent distribution route, even if you plan to eventually take over the world.