It might sound like a silly question but you’d be surprised how hard it can be to give an accurate definition of what music distribution actually is.
In the first instance, an image of physical albums being transported to shops around the country may spring to mind. In essence that is the main concept. Music distribution is the process of getting music from artist to store, making it available to the public for purchase. This is the same whether that store be a physical store or digital music retailer.
Physical Music Distribution
The more traditional method of distribution; this is how albums get into shops. A music distribution company signs deals with record labels or artists which then gives them the right to sell that their music to shops. A distributor can only sell to ships that have an account with the distributor. Put simply, the distributing company act as a middleman between the artist/record label and the store.
Digital Music Distribution
Digital music distribution works much the same, just on a different platform. Instead of transporting albums to a physical store, the distribution company will distribute music in digital format (usually mp3 or .wav). The music is sent to online music platforms such as iTunes, Spotify and AmazonMP3. It is then the distributors job to ensure that royalties for the use of the music is passed back to the artists and rights holders.
Some digital distributors accept everyone that wishes to sell via their site.
Others also sell via their own site but are more picky with who they allow to sell on it.
With us at Horus Music for example, we accept all musicians and labels as long as they provide music in a standard that would be deemed acceptable by the stores. We then distribute their music to over 800 download, streaming, mobile and radio platforms in 180+ countries. We complete our accounting on a monthly basis.