Thinking of Moving Distribution? – Pt. II

Share the joy
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Following on from our previous post detailing the issues that you may face whilst moving distribution, we’re now going to look at the nitty gritty of what you’ll need to prepare in order to move.

The first thing you’ll need to consider when changing distribution is the state of your catalogue, whether you have this stored locally, on a service such as Metable, or whether you’re going to have to rely on your current distributor to return your catalogue.

Receiving Your Catalogue Back From Your Current Distributor

If you don’t have a record at your label of all your metadata, and tracks in a format that you can work with, then receiving a bulk export from your distributor may well be your best port of call. Depending on who your current distributor is, they may be accommodating, or they may not. Contrary to some beliefs, it’s not actually their responsibility to be storing this for labels, instead they simply require this data in order to do the job in which they’ve been contracted to do. Unless it is in your contract that they should return this data upon completion of the deal, then it will be up to their discretion. Many will, what goes around comes around, as they say, but it is not advised to rely on this.

If your distributor does agree to return your data, you’ll then need to understand how this data will be supplied back to you. The two main ways that this will be returned to you are either as XML or CSV formats. We’ve all worked with CSVs in past, and this is preferable for you, but if it’s XML, as may be the case if they are going to dump everything onto a hard drive or deliver onto FTP, then can you deal with this? Unless you have developers in house, we would suggest you request a CSV output as well.

The final thing to consider with receiving your catalogue back from your distributor, is that it’s likely that your distributor will not accept the format that this has been exported in. Track titling changes greatly between distributors, as does metadata, which we’ll touch more on later.

So, whether you’ve received your catalogue from your distributor, or you have this in house, let’s take a look at the specifics of the different formats.

Audio Formats

Since this is the main asset of your catalogue, it’s worth stopping and thinking about this for a moment. Although today we accept that CD quality 44.1kHz, 16-bit WAV files as standard, there are ever more options for higher resolution audio. It may now be the time to consider replacing some of this audio with your 24-bit or higher masters. Needless to say, MP3s should never, ever be used as masters.

As mentioned early, titling of audio varies from company to company. Often this will look like 5060178344561_01_01.wav. This breaks down as { barcode }_{ disc no }_{ track no }.wav. Variations of this include using hyphens instead of underscores, and a variety of one, two or three digit disc and track numbers.

Packshot Formats

Packshots are generally accepted in jpg format, although some may accept png or gif formats. For safety, we would always advise storing your packshots in jpg format. The minimum specs of a jpg are usually a minimum of 72dpi and dimensions of 1400×1400, although we’re more frequently seeing 2000×2000 dimensions today.

Metadata

This is probably the biggest area worthy of your attention whilst moving distributors. If you’ve been with the same distributor for some years, your metadata may well require some updating to fit in with today’s standards, or risk your releases being rejected by iTunes and other DSPs. We would highly recommend that you spend some time on this now, as it’s easier to fix at this point than further down the line. If you’re not familiar with the latest metadata standards, then you can read more about them over at Metadata Academy.

Metadata templates between distributors can change greatly, and so may require a lot of reformatting of data. Everything from the ordering of the columns, to the separators between artists and differing genres will need to be considered, and corrected when copying your catalogue over.

 

Once you have your catalogue in this complete order, you’ll then need to transfer to your new distributor, either by FTP or on hard drive, with everything titled properly and the metadata attached. This will need to then be ingested by the distributor, which could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, so you should plan accordingly.

 

And finally, a shameless plug! If this all sounds a little daunting, or you just don’t have the time to manage this process, Metable Pro Services can provide the skills and manpower to make this easy for you. To find out a little more about how Pro Services operates, and to discuss your needs, please get in contact with us here.


Share the joy
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •