Here’s another post not neccessarity about marketing but it covers logistics and distribution and whether you should be tempted to use a large distributor to handle an album release.
Most acts be they signed or independent should have a Direct to Fan (D2F) strategy for selling not just their music but all the super expensive deluxe merch that dedicated ‘superfans’ lap up and pay tons of money for. There are many platforms that serve this market, see the Wicksteed Works report if you need bringing up to speed.
If that is the case, why in this day and age might you need a distributor? Well, what distributors do is feed the casual fans/buyers and get your physical stuff out there (in shops, webstores etc) and under people’s noses. Sometimes you have to shove stuff in peoples faces and hand it on a plate for them before they’ll take the notice of you and part with their cash.
In terms of the last two albums I’ve released with my band, the second to last one didn’t have any major distribution just our webstore, and a listing on Amazon which was fulfilled by our own store. The last one did have distribution through Avarto (which meant that any outlet stocking music could order it) but there wasn’t any significant increase in sales because of it. We then had all the hassles of returns and the costs that are incurred because of it.
So, if you had the option, should you use any form of distribution or stick solely to a D2F strategy? I think it depends who you are and what sort of radio/press-blog/media coverage you get. If you’re occupying a niche (as my band is) with a small but commited fan base and not getting much in the way of radio/press it’s probably not worth it. If you’ve got the media inetrest and you’re getting the radio plays then go for it.