Why Getting 100% Royalties isn’t the Dream Scenario
Too often, the debate over choosing a digital distributor lands on the revenue-share. Can I get 100% of my earnings? We’re not trying to tell you that earning every penny of every sale is a bad thing, but it isn’t necessarily the best model for every artist.
The easy explanation is that 100% royalty services have expensive annual fees, some reaching up to $60 per album. This means that every band on a particular 100% royalty service must make at least $60 on each album to break even. They also must do it within the first six months of the album release since that’s usually the window before sales diminish. We know it doesn’t sound like earning $60 in sales off of one album is that intimidating, but artists just getting started rarely meet that bench mark right off the bat. And try meeting that benchmark in year 2, year 3, and beyond. Tens of thousands of artists per year lose money with this business model, nor are they getting the potential promotional support needed from their distributor to maximize sales.
So that brings us to the traditional model, where the distributor keeps a percentage of royalties, and why ONErpm believes this is the better approach. Here are 3 reasons why:
#1 We have an incentive to promote you and help you succeed, because that’s how we make money
We believe in a collaborative approach with artists. Services that charge annual fees don’t really care if you sell or not, as long as you are paying them. We care about artists’ success because we’re financially dependent on music sales. We’ll do everything we can to help artists achieve their goals. This brings us to our next point.
#2 You’ll make more money with a distributor that promotes you and treats you as a business partner
The 100% royalty is a nice marketing gimmick. While it sounds great at first, its potentially misleading. Getting a feature on iTunes or another service, and having a distributor promote you via its mailing list, social media, blog, etc. is invaluable and will grow your sales. If you sold 100 albums on iTunes and earned 100% royalties without any promotional help , you would earn $700 after iTunes keeps their 30% cut. But with a feature on iTunes, or simply more eyes on your music, you could easily double the number of sales. In this scenario, you would gross $1400 after iTunes’ fee. If ONErpm keeps 15% of that, you still earn $1190. That’s better than what you would have earned going it alone, which brings us to our next point.
#3 Why go it alone? DIY doesn’t mean being alone. Forging the right partnerships is key, and your digital distributor can play a vital role in your career
Services that charge annual fees are ambivalent about your success. In fact, you are their product, not your music. The majority of artists need a service that cares and whose interests and incentives are aligned with theirs.
Other factors to consider:
When choosing the right digital distributor for you, there are other considerations to factor in besides the revenue share percentage, such as:
At the end of the day, different artists have different needs. If you’re Sufjan Stevens, who has a huge devoted fan base, and release an album on your own, going with a 100% royalty service might be the best option. But the vast majority of artists are better off working with a distributor whose incentives are aligned with their own.
For more info, check out our mission page