Mapping The Digital Supply Chain

A major new research project with the Association Of Independent Music

CMU Insights has teamed up with the Association Of Independent Music for a major new research project called Mapping The Digital Supply Chain.

The research will, for the first time, map the entire digital music supply chain, identifying how content flows from label to streaming platform, how the data and money then flows back, and the businesses involved along the way.

While the headlines have focused on the record industry’s big shift from selling CDs, to selling downloads, to monetising streams, behind the scenes there has also been a revolution in music distribution – and not just because distributors now distribute digital content instead of physical product.

Many distributors have diversified the range of services they offer to independent record labels – with some rebranding themselves as ‘label services’ businesses to reflect that change.

Some of those new services directly relate to the rise of streaming, like playlist pitching and usage data portals, though others simply see distributors getting involved in other existing aspects of the record industry, becoming more proactive in things marketing, sync and neighbouring rights.

At the same time some distributors have actually developed a more streamlined offer for those labels that have direct licensing deals with the streaming platforms – often a Merlin-negotiated licence – and have their own in-house marketing expertise, but who still need digital delivery partners.

And, of course, some distributors now work directly with artists as well as labels. Indeed, some new players in the sector work predominantly with self-releasing artists.

Mapping The Digital Supply Chain will review the market, the kinds of companies working for labels and self-releasing artists, and the services those businesses offer. The aim is to ensure that independent labels are fully informed when choosing their distribution partners, and have an understanding of the pros and cons of different approaches.

Finally, the project will also seek to draw a digital music supply chain map for the UK, in particular looking at where service providers utilise other partners, and considering where issues around data, transparency and efficiency may occur in the wider process.

‘Mapping The Digital Supply Chain’ formally launched at AIM House at The Great Escape 2018. You can download the launch presentation here.

In the coming months we will continue to review the UK music distribution market, survey the AIM membership about their distribution partners and requirements, and begin mapping the end-to-end digital music supply chain.