Between labels and music platforms, what is the role of a digital distributor?

It’s about making music accessible because most artists and labels do not have access to live music platforms. But there is a framework contracts with most platforms in the world and that sign regularly with new platforms as they appear. But that’s a somewhat restrictive definition: If we take the process in the details, there are two big aspects in our business, one rather commercial and the other more technical.

Let’s start with the commercial part, which consists primarily of marketing the content of the labels, so to distribute it as a physical distributor does with traditional stores. 

What is a music platform?

The same thing is done with all sites, portals, or digital players to monetize the dematerialized music: download services, streaming, telephone operators, etc. named “music platforms” in the trade jargon. It’s a pretty long process where the first phase of work is talking with the label, exchange information and build together a business strategy, taking into account the content artistic, the label’s strategy, its promo-marketing plan and harmonizing it with the release in physics since the album is released for download and CD in the same period.

Online distributor or digital distributor?

Online distributor and digital distributor – it’s the same. The online distributor distributes digital files. What will be different is the way the file is put to provision: streaming or download. So, streaming or downloading? These are two different ways to listen to music. Technically, in both cases, there is a flow of music information which is transmitted from a music platform to an auditor. The difference is mainly on the quality of encoding, the “purchase” of the file or its listen only online.  In fact the differentiation is done on notions of diffusion or distribution.

Cloud computing, aggregator or distributor?

The sound file is not stored on the user’s computer but in the “cloud” of global servers. Operators offering such services rely on an economic model based on subscriptions. Aggregator or distributor? Very quickly, the term aggregator was replaced by distributor, much more speaking for the common industry and which evokes the obligations related to the distribution of music: a particular network, with a territory, references, exclusivities, the ability to highlighting, not to mention the ability to encode files to make them available to most download music platforms in the world. 

Currently, the aggregators still exist, but are merely technological intermediaries between producers (or labels) and the digital world. They do not make selection criteria (unlike a distributor) and offer a performance on the title or album by paying with a percentage on sales or a flat rate. As part of the dematerialized music, we speak of bundle for the coupled offers. A channel manager is the equivalent of the so-called label manager distributor in the distribution of audio-visual media. 

What is an audio-visual media service?

Audiovisual media services, or ADM, are defined as:

– A service as defined in the treaty on the functioning of the European Union, that must be economical, and excludes from the scope of the directive activities whose primary purpose is not economic and which are not in competition with television broadcasting. Private websites and services that consist in providing audiovisual content created by private users for sharing and exchange purposes. 

– This economic criterion does not exclude non-profit associations or the fact that the state or a public body provides the service or the services provided. The essential characteristic of the remuneration resides in the fact that it constitutes the economic counterpart of the benefit due to which is the editorial responsibility of a service provider of audio-visual media. 

– The editorial responsibility of the service must be that of an audio-visual service provider. Editorial responsibility refers to the quality of a relationship between an object, the audiovisual media service, and requires the exercise of effective control over the selection of programs only on their organization. 

– These two checks must be cumulative. Thus, some platforms are excluded, for example video platforms. Some of these platforms are today experiencing an evolution, with an editorial control that can develop on the platform as a whole or part of it. The situation must therefore appreciate on a case-by-case basis, whose main purpose is the supply of programs for the purpose to inform, entertain or educate the general public. 

The purpose of the service is an important concept because the supply of programs must be the main object. This criterion introduces a principle of proportionality insofar as the primary or secondary broadcast of programs excludes (or not) the service of the field application. The definition should exclude all services whose main purpose is not the supply of programs, in other words, services whose audiovisual content is secondary and does not constitute the main purpose.

Missions of audiovisual media public service 

Can the provision of an audiovisual media service be considered a public service mission? The concept of public service has long been established as “one of the most important of state activity ” it can not be easily defined. When the notion is born in the early twentieth century, it defined itself as “Any activity whose fulfillment must be assured, regulated and controlled by the rulers because the fulfillment of this activity is essential to the achievement and fulfillment of social interdependence and that it is of such a nature that it can only be achieved through the intervention of force 

This definition appears to be outdated at two levels, determine the indispensability of a social cause to such an extent that it can not be realized than by public intervention? On the other hand, do not the facts demonstrate that any activity may at any time be established as a public service or no longer receive the qualification.