Three music distributors become Apple "Preferred Plus" partners
The Orchard, CD Baby, and EU based aggregator Kontor New Media were named Apple Preferred Plus music distribution partners last week with the launch of the "Apple-Preferred Distribution Program." These three are given features for their users that are not available to other distributors, including Tunecore, DistroKid, AWAL, Ingrooves, oneRPM and several major label controlled aggregators.
Keep in mind, there are different tiers of this distribution program (with "Preferred Plus" being the highest). Apple's "Preferred Plus" status is based on both size and a "low music rejection" rate. 40,000 songs delivered every three months is the threshold for "Preferred Plus" status.
"Preferred" status is available to distributors who deliver 10,000 or more per quarter, but do not meet Apple's rejection standards. Many more distributors are grouped into the "Approved" tier. Music partners are categorized on the music partner search page.
The Orchard, CD Baby, and Kontor can now exclusively offer their clients:
- support for advanced Apple Music and iTunes customer features
- advanced Apple Music and iTunes analytics
- early access to Apple Music and iTunes product features
- Early access to Apple Music and iTunes Sales and Trends features
"CD Baby has a long tradition of investing in Apple’s partner program, going all the way back to the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003 and supporting Apple Music by collaborating around direct artist submissions in 2015" CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux told Hypebot when asked to comment on receiving Apple's top designation. "Where Apple Music leads, we will continue to follow."
We can see that the music streaming environment continues developing rapidly. Spotify recently declared DistroKid as their "Preferred Artist Distributor." Their investment and integration is a clear strategic move. CD Baby, Kontor Media, and The Orchard seemingly have a competitive advantage as they partner with Apple. The company has been profitable for as long as I can remember, while Spotify is still on the hunt.
What about the creators?
The real question that creators need to ask is, "How does all of this help me?" The streaming wars have pushed artists and music makers to question how their music is distributed and what really benefits them. Ideas of exclusivity will only bubble more as companies continue to partner as they fight to out-maneuver their competition.
The competition makes you think that better opportunities will naturally be created for artist community, but the royalty rates are still minimal. Will the large streaming services and digital distribution companies have to find a way to make their services more equitable for artists or will they continue to eat off of their huge economies of scale and brand recognition?