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March 2010

How Andrea Mann got her music into iTunes and Amazon MP3

Sean McManus interviews jazz artist Andrea Mann about how she used CD Baby to distribute her music digitally online, and finds out how digital distribution can boost your profile as well as your sales

Andrea Mann - press promo photo

How did you choose CD Baby over all the other distributors out there?

I wasn't aware of any other distributors at the time! And in fact, I went to CD Baby initially because I knew they were well-known in the USA, and could possibly help to raise awareness of my music there, and easily ship CDs out in the States. Essentially, I wanted a credible 'shop window' for my debut album other than my own website. It was only after investigating CD Baby's services that I realised they did digital distribution too, including iTunes and Amazon. Also, importantly, they get your music streamed on Rhapsody (and now Spotify), if you want it to be. Rhapsody ended up being invaluable in terms of gaining some sales (digital and physical) and recognition in the US, as its Jazz Editor spotted my album, and put it in his Jazz Pick Of The Week, alongside Sinatra and Kyle Eastwood. (This also gave me great PR quotes to use!).

What was the CD Baby process like?

Very easy. I emailed them the artwork for my CD cover, and sent them physical copies of my CD (about 8 initially, I think). Information re. tracks, general album info, etc, is all filled in via their website, via a members' login area. Their website is brilliantly designed in terms of uploading information (you can change it easily too and see results instantly online) and ease of use. Also, any email enquiries were dealt with quickly and in a friendly way.

What was the most difficult thing about the process?

Being patient while they got it onto iTunes..! ;-) It takes a few weeks.

What results have you seen from having your music in Amazon, iTunes etc?

Not massive ones in terms of sales - BUT I feel that without it being on iTunes especially (not Amazon so much), I would look very amateur - it is simply expected now that you should be able to buy any album you like on iTunes. Plus, as I say, getting it on Rhapsody helped raise my profile (see above re the Jazz Editor). Rhapsody also provide online content to Rolling Stone - so next thing you know, my name pops up if you, say, read Diana Krall's profile on RS online, as a 'Contemporary' of Krall!

What advice can you offer other musicians about distributing their music on the internet?

Get it out to as many places as possible - they are all 'shop windows' for you, and you are simply never going to sell many/enough CDs or digital tracks through your website alone. Also: musicians have to accept that a) most sales are digital now - you can't cling on to selling physical CDs, it's simply not how most people consume music now; and b) the new, most important development that has come out of the physical-to-digital shift is that, going forward, music is no longer about *ownership* but about *accessibility*. Spotify is the model of this. I am a Spotify premium member, which means that for £10 a month I can take as many songs that I like from Spotify and put them on to my iPod Touch to listen to. I can't access the MP3s - ie I don't *own* this music and *do* anything with it, in a sense - but I can listen to it, I can *access* the music I want to listen to, any time I want to. So, as a consumer, why on earth would I spend £7.99 per album on iTunes now?! ;-)

Why did you choose to release your record independently?

Because the choices of jazz label in the UK are limited; and I realised that fewer and fewer people go into record stores - so why not just sell it myself, via my site? Plus, to be honest, I also couldn't bear the idea of it being rejected by a label! I simply wanted to make the album I wanted to make, without worrying about it being liked by someone in the industry; in a strange way, it really frees you up as an artist!

What's the best thing about internet distribution for independent musicians?

The point I made above about being freed up to make the music you want to make (ie internet distribution can be done without having been accepted by a label); and therefore the degree of control you have. Plus, it increases your market, of course - people thousands of miles away can be listening to your album, and becoming fans of yours, with just one click.

Find out more about Andrea at her website.


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