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Creating Your Own Offline Music Distribution Network

Malljamz-distro Recent news of the development of a CD distribution network via 7-Eleven by Mall Jamz and Thump Records reminded me of one of my favorite topics, creating distribution platforms that use networks of retail and other commercial outlets that do not typically sell music. This concept has mostly been explored on a local level with diverse outlets that one's local fanbase frequents, for instance an indie rock band getting local fashion shops, bookstores and coffeehouses to carry their album, and on a national level with major chains, including Starbucks and Whole Foods.

However, I think there is a lot more possible for indie artists, labels and other music businesses to develop scalable distribution networks based on targeting individual and small chain operations that serve relevant markets.

There are different ways to approach alternative outlets. Mall Jamz and Thump Records are distributing genre compilations via 7-Eleven targeting individual store demographics in an effort open to indie artists and labels. When indie bands target local alternative outlets, they tend to focus on shops that serve their target market which often clusters around specific neighborhoods but is less about neighborhood demographics than about local shops that serve particular subcultures.

However, I think the strongest scalable network would follow the example of Zumba's new music marketing platform, which is focusing on Latin music suitable for Zumba exercise classes, by targeting outlets that would actually use your style or genre of music in their everyday activities. If successful locally, one has a strong case and possible contacts for expanding one's distribution beyond a local level to a regional or national scale.

Possibilities include:

  • Yoga studios and meditation centers for meditative or relaxing music.
  • Dance studios and gyms for upbeat music with varying rhythmic foundations.
  • Sex toy shops for music designed to "get your freak on."
  • Bookstores for music appropriate for browsing, more upbeat than meditation music but not so upbeat as party music.
  • Ethnic restaurants for related music traditions.

The ideal is to find establishments that usually don't carry music and would be willing to feature your music at a front counter or similar hotspot while periodically playing the music as well. For short term local efforts, one might make this happen via good will. However, to maintain local networks and to expand to larger regions, one has to either pay-to-play or focus marketing efforts on encouraging folks to check the outlets for one's music.

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. Flux Research is his business writing hub and All World Dance: World Dance News is his primary web project. To suggest websites and related topics for review, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.