Hello there good people of earth, I am writing from rainy Boston, MA. You know I sometimes think about life and how a lot of us grow up, go to college. get married, have kids, and try to stay in line. The world is changing so much that I wonder if that way will still be the way 10-20 years from now. Is that the key to happiness, I am not sure?! Anyways I am always fascinated by crowdsourcing, the whole idea gets me excited. RABBL, the leading U.S. service for crowdsourcing concerts, has raised a total of $775,000 from investors, led by a $340,000 investment from Foundry Group’s FG Angels Syndicate. This is great as it can help take risk out of putting on a concert as you will know the demand prior. Also in the news Rumblefish (www.rumblefish.com), the leader in micro-licensing and YouTube royalty administration, is demonstrating unprecedented growth. Videos using Rumblefish-licensed music now receive more than 1 billion monthly views on YouTube and can spike to upwards of 1.4 billion monthly views (January 2014). That is amazing news as those views will be another revenue stream for artists. This week we are switching it up and interviewing Lee Parsons who with his brother have helped over 60,000 artists distribute their music to a world-wide audience through Ditto Music – http://dittomusic.com. Lee is a true visionary and passionate about music & his company. Join us today as Lee speaks on starting Ditto Music, streaming/subscription services, promotion & marketing, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today?
I am in Nashville today working in our US office. One of the friendliest and most vibrant cities in the world. There are around 10,000 musicians here and they call it a drinking town with a music problem. Which is perfect.
Stoli: At what point in life did you fall in love with music and start to create your own?
I was always pretty interested in why people created music and how come some songs were great and some songs were terrible and what the magic ingredient was and how to find it. So that started me loving music, learning the history and trying to come up with stuff myself. Then I got into the business side and learned to leave it to the professionals!
Stoli: How did you come to start Dittomusic.com and how did you come up with the name Ditto?
We wanted to release our own music. It took 6 months to get a label set up, get all the codes and finally get it on sale. By the time we had done this our fan-base had disappeared. Realising this was a problem, we started distributing and doing the paperwork for our friends, charging them a tiny fee and letting them keep all of the royalties and rights. Then we managed to get the first evert digital-only Top 40 single and it really took off.
The name is a funny story. We spent the first 12 months of Ditto in a tiny flat in Birmingham trying to get Ditto off the ground. I was renting out inflatable castles for kids parties and my brother was fixing peoples’ computers. His computer company was called Ditto Computing. Because we could only afford the one phone-line, we had to call it ‘Ditto’ Music, so that when people called we could say “Hello Ditto” and then work out if they wanted an inflatable castle, computer repair or online music distribution! Luckily the distribution worked because we knew nothing about computers and the inflatable castles were a nightmare when it rained!
Stoli: What separates Dittomusic.com from the other music distribution services?
I don’t like to concentrate on competitors. If your competitors are doing well you panic and if they are doing badly you pat yourself on the back. So I’m not sure what their USP is but I know that everyone here at Ditto still knows most of our customers on a first name basis and truly cares about their music. We take phone calls, we hold meetings, I’ve had bands stay at my house! We also offer press/label services, so we help you find pluggers, producers, TV, radio. Whatever your budget is we will work with you on your career. And that’s what makes things exciting for us.
Stoli: If I was to use Dittomusic.com for my single/album how long would it take to get my music to the digital stores you work with?
iTunes is really fast! We can get you on iTunes in just a few hours. Spotify and Amazon take around 5 days and the rest of the stores take 10-14 days.
Stoli: I see huge potential coming in the form of streaming. How can Dittomusic.com help an artist get music on streaming/subscription services and make $$ as well?
People are scared of streaming but there are three things to look at:
1. If you look at the highest streaming artist, they are always also the highest sellers.
2. Think about the Netflix model. It’s making money from OLD content. Think of Spotify like a huge sound library that’s going to keep your music online and making money for years to come.
3. A big trend for our artists at the moment is to put your music on Spotify BEFORE it’s released and then take it down for the first two weeks of iTunes release. That means users will get used to playing it and then it disappears! That prompts them to buy on iTunes. It’s a smart strategy and we always advise artists to use it.
Stoli: How does it make you feel when you think about how you have helped over 60,000 artists distribute their music to a world-wide audience?
We provide a service, musicians deserve the credit. If you imagine, that’s 60,000 bands out there creating music, playing live and doing things on their own terms, that is what’s really exciting!
It’s never been a numbers game for us. That’s the reason we are still 100% privately owned. I get most excited when I see artists work hard and progress. When Bastille released ‘Flaws’ the first time, just under two years ago, we helped them with their chart registration. I saw them play to 8 people and they slept on our vice-presidents couch! Now they are selling millions of albums. Artists can find that kind of success unattainable but you just have to work hard and above all, be nice to people.
Ditto Music – The Professional Way To Distribute Your Music
Stoli: Dittomusic.com allows artists to distribute music without a label but what about promotion & marketing?
We now offer promotion! We asked some of our artists for advice and we came up with a base price that they could afford, which was £199. Then we worked out how much we can do for them. For that price they get an online plugger and the results have been fantastic. Then we have our range of label services to get them radio/TV and link them with the kind of people that up until now only worked with major label artists. It’s taken us a long time to solidify those links worldwide. Now we are happy that we can provide real value to artists.
Ditto Music vs Tunecore
Stoli: Name 2-3 musicians/bands you have worked with that you are a fan of?
So many! We worked with Sam Smith back in 2008 and we had to do a double take when we saw his debut solo track as he had improved so much. Veyu, Starslinger, Royal Blood all smashing it at the moment. I can reel off a bunch of big names but they don’t need the promo. Those are the ones to look out for!
Stoli: When you listen to music do you buy downloads or stream and what platform/device do you use?
I pay for my streaming service, I buy on iTunes and I buy CDs. If I want to support an artist I always make sure I buy as well as stream. It makes such a difference to them starting out and means they can go on to keep making great music. If there is no money then there are no more albums. So always support your favourite artists.
Stoli: If you weren’t running Dittomusic.com what do you think you would be doing for a living?
CEO of Apple. Tennis. World is my oyster. Probably go back and increase the inflatable castle empire. Seriously though I don’t like looking back. Figure out your goal and make consistent improvements each day to get there. If you follow that strategy over a long period of time it’s impossible to fail.
Stoli: What is your vision for technology in music in the next 5 years and how can independent artists take advantage to make more money and fans?
We move in 20 year cycles. Downloading music will be obsolete in the next 5 years and by 2020 people will be used to having their music packaged into their monthly payments alongside TV and internet. We can talk tech and fads all we want but musicians just need to concentrate on making great music. Too many musicians spend a long time promoting something they have spent very little time making. If your music is truly great, people will hear it and want to talk about it. Spend time getting it right. Once it’s great, send it out and people will want to shout about it.
Stoli: What is coming up for Dittomusic.com and where can we follow you online?
We have really exciting things happening in the next few months. Along with a new site launch we are launching a physical product called “Record Label In A Box.”
We love distribution but we always wanted to create a tangible product, something you can hold in your hands. It’s taken two years to create RLIAB and it is your whole music company start-up in a box. From a registered limited company, record label, bank account, label contracts to sign artists, do your taxes. To memberships to societies like AIM and then help with management and promotion. And of these are included in a beautiful looking box you can get one for just £99!
We are holding two RLIAB launch days this summer which will be a full day of training from the cream of the music industry. And the first 100 RLIAB pre-orders will get to go to this event free of charge.
Also you can follow me at @ceoleeparsons or Ditto at @dittomusic