The internet has all but obliterated physical music distribution. However, it has also opened up a number of new paths to success. Perhaps too many paths. There are streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, video providers like YouTube and internet radio. Between them, it can be difficult for artists, especially independent ones, to corral the various sources and streams.
This is where Repost Network comes in. Founded in 2015, the Los Angeles-based company provides comprehensive distribution services, all while allowing the artists to remain independent.
One Stop Shop
According to their website, Repost’s mission is to “help artists make a living through their audiences online….by giving musicians, labels, and collectives control over the platforms they care the most about.” Repost not only helps with distribution to dozens of platforms, they also handle content protection and offer marketing services.
This may sound like the busywork of a traditional record label but Repost’s co-founder and CEO Jeff Ponchick is quick to clear up the difference.
“For a distributor, we’d be seen as insanely expensive, taking 30 percent of artists’ money while others take five percent,” Ponchick told ReadWrite last year. “But we offer label services and marketing the way a record label does, without taking any ownership of the music itself. It’s a way to make it OK to remain independent, for musicians to avoid signing with a label. They can make $20,000 to $30,000 per month and retain ownership.”
As Readwrite notes, “Repost sees itself as a tech company in music, not a music company in tech.” Because of this, they can scale in ways that wouldn’t be possible for a traditional label. According to a December press release, Repost currently has a roster of 6,000 independent artists, to whom they’ve paid out tens of millions of dollars.
A lot of their services are algorithmically-driven, all the way down to the artists they accept. Artists applying to Repost have their SoundCloud accounts checked by an algorithm that uses a variety of factors to determine their viability. As a result, Readwrite says their rejections have been at a rate of 20-to-1. But by being selective, Repost is able to maximize their returns, while not taking on too many clients.
One of the most important services that Repost provides is fingerprinting on YouTube. First, the company will submit all sound recording rights information to the online video giant. YouTube then uses a “fingerprinting” algorithm to identify videos containing their recordings. When a match is identified, the video is “claimed” by Repost’s artist, entitling them to advertising or subscription revenues.
In December, Repost launched a new service that automatically allows its artists to share revenue with collaborators. Given the complicated process of untangling royalties to multiple parties, this “Split Pay” feature is an exciting feature.
More Than Music
Although they primarily service artists, Repost is also working with labels and podcasters to help maximize revenues. As Repost’s co-founder and CTO Joseph Mason told Readwrite, it’s all about serving the growing market of bedroom-based creators.
“Music production is cheaper and more accessible than ever before—anyone with a laptop and Ableton can produce a hit track,” Mason said. “Because of this, a ‘middle class’ of musicians has emerged, and more and more money is shifting into the mid and long tail.”
The larger than life music icons of the ’80s and ’90s aren’t coming back. Instead, we now have a large market of smaller, niche artists. If Repost helps them get paid, enabling them to focus on their art, all of us win.