Distributors Don’t Die

By | July 27, 2009


The Internet makes it easy for artist and audience to connect directly, but it does not eliminate a market for distribution companies, as distribution costs are nonzero. However, these costs do not justify a royalty from every sale.

I have implied, or even explied* that distributors (record labels, publishers, movie producers) are not necessary in the Internet era because artists have direct and immediate access to consumers. We don’t need the middle man, and should not be creating laws to protect their business model when said model has no benefit to society.

In the past few months, I have been acting as a distributor. The author is my father, and the consumers are anyone interested in reading his writing. I’ve published two of his books online in html and epub formats and intend to add more works and formats in the future. I encourage anyone reading this to check out this new author, because as his publisher, one of my duties is marketing.

As a distributor for this author, I have spent many many hours proofreading and editing his work. I have spent many more hours designing his site and will be spending several weeks getting the books laid out for hard-cover and paper-back binding.

I am doing this for free as a personal favour to the author and because I believe in him and his work. In a normal business transaction, this is a service that somebody somewhere must pay for. Thus, there is still a market for distribution companies. There are two ways that they can expect remuneration.

1) The artist sells their work to the distributor and the distributor gambles that the work will sell. The publisher covers the cost of distribution and receives a royalty on each sale of the work. The royalty is very high to cover substantial losses should the gamble fail.

2) The artist pays an up-front one-time payment to the distributor for their services. An analogy is hiring a plumber to do the pipe-fitting for a public toilet. He doesn’t get paid for every flush.

Current recording, publishing, and movie networks use the former model. This model is failing. Next-generation artists are realizing that the second option means much greater income per sale. A surge of independent editing, remastering, printing, and marketing businesses will start to eat a larger and larger share of the distribution market as artists realize the greater return on investment. More competition means lower costs for artists seeking an audience, which in turn implies lower ultimate costs for audiences purchasing a work.

I offer independent book-publishing services including editing, proofreading, printing and online distribution. I’m learning as I go, so my fees are low. If you want to gamble that I can learn faster and cheaper than you can get a large publishing house to accept your work, get in touch.

The current record labels, movie producers, and book publishers are losing the oligarchical control they are used to. They don’t like this. They want to invent artificial laws that make it harder for artists to be published without their blessing. Please support your local Pirate Party.

*Explied is not a word, but if it was a word it would mean “explicitly stated”. I think it should be a word, therefore I encourage you to use it at your earliest opportunity. I made up this word, but google insists that I was not the first to invent it.

2 thoughts on “Distributors Don’t Die

  1. Xentac

    Interesting idea… rather than making the author’s work the work-for-hire, you make the publisher/label/producer’s work the work-for-hire. Neat idea.

  2. Andrew

    I agree 100% with what you’ve said. The old model needs to die a quick and painful death in order for the world to move on.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *