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Record Union is an online music service, created in 2008, that offers artists and labels the means to distribute their digital music to online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, Napster (pay service) and Rhapsody and streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, Wimp and Deezer. It also offers a scheme for people involved in the music industry to become a Record Union ‘A&R’ which sees them helping bands and artists they think are going places to get set up on the service. The A&R is encouraged to recruit and promote artists, and in return earns a 7.5% cut of each single and album sale.
History and Overview
Record Union aims to democratize the digital music industry by enabling all artists to have their music distributed and sold worldwide. On the website musicians can upload and distribute their music to have it sold on major online retailers around the world. The site, based in Stockholm, Sweden, was created in 2008 by Tewonder (one of the leading digital agencies in Europe) and is the brainchild of Fabian Zwedberg and Daniel Nilsson. On the Record Union website. The site was built around the insights of Chris Anderson's book “The Long Tail” and the opportunities the Internet provides for musicians and music listeners.
Record Union pricing is based around the type of release (i.e. whether the user is distributing a Single, EP or Album) and to how many music services which are selected. If the user requires an UPC for a release, these can be bought from Record Union for $8, or can be purchased elsewhere. RecordUnion as today offers several valued priced distribution packages, targeted to various kind of channels. The user can also select a custom set of stories to distribute too, for $1,5 per store. Once a release is available for purchase on the stores and services Record Union distribute music, artists receive 85% of their sales, however the artist may upgrade to 92,5% percent by paying an additional fee of $20. From beginning of 2012, annual renewal fee applies to all new releases, 70% of the upfront cost, however UPC is not included when calculating the renewal fee.
The artist does not waive any of their ownership rights when using the service and the only requirement is that an artist does not have their music available on a specific service via another distributor, in order to prevent duplication of tracks. Another important requirement is that the user publishing material has ownership rights to the music they distribute. Artists can stop using the service whenever they wish, though it can take up to 3 months for their music to be removed from the services where it has been made available.
Music is currently distributed to: Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, eMusic, Wimp, Rdio, Juno, Napster (pay service), 7digital, 24/7 Entertainment, Vidzone, Nokia Music, Masterbeat, Beatport, CDON, HMV DIGITAL, T-mobile, Tesco, iMusica, ICJ Inc and many, many more. A full oveview of where they distribute to can be found on their website.
How the distribution works
An artist on Record Union can upload and distribute an unlimited number of digital music releases from their account. Publishing a release involves 3 steps.
1) The first is to upload the actual audio files that they wish to a release to contain. The audio files uploaded must be in WAV format (16bit, 44.1 kHz 2 channel). 2) The second stage is to add information or "metadata" to their tracks - this includes the name of the track, the name of the artist, genre information and so on. 3) Once all the tracks have been prepared, the artist can proceed to create their digital release. They will again be asked to add information about the release they wish to distribute. At this stage they can also upload their album artwork, set a release date and purchase a UPC (if required) and choose the stores and services they would like to distribute their release to.
Once these steps have been followed the artist can publish their release. If they have a set a release date it will become available on the music services they have chosen on this date. If no release date has been set it will be made available as soon as possible, which can be anywhere between a few days and a few weeks depending on how fast that service processes and makes available new music.
People can apply to become a Record Union A&R, which will see them scouting new bands that they feel are going to do well. The A&R’s help the bands sign up, and can assist them with online promotion. The A&R will then receive a 7.5% cut of the profit from each track/album sale. This percentage does not come out of the artist 85% share of the royalties, but from Record Union's share. Application to the A&R network is done through the Record Union site.
Record Unions official blog, which reports on the digital music business as well as publishing music reviews and stories. Record Union A&R’s contribute stories and news to the blog with the end goal being a blog written by a global network of music enthusiasts scouring their local scene for the best new music.
The pugs name is Hefner and is the friendly face of Record Union. He symbolizes many of the values that Record Union emphasizes. Hefner is the nice, but clever, underdog that will go his own way, not putting too much energy to old paths.