Thursday, December 7, 2023

Symphonic Distribution Review

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Symphonic Distribution Buyer's Guide

About Symphonic Distribution

Visit Symphonic: https://bit.ly/3PpJpWP

Symphonic Distribution is an independent company owned by DJ/Producer Jorge Brea. It seemed to have an objective of forming more intimate partnerships with artists than its competitors. As a result, artists had to apply and be accepted because Symphonic had to investigate whether they were worthy partners. Now, Symphonic is no longer by application only.

All artists can now sign up and pay an annual fee of $19.99 to distribute music through their platform as they’ve introduced a new plan called Starter. Symphonic still has an application-based service but it’s now called Partner.

Symphonic music distribution has partnerships with platforms popular with indie artists such as AudioMack, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. A few of the newer distributors will get your music in Soundcloud but distribution to AudioMack and Bandcamp isn’t as common.

With AudioMack, Symphonic monetizes your audio which justifies going through them rather than uploading directly. It’s another revenue source for artists because AudioMack is a rising music platform that is growing in popularity.

Distribution to Bandcamp I find a bit weird because it’s another direct upload platform. Symphonic’s music distribution service requires you already have a Bandcamp account with a page you’ve designed. Additionally, you have to pay $9.99 per month for distribution to the platform. Effectively, you’d be paying an additional $119 annually for what you could easily do yourself.

Where Symphonic distribution shines is with EDM and distribution to stores like BeatPort, Traxsource, and more that have a strong focus on the genre. Both of the platforms mentioned require an application and must approve artists. The approval process doesn’t change because you’ve chosen to distribute through Symphonic. Hopefully, it improves your odds of getting accepted.

Symphonic also has its own supply of playlists so they’re not simply sending your music off to Spotify’s editorial team and hoping for the best. They can actually get your music placed because they have playlists they control. Here’s a list of their most notable playlists:

Symphonic Distribution – Content ID

A great thing about Symphonic distribution is that they state that they show the videos they’ve claimed through Content ID. This feature provides you with the ability to hold or release claims depending on how your music is being used rather than a blanket approach. If your video is being used in a manner that benefits you, maybe you release the claim. Other distributors don’t give you the option because you don’t see the videos they’ve claimed.

Their share of Content ID revenue is pretty hefty at 30% but being able to see the videos separates the service from competing offers.

Symphonic Distribution – SoundExchange

SoundExchange has a monetization threshold for the distribution of payments. As the owner of the Sound Recording you’re entitled to a portion of SoundExchange royalties. As a performer you’re entitled to additional SoundExchange royalties. Unfortunately, not only does SoundExchange have a monetization threshold, but they don’t even allow you to see a royalty report until you qualify for a payment. As a result of their restrictions, you don’t know how close you are to receiving a payment or if your activity is actively being tracked.

Symphonic will collect and distribute to you the Sound Recording owner’s share of your SoundExchange royalties. It’s only half of what you’re owed but it’s better than zero. Plus, it allows you to investigate whether you’re owed a payment as a performer.

Symphonic Distribution – Account access levels

Working with a team is easier to manage with Symphonic than other distributors due to their account access levels. One group of members from your team can have the ability to do things like create releases and withdraw funds while another can only view activity. With most other distributors, it’s all or nothing. Anyone that has access to your account, has access to everything. That’s not the case with Symphonic and it’s a welcomed change.

Symphonic Music Distribution – Terms of Agreement

There are a few things with Symphonic’s terms that I take issue with and I highlight the passages as well as my interpretation below. Briefly, I’ll go over the juiciest aspects. First, there are two Terms of Agreements for Symphonic. One governs their Starter service, the other governs their Partner service.

Symphonic’s Starter service locks you into an exclusive agreement with the releases you distribute through Symphonic. Their Partner Terms of Agreement locks you into an exclusive agreement for all your releases including the ones you haven’t used Symphonic to distribute.

Terms of Agreement – Symphonic Starter 

Client Content. “Client Content” consists of those sound recordings featuring the performances of Artist (as defined below) as the primary artist, together with related video recordings (both short-form and long-form), artwork and metadata, that are owned or controlled by Client (or by Client’s affiliates or companies acquired by Client, or with whom Client has merged, or from whom Client has obtained rights) and which Client elects to deliver to Symphonic

Client retains the right to distribute any and all content other than Client Content itself and/or via third party distributors during the Term.

The agreement applies to all Sound Recordings owned by you that you choose to distribute through Symphonic. However, music you don’t distribute through Symphonic you can distribute with any other company. 

(b) Appointment as Sole Distributor (for Client Content Only). Client agrees that this Agreement is exclusive during the Term and throughout the Territory for the distribution of Client Content by Symphonic via any and all digital and electronic distribution means and media (whether now known or existing in the future). Client grants Symphonic the exclusive right to create digital and/or electronic copies and compilations, to distribute, to sell copies, to stream and to publicly perform, to sublicense and to otherwise exploit Client Content via electronic, digital and mobile platforms during the Term. Client shall not, during the Term, license or attempt to license Client Content to DSP’s without prior written approval from Symphonic. All pre-existing relationships with outside DSP’s related to Client Content, if any, are to be disclosed to Symphonic at the time of entering into this Agreement. During the Term, Client shall not itself make Client Content available via any electronic, digital or mobile platform or channel.

You’re granting Symphonic the EXCLUSIVE right to distribute your music digitally as well as the exclusive right to create digital and electronic copies, compilations, to sell copies, to stream and publicly perform, to sublicense, and to otherwise exploit your music through electronic, digital, and mobile platforms during the term of the agreement. Technically, this means you can’t upload your music video to your own Youtube channel without Symphonic’s permission. It also means you couldn’t sell your music on Bandcamp or your own website. Additionally, you cannot grant any third parties the right to do these things so you couldn’t use another company for Content ID if you didn’t like Symphonic’s rate with that particular service. Note, there’s a BIG difference between having a rule and enforcing a rule.

(d) Takedowns. If Symphonic takes down any Client Content (each, a “Takedown”) pursuant to Section 10(g) of this Agreement, without limiting Symphonic’s available rights or remedies, Symphonic will charge a USD $20 processing fee per release subject to any Takedown.

Symphonic charges $20 per track they have to takedown due to violating their policies on copyright infringement and streaming fraud. 

5. Term; Territory.

(a) Term. The term of this Agreement will be for an initial contract period (the “Initial Period”) commencing on the Effective Date and ending on the one (1) year anniversary thereof.. After the Initial Period, this Agreement will auto-renew (and Client’s credit card for the subsequent Annual Fee will be charged accordingly) under the same terms and conditions as are applicable during the Initial Period for successive one (1) year periods (each, a “Renewal Period”) until either party terminates the Term of the Agreement as provided herein. Either party may terminate the Term of this Agreement by giving written notice (a “Termination Notice”) to the other party prior to the end of the then current contract period. In addition and without limiting the foregoing, (i) Client may terminate the Term of this Agreement by contacting the HelpDesk via SymphonicMS; and/or (ii) Symphonic may (in its discretion) elect to terminate the Term of this Agreement without notice to Client (and issue Takedowns (as defined below) for Client Content) if Symphonic does not receive payment of the Annual Fee for the subsequent contract period prior to the expiration of the then current contract period. The effective date of any termination of the Term of this Agreement pursuant to this Section 5(a) will be the expiration of the then current contract period and Client understands and agrees that all Annual Fees are non-refundable irrespective any termination pursuant hereto (unless otherwise agreed by Symphonic in its sole discretion). The Initial Period and the Renewal Period(s), if any, are collectively referred to as the “Term.” Written notice to Symphonic will be considered sufficient when received via Symphonic’s online help center and at the address and method set forth in Section 17 below. Without limiting the foregoing, or any of Symphonic’s other available rights or remedies, if Client does not terminate the Term of this Agreement in accordance herewith and if Symphonic does not receive payment of the Annual Fee for the subsequent contract period prior to the expiration of the then current contract period, then Symphonic may deduct the Annual Fee for subsequent contract period(s) from any and all Royalties (as defined below) that may otherwise be due Client hereunder.

The agreement must be terminated in writing which can be done through the Help Desk in your Symphonic dashboard. Once informed of termination, the agreement will last for the remaining duration and then expire. If you terminate with 6 months left on the agreement, you’re subject to the terms for 6 months. You wouldn’t be able to redistribute your release with another distributor until after the 6 month period passed that would end your agreement with Symphonic. 

If you decided to use Symphonic and 1 month in you decided it wasn’t for you, you’d have to wait 11 months before you could move the releases you distributed through Symphonic to another distributor. 

(b) Other than as specifically provided in this Agreement, Symphonic will not be required to make any payments of any kind or nature whatsoever to Client or to any other person or entity for or in connection with the acquisition, exercise or exploitation of rights by Symphonic hereunder or otherwise in connection with Client Content or this Agreement. Client further hereby acknowledges and agrees that Client shall have no legal or equitable interest of any kind, or any right whatsoever, at any time, to receive any royalties or other revenues generated as a result of or in any way relating to streams, transmissions, impressions, plays, views, engagements, clicks, logs, or other exploitations of Client Content which Symphonic, in its sole and absolute discretion, suspects or deems to constitute, or otherwise attributes to Improper Activity (as defined below).

This addresses payments that come from things like Facebook’s initial licensing agreement and Spotify’s IPO payouts. In the case of Facebook, their initial music monetization structure paid a lump sum to rights holders based on marketshare – which groups got the most sales, streams, etc. – for record labels, distributors, etc. to distribute to the artists they represented however they saw fit. Facebook wasn’t tracking individual usage at the time so they couldn’t pay per usage of an individual song, as a result, these were blanket payments. Tunecore sent out a notice stating that their artists would be receiving a payment based on marketshare, other distributors did not. Symphonic appears to be stating that they are not required to pay you anything from revenue they receive that isn’t directly addressed to you. This means you would not have received a percentage of the revenue from Facebook. Twitter may be the next company to be forced into a licensing agreement for music and you will not be entitled to receive any percentage of revenue received by Symphonic from Twitter under this agreement. 

12. Assignment. Symphonic may freely assign this Agreement to any third party, in whole or in part. Symphonic shall notify Client of any such assignment in writing within thirty (30) days of such change, provided that any inadvertent failure by Symphonic to do so will not constitute a breach of this Agreement nor derogate from Symphonic’s rights hereunder. Client may not assign this Agreement, nor any of Client’s rights nor delegate any of Client’s obligations hereunder, without Symphonic’s prior written consent. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the parties’ respective assigns, successors, heirs, and legal representatives.

Symphonic grants itself the ability to pass the exclusive rights its been granted by you on to third party companies. If Symphonic were to get acquired, your exclusive rights would be granted to the acquiring company. Most concerning, they have the ability to pass on your exclusive license to any other company even without an acquisition. 

Terms of Agreement – Symphonic Partner

Client Content. “Client Content” consists of all sound recordings, video recordings (both

short-form and long-form), artwork and related metadata owned or controlled by Client (or by Client’s affiliates or companies acquired by Client, or with whom Client has merged, or from whom Client has obtained rights in/to Client Content), whether created prior to the Effective Date of the Agreement or at anytime during the Term (as defined below).

Appointment as Sole Distributor. Client agrees that this Agreement is exclusive during the

Term and throughout the Territory for the distribution of Client Content by Symphonic via any and all

digital and electronic distribution means and media (whether now known or existing in the future). Client grants Symphonic the exclusive right to create digital and/or electronic copies and compilations, to distribute, to sell copies, to stream and to publicly perform, to sublicense and to otherwise exploit Client Content via electronic, digital and mobile platforms during the Term. Client shall not, during the Term, license or attempt to license Client Content to DSP’s without prior written approval from Symphonic. All pre-existing relationships with outside DSP’s related to Client Content, if any, are to be disclosed to Symphonic at the time of entering into this Agreement. During the Term, Client shall not itself make Client Content available via any electronic, digital or mobile platform or channel.

Symphonic Distribution – Price & Features Chart

StarterPartner
Price$19.99/Annually No Fee
PercentageKeep 100%Negotiated Percentage Rate
UPC & ISRC CodesFree
Ability to bring your own UPC code
Free
Ability to bring your own UPC code
Split PayYes
Free
Yes  
Free
StoresUnlimitedUnlimited
New StoresIncludedIncluded
Youtube Content ID Yes
Keep 70%
Yes
Negotiated Rate
Payment Threshold$50 $50 
Cancelation/
Failure to Pay
TakedownDoesn’t apply
Release DateYesYes
ReleasesUnlimitedUnlimited
Artists1 ArtistUnspecified
Customer SupportBasicPersonalized
Pre-OrdersYes
Free
Yes
Free
Transaction FeesPayPal: 2.9%
Direct Bank Transfer: $1
PayPal: 2.9%
Direct Bank Transfer: $1
AdvancesYes
Threshold: $5K Annually
Yes
Threshold: $5K Annually
Sync DealsNoNo
TaxesSubject to Tax TreatySubject to Tax Treaty
Red FlagsNoNo

Symphonic Distribution – Stores

StoresDistrokidSymphonicTunecore
Spotify ✅
Apple Music 
Facebook/Instagram
TikTok
Soundcloud Go/Soundcloud
Tidal
Amazon Music 
Deezer 
Shazam 
Youtube Music 
Youtube Content ID
Soundtrack by Twitch
Audiomack
Bandcamp
Mixcloud
Beatsource
iHeartRadio 
Tencent 
KKBox 
Boomplay 
Pandora 
7Digital / Triller 
Resso 
NetEase 
Nuuday 
Claro Musica
Anghami 
Saavn
Soundtrack 
SnapChat
TouchTunes
Yandex Music 
Qobuz
Joox
Kuack Media Group 
Napster 
Listen on Music Time
Medianet 
Vervelife

Gracenote

Spinlet 

Zvooq

Q.Siic

Music Island 

TimMusic

Boom 

AmuzPlatform

Gaana 

Hungama Music

Wynk 

Peloton 

Yoba

BeatPort 
Adaptr
AMI Entertainment


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