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Apple Music launches preferred distributor programme

Apple Music has properly launched its recently announced Preferred Distribution Programme. This instigates a three-tier system of approved distributors who are pumping tunes into its streaming platform. CD Baby, Sony Music’s The Orchard and German company Kontor New Media are handed the top ‘Preferred Plus’ status at launch.

The three levels in the programme – Preferred Plus, Preferred and Approved – are based on the number of tracks distributed to Apple Music each quarter, the level of service offered to users, and the number of rejections that occur when music is pushed into the system. Content can be rejected based on the quality of metadata, copyright claims and publishing discrepancies.

Top level distributors must deliver 40,000 songs per quarter, have a low rejection rate, and offer advanced customer features and analytics. They are rewarded with early access to new Apple Music features.

“Since the launch of iTunes – and before – CD Baby has been collecting robust metadata from the artists we distribute”, CD Baby said in a statement responding to its Preferred Plus status. “That helps us ensure the music we deliver to our partners has a low ‘rejection rate’. It added that being one of Apple fave distros “will open up new possibilities for the artists we serve”.

Apple has always scored distributors over the way they provide content to iTunes, though this scheme seems more public. Apple Music’s main rival Spotify also has a similar preferred distributor scheme already in place. It recently announced, of course, a closer alliance with one DIY distributor in particular, DistroKid. But it also has three ‘Preferred’ distributors in the form of CD Baby, The Orchard and FUGA.

Aside from the competitive advantage being preferred by any one service may or may not provide, CD Baby and The Orchard have bragging rights to being the only two distributors to be top ranked by both Spotify and Apple Music.

There are 20 distributors to achieve Apple’s ‘Preferred’ status – distributing 10,000 songs per quarter – including the aforementioned DistroKid and Kobalt’s AWAL, Believe Digital, IDOL, Tunecore and FUGA. A further nineteen have been marked ‘Approved’. See the full list here.