Thinking of setting up a digital label? Or you’re an artist who wants to self-release? There’s never been a better time to do it. You’ll have complete creative control, direct access to sales and royalties, and most importantly the freedom to release what you want, when you want.
If you have an existing label and are searching for a better service, then look no further, we have the tools at hand and provide a level of customer service that can’t be found anywhere else. Welcome to Cygnus Music.
The Cygnus Music company was created from the ground up with one sole purpose – to provide a range of services for labels and artists that are not only transparent, but effective.
Cygnus Music is a music distribution company specialising in setting up, moving and managing digital labels, and distributing them to the biggest music stores online. We have a wide network of stores and streaming sites around the world including Beatport, Deezer, Amazon, iTunes, JunoDownload, Spotify and many more. Check out http://www.cygnusmusic.net/distribution.php for more info.
Some of the key DSP's at Cygnus Music
In this digital age we all benefit from the convenience of modern technology, but there is one aspect of a company that you wouldn’t want automated or online – Customer Service.
We believe that even though we work with electronic music in a digital format, our clients should receive a professional and personal service. Music is individual and varied, so why settle on a ‘one size fits all’ approach, when we can tailor digital distribution, marketing and mastering services to suit your requirements, making selling your music online easy.
Sammy Porter Testimonial
DJ Hatcha Testimonial
With Cygnus Music you’ll receive the tools you’ll need to run a label effectively. You can easily create and schedule releases, choose exclusives with stores and select your own release dates. You can track your sales every day by clicking on the Daily Sales tab, viewing in real-time how your release is selling using the data to measure how effective any PR or marketing campaign is proving to be. We have an Accounting system where you can download your sales statements at any time, and you can use online filtering to export various reports on demand to assist you with creating artist statements.
We have several exclusive services too, including full PPL integration with catalogue submission and royalty collection. Our in house development team have also built our own SmartLink URL generator which are emailed to clients on the day of worldwide release dates, saving you the time of locating the links yourself. We are now working on the next phase of the smartlinks which are Spotify Pre-Saves (normally priced at around £5-£100 per release). At Cygnus Music the smartlink tool is free to all distribution clients.
Our in-house Shop, another exclusive addition to the Cygnus experience, means you can purchase a range of high-quality services to assist your label including Logo Design, Cover Artwork and Banners, Mastering (By Break, Lockjaw & Luke Fletcher), Press Releases, Press Kits, Promo Mail Outs, Biographies, Web Designs and more. This can be paid for via Card, Paypal or via your label funds. We also have an established YouTube MCN with hundreds of high-quality partnered channels using original and licensed content, amassing thousands of streams, who feature Cygnus’ premium label content, so you’ll potentially have access to this network for publicity purposes.
At Cygnus Music we always have plenty of initiatives under development and strive to be at the forefront of new ideas and cutting-edge label services.
Offer Shazam priority delivery (Upon request) Submit your releases for store features & playlists
Set up your Beatport account for free Provide you with expert advice on PR
Offer you tailored delivery on Ring Tones Offer customized distribution lists
iTunes pre-orders Beatport pre-orders
Setup iTunes Instant Gratification (Upon request) Provide you with YouTube royalty collection
Monetise content on SoundCloud Collect your PPL royalties on request
Protect your content on YouTube Offer BACS, PayPal, and int payment
Send you Pre-Save & SmartLinks for each release Provide Spotify URi’s for PreSave (Upon request)
Before you settle on a name, check thoroughly online that it doesn’t already exist. Checks on search engines such as Google/Yahoo, as well as checks on Discogs and Beatport, should cover you for the most part (The same applies to artist names). Also ensure your name is unique and easy to find through online searches, across both search engines and social media. Otherwise you could potentially be missed when fans are trying to search for your music.
If you’re an artist, don’t be put off by the work required in setting up a label. The label name is more of a reference point for the specialist stores such as Beatport and Juno and is rarely mentioned on other stores or streaming sites.
An artist label/project can be named as the artist name and we recommend this, for example the artist ‘DeeMT’ would have the label name DeeMT Music, DeeMT Audio, DeeMT Records or it can even be just DeeMT. A self-releasing artist doesn’t have to worry about accounting to other artists, setting up new label social pages, and establishing the label’s brand….instead everything simply feeds off the back of the artist’s already established profile.
InsideInfo launched his artist label via Cygnus Music, read his UKF interview here.
PROBLEM: If an artist chooses a name that already exists, it will cause a lifetime of problems when releasing on stores and streaming platforms. This will include mismatched content and new artists being unable to claim or customise their profiles on stores.
SOLUTION: This problem can easily be solved by the artist choosing a completely unique artist name. Before committing to an artist name, the artist should drop their chosen alias into Beatport, then Spotify, then Discogs and then Google. If there are no artists releasing by that name then the odds are good, and the artist can proceed. To prevent others from using an artist name they can register it as a trademark. This offers intellectual property protection, and protects items that help define the artist name, such as its logo and name. Having a unique artist name that’s easily searchable is important.
If, however the artist chooses to proceed with a name that already exists the following problems can occur.
- They will find their content merged to the original artist on Beatport. Beatport do not allow duplicate artist names (regardless of capitalisation) and their advice is that the artist must change their name or pursue the original artist for proof of copyright and legally get them to change their name.
- They will find that the content may start appearing on other people’s profiles on Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music. They will miss out on forthcoming feature placement and playlisting.
- They may find that other people’s content starts appearing on their Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music profiles.
- The artist may encounter legal issues in resulting in all their content being removed from all stores, and potentially being presented with a claim for damages. (We have seen such cases)
- The artist may not be able to trademark their intellectual properties.
- The artist may not be able to set up Social Media accounts under their name.
- The artist may get less bookings and find that fans are unable to find them on stores and streaming platforms.
- Spotify may block/blacklist any new releases from them due to the original artist being so prolific.
If the artist has only done a few releases and is encountering problems, we recommend that the artist changes his/her name. This will require new artwork, takedown and new delivery of their releases.
Lee 'Scratch' Perry & Iguana Vibes Testimonial
Macky Gee Testimonial
Without a doubt, having strong brand identity is right up there with the quality of your music.
It’s something you need to consider in the early stages of your label’s planning: visual identity is critical. You’ll need to deliver consistent, recognisable artwork and a theme which has many branding opportunities to explore.
A new label should create its own branding guidelines to work from, outlining the colour schemes, font types and format that their brand is going to be using. You can find helpful advice online about how to go about creating guidelines for your business, and if you do this well, it will have a long-term impact in terms of your label’s success. Check out Low Down Deep’s eye-catching branding pictured on the right.
The logo is the core of your label’s identity. If you need help designing one our design team has produced logos for record labels, music products, mix series and for many other segments of the music industry which requires branding. Visit our shop by logging in to our label management system.
Pictured: Low Down Deep, The World's most successful Jump Up label
Choosing the right music is one of the core fundamentals of running your label. Before we accept any labels, we always insist on seeing a minimum of 3 finished tracks and would recommend that a label has at least 2 releases ready to go before setting any release dates. The 4 golden rules we recommend you follow are:
- Go as BIG as you can
- Release the music you believe in and enjoy
- Think quality (& quantity)
- Establish your own sound and direction
1. Calling upon the BIGGEST artist you can possibly work with, is the most effective way to maximize the chances of having a successful release. The artist’s fan base and following will momentarily look at and listen to your label, discovering what it’s about, whilst potentially following and supporting what it does. (Spotify is a great indicator of an artist’s actual popularity and both artists and labels should utilise Spotify’s analytics to assist them when signing new music.)
2. Invest into marketing and PR but be realistic with what can be achieved.
3. Understand your market and know your genre intimately.
4. Radio, Playlist & DJ support are essential and should be a priority for your label.
5. For more Top Tips visit the MAXIMIZE SALES tab (For Distribution Clients Only).
The quality of your artwork makes a huge difference to whether your release will be featured on stores and be taken seriously by fans and the press. Poor or even low-quality looking artwork can instantly dissuade stores from picking your release for features. Artwork represents the visual quality of your release. If you require artwork services, we have fantastic in-house designers at hand. Whether you need artwork for digital releases, podcasts or social networking sites, simply complete the fields via our SHOP and let our designers know what you’re looking for. You can even upload examples of artwork which you’d like them to replicate or use as style references. Remember, distribution clients get a 20% discount making high quality artwork affordable for every release.
Want to keep costs down? Why not take the time to learn a program such as Photoshop (paid) or GIMP (free) which will enable you to meet all your artwork requirements. Alternatively, come up with an artwork template for each release meaning amendments can be done quickly, release to release.
Here’s some examples of our designs, order yours for just £40 or £55 including social network banners.
(Normally £50 & £70 to non-distribution clients)
Artwork design by Cygnus Music designers
Your social network reach can contribute massively to the success of your label. Essentials include networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud. It’s something we take into consideration when we review new labels that are looking to join Cygnus Music.
Something we see a lot in the music scene is the constant recycling of posts and content online. Many labels and artists are posting the same thing day after day which can produce the opposite reaction from what’s required to boost your release’s success. Often less is more and this approach can be much more effective in achieving the levels of engagement that you’re looking for. We would recommend that labels learn what the best time to post is. One study found that you get a 32% higher engagement on Facebook by posting at either 9am, 1pm or 3pm on a Saturday and Sunday, whilst during the week it’s between 6pm and 7pm. On Twitter the best times are different to these and there are apps which will factor in other country’s time zones.
The best time to make the biggest impact is on release day. You can use the weeks preceding your release date to build hype around its pre-order links, but the most effective exposure and traction often can be found with premieres, interviews, features and advertising, linking directly to the buy links and streaming links. Radio premieres and streaming premieres across YouTube are also great ways to create traction around a release’s pre-order.
Lithuania HQ Testimonial
We can distribute your content to stores and streaming sites in every territory around the world. We’ve included an overview below of how the key royalties are reported back to us.
Downloads: From stores such as iTunes, Beatport, Amazon & JunoDownload: We will receive approximately 60-70% of the price of every download sale, with prices and percentages differentiating slightly on each store. Generally, WAVs retail for £1.40 and MP3s retail for £0.99. Aside from iTunes, stores determine the retail value of a release.
Streaming: From platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music and Deezer: the price per stream can vary across the different platforms and factors such as territory and subscription type affect the price significantly. An example would be that we receive approximately £0.003 per stream on Spotify.
YouTube Monetisation: Means that you authorise the presence of advertisements on your videos, and YouTube charges advertisers for these advertisements. We then report the revenue back to you. We will run your content through YouTube’s content ID system which means we will automatically claim and monetise any uploads or recordings of your music. Upon request, we can also remove any videos or recordings of your content from YouTube if you have not authorised the upload.
At Cygnus Music we don’t just take on any label. We have an application process where we ask every label starting with us to outline their plans for promotion and marketing, and each label must provide us with examples of their forthcoming music. From this information we’re able to quickly gauge how well prepared the label is.
This approach brings so much value to the company but also massively benefits all our clients. We make sure the content we deliver to stores is never substandard, yielding a much stronger relationship between us and the stores. Stores trust us to deliver high quality products and this creates knock-on effects that benefit all our clients. We’re given more featured content, more content in playlists, increased promotional opportunities and faster response times when updates are made.
Our criteria when assessing a labels application:
1. Reach or potential reach of brand and artists.
Individual or combined reach of brand and artists should be 2,500+ fans minimum. Social network/s must be active and show recent engagement. We also give a high weighting to: Artist Spotify pages with regular releases and 10,000+ monthly listeners. Established artists who have been releasing on existing labels for several years. Active SoundCloud accounts with high engagement. YouTube channels with large subscriber bases and high play counts. Any other platforms where high engagement is captured.
2. Finished quality of the audio submitted.
We require 2 new, unreleased and forthcoming releases, produced to a high industry standard. Pre-master or mastered. If the content has been previously released on Bandcamp we may ask for sales data to see how well the content has performed. If a label is requesting to move to us from their current or previous distributor we may ask for sales information. We do not distribute free downloads.
3. Marketing plans proposed or in place.
You should demonstrate a commitment to marketing and online promotion of the brand/artist and each release. This can be the more traditional approach of Magazines, Blogs, Music News and Radio Plugging, to the more modern approach of Social Media campaigns, Playlist Pitching & Placement, Tastemaker/Influencer Promotion and Fan Gating. If artists have a significant reach this can be just as effective.
4. Social networks in place.
We give a high weighting towards labels and/or artists with well branded social media pages, and good quality content that has high engagement. These include Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and SnapChat for example. However, this is not essential; providing that you can demonstrate the (1) reach or potential reach of you brand/label and artist/s.
5. Artwork, Branding and Image.
We give a high weighting to labels, artists and organisations with good branding, high quality artwork, Professionally graded videos, and well-presented media assets. Stores and Publications consider this a high priority, and it helps us significantly when pitching for featured content.
6. Engagement in existing content online
If the label is moving the Cygnus Music, we give a high weighting to content that is or has performed well. We also score highly if the artists on the label are performing well on download stores and streaming sites.
7. Label infrastructure, team, and resources
We love to work with competent artists and labels who are passionate about the content they distribute. And, we enjoy working with well organised, friendly individuals and teams.
If your label is accepted, you’ll receive a welcome email and have full access to our label management system. If your application is declined, we will provide a detailed response as to why, and the specific areas we hope you can improve on with a future application.
Before you apply for distribution please ensure you have all the following:
You’ll need to provide:
- Streamable links to your first 2 releases, or 3 finished tracks.
- Your label name and details of the label owner/manager
- Contact information
- Social media links
- Label marketing plans (This is one of the most important parts of your application. Please be as thorough as possible)
All applications are reviewed in detail by members of staff who are looking primarily at the labels potential to succeed and how well it will be managed.
Applying for distribution is simple. Complete the ‘Get Started Today’ application form by signing up through our website and visiting the ‘distribution’ tab.
Please complete the form in as much detail as possible. Applications are checked daily and generally approved within 1-2 working days. If your label hasn’t been approved within 2 working days, check your email inbox as we’ll be requesting more information.
Pictured: Our label application form
Whilst it may appear that it’s a lot of work to move from one distributor to another, it’s something we’re extremely versed in. Every week labels move over to Cygnus and whether a label has ten releases or five hundred releases we can put a simple and personalised plan of action together. Please allow a timeline of 4 to 8 weeks when moving a label.
A label move normally works like so:
There are heaps of distribution platforms out there and on paper they all offer very similar products. A distributor’s role is essentially to deliver a label’s content to stores and account the royalties back to the label. At Cygnus, our unique selling point is our excellent customer service and our in-depth knowledge and experience in the digital side of the music industry.
Having a phone number where customers can call us anytime within offices hours allows us to really connect with our client base. We can address any issues immediately and have discussions with clients, to brainstorm initiatives or just to catch up on any forthcoming plans. Some labels just like to use our in-house label management system to schedule their releases, get daily sales updates, purchase shop services, view YouTube analytics or use the accounting facilities. Our online system provides all they really need from us to run their business.
However, a significant number of our clients like a much more personal relationship with us and that’s where Cygnus stands out from its competitors. We’re also very proactive with new initiatives and have some fantastic relationships with key stores such as Beatport, JunoDownload, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube resulting in heaps of featured content for our client’s labels.
Q: How do I know if I’m still under contract with my current distributor?
A: You should have a copy of your distribution agreement and will find the duration of the agreement under the ‘TERM’ section. Some distributors have agreements that can roll over into many years so it’s always advisable to know the term, roll over period, length of notice required and any costs associated with moving.
Q: How should I present Cygnus with my labels catalogue?
A: If you have a relatively small catalogue, we would recommend uploading each release to our label management system. We can either back date each release to an original release date, or if you’d like to re-package and re-release the catalogue, we would be happy to discuss this. If you have a larger catalogue, we will need each release in a folder labeled by catalogue number, with Wavs (16 bit), artwork (min 2000 x 2000 pix JPG RGB) and a master metadata sheet. We will then discuss redelivery and any customisation requirements in person. It is essential that you use the same ISRC codes and UPC codes for previously released content.
Q: My current distributor doesn’t respond to emails or calls
A: If you are having issues with your distributor resulting in no communication or royalty reporting then they are likely to be in breach of their distribution agreement with you. Whilst we can’t authorise stores to remove your content online if it’s been delivered by another distributor, we will be able to transfer over your label accounts on Beatport and JunoDownload if your current distributor doesn’t respond to our requests. From there we can deliver any new content you may wish to release whilst you either seek legal advice or contact the stores directly to stop royalties going back to the distributor.
Q: I do not have my full back catalogue
A: If you are missing some of your back catalogue we would suggest purchasing it from a store. Ensure you buy WAVs not mp3’s, and you should also be able to pull off the artwork too. You will also need to collate the metadata including ISRC’s and UPC’s which we should be able to help you get.
Q: Why am I being asked to provide label royalty statements?
A: We enjoy providing our customers with a personalised and tailored service. As we only make revenue (percentage commission) when a label does, we must ensure that a label is performing well, as in certain circumstances label moves can be quite resource intensive from our side to ensure a smooth crossover.
Q: What’s the best timescale to move a label over?
A: This depends on your current distribution arrangement and size of your catalogue. Providing that your previous distributor accepts and helps facilitate the move, we would suggest that around 8-12 weeks is the ideal time.
Q: Can you match my existing distribution deal?
A: We would be happy to discuss this, please sign up for an account, visit the distribution tab on the label management system and click on ‘Make Me An Offer’.
Q: Are there any setup fees, membership fees or up-front charges?
A: Here at Cygnus Music there are no setup fees, membership fees or up-front charges. We don’t make any money until you do. It’s as simple as that.
Q: What is Cygnus Musics commission?
A: We are committed to helping you to get the most amount of publicity and sales, which in turn will reduce our commission as part of our reward scheme. There are of course cheaper alternatives and distributors offering lower percentage rates, but cheaper doesn’t mean better and you’ll find most distributors lack customer service and make it difficult to speak to an actual person. With Cygnus you get much more than worldwide distribution, we can become part of your team and our testimonials are a great place to see the results!
Labels Monthly Gross Sales % Commission Rate.
Up to £500 20%
£500 – £1500 16%
£1500 – £3500 14%
£3500 and over 12 %
Q: Do you supply ISRC’s and UPC’s and can I supply my own?
A: You can supply ISRC’s and UPC’s with your releases or we can supply them for you free of charge, taking care of your PPL registrations and royalty collections (with a percentage fee) for all your releases too if you don’t currently or plan to do this.
Q: Can I arrange a call to discuss my label with some one?
A: Yes, email [email protected] to arrange a call. Please ensure you provide links to your label and summarise exactly what you would like to discuss.
Q: Can I distribute free downloads through Cygnus Music?
A: Generally no. We incur various costs for processing, hosting, delivering and reporting along with staff time for any artist linking. Free downloads in particular often feature artists who have never had a release before and require lots of additional work, for content that generally makes little to no revenue for us. We do of course fully support new and emerging artists, but on exclusive content which is marketed towards the stores and streaming sites. However, we do allow some free downloads to be distributed, but under criteria such as the artist having in excess of 10,000 monthly listens on Spotify for example, along with any free versions being removed online.
Q: Can I set up a ringtone only label?
A: Yes, we would set up a custom distribution list for iTunes only. We can fast track ringtones through, but we have very specific criteria prior to accepting a ringtone only label. The customer must demonstrate a proven track record of well performing content prior to being approved.
Q: What are the requirements regarding copyright ownership?
A: You can only release content with Cygnus Music if you own the copyright or have approval from the copyright owner. You should have contracts/recording agreements in place and these may be called upon if we require them.