The Orchard’s Rebirth Catches the New York Times’ Attention

That Robert Levine spends two pages talking about digital distribution without mentioning the runaway success of CDBaby boggles the mind.

However, the article does frame up the interesting position that the Orchard has taken. Instead of focusing on the onesy-twosy market of independent musicians that CDBaby handles very well, the Orchard acquires digital distro rights from mostly overseas labels with thousands of back catalog titles.

They’re banking that they’ll catch the “long tail” on digital downloads of obscure releases — yet they still have to sidestep the rocky relationships they built with many American indie musicians during their previous incarnation as a supplier to one-stop physical distributors.

Even the NYT piece acknowledges that — despite their best intentions — they became notorious for missing scheduled payments to artists. Even worse, and unmentioned, was the fact that they traded on the expectations of artists that thought they’d start seeing (and selling) copies of their albums in local record shops just by paying $99.

Focusing on relationships with small to medium labels certainly can help them survive the roiling of the music industry, as J.D. Lasica suggests, but there’s still a lot of damage control to be done among a music community with a long tail for bitter memories.

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3 responses

  1. Cindy Mallien Avatar
    Cindy Mallien

    Re: The Orchard. Your article reflects a viewpoint of indie artists holding a grudge because of Past experiences. Wanted to impart Facts that this is about the Present. I, and thousands of others, cannot set up any distribution arrangements with anyone else, in Presentand in Future, because Orchard is still illegally distributing our wares on hundreds of sites, and mobile, globablly. Orchard is still, presently, refusing to respond to any correspondence, is still, presently, refusing to make known what sites they are selling and distributing our music, and is still, presently, refusing compensation whatsoever.
    My situation is now going on for 6 years, and for others, even longer, and there have been multiple complaints from newer artists.
    This situation dwarfs the previous Napster type rip off of artists. Hoping you will do a follow up article about the fact artists cannot distribute or market anything anywhere due to Orchard. That is huge. Also, Orchard will not respond, which is basically a second legal point not in their favor. Third, there was deceptive practices regarding “non-exlusive” agreements. The Fact is, artists cannot distribute, or market if Orchard is distributing, period. Fourth, no artist can promote or market to anywhere if they don’t know it’s being distributed. Fifth, artists are not receiving compensation even with proven sales. Sixth, in many cases, original agreements made were at a time when Mp3 downloading was not available at all, so how could it possibly be legal or agreed upon at the time of contract?
    Scott Cohen and Richard Gotterer of The Orchard may have changed some things, some people, but it is still the same old same old. They represent the most fundamental civil and criminal perpetrators of business law and perhaps even constitutional law.
    Sincerely hope you will shed light on this matter in a follow up. Thank you, Cindy Mallien

  2. […] The Orchard’s Rebirth in the New York Times […]

  3. […] 2.0 reality its founders envisioned. The company started with a focus on physical distribution, and felt a lot of turbulence while shifting strategies. It placed a big bet on digital distribution, and has turned into a premium partner for independent […]