Zimbalam, which launched in Europe in 2009 to help artists get their music widely distributed without a lot of work, opened its doors to US stores this week, meaning any artist using Zimbalam can now sell their music in the United States.
Zimbalam promises to distribute an artist’s music across multiple services, from Spotify and eMusic to behemoths like iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon. The company is hooked into 35 different outlets, which lead to hundreds of other stores – a huge distribution network for musicians. Like competitor Tunec.
The company’s revenue stream is simple: It charges $19.99 for an artist to distribute a single, or $29.99 for an album. After the initial release, there’s a yearly fee of $9.99 or $19.98, respectively. The company keeps all the royalties from sales until that figure is met and then gives 100% of subsequent royalties to the artist. In a surprisingly musician-friendly move, if the music doesn’t make more than the subscription fee, Zimbalam only charges what the music earned, and no more.
Through March 31, because of South By Southwest, Zimbalam is offering an even better deal for artists, charging only $3.99 for a single release and $5.99 for an album. All a musician has to do is use the coupon code SXSW when they sign up.
Zimbalam offers some free tools as well. It has developed a number of widgets for artists that let them do everything from embed their music on a website to create apps on Facebook and MySpace to interact with their fans.
Like its competitor Tunecore, Zimbalam takes a non-exclusive right on the sales of an album. Users can pick and choose where their music gets distributed, and can see aggregated or individualized reports on how their album is doing. They also get control of the price and release date of their album, as well as all the details of how it gets sold.
Zimbalam’s parent company is Paris-based Believe Digital, which says it’s the “leading digital distributor and services provider for independent artists and labels in Europe.” Zimbalam seems to be a natural extension of what Believe Digital already does and takes advantage of the relationships the company already has. The company was founded by music executives from around the world, with a lot of experience in the digital music industry.
The model seems to be working in Europe: Zimbalam’s website boasts that Believe Digital has paid $22 million in royalties since 2005 and has had 10 number one digital singles in the same time span. If the company can get similarly entrenched in the American music scene, it might become an invaluable resource for independent artists in the US.
Believe Digital, based in Paris, is a 70-employee company with $8.5 million in funding from xAnge and Ventech.