What’s the difference between a major label and an independent label distribution? Even though some major labels have bought independent record distributing stores?
First, major record labels have a heavy hand when it comes to picking retailers. They want retailers that can buy a high quanity of records (usually mass produced) that will sell. Thus, leaving expert executives to closely watch which artists are selling out venues quickly. Major label executives will also look out for what artists are currently streaming their albums on iTunes or Spotify to take note if their album will sell well.
An independent record distributor has more of an advantage when it comes to selling records that are considered rare. Or selling records that have a smaller fanbase. However, with an independent distributor, the individual at the record shop can order a certain number of one album and a different number say from a band’s sophomore album. This is more of a pick and choose variety.
There are a few points to mention within the record distribution chain, like the one stop or rack jobbers. A one stop is essentially the best option for an independent record store. The reason being, that these independent shops only have to cater to one place of distribution instead of many. Although this is way independent places tend to be a bit pricier because they have skipped the chaotic rotation of contacting several (if not a hundred) distributors to ship in albums, merchandise, and other necessities.
Now rack jobbers are what Walmart and big retail named stores get their music merchandise. Rack jobbers are separate from the store itself because this is the concept where a music distributor is paying a percentage to the owner of that retail store to stock or return music. This is why you see the Top 40 albums on the shelves instead of lesser-known artists.
Record distribution may come up for a booking manager or agent, for one main reason, to see how an album is selling. Essentially if an album starts to rise above the independent market, a major label distributor may come calling.