I always say that distribution and credibility are the two hardest things for startups. How will anyone know you exist and why the hell would anyone care?
In 2008 we launched thenextbigsound.com, expecting the entire music industry to screech to a halt and pay attention, but a funny thing happened. Nothing. I don’t know if you can describe this feeling to a first time entrepreneur, or if everyone has to go through it themselves, but it will certainly rock your view of the world. Everyone else seems to launch and go on to immediate fame and fortune.
Instead of anticipating magazine covers, cold acquisition inquiries, and international accolades you need to build distribution and credibility into your company from the very beginning.
What are the dream distribution partners and the biggest stamps of credibility in your industry? I would actually list them out in rank order and start building relationships with those partners.
Prior to acquisition the biggest distribution partners at various times for NBS were: Spotify, Orchard, Topspin, IODA, Music X Ray, Nimbit, SonicBids and many smaller partners.
In terms of distribution from a product perspective: when people use your product, is there any action they might want to take that will benefit them socially? I’m not talking about stupid share buttons posted as an afterthought, but rather deeply ingrained behaviour you can capitalize on?
In a SaaS analytics tool is there a PDF export where you can include your logo? Or an “email report” option where folks can include a wider distribution list? For a consumer app is there a way to tag others outside the network, or built in hooks with the action that people will do in public and cause a conversation? Like the magic actions of Shazam or Delectable that immediately draw attention from everyone around you, where your phone identifies any song playing or a bottle of wine when you take a photo of it?
At various times, the biggest stamps of credibility for Next Big Sound were 1) powering two Billboard charts 2) venture financings and winning major music tech competitions 3) exclusive data partnership with Spotify 4) securing 3/3 major label contracts and 5) powering the social media data for every artist on the Topspin platform.
So what are your dream distribution partners and the biggest stamps of credibility in your industry? Part II I’ll introduce the ladder of credibility and distribution and talk about how to climb it.