Kevin Arnold, founder and CEO of the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA), has plenty to celebrate these days.

His company, which provides digital distribution for indie labels, is making inroads into new genres and markets. And he just wrapped the 16th annual Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco with stellar ticket sales and glowing reviews.

Arnold founded Noise Pop in 1993 and has watched it grow from a one-night event to a multinight, multivenue indie rock extravaganza. After jobs at Oracle Corp. and Listen.com, he formed IODA in 2003. The company provides digital distribution and marketing services to indie labels and bands and has even had success with more mainstream fare, such as "American Idol" runner-up Melinda Doolittle's debut album "Coming Back to You."

Arnold has also taken the company global. While IODA has distribution agreements in established markets like Japan, Germany and Spain, Arnold hasn't been afraid to take risks and gamble in emerging markets like China, a place many in the music industry had given up on as being lost to piracy. In addition, he's served on the advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition and has presented at numerous events about the intersections between music and technology.

Arnold managed to overcome a post-Noise Pop hangover to talk to Billboard about recent developments in digital music, opportunities in new markets and why Noise Pop had its best year ever.

IODA has been distributing Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's album "Raising Sand" and the Willie Nelson/Asleep at the Wheel project. These aren't acts that have traditionally had big digital sales. Yet the latter's sales are 75% digital. How do you account for this?

With "Willie and the Wheel," their success is something that definitely did come from the band for taking control of their own career. I think that's the type of situation where they've been around forever, have a strong and loyal fan base and to them, I think it makes more sense for them to work through an independent. They tour all the time, they're really productive with putting out records and those are the types of folks that are sort of taking their careers into their own hands.

That said, I don't think you push them from one-third digital sales over to two-thirds overnight. They look for certain services and they hit the companies that are going to be appropriate. They're concerned with focusing outside of the more mainstream digital services like iTunes and finding places where you're going to connect with that type of user a little bit more directly.

Did you see a big boost in digital sales in the wake of Plant and Krauss' Grammy Award victories?

Yeah, absolutely. That record has had an incredibly long shelf life, and it definitely shot back up the charts after the Grammys. It's a record that's sort of crept around and had legs for the longest time; it essentially just won't go away, and the whole goal there is to get more and more people to discover it, so it's good that digital can play a role in all of that.

IODA recently partnered with the Chinese site Wawawa, which is attempting to offer a legal alternative to rampant piracy. Is it having any luck?

Click here for the full Q&A which includes Arnold's thoughts on fixed mechanical rates, international deals IODA has in the works and more.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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