Can better royalty accounting lead to better digital distribution? Austrian digital distributor Rebeat thinks so.
“Digital distribution is no issue any more,” Rebeat CEO Guenter Loibl tells Billboard.
By that he means many companies equally perform the basic task of digital distribution. They have similar services and distribute to the same digital service providers. Differences in distributors often come down to price, marketing and physical distribution capabilities, which Rebeat does not offer.
The 13-year-old distributor thinks it has found an angle that separates it from the competition: accounting. And it believes its software can help labels save a lot of money. The company’s Business Edition service is a combination of digital distribution and artist royalty accounting system.
“The accounting is the pain in the ass of all the labels,” Loibl says.
Accounting will be a bigger problem because there is so much data and accounting to be done. As the record business gets more revenue from streaming and subscription models, there are more releases and events to track. Without a better solution, Loibl believes label will spend an increasing amount of time and money on accounting.
Unlike other distributors, Rebeat is based on software rather than a web-based service. The original impetus for this approach was data security. A label owns all information input on Rebeat and stored on its own server. If a label wants to leave for another distributor, it is assured it can access all information about its catalog.
Loibl explains the second reason behind the software-based approach was its ability to handle accounting. Labels might be hesitant of web-based accounting software because sensitive information about artist contracts would be stored on the distributor’s server. With Rebeat, things like artist royalty rates are stored on the label’s server. “We have no access to this data,” he says.
Allowing labels to store sensitive information in their own servers saves resources, Loibl explains. Normally a label would enter catalog information into a distributor’s web-based platform and re-enter the same information in its own accounting software. Because all information is stored on a label’s server, this information needs to be entered only once. Rebeat claims to reduce weeks of work down to three mouse clicks.
Rebeat touts Business Edition’s ability to aid transparency, too. In addition to organizing and displaying all royalty sources, the software offers a timeline overview as well as granularity at the unit level.