Keeping up with the Changes

mari - Posted on 20 April 2011


The music market has changed drastically in what seems like over night. Many of the mom and pop record stores have closed. Even many of the chains such as the The Wherehouse, Tower Records and FYE's have closed. Many of the chains allowed independent artists to sell their Cd’s on consignment in these chains along side the mainstream artists and mainstream labels. Even many of the events that were happening on the Navajo and Hopi rez's are not happening as frequently as they were a few years ago and so the ability to move volumes of Cd’s is no longer there outside of the swap meets and flea markets.


Being a fairly successful independent record label owner and artist, I have seen and felt the affects of these happening first hand. My name is Gabriel Yaiva but known simply as Yaiva in music circles. I'm a hip-hop artist (rapper) and a traditional hand drum singer, but foremost a father and a active participant in my community for positive change.


I'm an activist and have instrumental in many successful campaigns to protect mother Earth and the five fingered who walk upon her. My background is one of harsh beginnings at the hands of my own decisions as a young man and have since pulled myself up by my boot straps. I've graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2006 with a B.S. In Applied Indigenous Studies and have a minor in Economic Development. I run a non-profit program called Peace and Balance in which we address issues of violence and substance abuse in communities of color and work toward gaining self determination in the media and arts.


As an artist I’ve fortunate to live a life that all artists' dream of, that which is to live humbly from the gifts the Creator has blessed me with. In doing so I’ve travel the United States and Canada several times over, toured with artists I grew up listening to and admire, done over 500 shows, released over 10 albums, received several awards and gained support and recognition from my peers and counterparts and am considered a professional in my line of work as an artist and as a manager, promoter, graphic artist, marketer, advertising specialist and record industry knowledgeable label owner.


With the closing of these outlets, another resource for independent artists has been taken too. But in this happening so has the reigns been given to the independent and do-it-yourself artists. This is in the form of online marketing and distribution. I get asked all the time how I've been able to get my music on i-Tunes, Rhapsody, Amazon Music, Napster etc... it is actually easier than you would think. Here are a couple services that I utilize and hopefully this info will be helpful to you.


I use They have a couple options. You can send them hard copies of your release or hi-def wave files. I've done both options but for radio singles I generally only release the hi-def files.


Artists; when sending your music be sure to send in hi-def at the sites recommended settings because the file will be compressed to an mp3 and the compression of mp3's is a whole topic in itself because of the loss of full sound and artifacts in the compression.


With CDBaby you can choose what other music download sites you can have your music provided to. The set up cost is $55 for full albums and $9.95 for single songs. For digital distribution you will need a bar code and ISRC code for each song. If you don’t have a bar code, don't worry you can buy one directly from the site for $20 and they will assign you a ISRC code.


If you're planning on selling your music through digital retailers (i.e. iTunes, Napster, Sony Connect), then having the ability to assign ISRC codes is absolutely necessary. The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique international identifier for tracks on sound and music-video recordings. Comprised of a 12 character alpha-numeric code, the ISRC functions as a digital "fingerprint" for each track. Unlike a UPC code (a.k.a. bar code) the ISRC is assigned to individual tracks and not the carrier of the tracks (CD, cassette). In addition, the ISRC remains allocated to a track regardless of changes in ownership. It is an extremely powerful tool for royalty collection, administration, and anti-piracy safeguards in the digital arena. Info from


I recently also started using their prices are roughly the same for singles and about a $10 difference for full albums. They also do ring-tones. The one thing that is unique about is you can create general CD covers/inserts right there on the site which is good for single songs but I wouldn't recommend for full releases.


The one downside I've found with CDBaby is that is generally takes them about 4 to 6 weeks to get your music to all the other download sites. Tunecore had my new single up on i-Tunes and the other sites within three days. But CDBaby was initially intended to distribute hard-copy Cd’s of independent artists which they are very good at and this is what I utilize their services for also.


The one downside of however is that you've got to pay yearly for the service whereas CDBaby I've paid once for each album/single for nearly three years of service.


As for payments CDBaby has been great about depositing funds directly into my Paypal account every two weeks for music and Cd’s sold and I've been using their services for about 3 years to this point. Like I mentioned I recently started using and have yet to receive a pay out so we will see how they work out but seem to be a good service to this point.


Both sites do take a percentage of your sales which I feel is more than a reasonable amount for the services they offer.


Both sites offer replication and duplication services.


Replication is the process of making professional grade Cd’s that are produced from an actual glass master and the info is press into the disc not burnt. This is the preferred way of producing Cd’s for the sound quality to match the closest to what was recorded in the studios.


Duplication is the process that most of us are familiar with which is the ability to burn music using computer software for your desktop or laptop.


An easy way to know weather the disc your listening to is duplicated or replicated is to flip the disc over and if you can see circles of where the info was burnt into the CD than most likely it is duplicated.


I figure I’d write this to answer the many inquiries I've gotten in bulk and so to hopefully try and help all you up and coming artists and even established artists who may not be computer and technically savvy.

I  hope it is helpful. Yaiva





Gabe, could you confirm if Tunecore still offers shopping your tracks for licensing purposes to movie/tv/radio commercials and soundtracks? I remember back in '03 one of Tunecore's strong points was offering that service, as iTunes was still being highly selective as to which artists they picked up for distribution. Does CDBaby offer a similar service?



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