Looking at the IFPI’s 2016 numbers as a record label, it is crystal clear that digital income has increased all over the world. The growth of digital income overall compensates the decrease of physical sales… but only if you have a substantial catalogue or a global hit record. Most indies don’t have such a catalogue, so the physical sales for those labels is still crucial to survive.

The sales per country for most record labels has reached a point where having a distributor in every country is difficult to manage from a stock perspective. Bertus‘ strength is to have local sales reps in most Western European countries, whilst shipping to all European stores from The Netherlands, which solves this stock problem.

Besides, physical numbers are still substantial, and not to be ignored. The physical product itself is also a tangible asset of great value, from a promotional and marketing point of view, for most artists and managers.

There is hardly any artist that does not want to have his music to be released on vinyl, a format that is still gaining in popularity. It is, and will remain in years to come, not just an important source of income, but also a desire and demand from artists to have their physical CDs and vinyl available for their audiences.

On top of that, picking up the artist at Gare du Nord in Paris by a label or promotional manager for in-store is normally arranged by the physical distributor in a country. Having special packaged luxury CDs and vinyl signed by the artist during such events and during the tour can still be very lucrative.

Bertus and H’art have a local promotional team in Benelux, Germany and France which makes it possible to add local relevant information to sales sheets and local web shops and offer the additional services to promote and assist the artists in these countries.

Record Store Day has become the most important day of the year for indie shops, which shows that collecting music is still a hobby for young and old. True music lovers are willing to spend money to buy special boxes and vinyl in order to have something in their hands of their favorite artist or band.

And let’s face it: after spending five days behind a computer at work, it’s very relaxing to play music on your CD or record player on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and listen to your favourite artist. The simplest pleasures are often the best!



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Tom Willinck is VP Commercial Affairs of music distribution company Berthus.

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