What #1 in iTunes Hip/Hop looks like…


Recently, one of our artists hit #1 in the iTunes Charts for Hip/Hop.  Here’s what the artist’s sales look like visually:

#1 in iTunes Charts for Hip/Hop

Our vector maps display detailed sales locations from the iTunes Music Store and AmazonMP3 via Trend Reports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iTunes Pricing Calculator


We added a new iTunes Pricing Calculator so artists and labels can easily find out prior to submission what they can sell their content for in iTunes.  We often receive e-mails from users asking how much control they have over the pricing in iTunes, and since there was no easy way for them to find out without going all the way through the submission process, we decided to simplify it and just code a quick calculator.

You can find the iTunes Pricing Calculator here:

http://www.catapultdistribution.com/pricing-itunes-calculator.html

iTunes Pricing Calculator Screenshot

iTunes Pricing Calculator

New Embeddable Store Badges


We’ve always provided a way for our artists and labels to easily add an iTunes Music Store badge on their own websites by providing specific html code within their Dashboard at Catapult.  And to add to, We  just completed an update which provides html code store badges for a few more stores like AmazonMP3, Google Play, eMusic, Spotify and Rdio (Basically the stores that provide us with these links).  Plus, when users click on these badges from your website, our system also tracks the clicks and reports those back to your album’s page in your Dashboard at Catapult.  It’s a fun and easy way to see how successful your website is doing at pushing traffic to your album’s in the music stores.

Here is a list of the badges available.

iTunes Music Store Badge

AmazonMP3 Badge

Google Play Badge

eMusic Badge

Spotify Badge

Rdio Badge

You can get the html code for these badges from your Album’s page in your Dashboard at Catapult.  Unfortunately, we can only provide the badges for stores that provide us with links to your content…so if your album has just been delivered, you might need to wait a bit for the badge html code to appear in your Dashboard.

iTunes Trend Report Maps Updated


We recently updated the usability of our iTunes Trend Reports Map data.

If you are subscribed to our Daily Trend Reports and Metrics Service, then you can now do a few additional things that should help make understanding sales locations on the map easier to understand:

1) You can now filter the results from the last 10, 30 or 90 days.

2) You can now filter the results for a specific title in your Catalog.

3) You can choose to display the last 250, 500 or All sales data (within the time frames stated above).

4) A breakdown of percentages is now displayed for your most popular states and cities for quick reference.

The image below displays a sample of the what the new feature looks like in operation.  We hope you enjoy it!

Now you can filter the data for easy reference of sales locations.

Now you can filter the data for easy reference of sales locations.

Modify your Album, Single, or Track Prices in iTunes


We are happy to announce the launch of our new price modification feature.  This new feature allows our artists and labels to request a price modification for their content that is already live in iTunes (AmazonMP3 and Google Play coming soon!).  We’ve been wanting to add this feature for some time, however there were a few technical hurdles to overcome.  Primarily, it requires our system’s catalog to be in constant sync with our catalog in iTunes which involves our system programmatically communicating throughout the day with iTunes’ system.  Further complicating the matter is the plethora of rules that governs the pricing of content in the iTunes store and having to build out the logic in a consistent and user friendly manner that allows a user to modify the price with a few  clicks of a button.  Needless to say, we are glad to have finally launched the feature and hope that our artists and labels find it useful for their marketing efforts.

Please Note: Based on over a decade of experience in selling digital music around the world, it is the opinion of our content specialists at Catapult that the standard default pricing that 99% of the content in iTunes adheres to ($0.99 per track) is the best possible price tier to choose for the average artist’s content and thus price modifications should be used sparingly if at all.

As with anything, there are a few rules regarding prices in the iTunes Music Store that one needs to be aware of when requesting a price modification.  But first, its important to define two separate definitions; Wholesale Price vs. Retail Price.

The Wholesale Price is the price that iTunes pays when a given Album, Single, or Track sells in their music store.

The Retail Price is the price that the customer pays iTunes when they purchase a given Album, Single, or Track in the iTunes Music Store.

The Rules

1) You can only request a price modification for a given an item once every 3 months, so be very careful when requesting a price modification.

2) A user can request Wholesale Price changes, but ultimately the Retail Price is solely determined by iTunes.  That being said, our system will display the “Estimated” Retail Price that the content will sell for when a specific Wholesale Price is selected based on our historical data and experience.  99% of the time, the estimated Retail Price will be accurate, but since iTunes has sole discretion on determining the retail price, it is in fact an “Estimate”.

3) Price modifications can normally take 7 days to take effect in iTunes so plan accordingly if this is important to you.

4) The price tiers displayed in the Price Modification Pop Up in your Dashboard are the only tiers available for your content as determined by iTunes.  They do not allow custom prices.

How to Request a Price Modification in iTunes:

When you click on the Modify Price button on your Album’s or Single’s page in your Dashboard at Catapult, a pop-up will appear showing you all of the price options for your item. These price options are solely determined by iTunes based on the number of tracks as well as a few other factors. iTunes does not allow custom pricing, so the price tiers displayed in the Modify Price pop-up are the only options you can select for your respective content.

Price Modifications in iTunes

The Price Modification Pop Up

You have the option of selecting the Wholesale Price* tier for either the Album as a whole or for each individual track on the Album. Remember, the Wholesale Price is the price that iTunes will pay when your content sells in their store and the Retail Price is the price that the customer pays iTunes when they purchase your content.

You can also set a Start Date for the price modification to take effect as well as an End Date.  Only Album level prices will take effect on the Start Date that you provide and will revert back to the previous Album price tier on the End Date that you provide. It’s very important to note that the Start Date and End Date only apply to price modifications at the Album level and will not effect the Track price in any way. Track prices take effect as soon as possible and have no bearing on the Start Date or End Date.

* iTunes will not sell a full album for more than the price of the sum of its tracks so you will need to choose your wholesale tier accordingly (if applicable).

Pixelation got you down? Or how I learned to love the pixel.


One of the most common errors when artists or labels submit their content for distribution to music stores like iTunes is the issue of pixelation.

The music stores, in their infinite wisdom, want the best possible experience for customers in their stores. And nothing says unprofessional more than when an album’s cover art is pixelated.

But what exactly does it mean when a cover art image is pixelated? We’ve put together the short F.A.Q. below to help guide artists in understanding what pixelation is and how to avoid it.


What is Pixelation?

Pixelation is when individual pixels can be seen when viewing an image.  Take a look at the sample cover art images below.  The top one is looking nice and crisp because it is not pixelated, and the bottom one is bad because it is extremely pixelated.

No pixelation

The image above looks GOOD because it is not pixelated.

Pixelation

The image above looks BAD because it is pixelate

What causes Pixelation?

Pixelation is normally caused when a client attempts to create an image to meet the minimum resolution requirement for cover art as set out by the music stores, but the resolution of the source image the client is using is smaller than the resolution required. This is known as “Upconverting”. When you attempt to Upconvert an image, pixelation will occur because you can NEVER increase an image’s resolution without recreating the image from scratch.

Why can’t I just use any image I want for my cover art even if it is pixelated?

Because you are trying to deliver your music into the top digital music stores. These music stores have specific requirements for cover art and intend to offer their customers with the best possible shopping environment and they don’t want their beautifully designed store fronts to be cluttered with unprofessional looking cover art. To be plain and simple, pixelated images are ugly and the music stores won’t accept it.

I don’t understand, I converted my cover art image file to the required specs you stated on your site but it’s still pixelated.

Just because you change your image file size to the specs required, that doesn’t mean it won’t be pixelated. You could take a 600×600 image file and convert it to 1500×1500 and it could still come out pixelated because the source image was low resolution to begin with. Basically, if the original cover art file is low resolution, and you upconvert it to meet the minimum specs, it will come out pixelated and be rejected and you’ll have to start over from scratch to create your cover art.

I can’t do it. I’m not a graphic designer.

We all can’t be perfect. But thankfully, that’s why graphic designers exist. We would recommend hiring a graphic designer to create your cover art.

Can you recommend a graphic designer to help me?

We do not offer any recommendations for graphic designers, but there are plenty.  Google search is your friend.

Offer your Albums or Singles in iTunes as a Pre Order!


These could be your albums.

These could be your albums.

We now offer the ability for Artists and Labels to submit their content as a Pre Order in iTunes! Previously, this had been very difficult as iTunes had to manually approve each Pre Order.

Most of our competitors don’t offer this service, and those that do actually charge a crazy fee for it. We don’t like that…so this option is free of charge.

Pre Order Requirements:

1) iTunes only. Sorry, the other music stores don’t offer this.

2) You MUST set your Album’s or Single’s street date at least 14 days in the future.

3) You MUST select a Wholesale Price Tier for iTunes where the total album’s wholesale price is NOT less than the sum of the total track wholesale prices. Otherwise, iTunes will not allow the item to be made available for Pre Order in their store and it will simply go live on its street date like a normal album submission.

iTunes and AmazonMP3 Daily Trend Reports via SMS text messages


Last month we rolled out a new feature that offers our artists and labels who are subscribed to our Daily iTunes / AmazonMP3 Trend Reports and Metrics Service the ability to receive their daily trend reports via SMS text messages to their phones.

We are the only digital distributor in the world to currently offer this feature.

If you are already subscribed to the service there is no additional charge to add the SMS feature. Currently, we can text to phone numbers in the United States and Canada only though we hope to add additional countries in the future so that many of our foreign clients can take advantage of it.

Here is an example of how an SMS text message might appear on your phone:
sms_iphone_example

We’re proud to offer this new time saving feature as we know many of our artists and labels are constantly on the go.

If you are currently subscribed to our Trend Reports and Metrics Service, give it a try and let us know what you think!

New Music Store: Rdio



We just inked distribution agreements with the very popular music platform, Rdio. Rdio is an ad-free music subscription service that is comparable to Spotify. Their store is available in the United States, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand. It exists as a website and also has clients for the iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone mobile devices, which can play streaming music or cache songs for offline playback. There are also clients for the Roku and Sonos systems.

Catapult is one of the few independent distributors to service Rdio and so we’re pleased to be able to offer this to all of our artists and labels.

As we write this, our system is currently running around the clock delivering terabytes of content to their store and so in the next few weeks our artist’s and label’s albums should begin going live in their store.

iTunes Store Popularity


So we had a little fun today to see how popular each iTunes store is depending on the country. We always knew iTunes USA was the largest store in Apple’s arsenal and this pie chart clearly shows that.

The data represented in this chart represents the percentage of track sales per iTunes’ specific country (51 World Stores) within the past 30 days. Because there are so many stores, you’ll need to click on the image to get the full resolution pie chart that shows the country details. The top 5 are The United States (83.65%), Great Britain (4.93%), Canada (4.67%), Australia (2.48%) and Germany (0.58%) for reference.

Feel free to retweet this bad boy and let your friends know that your sales figures are some where in that giant pie chart…and probably in the blue section.

iTunes Store Popularity by Country