Limited Run Redefining Direct-to-Fan Distribution

by Dave Mainella

After more than a year of re-building, direct-to-fan platform Limited Run officially relaunched today.  Supporting both digital and physical music products, artists and labels now have a clean, efficient, and fair way of distributing their music online.

Limited Run first launched in 2009 by brothers Tom and Nick Mango (also the brains behind Card Included, a unique music download service we first saw at the NY Music Tech Meetup).  With digital music sales soaring to new levels and a growing resurgence of interest in vinyl records, Limited Run sought a way to provide an integrated and comprehensive direct-to-fan distribution platform.

The newly redesigned Limited Run offers an incredible appealing service that caters to both of those demands.  Artists and labels can easily build a unique site and store for free, using either formulaic themes or HTML and CSS.  Bands can upload lossless audio which Limited Run will convert into a variety of formats for listeners to chose from upon downloading.

Limited Run is also integrated with SoundCloud, with the option to automatically have uploaded music sent to SoundCloud and embedded music players.

With features like “Cart Limiting”, Limited Run makes it easy to manage vinyl sales in a way that helps combat record flipping, making sure all fans have a real chance of purchasing that special album.  And the “Digital Street Date” service allows sellers to set a release date for digital downloads and automatically emails fans who’ve purchased the pre-order.  This easily syncs vinyl and digital pre-orders and releases, meaning artists and labels can focus on other things like making music.

“Labels and artists want to concentrate on what they do best, which is finding talent and creating art,” says Tom Mango.  “They don’t want to worry about sending a thousand emails out, when the digital version of an album is available. That’s our job.”

Besides the impressive features Limited Run provides, the revenue structure and service fees are very enticing.  Rather than charge a percentage of sales (like iTunes’ 30%), Limited Run charges by the amount of products a seller has and the number of fan downloads.  5 products are free, 25 are $10 per month.  Downloads are 1.5 cents for 10 MB.  And if a seller gives away their music for free, Limited run won’t charge a fee.

“Charging a percentage, in our eyes, is an unethical business practice,” says Nick Mango, Limited Run’s head of product development. “We didn’t have a hand in creating the music, so our profit shouldn’t relate to how much they charge.”

With even more features like discount codes, name-your-own-price, and daily sales reports, the new Limited Run offers an impressive service for direct-to-fan distribution.

The Limited Run press release can be found here.