Believe Digital's digital music distribution service Zimbalam opens in the US

[France] Zimbalam, the digital music distributor from Believe Digital, launches in the US today.

The service lets artists submit and distribute their music through 25 of the most popular music platforms, including Apple’s iTunes and Spotify, in addition to “several hundred additional stores worldwide”. This makes Zimbalam the largest music distribution network as measured by number of stores and geographic reach, says the Paris-based company.

To distribute their music via Zimbalam’s network, artists are charged a simple annual fee ($29.99 in year one then $19.98 per year after for an EP or album) and then once the fee is recouped, get to keep 100% of royalties – after, of course, whatever commission is taken by each store. Additionally, following year one, artists won’t be charged by Zimbalam if they don’t make enough sales to cover the annual fee.

As well as music distribution, the service provides real-time (daily) sales data, CRM tools, such as email newsletters, and a widget feature for promotion through social networking sites. The latter is geo-targeted and can detect a user’s location so as to promote the most popular music stores in that region.

Another potential pull for artists who are considering using Zimbalam for digital distribution is the link between the service and its parent Believe Digital, which is backed by a team of 50 A&R people. Those that perform strongly on the Zimbalam network and are therefore deemed to have “breakout” potential will be assigned a personal A&R manager to advise on “release strategy, marketing and promotion investment”, bridging the gap of a major record label.

Believe Digital is backed by VCs xAnge and Ventech to the tune of $8.5 million and is founded by music executives from various companies, including Vivendi Universal,, eMusic, BMG Entertainment and Sony. It has a staff of 70 spread across six European countries (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal), as well as the United States.