Physical distribution of music remains a significant aspect of music, complementing digital releases and catering to collectors, fans, and niche markets. Physical formats such as CDs, vinyl records, and cassettes offer tangible connections to the music and provide unique opportunities for artistic expression and merchandise sales which can then form a significant source of income for musicians. From packaging design and manufacturing to distribution logistics and retail partnerships, physical distribution involves various processes and decisions to be made.

Manufacturing physical copies of music involves selecting appropriate formats, determining quantities, and coordinating printing, pressing, and packaging. This process often requires collaboration with manufacturing partners and mastering engineers to ensure high-quality production standards. Artists and labels may also choose to include bonus content, such as lyric booklets, artwork, or limited-edition variants, to enhance the value and appeal of physical releases.

Distribution channels for physical music encompass a diverse range of outlets, including traditional record stores, online retailers, specialty shops, and direct-to-fan platforms. Establishing partnerships with distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is crucial for ensuring widespread availability and visibility of physical releases. Additionally, you can sell physical formats through your own websites or online stores such as Bandcamp to engage directly with fans and grow your income.

As physical music consumption evolves, trends such as the resurgence of vinyl, the growth of cassette culture, and the rise of collectible editions continue to shape the landscape. Innovations in packaging design, printing techniques, and environmentally friendly materials also play a role in modern physical distribution strategies. By staying informed about industry trends and consumer preferences, you can adapt your physical distribution strategies to meet the evolving demands of the market and connect with your fans in meaningful ways.


Sustainability in vinyl music production is gaining traction as companies adopt eco-friendly practices to mitigate environmental impacts. It is now possible to use recycled and biodegradable materials, meaning now vinyl can be more sustainable than streaming due to its longevity and recyclability. There are other industry innovations such as lighter records and alternative materials, aiming to reduce the carbon footprint further. These efforts ensure that vinyl’s resurgence is balanced with environmental responsibility, making it a more sustainable option for music enthusiasts.

We greatly admire Key Production’s CEO Karen Emanuel who is a leader in environmental sustainability in physical music production.  Karen says “You’ve decided that you’re going to make a record but the choices you make when it comes to manufacture and packaging can reduce the environmental impact of your release“.

For more information on their work in this area, visit Key Production .