Digital Delivery – What Does It Mean to Our Industry?

by Mendy Varga, Kendor Music, Inc.
RPMDA Technology Committee

varga m kendor
Mendy Varga, Kendor Music

Digital delivery was mentioned in one shape or form in just about every session at the 2015 RPDMA convention. It is a hot button topic right now for publishers and dealers alike. What does it mean to our business? What will our businesses look like in 5 years ? Do customers want digital delivery? These are all questions we as an industry are wrestling with.


The RPMDA technology committee conducted a survey of music publishers to find out their position on digital delivery. Most publishers have some sort of digital delivery system in place. Unfortunately, there is not one specific model for this type of delivery, whether it is pdfs or a more secure delivery system which can make it difficult for dealers to integrate into their store. Some allow print dealers to be a part of the process, and some do not. Publishers do not necessarily want to exclude the dealer, but it can be difficult to develop a system for the files to be distributed through the dealer.  Digital delivery is a small percentage of publisher’s sales, however they feel it is important to grow that area to offer choices to customers, instant availability, and access to out of print products.


Chaim Rubinov from Online Sheet Music conducted a survey of digital music publishers and to retail dealers and presented the results at the RPDMA convention. He found that a large majority of print dealers are selling music digitally, either in-store, or on their website, but more often it is not a significant part of their business. The general feeling is that digital is more utilized when a customer needs a piece that is not in stock. Employee training on digital delivery is key for this tool to be effective. There are thousands of titles available, and an employee should be able to offer all applicable solutions (print & digital) to satisfy the customer’s needs. In the near future, there may be no need for “special orders” which can be expensive to obtain and are inconvenient for the customer.


We have all seen in our daily life that there are some things in which we are not experts and we are thrilled to have a place that specializes in that one thing that can help sort through all the products, recommend a product and get it to us quickly and efficiently. Selling digital products in a retail store is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t require a lot of equipment or digital expertise.

Digital delivery is here to stay, and both digital and traditional printed product are an important part of our industry and will be able to coexist. In-store digital delivery is one more way to be a hero to your customer. Not only can they get recommendations from you, see and touch the music, but now they have access to thousands of titles with which they can leave your store 100% satisfied. I encourage you to train all of our employees to have digital delivery be part of their toolbox so you can make every person that walks through your door a customer for life.