One of the reasons for this is the expense of administering a large number of accounts. There's a cost for the initial setup of the account (which is why an aggregator sometimes charges a setup fee) and most solo artists accounts won't be able to cover that amount during the lifetime of their songs on the service.
Then there's customer service, or the lack thereof. It's expensive to provide and just one call can wipe out any lifetime profits for either the aggregator or the digital service. That's why it's so hard to get someone on the phone at virtually every online company.
iTunes is a special case though, in that it only deals with larger accounts, meaning labels with at least 20 albums or more, or an aggregator. Apple supplies a great submission tool called iTunes Producer that prepares your songs for submission in terms of all the metadata and artwork, but you must be approved by Apple first before the app can connect to the iTunes store.
Let's say you have the prerequisite 20 albums in your catalog and you want to become an approved iTunes label. Apple still requires the following:
- A UPC code for each album
- ISRC codes for each song
- A US Tax ID
- An iTunes store account with a credit card on file
If you're a solo artist, you're pretty much forced to use a digital aggregator to get your music on iTunes and many other digital services. It's much easier than submitting to each one, as an aggregator is a single submission, but it will cost you either a yearly fee or a percentage of your sales revenue. If you're a label that meets the submission standards, then it's worth it to keep the submissions in house.
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