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Altavoz wants to help school bands sell records

The Rockville-based indie music distributor has launched a new service to help schools cash in on their students' music performances.

Altavoz CEO Nelson Jacobsen (right) with DeMatha Catholic High School's director of business development, Tom Ponton. (Photo courtesy of Altavoz)

School choirs have something many indie artists would die for: an adoring fan base — namely, their star-struck parents.
Seeking to cash in on that enthusiasm, Rockville-based indie music distributor Altavoz has launched a new deal just for schools.
In exchange for a fee, the company will get students’ music performances certified on iTunes, Amazon and YouTube.
“You need to have a community, and the larger your community the more successful your music is going to be,” said Altavoz CEO Nelson Jacobsen.
Jacobsen first smelled an opportunity while sitting at a Tentleytown Starbucks back in 2009.
“I saw these kids put a packaging display,” he said. “It was a Wilson High School marching band CD.”
They’d already sold 500 copies, the children told him — a respectable number in a music economy that was fast abandoning physical CDs.
“We actually have released a lot of records in our industry that do not sell 500 units, ever,” Jacobsen said.
Altavoz inked its first “School Music Deal” last month with DeMatha Catholic High School — Jacobsen’s alma matter.
The school is producing a soundtrack to accompany a documentary on Brendan Looney, an alum who died while serving in Afghanistan.
By signing on with Altavoz, the school will be able to distribute the music more widely, while also earning revenue off the production.
“We want the schools to make a lot of money off of this,” Jacobsen said.
This year, Altavoz also began offering a new deal for musicians who want their music exclusively distributed in public libraries.

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