Chris McMurtry – Photo by Jonathan Jones

5 questions to Chris McMurtry (CEO of DART)

Chris McMurtry is a classical composer, rock guitarist, and technologist. Like others in the music industry, McMurtry realized it was much easier to distribute rock music to online stores and streaming services than it was to distribute classical music. The difference is that he did something: He founded DART to bring inexpensive, automated music distribution to independent classical artists and labels for the first time.

Could you explain what problem DART is solving?

Certainly. In a nutshell, DART has finally solved digital distribution for classical music. Before now, the only option classical artists had to get their music into online stores like iTunes and streaming services like Spotify was to use extremely expensive manual distribution services. Such services charge anywhere from 35 – 50% of an artist’s royalties. So whereas an independent rock artist could distribute 1,000 copies of his album through an automated service for a mere $50 a year, a classical artist might pay $3,500 to distribute 1,000 copies of her album.

And even though this was clearly the worst distribution deal in town, it wasn’t even available to independent classical artists. That means if you weren’t signed to a classical label, you had no way of getting your music into iTunes, Spotify or most recently, Apple Music. So DART has not only made classical music distribution affordable, we’ve democratized access to all the major music services that were previously inaccessible to independent classical artists.

One of the strengths of DART is covering a lot more metadata fields than any other service in the industry. But aren’t people still limited by the (abysmal) search capabilities of their platforms (Rdio, Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, etc.)?

It’s true that a lot of things have to change across the entire music industry before a classical listener can go online to his favorite music platform and use dedicated search fields to find a specific conductor, a particular soloist or a favorite orchestra. But even without dedicated search fields, the information is there in the metadata and is searchable. So the logical first step is better classical music metadata. That’s why DART is working behind the scenes with many of the major players in the music industry to agree on a true music metadata standard.

Will this only benefit independent artists or can labels join DART too?

Oh my gosh, classical labels can save a fortune by switching to DART! In fact, some labels we’ve profiled will probably save hundreds of thousands annually in distribution fees. Can you even imagine what could happen to the classical music community if these resources could be redirected to bringing on more artists and spending more money on promotion? Potentially it could really open up the genre once artists and labels aren’t being bled dry just to pay for distribution.

We’re currently working on our API which will allow classical labels to dump their entire catalogue into our system. In the meantime we’re already picking up smaller labels that are willing to enter projects one-by-one into our system.

Will artists have to give up some of their royalties?

Not one cent. We charge a flat fee of $40 per album per year. All royalties go to the artists and labels.

Can people already sign up for DART?

Yes. We are currently in beta and improvements are being made all the time, but the platform is fully functional. It’s been incredible getting to serve classical artists in distributing their music world-wide. We’re also seeking beta testers to help speed up our progress. So even if you don’t have a music project ready to distribute but you still care about the solving this classical music distribution problem, we could really use your help. Simply go to and get started to join the cause to help liberate classical music once and for all!