Play MPE Challenges DMDS Market Dominance With UMC Contract

Since 2007, Vancouver-based B2B digital music distributor Play MPE has quietly built a global business securely delivering advance tracks to media companies in 95 countries, but now the company has a strategic goal of becoming an identifiable brand at home in Canada.

As of Jan. 24, Play MPE has secured Universal Music Canada as a client and is actively in discussions with competitors Sony and Warner Music, along with a long list of Canadian independent labels–some already clients that are using the service to distribute tracks in the US, according to Play MPE business development consultant Stephanie Friedman.

The Universal contract is hinged to a UMG contract in 50 world markets that was signed in Dec. 2018 but until Jan. 24, UMC was exclusively distributing advance tracks through Play MPE’s competitor, Toronto-based Yangaroo’s DMDS service. UMC is now using both services, whereas for now Warner and Sony remain exclusive clients of the long-dominant Canadian digital music service provider, DMDS.

Other MPE clients outside Canada include BMG, Big Machine, Beggars, Curb, Broken Bow, eOne, and Epitaph. According to MPE CEO Fred Vandenberg, Play MPE distributes an average of 2,400 releases monthly with as many as 45K active global recipients in 95 countries, and a whopping 871 deliveries to date.

Earlier problems with the usability of the platform have been addressed over the past 18 months, in large part as a result of working with UMC to add a lot more unique functionality required by its clients. In May 2019, the company released new iOS and Android apps for its Play MPE recipient player. The apps feature added capabilities from previous versions, including Google Chromecast and Airplay streaming capabilities, additional playlists, sorting, flagging and archiving features, improved search capabilities, and easier to access release metadata.

The Play MPE app also provides access to metadata including ISRCs, CanCon releases, photos, videos and tour dates.

Users can use search parameters to find releases by format, territory, label, and artist. Friedman, in turn, reports that she has had discussions with the CRTC to get more content qualified as CanCon, a seemingly simple process but one that has proven to be a bugaboo with broadcasters and record labels when tracks have been disqualified by the regulator based on insufficient data provided to them.

Friedman’s platinum-plated resume includes stints with Bohn & Associates and Nielsen, and she has first-hand relationships with broadcast executives, PDs, GMs and owners in North America. Her experience gives her a unique relationship with MPE’s end-users in broadcasting, and she’s also combed through the company’s distribution list and augmented it with a long list of active participants at the CBC, TV and online and print media.

Interested parties can try logging onto the site at or contacting Friedman at

Head-officed in downtown Vancouver, the company employs 30+ full-time staff that is mostly spread over product development and recipient list management teams. It is traded on the TSX-V under DSY.

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