As an independent artist looking to distribute your music online on streaming platforms, it can be overwhelming to navigate the vast array of music distribution services available. However, there are certain platforms that stand out from the rest. The best music distributor for you may not be the same for another artist. It all depends on your individual needs and budget. The top music distribution services will distribute your music across over 150 platforms. This includes the biggest streaming sites like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer, and more. What differentiates one digital distributor from another are the prices and the extra features to help manage or promote your music. If you’re looking to sign a distribution deal with a traditional distributor, get in touch with them on Groover: the innovative platform connecting artists directly with industry professionals with a guaranteed response.
We’ve gone through the list of digital distributors and weighed the pros and cons of each one. Here are the top six best music distribution services to get your music on streaming platforms.
Founded in 2013, DistroKid has become one of the top leaders in the music distribution market. They provide distribution to over 150 music platforms, of course including the biggest players like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube Music, and more.
- Affordable pricing: DistroKid offers some of the most competitive pricing in the music distribution industry. They work on a yearly subscription based plan starting at $19.99 per year. For this rate, you can release as much music as you like.
- Fast distribution: DistroKid is known for being one of the fastest music distribution services out there. According to their site, from the time you submit your music it can be available on Spotify in 2-5 days, on Apple Music in 1-7 days, and on Amazon, YouTube Music, Deezer and Tidal in just 1-2 days. As far as online distribution companies go, this is the fastest.
- Simple interface: The DistroKid platform is very straightforward and easy to use. It is simple to upload your music and navigate the site.
- No commission: One of the best parts of DistroKid is that you get to keep 100% of the royalties you make!
- Split payments option: Let’s say you want to share your royalties with a bandmate, songwriter, or producer who helped you with your track. You can choose to split payments directly through DistroKid either per song, EP, or album so that everyone gets their cut.
- Slow customer service: Unfortunately, DistroKid has a reputation for having a slow customer support. Though they have lots of answers in their FAQ and Help Center, it may take awhile to actually get in touch with them.
- No physical distribution: If you want to make physical copies of your music, you’ll have to go with another music distribution service. DistroKid only distributes music digitally!
- Add-ons: Some services on DistroKid are add-ons, meaning that you’ll have to pay a bit more per release to get extra features. This includes getting your track recognized by Shazam ($0.99) or signing up for YouTube monetization ($4.95).
- Basic analytics for basic plan: With the basic plan, you get basic analytics for your music. To get more comprehensive statistics about how your music is performing, you’ll need to upgrade to the Musician Plus plan.
Why choose DistroKid: DistroKid is the best music distribution service for you if you’re looking for the most affordable way to release unlimited music the fastest possible and don’t plan on making physical copies.
TuneCore was founded in 2005 and has also been a leader in the digital music distribution market. They also provide global distribution to all the biggest platforms and offer both pay-per-release plans or unlimited plans.
- Different payment plans: With TuneCore, you can either pay per release or sign up for an unlimited plan. These plans include: the new artist subscription for free, the rising artist plan at $14.99/year, the breakout artist plan at $29.99/year, and the professional artist subscription at $49.99/year. Their pay-per-release fees during the first year of distribution are $9.99 for a single, $29.99 for an album, and $19.99 for a ringtone. After the first year of distribution, the album price goes up to $49.99 each following year.
- No commission: Similar to DistroKid, with TuneCore, you also get to keep 100% of the royalties you make.
- Strong analytics: TuneCore’s analytics platform is pretty comprehensive, making it easy to keep track of how your music is performing. You can easily track your revenue stream and see how your project is evolving.
- TuneCore Publishing: TuneCore has put in place a publishing administration that helps songwriters through licensing, registration, and worldwide royalty collection for a one time fee of $75. This is a great way for artists to make money and see how their music is being used internationally.
- Sync and Master Licensing feature: If you decide to sign up for TuneCore Publishing, you will have access to the sync and master licensing feature that enables your music to be used in TV or advertisements. If you land a sync, TuneCore will take 20% of the revenue, which is much less than a traditional 50/50 split.
- Physical Distribution: If you want to make physical copies of your music, you can make CDs, DVDs, and vinyls with TuneCore’s Disc Duplication service.
- Increase in pricing after first year for pay-per-release: As you can see from the payment plans above, the pay-per-release plans increase after the first year of distribution. This can add up over time if you plan on releasing a lot of music!
- Slow customer service: Like DistroKid, TuneCore is unfortunately not known for it’s quality customer service. You can wait awhile to get a response to complaints.
- Basic distribution features: If you choose the basic distribution plan with TuneCore, you are going to have the basic features. If you want to have more tools available to you, you’ll need to upgrade to the professional plan.
Why choose TuneCore: TuneCore is the best music distribution service for you if you’re looking to invest a bit more in your music releases, take advantage of sync and publishing opportunities, and make physical copies.
3. CD Baby
CD Baby is one of the oldest independent music distribution platforms out there, founded in 1998. In 2004, they were one of the first platforms to offer digital distribution and they are still going strong, offering worldwide distribution to over 150 music platforms.
- Affordable pricing: CD Baby works on a pay-per-release model, charging $9.95 for a standard single, $29.95 for a pro single, $29 for a standard album, and $69 for a pro album.
- Physical distribution: If you want to make physical copies of your music, you can go directly through CD Baby!
- Pro Publishing Administration: Similar to TuneCore, CD Baby offers a pro publishing administration that will collect publishing royalties on your behalf.
- Sync Licensing: Within the pro publishing feature, you will also have access to their sync licensing to potentially get your song into advertisements, movies, and more.
- Cover Song Licensing: One of the cool features of CD Baby is that if you want to release cover songs, they’ll help you get the license for just $14.99.
- 9% commission: Unlike DistroKid and TuneCore, CD Baby doesn’t let you keep 100% of your royalties. They take a 9% commission on everything you make.
- 40% commission on sync licensing: If you decide to sign up for the pro publishing feature and land a sync, CD Baby takes 40% on the fee. This is much higher than what TuneCore takes, but still less than the traditional 50/50 split with a conventional music publisher.
- Slow customer service: Once again, customer support can be slow.
Why choose CD Baby: CD Baby is the best music distribution service for you if you’re looking to pay a one time fee per release, take advantage of sync and publishing opportunities, and make physical copies.
4. Ditto Music
In 2007, the record label Ditto Music launched its digital distribution service and quickly became popular among independent musicians. The platform is extremely user-friendly and the payment plans are affordable. They have really developed their services to provide artists with tools for music promotion and marketing in addition to digital distribution.
- Affordable pricing: For $19 per year, an artist can put out as much music as they like. For $29 per year, you can put out unlimited music for two artists. Ditto is a good solution for independent labels who want to distribute multiple artists!
- No commission: Artists keep 100% of the royalties they make!
- Simple interface: The Ditto Music platform is very easy to navigate, making it simple for artists to upload and distribute their music globally.
- Marketing and promotional services: Ditto Music offers a range of marketing and promotional services to help artists build their fan base and increase their exposure.
- Ditto Music Publishing: Like CD Baby and TuneCore, they offer a publishing service if you’d like to collect royalties from more sources.
- Transparency: The company provides detailed reports on streams, downloads, and earnings, giving artists transparency and insight into how their music is performing. You’ll be able to easily track your new releases!
- No physical distribution: Ditto Music only offers digital distribution for now. If you’re looking to make CDs or vinyls, you’ll have to look elsewhere!
- Slower processing times: Compared to DistroKid, for example, Ditto Music is a bit slower on the processing of releases. It can take around two weeks for your music to appear on streaming platforms.
- Slow customer service: No surprise here! Customer support is slow.
Why choose Ditto Music: Ditto Music is the best music distribution service for you if you’re looking to release a lot of music for an affordable fee, keep 100% of your royalties, and take advantage of marketing and promotional services.
LANDR first started as a company providing automated AI mastering to artists and now offers digital distribution. They now offer a wide array of resources for artists in addition to mastering and distribution, including tools like samples and plugins. They propose different subscription plans for various needs and budgets.
- Offers mastering services: Unlike the other music distributors, LANDR offers AI mastering for much lower prices than a sound engineer might charge.
- Cover Song Licensing: Like CD Baby, LANDR also helps you get the mechanical license to release a cover song for a $15 fee.
- Extra tools and collaborations: LANDR offers around a million royalty free samples in their LANDR library as well as post production plugins. In addition, they have an extensive network of other artists, engineers, and producers that you can collaborate with.
- Confusing price plans: Some say that the LANDR price plans can be a bit confusing. The basic distribution plan starts at 20 euros per year, followed by the pro plan at 80 euros per year and then the most expensive, LANDR Studio at 127 euros per year. The subscription plans have no commission- you keep 100% of your royalties. You can also choose to pay as you go, either 9 euros for a single and 29 euros for an album. If you pay per release, they will take a 15% commission on your royalties. You can find all the details about their pricing here.
- Mastering by an AI: Yes, you can have your songs mastered, but keep in mind that it is being done by AI. You won’t have that human interaction you would get with a real sound engineer.
- No publishing administration: Unlike some of the music distributors mentioned above, LANDR does not yet have a publishing administration option available to artists.
Why choose LANDR: LANDR is the best music distribution service for you if you’re looking to quickly master and release your songs and take advantage of the extra tools and collaborations they offer.
iMusician is a popular digital distribution service for independent musicians originally started in Switzerland. They work on a one-time fee plan per release and offer extra services like YouTube Content ID, Studio Mastering, and Instant Mastering.
- Pay per release and different plans: Depending on your needs, you can choose from different price plans: Starter, Regular, Rockstar, and Pro Unlimited plans. You will get different benefits by paying a bit more per release but have the option to pay less if you want!
- Great Customer Service: Unlike the other digital distribution services, iMusician has great customer service. You should be able to get a response to your questions rather quickly!
- Extra Features: With iMusician, you have extra features such a YouTube Content ID, Studio Mastering and Instant Mastering. You also get an Artist Hub tool to help with music promotion once your tracks are released.
- Different royalties commission depending on plan: Depending on the pricing plan you choose, iMusician will take different percentages of royalties on what you make. This starts at 30% then goes down to 15%, and if you pay the highest plan, you get to keep 100% of your royalties.
- Pay more for faster distribution: If you want you music to be released faster, you have to pay a bit more.
- No publishing or payment splitting: Unlike some of the other distribution services, there is no option for publishing administration or payment splitting between songwriters.
Why choose iMusician: iMusician is the best music distribution service for you if you’re looking to pay a one time fee per release and be sure that everything goes smoothly with their quick customer service.
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Conclusion: The Best Music Distribution Services
There are so many music distribution channels out there nowadays for independent musicians, but we recommend checking out these top six picks. They either have been around the longest and are the leaders in the industry, or are offering something new to independent artists in addition to distribution. There is not just one way to distribute music- it really depends on your needs and budget! Once you’ve got your music distributed on streaming platforms, promote your project by sending your tracks to influencers in the music industry on Groover!