fbpx

Music Distribution Companies Compared

Music Distribution Companies

Last Updated on February 5, 2021 by J.SCALCO

Looking to get your music out there and permeate every corner in the world? In our current technological age, this means gaining access to download platforms and major streaming services. Music distribution companies that feed popular music streaming services such as YouTube, Spotify, and Apple music have replaced record label monopolies – and it’s easy to see why.

Music Distribution Companies

The digital model of music distribution is a win-win situation. On the one hand, musicians gain better access to their listeners or target markets. On the other hand, music aficionados are exposed to more music varieties and they have the freedom to choose whatever vibes with their musical taste. Simply put, online distributors have opened new horizons and revolutionized the industry.

According to 2018 statistics, streaming services and digital sales accounted for nearly 60% of global revenue in the recording industry – against a 25% share held by physical sales. If you wish to grab a piece of this ‘digital’ pie, you need to partner with the best music distribution companies in the industry.

Unfortunately, every lucrative industry is doomed to attract a plethora of players looking to cash in. As a musician, you’ll often feel overwhelmed by a large number of different music distribution companies – all offering near-identical services and features.

How do you differentiate one company from another? Wether you release EDM, Rock, Pop, Rap, Hip Hop or any other style of music knowing which distribution service is best for your unique needs and characteristics is important.  If your not sure where to turn or which road to take, we’re here to ease your troubles. After rigorously scrutinizing some of the most notable musical distribution companies, this article dissects them to unearth elements that could be deal makers/breakers.

cdbaby

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

Distro Kid

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

ReverbNation

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

Awal

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

United Masters

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

TuneCore

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

LANDR

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

Ditto

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

Symphonic

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

AMUSE

Pros and Cons

Visit Site

 

  1. CD Baby

CD Baby is a true definition of a veteran player. The company was founded by Derek Sivers back in 1998, making it one of the longest-running non-label company in this list – and anywhere else for that matter.

With a large suite of features and a network of over 150 partners/stores, CD Baby is a one-stop-shop for all DIY musicians. The music distribution company offers physical distribution, streaming, and digital distribution services. Other features include cover song licensing, social video monetization, professional publishing administration, promotion/marketing tools, and analytics/reporting tools.

Musicians and artists pay for every album or single uploaded based on a pricing tier – starting a $29 (album) or $9.95 (single). Keep in mind that users are paid 100% of royalties and CD Baby does not charge annual fees.

What’s to Like?

  • You don’t have to pay an annual fee to keep your music up.
  • CD Baby helps collect your SoundExchange royalties – relieving you of headache-inducing hassle.
  • They collect your songwriter royalties.
  • They offer physical distribution through partnerships with Amazon, Super D, and Alliance Entertainment.
  • Weekly payouts.
  • Publishing admin services.
  • Sync licensing.
  • They now distribute to TikTok.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • You have to pay an extra $5 (single) and $20 (album) for a UPC.
  • High sync licensing commission – 40%.
  • They do not support payment splitting.
  • They demand 30% YouTube commissions.
  1. DistroKid

Are you a YouTube creator, producer, performer, DJ, ban, or solo musician looking for a relatively cheap but effective way to distribute your music? If so, it doesn’t get better than DistroKid. According to the company, they can get your music into streaming and digital download platforms up to 20 times faster than competitors. Whether this audacious claim is true or not, DistroKid is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.

The music distribution company has partnered with over 150 streaming services and digital stores. They are arguably one of the cheapest options, starting at $19.99. Quoting Performer Magazine, you get “A million-dollar record label for $20 with DistroKid.”

What’s to Like?

  • You keep 100% of your royalties at the end of every month.
  • Relatively cheap at $19.99 (per artist) annually.
  • You can upload unlimited songs and albums.
  • Option to split earnings.
  • A ton of bonus features, including unlimited backups, instant Spotify verification, sending lyrics to stores, and a YouTube Official Artist channel.
  • There’s an option to “Leave a Legacy.” By paying $30, a release is listed permanently even if you miss the annual payment.
  • Free music distribution sign-up.
  • Email notifications.
  • User-friendly platform.
  • Ludacris is a user.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • Upsells on top of other upsells!
  • Lackluster analytics and reporting (unless you upgrade).
  • No publishing partners for royalty collection.
  • Hidden fees including extra charges for Shazam ($0.99), Store Maximizer ($8), and YouTube collection ($5).

Full DistroKid Review Click Here

  1. ReverbNation

ReverbNation is not your typical music distribution company – they’re more than that, they build careers! They operate under an artist-first basis, flaunting a ton of features and services to meet an artist’s needs. PS: They’re best suited for bands.

ReverbNation is a powerhouse when it comes to promoting and marketing your work. They offer crowdsourced listener feedback/reviews, a website-builder for branding, exposure to music events, digital ads, TV placements, email, and social messaging functions.

The music distribution company offers several pricing tiers with different features. If you’re looking for free music distribution, take a look at their free tier (though limited). Other packages include the Basic plan ($12.95 per month) and Premium plan (19.95 per month)

What’s to Like?

  • A website builder and a free domain with the $19.95 Premium package.
  • Mailing list service, social media integration among other marketing tools.
  • Resourceful database to find venues and events.
  • Your keep 100% of your revenue (no commissions).

What’s NOT to Like?

  • Expensive if you don’t subscribe to the Premium plan.
  • ReverbNation doesn’t have admin publishing for seamless royalty collection.
  • Heavy branding that makes it nearly impossible to operate independently.
  1. AWAL

Awal Music Distribution Company

AWAL is an invite-only music distribution service that boasts top artists such as Lauv. The company was acquired by Kobalt back in 2012, further bolstering its reputation as a master of digital royalty collection.

It’s an ideal platform for artists looking for free music distribution. But unlike other entries in this list, you have to apply before being accepted into AWAL. They require you to be an established artist with a track record of consistent and quality work – i.e., based on the overall strength of your brand.

The pricing structure is a 15% commission with no hidden fees, annual, or upfront payments – it’s a free music distribution service.

What’s to Like?

  • Free music distribution (mainly for buzz artists).
  • Unparalleled high-tier artist support services.
  • High performing artists enjoy label-like services.
  • A marketing powerhouse – they offer playlist plugging, synch licensing, and even physical distribution.
  • Informative trending reports, demographics, and analytics.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • No payment splitting.
  • Doesn’t offer admin publishing – unless you sign with the parent company, Kobalt.
  • 15% commission from your earnings.
  • You have to apply and await scrutinization
  1. United Masters

United Masters Distribution Company

United Masters is a relatively new player in the digital music distribution industry – but a formidable competitor nonetheless. The company was founded by Steve Stoute (former Interscope president) with financial backing from 20thCentury Fox, Andreessen Horowitz, and Alphabet. United Masters was founded on the premise of creating the record label of the future.

What’s to Like?

  • Free music distribution services
  • User-friendly – easy to navigate and accessible through their mobile app.
  • Unlimited music releases
  • Potential synch licensing
  • Valuable partnerships with brands such as NFL and NBA.
  • Demographic stats and analytics to better target the fanbase

What’s NOT to Like?

  • Invitation-only artist enrollment
  • 10% commission off your earnings
  • Relatively new and untested
  1. TuneCore

Enter another industry veteran! TuneCore was established in 2005 – and they’ve established a name for themselves ever since. They have helped several artists – including Boyce Avenue and Ron Pope – break into the mainstream media with millions of streams. This is possible thanks to their partnership with over 150 streaming services and digital stores across more than 100 countries around the globe.

TuneCore features a complete dashboard of backend administration, marketing, and reporting services to go with the music distribution. They also offer value-added service (at a fee) such a publishing administration, social media promotion, and comprehensive sales data.

The pricing structure is based on an annual fee to maintain each release – and this can quickly add up. They charge $9.99 annually for a single and $49.99 per year for an album ($29.99 for the first year).

What’s to Like?

  • TuneCore offers physical distribution.
  • Songwriter royalty services.
  • One of the best analytics and revenue reports in the industry.
  • Publishing admin to help track royalties.
  • Revenue advances for future projections.
  • 0% commissions – you keep all your sales revenue.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • Expensive annual fees for individual releases.
  • Publishing ($75), social media management ($7.99), YouTube ($10) and other value-added services come at an extra fee.
  • TuneCore doesn’t offer payment splitting.
  • They complicate the possibility of working with a synch licensing agency.
  1. LANDR

Looking to get your music distribution and mastering done in one place? LANDR leverages AI-powered mastering to achieve a professional finish to every track. And when you’re done producing your music, you don’t have to go through the hassle of looking for a music distribution service – LANDR has you covered. While they’re relatively new to the music distribution scene, the company boasts over 1.3 million mastering clients – making them a safe bet.

The company offers unique collaboration opportunities and helps connect artists. They also have free sample packs for use and several promotional tools to get your music noticed. Mastering will set you back $48 annually (or $4 monthly), while music distribution is offered for as low as $1 per month for 10 tracks.

What’s to Like?

  • LANDR offers free music distribution if you have a mastering membership.
  • A collaborative and shared workspace feature.
  • You keep 100% of your royalties – no commissions.
  • LANDR has partnerships with several brands and partners to streamline their services.
  • Intuitive desktop app.
  • You get free samples from other producers.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • Steep learning curve.
  • No publishing administration.
  • The pricing structure is confusing.
  • They’re new to the music distribution services industry.
  • No mechanical license to facilitate the seamless releases of cover songs.
  1. DITTO

Ditto is a solid choice for musicians and artists looking for a cheaper option with competitive features. Working with Ditto gives you access to a state-of-the-art reporting and analytics system to help define your target audience – all at an annual fee of $19.

One of the best features has to be the ability to pre-save links. Let say you’re planning to release an album independently; Ditto allows you to send a ‘pre-order link’ to your fans so they get instant access when it’s released. Another unique feature is their “Record Label in a Box,” which offers a stress-free approach to starting a record label.

What’s to Like?

  • Surprisingly low prices.
  • They don’t deduct commissions for their music distribution services – you retain all your sales revenue.
  • Ditto offers an opportunity to start a record label.
  • Unlimited releases.
  • Vevo distribution.
  • Intelligible analytics and reports.
  • Pre-save links.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • Faulted for their lackluster distribution speed.
  • Ditto only support originals (too bad for cover artists).
  • There are several complaints from users regarding the quality of customer service.
  • No publishing administration.
  • Hidden costs – for example, they claim a 10% commission off your YouTube monetization.
  1. Symphonic

Symphonic is was founded all the way back in 2006 – and has since grown into a worthy player, capable of holding its own against other powerhouses. They’ve recently embarked on a relentless quest to position themselves as one of the best digital music distribution companies in the industry.

It’s worth noting that the company has actively positioned itself in the Latin electronic, and urban music market – and if the unprecedented prominence of Latin music is anything to go by, they’re on the right track.

Unlike other major players, Symphonic negotiates distribution deals separately with each artist – they don’t have a standard T&Cs contract. Rather than charge upfront fees, they offer free music distribution – but cut off a 15% commission.

What’s to Like?

  • They help you collect SoundExchange revenue.
  • Partnership with Merlin – a digital rights agency that bargain on behalf of members, allowing special benefits.
  • Additional services such as advances, PR, and playlist plugging.
  • They don’t charge annual fees.
  • Partnership with Beatport.
  • Offer physical distribution services through a partnership with Alliance Entertainment.
  • Opt-in admin publishing.

What’s NOT to Like?

  • No one like a 15% commission shaved off their earnings.
  • Payment splitting is not automatic.
  • The music distribution service is offered on an ‘invite-only’ basis.
  1. AMUSE

AMUSE is a music distribution company that lives up to its name – i.e., they have an amusing offer. They stand out from the crowd courtesy of their unique features, including app-only access (no desktop version). Music submissions are made via links (Dropbox etc.). To make matters more interesting, AMUSE neither takes commission nor demands an upfront fee. Wait, then how do they make money?

The company has an out-of-the-box business/pricing model. They offer free music distribution with the hope of snatching promising artists and signing them to a 50/50 label deal when they start to catch. If this level of confidence in their product doesn’t prove their competency, then nothing will.

What’s to Like?

  • Free music distribution – no commissions, upfront costs, or annual fees.
  • An intuitive mobile app that handles everything from submissions to collecting royalties.
  • AMUSE gives advances if you’re a signed artist.
  • They cover your marketing costs.
  • Did we mention Will.I.Am is a co-founder? Yes, there’s that!

What’s NOT to Like?

  • No admin publishing.
  • AMUSE is lacking in terms of features compared to other players in the industry.
  • No mechanical license for cover songs.
  • It’s a risky venture since they’re new and unproven.
  • It’s a mobile-only platform – some users may prefer a desktop site rather than a mobile app.

Digital Music Distribution Companies – The Final Verdict

It’s clear that leveraging the features/services of the top music distribution companies might be key to the success of your music career. However, most of these music distribution companies have similar offerings at their core. With this in mind, your best fit comes down to a comparison of the unique offering/value-added services and your unique needs/characteristics. For example, if you’re strapped for cash, AMUSE and Ditto are favorable options. Similarly, musicians looking for a seamless transition from music mastering to distribution would find huge success working with LANDR.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

shop jscalco