The 10 Best Music Distributors; Get your Music Everywhere!

After you’ve written a couple of awesome songs which you think that people are going to enjoy listening to, it’s time to actually reach those potential listeners.

Here’s where music distribution services come in, but even though you might think that you should simply use any of them to get your music out as fast as possible, I’d advise against it.

First you should know what music distributors are even out there to begin with, and which is going to be the best one for your specific needs since some of them are going to charge you an annual fee while some others might be free.

CD Baby

CD Baby is the largest online distributor of independent music in the world.

It has been around for decades distributing music for DIY musicians both in a physical format like a CD, Vinyl, etc. and, more recently, in digital formats to streaming services like Spotify and iTunes.

It’s one of the biggest, or actually the biggest player when it comes to online music distribution services, which naturally makes it one of the most trusted ones.

CD Baby offers digital music distribution to more than 150 streaming and download services, which is more than enough for almost every artist.

They are also leading the front in the “one stop shop” business for DIY musician which means that, even though they aren’t there yet, they (as well as most distributors on this list) will be able to collect 100% of your royalties.

This means that you won’t need to register all over the place to collect the royalties, they will do it for you.

CD Baby will also upload your music to Facebook and Instagram which allows people to use them in their videos and you can earn some revenue off that.

Pros

  • No yearly fees
  • They allow for physical distribution like CDs, Vinyl, etc.
  • One of the only companies that collects your SoundExchange royalties for you
  • Facebook/Instagram Monetization

Cons

  • 9% commission on digital sales
  • $4 commission on physical sales
  • Single costs $9.99 and an album costs $49 (one-time payment)
  • 30% YouTube commission
  • They don’t offer payment splitting
  • They don’t offer marketing help for artists who start to gain traction

CD Baby can be a great distributor for anyone who wants to upload music once, pay a one-time fee and be done with it.

I think that it’s the overall better choice, just remember that they will take a cut out of everything you make.

If, on the other hand, you need to consistently upload and distribute music, then I’d recommend something like Distrokid instead.

DistroKid

DistroKid is another huge distributor which was the first one to offer unlimited distribution for an annual fee.

It keeps rising in popularity not only because of the low annual fees, but also because they don’t charge any commissions and they also distribute the music much faster than the rest of the competitors.

While most of them take about 3 to 4 weeks to distribute the music, DistriKid does this in a matter of hours to just a couple of days tops.

It’s important to note that Spotify has acquired a minority stake in DistroKid, meaning that Spotify now has financial interest in seeing DistroKid succeed.

The thing I like the most about DistroKid is its simplicity; It’s just one page to distribute your music.

Payment Splitting

One HUGE PLUS that DistroKid offers is Payment Splitting.

This is an amazing feature which allows you to divide the royalties earned and pay everyone involved automatically.

Pros

  • No Commissions (you keep 100%)
  • Unlimited song by simply paying a $20 annual fee
  • Payment Splitting
  • Single Page distribution process
  • You can send lyrics to Apple Music and iTunes
  • Cloud Storage; You can download your songs if you should need to

Cons

  • $.99 a year for each release to be on Shazam; 10 song album = $10 a year to be on Shazam (free on other services)
  • No admin publishing partner to help collect songwriter royalties
  • Bad Analytics
  • YouTube fees = $5 each year for every release
  • They don’t offer marketing help for artists who start to gain traction
  • To be able to use the Payment Splitting mechanism, every collaborator needs to sign up with DistroKid ($20 a year)
  • No physical distribution
  • No Facebook/Instagram Monetization

As I mentioned earlier, DistroKid can be awesome for anyone who needs to consistently upload music fast.

If you’re someone who releases a song weekly, then I think that Distrokid will be your best bet.

Ditto Music

Ditto Music is a bit like DistroKid in the sense that you keep 100% of the money you earn, there are no commissions, plus you pay a yearly price and you’re able to upload as many songs as you want.

One difference is that they have a better analytics page.

They offer a 24hr phone support which might come in handy at any given time.

Ditto offers Spotify playlist pitching which can be huge.

Being featured in a good Spotify playlist can skyrocket your success as an artist.

Note: Spotify has a whole process, which has been recently added, where you can submit songs that haven’t been released yet to be considered for a playlist by the curators.

This is done at the Spotify for Artists website.

Here´s an article where I talk about how to get your songs featured on Spotify playlists.

Dittos prices are $12 per year and you can upload unlimited songs.

Pros

  • No Commissions (you keep 100%)
  • Unlimited song by simply paying the annual fee
  • Good Analytics reports

Cons

  • No mechanism in place to help artists who start to gain traction
  • No admin publishing partner to collect royalties
  • According to online reviews; Bad customer service and hidden fees

TuneCore

TuneCore, just like CD Baby, is one of the oldest players in this field and has a huge distribution network.

Both are often times compared, but one benefit that TuneCore has over CD Baby is that you don’t take a cut of what you earn.

Basically 100% of your royalties go to you.

On the other hand, they charge a yearly fee for each release, which believe me, will add up.

They charge $10 per year for every single, $30 for an album the first year and $50 for every subsequent year.

Lastly, they charge $20 per year for every ringtone.

Just like CD Baby, they offer Facebook and Instagram monetization.

Pros

  • No Commission
  • Facebook and Instagram monetization
  • No physical distribution of CDs, Vinyl, etc.

Cons

  • Annual fees for each release which add up
  • No payment splitting
  • Complicated for anyone who wants to distribute a cover song
  • No mechanism in place to help artists who start to gain traction

LANDR

LANDR is known for their automatic mastering service, but they also do music distribution which you get for FREE if you are subscribed to their mastering service.

They also offer you possibilities to get your music on Spotify playlists, which is nice.

Remember, Spotify now added this feature directly from the Spotify for Artists website, just check out the article I previously linked where I go over how to do this.

One thing that I find extremely cool is that LANDR has a collaborative workspace where everyone on the team can work on a track in a centralized location.

The plans are; $1/mo for 10 tracks ($12 a year), $2/mo for 30 tracks ($24 a year) or unlimited which is $4/mo ($48 yearly).

You get instant AI mastering included with all plans.

They even provide a free plan where you can master and distribute two low quality MP3 songs each month.

This might be a great starting point for anyone who simply wants to get their songs out there and doesn’t have the budget to do so.

If you’re looking for free distributors them you should consider Amuse, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Pros

  • No Commission
  • Free Distribution if you are subscribed to their mastering service
  • Shared Workspace
  • Help you get on playlists

Cons

  • Monthly and yearly fees which can add up
  • No publishing administration
  • No Seamless Cover Song Licenses

OneRPM

If you’re looking for the best distribution service for Latin American countries, especially Brazil, then you should probably go with OneRPM.

This is because about 70% of all of their clients are from Latin American countries, which means that if you want to reach that specific audience, they will probably know how to do it.

They also have their own playlists, meaning that they can help you get instant reproductions of your newly distributed song.

They also offer payment splitting like DistroKid does.

This is one of the few companies that also gives out advances;

If your songs are earning a steady amount every month, they will give you some money in advance to cover the costs of recording your next album, etc.

Pros

  • Excellent for Latin American countries
  • They have their own video production studios where you can shoot videos.
  • Payment Splitting
  • Good Analytics
  • They offer Payment Advances

Cons

  • Highest commission on the market; 15%… yikes
  • No admin publishing partner to collect royalties

I would only consider OneRPM for anyone who seriously wants to penetrate the Latin American Market, otherwise go with any of the other distributors.

Amuse

Amuse is one of the newest distributors on the market which works in a slightly different way than all the others I described.

First, they don’t charge you a fee to distribute the songs, which is already great!

Second, they won’t even charge you a commission on your earnings.

How do they make any money at all then?

The plan Amuse has set in place is to distribute everything for free and then look to sign artists to a 50/50 label deal once they start to catch.

This is an amazing opportunity for people who want to put a couple songs out there without spending anything and see if they can be successful.

Another difference is that it’s the only distributor that lets you release music directly from your phone using their app in just a couple of minutes.

Everything can be done from the app, from collecting royalties to viewing the number of streams and downloads.

Pros

  • Free distribution
  • No commissions
  • Phone App
  • Give advances
  • Pay for marketing

Cons

  • No admin publishing partner to help collect songwriter royalties
  • Will not obtain mechanical license for cover songs

If you ask me, Amuse seems a great option if you’re just looking to upload a couple songs for free to see how people react to your music.

AWAL (Artists Without a Label)

AWAL won’t charge you any fee to put your songs out there, but they will be taking a 15% commission, which is quite a lot.

They do help you get on Spotify playlists which is really cool, and if they really manage to do this successfully then you’ll be getting a LOT of streams.

They offer great analytics, physical distribution and Instagram Story music inclusion.

Important note: You can’t just sign up; they must accept you in order to distribute your music.

Pros

  • Free distribution
  • Help getting on Spotify playlists
  • Pretty good analytics

Cons

  • 15% commission…ouch
  • No Payment splitting
  • Must apply and hope that you get accepted
  • If you get accepted into playlists, they don’t offer a simple way of seeing which ones your songs are on
  • Slow distribution (4 weeks or more)

Horus Music

Horus Music is a fairly new company which might make you think twice about going with them, which is understandable because you can’t know if they are going to be around for long or not.

However, just like OneRPM has taken almost complete control over the Latin American market, Horus Music has done something very similar with the Asian market.

If you’re primarily trying to reach an Asian audience, then you might want to consider Horus.

One thing to note is that, since they want to maintain a good reputation, they will listen to EVERY song you send to them to check if they are of good quality.

They will or won’t accept you depending on this.

Horus can also upload to over 200+ stores in 100+ countries.

You can choose between two plans; Artist which costs $20 and offers unlimited releases, playlist pitching, and more, or Label which offers the same thing only for multiple artists.

Pros

  • No commissions
  • Playlist Pitching
  • Good Asian distribution

Cons

  • No admin publishing partner to help collect songwriter royalties
  • No payment splitting

Fresh Tunes

Fresh Tunes is very similar to Amuse in the sense that they don’t charge either fees or commissions.

They earn money through upsells like LANDR does with their automatic mastering services.

One of the ways they earn money is by letting you hire an expert to review your songs for $25 a piece.

Just like Amuse, I recommend Fresh Tunes to anyone who wants to distribute a couple of their songs for free to “see what happens”.

The one con is that they don’t have that big of a reach, like other distributors might.

Pros

  • No fees or commissions
  • Can get an expert’s opinion… for $25 dollars

Cons

  • Only 15 outlets
  • No Payment splitting
  • No admin publishing partner to help collect songwriter royalties
  • No Playlist pitching

Reverb Nation

Reverb Nation is a distribution service mostly aimed at bands, and one thing they do is they give a lot of opportunities to their artists that other companies don’t; like radio submission, festival, playlist opportunities, and more.

Reverb Nation also have a market research platform called CrowdReview which, while expensive, is exceptionally good.

You have a couple plans to choose from; Free, Basic and Premium.

Free will allow you to upload unlimited songs and do a couple more basic things.

Note: No digital distribution here.

Basic will provide you with more industry opportunities as well as some other bonuses that the free plan doesn’t cover, again with no distribution.

The premium plan will provide you with a free website domain as well as with the digital distribution of your music, mailing list, and more.

This means that in order to distribute music to iTunes, Spotify, etc. you will need the premium plan which is $20 a month.

One issue about Reverb Nation is that they go heavy on the branding, this means that it’s hard to do almost anything independently from them.

Pros

  • Good opportunities for radio, etc.
  • No commission

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • Heavily branded
  • Only aimed at beginner bands; if your band starts to catch, you won’t get any help there.

Conclusion

Depending on your needs you should choose one over the other.

I personally like DistroKid, but if you plan on just releasing one album and be done with it, then go with CD Baby.

If you want to either penetrate the Latin American or Asian markets, then go with OneRPM or Horus respectively.

Lastly, if you’re just starting out and want to see what happens after you published a couple songs, definitely give Amuse a try.

I hope this information was useful and that you have a wonderful day!

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