We live in an age where the process of getting your songs on the major streaming services and digital stores is very simple. Independent artists have various digital music distribution services to choose from based on their needs and budget.
A music distribution company will help you go through the process of releasing music to outlets such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, as well as offer you additional services that may be beneficial to your music career, such as publishing administration and YouTube Content ID integration.
However, the choice may not always be an easy one to make. Based on various features, we chose 8 of these companies to bring for a roundup and decide what is the best digital music distribution service of all.
After you’re done reading, we also recommend you check out our related comparison guides between specific companies, such as DistroKid vs CDBaby. There, you will have lots of additional useful information.
What Is Music Distribution and How Does It Work?
The music industry has changed. In the past, you would probably need a record deal with a big record label to get your music to your audience. With the arrival of streaming services and digital stores, this is not the case anymore.
Independent musicians can now send their music to Spotify, Apple Music, and any platform you can think of with a click of a button. Music distribution services will take care of delivering your release affordably and in time. You will also be able to collect your royalties directly on the distributors’ website.
There are multiple music distribution companies in the market nowadays. Some are better for indie artists on a budget, some are better for those established musicians looking for additional services and a large number of functionalities. The choice will really depend on your particular case.
What Are The Features That Should Be Considered When Picking a Music Distribution Company?
Of course, any decision you make related to your music career should be done with caution. Here are a few things that are important to ponder and that we will consider when further reviewing each of the music distribution companies below.
- Ease of Use
- Delivery Time
- Streaming Platforms and Stores
- Career-Growth Opportunities (Playlist Pitching, etc)
- Additional Services
- Customer Service
8 Best Music Distribution Companies
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1. Record Union
Record Union has been in the digital distribution industry for quite some time now. The company was founded in 2008. The service is very cost-effective since it only costs $1.99/month for artists to have unlimited distribution. Record Union also offers a 30-day free trial, something that we don’t see that often with other distribution companies.
In the case of record labels managing multiple artists, the Label plan will allow them to distribute music for up to 10 musicians/bands for $10/Month. Overall, the platform is very streamlined and straight-to-the-point but offers no extra features apart from digital distribution. Record Union has one of the fastest customer services on the market though.
- Low-cost. Only $1.99/month for unlimited distribution.
- Lots of opportunities for the independent artist. They’re constantly pitching musicians to their playlists on major streaming platforms.
- If you bring artists to the platform, their A&R program will pay you 7.5% of all their sales (paid on their behalf) and give your guest a free release and UPC code.
- Very effective and fast customer service.
- Free 30-day trial.
- The company takes a 15% commission over your royalties. You can pay a yearly fee of $25 to reduce it to 7,5%.
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TuneCore greatest perk is offering plenty of additional services all in one place. Apart from music distribution, artists have access to publishing administration, social media management, and YouTube Monetization straight from the platform.
- Album: $29.99 on the first year ($49.99 on the consecutive years)
- Single: $9.99/year
- Ringtone: $19.99/year
Its pricing, as you can see, is not the lowest among distribution companies. The platform charges a separate yearly fee for each single or album you upload using their service. Still, it is justified due to the large number of additional services they offer.
TuneCore Additional Services
- TuneCore Publishing ($75) – Collecting publishing royalties is often an extensive task for most indie artists. TuneCore makes the process easier by automatically registering your song with various royalty-collecting organizations around the world.
- YouTube Monetization ($10) – Integration with YouTube Content ID to easily find and monetize videos that use your songs.
- TuneCore Social ($7.99/Month) – Social media management tool for artists.
Are TuneCore Additional Services Worth It?
They certainly are if you’re an established artist that can afford to make the extra investment for making your life easier and having everything in one place. For beginner artists though, they’re not worth it and we recommend going with more cost-effective options.
- Lots of additional services. The publishing administration one especially will save you lots of time you’d need to spend registering your songs and collecting your royalties.
- TuneCore has partnerships with a few websites that can be useful for artists such as the BandZoogle website creator and Rotor video creator.
- 0% commission on royalties.
- Prices are higher than most other music distribution services and are charged separately by single or album.
- No free trial. Considering the platform is more expensive than the others, a free trial to check out the platform and the releasing process before making an investment would help a lot.
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Out of our comparison articles series between digital music distribution companies, DistroKid has proven to be one of the most cost-effective options. The value for money on their plans, if we take into account all of the features offered, is very good for indie artists.
DistroKid has three plan options: Musician ($19.99/year), Musician Plus ($35.99/year), and Label (starting at $79.99/year). All of the options will provide artists with unlimited releases.
With the most basic plan, you will get all the basic features you’ll need to distribute your music. But, if you can afford to spend a little more and go with the Musician Plus option, you will get access to important functionalities such as daily sale stats and customizable release date. We recommend this one.
The Label plan is for record labels managing a lot of artists. It starts at $79.99/year for 5 musician/band names, but it is upgradable up to 100. The price will vary accordingly.
Another feature that will benefit indie artists using the platform is that you have the option to split payments on any plan with your band members or fellow artists.
- The most cost-effective option among all music distribution companies.
- Unlimited releases for a single yearly fee.
- 0% commission.
- Easy to use, user-friendly platform.
- Simplified process for achieving a mechanical license to distribute cover songs through the platform.
- Every plan supports split payments.
- Not many additional services.
- Hidden fees to get your music on certain services.
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Amuse is an amazing option for independent musicians. Founded in 2015, the company offers a free distribution plan for those who are on a budget. Their uniqueness, however, lies in the fact that they run their own record label.
Amuse offers three pricing tiers. With the free music distribution option, artists have 12 releases per year, a 4 weeks delivery time, and a 15% royalty split fee. With the Boost ($24.99/year) and Pro ($59.99/year) plans, musicians have unlimited uploads, Youtube Content ID, additional stores, and the time it takes to get your music on streaming platforms and stores falls to 2 weeks.
On the higher-end option, there are also a few more benefits such as 24h support, multiple artists profiles, and team accounts. This is the best plan for record labels.
Another nice feature on Amuse is the Fast Forward possibility. It may take months for your royalties and streaming revenue to be collected and delivered to you. With Fast Forward, the company will pay artists that are eligible in advance so they can invest in their music career right now.
As we’ve discussed before, Amuse has its own record label. A unique feature among digital distribution services, Amuse will automatically analyze data from the artists on their platform: demographics, consumption, etc. Those who get selected will have a range of benefits from career planning to marketing financing.
- Free distribution plan.
- You can upload music directly from the Amuse smartphone app.
- 0% commission on royalties.
- The Amuse Music record label is constantly looking for rising talents and upcoming artists and they will offer a wide range of career-growth services/opportunities.
- Fast customer service. 48h and 24h turnaround on the Boost and Pro plans, respectively.
- YouTube Content ID integration on paid plans.
- Only 12 releases per year if you’re using their free distribution services.
- 15% fee for splitting royalties on the free plan.
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LANDR is famous for being an all-in-one solution in the music industry. There are several extras on their website apart from digital distribution: A.I. mastering, a sample library, and LANDR Sessions, a video call tool specially designed for music collaborations over the internet, with low-latency audio.
With LANDR, there are three pricing tiers: Lite, Complete and Unlimited:
Lite (Pay as You Go)
- Single Release: $9
- EP or Album: $29
- Commission: 15%
- Single Release: $5
- EP or Album: $19
- Commission: 9%
- Up to 3 Artists
- Single Release: Unlimited
- EP or Album: Unlimited
- Commission: 0%
- Up to 7 Artists
As you can see, the best price plan will depend on each artist’s needs. For those that don’t release that often, the Lite plan will let you pay each uploaded song separately, but with a higher commission. With Complete, you have to pay a yearly fee, but the prices for each release significantly go down. At the higher end of the spectrum, there’s Unlimited, with 0% commission.
LANDR prices aren’t the most budget-friendly. It is a similar case to TuneCore: if you plan to use all of the additional services, it can be handy to have them all in one place. But, for beginners and artists on a budget, there are better options.
How Does LANDR A.I. Mastering Works?
LANDR A.I. Mastering will master your songs using artificial intelligence, thus reducing costs (which can be quite high with mastering) and making the process easier and more user-friendly. The final quality, in our opinion, will highly depend on the song. We recommend you test it by yourself to see if that’s the case since they offer a free mastering option.
- Great additional services: A.I. Mastering, sample library, and LANDR Sessions.
- Fast review time. Only two business days according to the company.
- Great customer service and fast turnaround.
- In-depth analytics and stats on how your music is doing across digital outlets.
- Simplified cover song licensing with a one-time fee for acquiring a mechanical license.
- Higher priced than other music distribution companies.
- Complex pricing tiers.
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CD Baby was one of the first digital distribution services to make the process of releasing music to major outlets accessible. Founded back in 1998, the company helped to revolutionize the music industry and set the standards we know today.
One of the major features of CD Baby is that the music distributor will instantly register your song with performance rights organizations across the world and collect publishing royalties with no extra fees if you’re on their Pro tier.
CD Baby Pricing
- Standard: $9.95
- Pro: $29.95
- Standard: $29
- Pro: $69
There are two tiers which you can choose to record an album: Standard and Pro. With the Standard option, you will get your music distributed to popular streaming platforms and major stores, as well as YouTube Content ID integration and sync licensing for TV, films, and games.
When you upgrade to Pro, you get access to the direct song registration functionality and publishing royalties collection.
Another great feature when you release an album is the worldwide CD or Vinyl distribution. CD Baby is probably the only digital distribution company to offer this service right now. You will be able to easily send your stock to their offices and let them handle the work. They also have their own disc manufacturing service.
Last but not least, CD Baby has partnered up with multiple websites that can help artists grow their music careers. These include Bandzoogle (website builder), HearNow (music promotion tools), Show.co (social media marketing platform) and Radio AirPlay (music discovery tool).
While CD Baby is one of the most expensive digital music distribution companies on the list, their professionalism and wide range of additional services are hard to beat. If you can afford the investment, it is totally worth it.
- Integrated publishing administration for easy publishing royalties collection.
- Automatic song registering with multiple P.R.O.’s (Performance Royalties Organizations) worldwide, such as Ascap and BMI.
- CD Baby has partnerships with useful websites such as Bandzoogle, for website creation, and HearNow, a wide range of music promotion tools.
- CD Baby has its own social media platform designed for artists: Slaps. There, you have the chance to get your music pitched to playlists via voting and get in touch with record labels.
- Physical distribution of CD or Vinyl.
- One of the most trustworthy names in the digital distribution market.
- Each single and album is charged separately and the prices are very high.
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7. Ditto Music
Ditto Music was founded in 2005, so there’s the experience factor. This digital distribution company is the choice of many indie and established artists. What we’ve liked the most about the service is that the platform has the perfect balance between being easy to use and offering plenty of additional services.
The three plans offered by Ditto Music are the Artist ($19/Year), Professional ($29/Year) and Label (Starting at $69/Year for 5 artists). The pricing tiers are very simple to understand. In all of the options, you get unlimited music distribution. With the Professional plan, you can release music for two artists, as opposed to just one in the Artist plan.
The Label tier is for record labels managing a lot of artists. Starting at $69/Year for 5 musician/band names, this number can go up to 40 and you can save 25% off by buying a larger package.
There are, however, several additional music services that are charged separately by the company. For example, you can pay $40 for the iTunes Express option, which will get your new music on the platform in four hours as opposed to 3 business days. You also have the option to set a pre-release/pre-order date on 20 stores for the same price.
One of the most interesting features we found, though, was their PR and Social Media Campaign bundle. While very expensive, we haven’t seen any other music distributor doing something similar.
Basically, Ditto Music specialists will help you create and develop a promotion campaign to take your music career to the next level. The package includes a tailored 4-week posting schedule, press release promotion, and continuous reporting and feedback.
But, it is an expensive service. The complete package is priced at $2,999.00. It could definitely be a great investment for artists who can afford to pay this much, especially considering Ditto Music’s accessible business model. But, we still recommend that you research a lot if you’re thinking about investing in it.
- Fair-priced music distribution. Starting at $19/Year.
- Distribute unlimited songs on any plan.
- Music video distribution services.
- User-friendly platform.
- In-depth stats and analytics integrated with the website.
- Faster Payouts functionality. The company will pay royalties in advance for artists who are eligible.
- Tailored PR and social media campaign bundle.
- Lots of pricey additional fees such as the $40 value for setting up a pre-release/pre-order date.
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OneRPM prides itself in being not only a digital distribution service, but a complete music business solutions hub. They’re by far one of the biggest names among digital distributors and certainly one of the most professional companies.
There are no fees to distribute your music through OneRPM, but the company will take 15% off of your royalties and 30% off YouTube monetization. This is great for artists on a budget since most services that distribute your music free of charge do it while taking away a few features. Not the case with OneRPM.
The company also offers marketing services. Their specialists are trained to work with multiple music genres and supply you with advertising, design, public relations, playlisting, branding, and more. The price will depend on each artist’s plan and budget.
There is also rights management and publishing administration integrated into the service. From collecting publishing royalties to YouTube monetization earnings, the company will even take care of radio airplay revenue and send your music to various global sync licensing opportunities (TV, movies, games).
We found the company’s website to be very informative. The platform itself is very reliable as well with multiple data about how your songs are doing on music outlets and several integrated marketing solutions.
- 100% free music distribution.
- Unlimited releases.
- Lots of additional marketing services ranging from advertising to design.
- Rights management and publishing administration integrated into the service.
- Sync licensing opportunities on TV, movies, and games.
- Informative and clear website.
- Reliable platform with in-depth data about your music.
- The company will take 15% off your royalties and 30% off YouTube monetization earnings.
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Comparison Table – Best Music Distribution Services
|Music Distribution Service||Record Union||TuneCore||DistroKid||Amuse|
|Number of Streaming Services and Stores||Major ones plus social media platforms||More than 150||31 major services plus smaller outlets via MediaNet||15 major platforms|
|Number of Plans||2||Pay-per-release||3||3|
|Prices Starting At||$1.99/Month||$9.99/Year||$19.99/Year||Free|
|Delivery Time||5 to 6 business days on the soon as possible option||One business day review plus 2 weeks (average)||No longer than 2 weeks||4 weeks on the Start plan, 2 weeks on the Boost and Pro plans|
|Commission||15% with the option of reducing it to 7,5% with a $25 yearly fee||0% commission||0% commission||0% commission|
|Additional Services||YouTube Content ID integration||Publishing, YouTube monetization, Social media management||YouTube Content ID integration, cover song licensing||Amuse Music Record Label, YouTube Content ID integration, Fast Forward|
|Earnings Payment||45 days||Weekly||Under artist’s request||Average of 2 months|
|Minimum Required Payment||Not specified||$0||$0||$10|
|Music Distribution Service||LANDR||CDBaby||Ditto Music||OneRPM|
|Number of Streaming Services and Stores||More than 150||More than 150||53 major platforms||All of the major platforms plus smaller, niche outlets|
|Number of Plans||3||Pay-per-release||3||1|
|Prices Starting At||$9||$9.95||$19/Year||Free|
|Delivery Time||Two business days review plus 2 weeks (average)||5-10 business days review plus 2 weeks (average)||3 business days on Spotify using the express release, up to 3 weeks otherwise||2 weeks average, depending on the platform|
|Commission||15%, 9% or 0% commission depending on the plan||$4 off physical sales, 9% off download and streaming revenues, 15% off publishing royalties (only for the Pro plan)||sion||sion|
|Additional Services||YouTube Content ID integration, A.I. mastering, sample library, rent-to-own plugins, LANDR Sessions||YouTube Content ID integration, sync licensing opportunities, song registration, publishing, physical music distribution||YouTube Content ID integration, publishing, PR and social media campaign, marketing services||YouTube Content ID integration, marketing services, rights management, publishing administration, sync licensing opportunities|
|Earnings Payment||Monthly (first week of each month)||Weekly||Immediately||Immediately|
|Minimum Required Payment||$0||Set by user||$25||$0|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Music Publishing?
Music publishing services are entitled to administrate and collect the publishing royalties for an artist. This type of royalty can be difficult to collect by musicians on their own since there are lots of legal steps involved in the process. Some publishing companies also seek promotion and sync licensing opportunities for their managed artists.
To simplify the process, many digital distribution services offer publishing administration integrated into their platforms, usually for an extra fee.
How Can I Release Cover Songs to Streaming Platforms and Digital Music Stores?
To release a cover song to streaming services and digital music stores, you’re going to need a mechanical license. This is a document that will ensure the original songwriters and performers will get their share of what you earn with your cover.
There are multiple ways of getting a mechanical license. You can directly contact the publisher of the song or whoever administers the composition, but that can be a lengthy process. That’s why many digital distribution companies like DistroKid and TuneCore offer an integrated cover song licensing request service. Most will charge a one-time fee.
How Does YouTube Content ID Work?
YouTube Content ID serves the purpose of identifying and properly monetizing any video on YouTube that uses your music. You can do it on your own directly through the service, but most digital distribution companies can take care of this for you for a fee.
Can I Switch From One Digital Music Distribution Company to Another?
Yes. Each music distribution service has its own rules regarding transferring your work from one company to another, but most of the time you will only need to delete your songs from your previous platform and upload them to your new one. Anyway, make sure to check each service’s website for the proper information and contact their customer service if needed.
What Are ISRC and UPC Codes?
An ISRC is an international-standard code that will serve to identify the recording of a song and trace it back to the artist for paying royalties. A UPC is a bar-code and they’re usually tied to the physical product, like an album or vinyl, so sales can be tracked.
Most digital distribution companies will supply you with free ISRC and UPC codes. If you’d like, you can buy your own codes via the official USISRC Website if you’re in the US. If outside of the US, please refer to the national ISRC agencies contact list here.
Why Do Some Distribution Services Distribute Music to More Platforms than Others?
Based on our research, it seems like digital music distributors follow either one of these philosophies: distributing only to tried-and-tested, major platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, or distributing to the largest number of services possible including popular ones and niche, underground outlets.
Regarding which is best, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It will depend on what kind of public the artist particularly wants to reach. For some musicians and bands, having their music on niche outlets may be unnecessary, while for others, these may be where their audience resides.
What Is Sync Licensing?
Sync licensing refers to when your music gets licensed to be used on TV, movies, and video games. Many distributors offer frequent opportunities regarding sync licensing to give artists more exposure and achieve a greater audience. There’s usually a contract between both parts and you will be paid for the use of your music.
After we reviewed and discussed all of the services on our list, let’s see what are the best music distribution companies in each category.
Amuse – Best Free Music Distribution Company
If you’re on a budget or you’re looking for your first music distribution service, Amuse is the way to go. Even though its Free plan has some limitations, you can always upgrade it in the future.
Another major feature that contributed to our choice is the Amuse Music record label. The company is constantly looking for rising talents and upcoming artists to supply them with career-growth opportunities like playlist pitching, career planning, and marketing financing.
DistroKid – Best Pricing
Now, if you’re already an established artist and need the extra features only featured on paid plans, DistroKid is the most cost-effective option. To come to this decision, we considered not only the price tag, but the value it will bring to the artist.
DistroKid prices start at $19.99/Year and will bring you all the basic functionalities you will need to distribute your music. Though, we recommend that musicians go straight with the Musician Plus plan ($35.99/Year) to have access to important features such as daily sales stats and custom release dates. If you’re in a band, you always have the option to split payments.
CD Baby – Best Additional Services
CD Baby is professional, trustable, and reliable. Though its prices may be a little higher than most other options, you as an artist may be willing to make the investment if you prefer to have every functionality you will need to manage your career in one place.
CD Baby’s additional services include publishing administration, automatic song registering, and even physical distribution of CD and vinyl. Meaning you can send your stock to their offices and the company will handle the distribution process. They even have their own disc manufacturing service.
OneRPM – Best Overall
It was difficult to make a top pick considering all of the great digital distribution companies on our list. But, OneRPM, with its professionalism and wide range of additional services, has proven to be the overall best music distribution company in our opinion.
The greatest benefit here is that their distribution service is completely free, meaning it is a very accessible platform. Of course, it may not be the most cost-effective solution if you’re earning a lot with your music since the service takes 15% commission off your revenue, but we believe that, for most artists, this business model will end up being beneficial.
Another thing that contributed to our choice is that the company’s website is very informative and clear on what they offer. Additional features offered by OneRPM include marketing services (advertising, branding, design, etc), rights management, and publishing administration; As well as sync licensing opportunities with TV, movies, and games.
In this article, we reviewed several companies to find out the best music distribution services. We divided our top picks into different categories since the ideal digital distributor will vary greatly depending on your priorities. For example, a company may be the best for those artists on a budget but not for those looking for additional services such as publishing and marketing.
In the end, all of the digital distributors in our guide proved to be reliable. Each one with its pros and cons. The most important thing when making any decision or investment that will impact your music career is to research extensively and ponder your needs.We hope we’ve helped you in the process of choosing your digital distributor. Please check all of our related articles related to music distribution, such as our comparison guides cited previously. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss the subject further!