Heads up: Music With Flavor is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
Being an artist myself I have been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to be mindless and just make a decision without any consideration for the impact it may have on your career.
I also know the feeling of analysis paralysis and not being able to make a decision because you’re scared of what the outcome might be.
When it comes to finding a company to distribute your music, you may fall on either end of the spectrum but it’s my hope to help you make the best decision possible when it comes to finding the right music distribution company for you and your music career.
Our ultimate music distribution comparison list is quite lengthy so we have provided you with links below allowing you to jump to specific companies and sections of the post.
Overview of Distribution
The concept of distribution is one that you need to grasp, and I stress the importance of thinking of your music career like a business.
For any business, distribution in some way shape or form is pivotal to attaining success. McDonalds isn’t successful because they make 5-star gourmet burgers…
They’re successful because they are able to distribute their product line to the masses in an efficient and effective manor. You need to think of your music in the same way.
Distribution in the music world hinges on a few things depending on where you’re at in your career. However at the core of it all, you will need to find a company to distribute your music to a “Digital Service Provider” or “DSP” for short. If you are wondering who the major DSPs are, just think of your Spotify’s, Apple Music’s, Tidal’s, etc.
Unless you have some connections directly at Apple or Spotify to name a few, then using one of the distributors we list below will be your route for now.
So what does a music distribution company do?
In very simple terms, they help bridge the gap between you and the major streaming and download platforms out there. Think about where you go to consume music from your favourite artists. A music distributor will help you get onto these exact same platforms as well.
Famous artists have much different means and side deals for how they go about distribution but I am assuming that you have not reached those heights just yet which is perfectly fine!
There are plenty of companies out there that are willing and able to help you distribute your music. A lot of them even provide other features that can also help support other important areas of your career.
Typically how it works is, you sign up for one of these companies and input your basic information. They do this in exchange for either a fee, commission on your music or in some cases for completely free.
Thus allowing you to send them your music releases and then they go to work with all the behind the scenes and administrative work to get your music up and live on the likes of Spotify, Apple and the hundreds of other stores.
Why work so hard? Especially when you don’t have to?
They do all the dirty work for you because they have made the relationships and connections already.
A task that would be a huge challenge for most independent artists trying to approach the likes of Spotify or Apple directly. Not to mention managing all of these relationships and the individual administrative work to make sure your release is live on their platforms when you want them to be.
These companies play a huge role in your career and partnering with the right one can be very beneficial in the long run.
Things to think about when choosing your distributor
In my opinion, if we are looking at things from a business perspective we either want to make sure we are keeping costs very low or that we are maximizing profits. This is where being aware of your current situation is very important.
If you are sure you will be making a lot of money from your music then this will impact how you approach the question of which distributor to use.
I personally respect what these distributors do for artists, and do believe that they are providing a service that requires work on their end. For them as a business, the fact remains that they need to keep the lights on.
However I also think that you work very hard on your music and as you grow the more people will come looking for their piece of the pie.
Commissions are great if you are not making much money. At the end of the day 20% of $0 is nothing to write home about. However 20% can start to add up in no time when that $0 starts to climb in value.
In which case, going for a company that simply charges a fee would be my suggestion. However, with the fierce competition within the music distribution industry, you now have companies introducing models that charge no fees and take zero commissions.
What does the fierce competition between distributors mean for artists?
The competition between music distributors is great for artists as not only do you have a ton of options to choose from, each company is trying to sweeten the deal in some way to earn your business.
Keep in mind though that the theory of you get what you pay for reigns true here and depending on what your needs are as an artist you will need to invest some money in order to move your career in the right direction.
But if you can get away with no cost low cost then by all means. At the end of the day you’re fighting for your career and want to do whats best for you.
We’re here to help you with the research aspect of all the companies out there because there is a lot and it can be difficult to find the time to understand what everyone has to offer and if they’re legit.
New Developments in the Music Distribution Industry
Before we dive into the subject I want to note that this industry is always changing and even during the process of doing my reviews on each individual company, some of them rolled out new pricing structures, added new features, got rid of some features, etc.
I do my best to stay up to date with everything and make sure that you are getting the most current and relevant information possible.
As I mentioned before these changes are a perfect example of how competitive this industry is as companies have to adapt to artists wants, needs, music industry standards, and technology as well which we all know changes by the second it seems.
Regardless, this is all amazing news for artists. Although somewhat overwhelming at times, we’ve got your back and are happy to help guide you through the crazy sea of music distribution.
So who is the best music distribution company?
One thing I really want to stress is that by no means am I here to sway you into choosing a specific company over the other because at the end of the day there is no cookie cutter solution.
Every artists situation is unique meaning that you will have different needs that will have to be met. Even little nuances such as personal preferences will play a role in determining which distributor you decide to go with.
At the end of the day all of these companies do one thing for sure and that is distribute your music to the major stores and platforms out there.
No different than buying a car. Every dealership out there can essentially get you into a car. However, when you begin to understand what kind of car you want and what your uses for that car might be, then you begin to have a better idea of where you should be shopping.
Now I’m not sure if you’re a Honda or Mercedes kind of person but let’s go find you the vehicle that will get you on your way to success with music distribution.
*Please Note – The following list is in no particular order*
SoundCloud Premier Distribution
*This is a new development and we thought you should be aware of some exciting news from the SoundCloud camp.
*We will provide our ratings, along with pro’s and con’s of the SoundCloud Premier distribution platform once more details are revealed.
SoundCloud seems to have 9 lives and their latest announcement, introducing music distribution to major stores tells me they are not going away anytime soon.
According to Tech Crunch, ” SoundCloud is adding its own music distribution tools to its premium accounts aimed at artists with, SoundCloud Pro and SoundCloud Pro Unlimited. With SoundCloud Premier Distribution, artists can upload their tracks to all major music services, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Tencent, YouTube Music and even Instagram, directly from SoundCloud.”
SoundCloud is introducing this in beta to their Pro members so it will be interesting to see how effective their distribution platform will be and what other features may be included.
While this is a great move, SoundCloud may still struggle to compete with the likes of Spotify who is gearing up to do something very similar with Distorkid, a music distributor on our list. While this all sounds great we still suggest that you proceed with caution and at this present time we recommend leaning towards some of the more preferred distributors that we are about to discuss.
TuneCore is a popular name in the music distribution industry. They’ve been around for a while and have a large list of artists utilizing their platform. I have personally used the platform and the only issues I ever had with them was with another artists release (with a similar name) being uploaded on my artist accounts (Distrokid offers a feature that helps eliminate this issue which we will discuss shortly).
With that said, TuneCore excels in a number of key areas sporting features like publishing administration and arguably the best analytic reports in the industry. Also, If you are really focused on monetizing your YouTube videos then TuneCore has a feature to help you do just that.
Pricing is often a point of criticism for the platform and said to be too high considering you have to pay an annual fee to maintain each individual release every year. Depending on the amount of releases you have this can certainly add up.
All in all TuneCore is a solid platform that remains competitive in the industry but it will be interesting to see how they answer to some smaller competitors claiming to be more in-tune and able to adapt to the needs of independent artists.
- TuneCore Social App
- O% Commision keep all royalties
- 150+ Outlets wide reach
- Speed to Spotify and Apple
- Free ISRC Codes & UPC codes
- YouTube monetization (one-time fee)
- Publishing Administration services
- iTunes Pre-release
- Ability to make changes without re-uploading
- Customer support Monday to Friday
- Strong Revenue and Analytics reports
- Revenue Advances Program (If Eligible)
- Payouts: Paypal, Direct Deposit, Mail
- Youtube commission of 20%
- No SoundExchange collection
- Removal of music if you cant afford to pay
- No instant verification on streaming profiles
- Annual fees
- No Legacy Program like Distrokid
- Charges a fee for adding new outlets
- Lacks strong marketing support, playlist plugging, etc
- Try to upsell add-ons you usually don’t require during upload
Music With Flavor Readers Get – 20% Off TuneCore
CD Baby – *Spotify Preferred Distributor
CD Baby is still one of the mainstays in independent music distribution and for good reason: they have a proven track record and continue to set the bar in many areas of music distribution. However, they are faced with ever-growing competition from more-specialized and less-expensive companies.
With a feature set that is unrivalled by many other distribution companies, CD Baby has been working hard to fill any and every need that an independent musician may have. They’re still missing some specialized features (like payment splitting), but in general, they have you covered on most of the key areas of distribution.
Of course, all these features come at a cost. When compared to the competition, CD Baby’s upfront costs are pretty on par within the industry and unlike TuneCore, you only pay once to submit your music and not yearly. However, not only do you have to account for submission fees, they also take a commission off of your sales. That’s not to mention the stiff commissions they take on publishing royalties, sync licensing, and YouTube monetization.
In the end, it really depends on your needs whether or not CD Baby is the best option for you. If you need an all-inclusive distributor who will also take care of all your publishing and licensing needs, then CD Baby makes a lot of sense. If you are not making a ton of money from your music then that commission fee probably wont affect you too much.
It should also be noted that CD Baby is listed by Spotify as one of their preferred distributors. Coming from a pillar in the industry like Spotify this is something that I certainly wouldn’t take lightly.
- Opt-in to sync licensing for free with Standard and Pro releases
- Comprehensive publishing admin services
- Many different physical distribution options
- Payouts made weekly with only a $10 threshold
- Artists keep 91% of earnings from sales on CD Baby’s music store
- Extensive learning resources
- Expensive submission fees
- Cover song licensing is only available for singles
- Barcodes are not free
- No payment splitting
- 30% YouTube commission
- 40% sync licensing commission
- Territory opt-out has to be requested manually
Distrokid – *Spotify Preferred Distributor
It is clear that Distrokid has a lot going for them. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative on the market especially one that doesn’t take a commission on your music then Distrokid is a solid choice.
They have some very unique features that no other competitors are offering at the moment but a lot of them do come at a price.
Remember that little issue I mentioned with TuneCore… Well when you type in your artist name during the Distrokid upload process, they auto generate the relevant artist pages for you to confirm and ensure that your uploads are going to the right place. Extremely simple but so smart and saves both the company and the artist a ton of back and forth trying to sort out incorrect uploads.
The simplicity of the platform is another thing that makes Distrokid so great. Some other platforms try to dazzel with fancy bells and whistles but Distrokid is simple and to the point – but effective. If technology isn’t your thing then you will certainly thrive on Distrokid because it is made to be very easy to use.
While there’s a lot to like about DistroKid, I also feel that they have a few blemishes that are overlooked. On the one hand, their streamlined platform and simplified pricing system is very attractive.
But, on the other hand, some of the features that they charge you for come standard with the majority of platforms. While they seem like the cheaper option at $19.99 per year for unlimited distribution, this option does not grant you some important features like determining your release dates, something you will have to pay extra for.
For them as a business this is smart. However, as an artist, they are leveraging features they know you will require, Thus getting you to spend more. Although not having to pay a fee for each release throughout the year is certainly a plus.
With that said some recent developments have really given Distrokid some leverage that may make their peers a bit nervous. Spotify recently purchased a stake in the company and lists Distrokid in the top three of their preferred distributors list. A bit biased I suppose but nevertheless it seems as though there is no time like the present to hop on the Distrokid bandwagon.
- No commission! You keep 100% of the revenue earned.
- Unlimited songs for one yearly price
- Payment splitting
- Single page sign up
- Free to sign up — no fees!
- Unique Spotify and iTunes features (lyrics, cover photos, verification checkmark)
- You are sent email notifications when songs are uploaded and live on platforms
- Various payment providers and methods
- You can send your lyrics to Apple Music and iTunes
- “Leave a Legacy” program ensures your single or album stays online forever
- Ability to backup your songs in the cloud
- The platform is easy to use and navigate
- No payment threshold
- 150+ outlets
- Their platform is always trying to upsell you to more expensive plans
- Store Maximizer and Shazam cost extra, features that are generally included for free with other companies
- They charge a yearly fee for YouTube monetization on top of taking a commission
- Reports and analytics are very basic unless you upgrade to more expensive plans
- No publishing admin
Music With Flavor Readers Get – 7% Off DistroKid
Though not as well-known as some other companies, Symphonic is a great option for artists looking to distribute their music online. They offer competitive prices that help you, as the artist, maximize earnings from your music. They also have an extensive feature-set that rivals, their competitors
There are no annual fees to pay, but Symphonic does take a 15% commissions on your revenue. This was a recent change which also saw the company become an invite only platform, making artists apply to use their distribution services.
As Symphonic changes their focus to work closely with specific artists they are also stepping up their offering in terms of services that are more hands on when it comes to marketing, something not commonly available with other distribution companies.
- No annual fee
- Distributes to 200+ outlets, including Beatport and other less-common outlets
- Automatically adds new outlets for free
- Preorders are available for multiple stores, including iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play
- Offer exclusive pre-releases
- YouTube & SoundCloud monetization available
- Able to distribute ringtones and STEMS
- Free ISRC & UPC codes
- Topple Track anti-piracy service
- Music video distribution available
- 15% Commission
- Artist payouts are only once per month
- $50 payment threshold
- No payment splitting
- Invite only
Stem has been making big waves in the music industry and has garnered lots of attention as a startup business. (Their list of press coverage includes such mainstays as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc, and Billboard). Contributing to this attention has been the large number of high-profile artists using their services – Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, and Deadmau5, to name a few.
Stem may be a new distribution company, but this fresh new perspective has helped them to build a platform that really excels in delivering on what independent artists are looking for.
If you do any sort of collaboration with your music where you’d like to share your earnings, then Stem is definitely worth a look. Not many distribution companies out there are as good as Stem when it comes to splitting up revenue between multiple collaborators.
Even if you don’t do an extensive amount of collaboration, Stem is still a great choice because they are very inexpensive and their focus is very artist-friendly. Their platform is easy to use and is set up to help you succeed as an independent musician.
However, there are instances where Stem may not be the optimal choice. For example, if it is important for your music to be available everywhere online, you should probably look elsewhere, as Stem only distributes to 12 stores. Their distribution is limited to only the top, most-used platforms, while the smaller, more niche platforms are overlooked.
At the end of day Stem has a very compelling offering that leaves many competing distributors in the dust. Although very innovative, it will be interesting to see the moves and partnerships this company makes in the future.
- Only 5% Commission Taken
- No additional fees
- Top-of-the-line payment splitting setup
- Very good analytics & reports
- YouTube & SoundCloud monetization built-in with super-low commission
- Playlist pitching offered in-house
- Cover song licensing integrated with Loudr
- Free barcodes
- Very limited distribution reach – only 12 store and platforms
- No pre-order option
- No daily trending reports
- Payout threshold is $50 and only available monthly
You may have heard of Boost Collective in the past or you’ve possibly had a chance to leverage their long list of promotional services. If you are unfamiliar with the company you can check out our review here.
While the focus of the company has always been their approach to helping artists market and promote themselves – they have recently taken a huge step in regards to their overall services. The company now offers the ability to distribute your music to major music & streaming platforms across the globe.
Boost Collective brought new meaning to the phrase “one-stop-shop” even before offering the ability to distribute your music. However, now, this presents aspiring artists with a reliable platform that covers all the bases of music marketing, promotion, distribution, and more.
The service is absolutely free to use – no sign up, distribution, or hidden fees. You get to stay 100% independent and keep full copyright ownership when you use the platform. Boost will distribute your music to over 150+ outlets as well as social platforms like TikTok and Instagram within 1-2 days in most cases.
While there are zero fees, Boost has opted for a commission based structure that is reflective of the amount of music you distribute through the platform. The commission scale ranges from 45% to 25% (the more songs distributed, the lower the percentage).
This same commission structure is applied to their YouTube Monetization feature as well. At present, the platform does not offer any publishing administration services.
Lastly, we should note that their distribution services allow you to also benefit from the other great promotional and marketing services that they provide. To learn more about Boost Collective’s distribution services click here.
- One stop shop for distribution, marketing, promo & more
- Distribution to 150+ outlets
- Distribution to social platforms like Instagram & TikTok
- Zero Fees
- Unlimited Releases
- Keep 100% copyright ownership
- YouTube Monetization
- Analytic Reporting
- Playlist opportunities
- No foreign country withholding taxes
- Commission structure may not be for everyone
- No payment splitting option is currently available
- No publishing administration feature
One of RouteNote’s strongest suits is its flexibility – you don’t have to stay locked into one specific plan. This is useful if you are unsure of how much money you will earn with your music. You can simply start with the free plan at no cost whatsoever, then switch to the Premium plan if you start making enough money.
Routenote is also very strong in terms of the number of partnerships they have, allowing them to distribute your music across the world.
However, we should mention that RouteNote does lack some of the more comprehensive features you find with other companies. For example, they do not offer any services to help you with publishing or sync licensing. Depending on where you are at in your career this may or may not be a deal breaker for you.
After a discussion with CEO Steven Finch over at Routenote, he did mention that publishing administration is something that current and new Routenote users will soon have access to!
All things considered, we believe RouteNote is a great choice for an artist looking to keep costs down but also wants the ability to adjust if their circumstances change (ie. Higher than expected sales). Essentially, the service is great for artists at varying stages of their career but also has a ton of upsides for more established artists as well.
In the end, RouteNote is a great distribution company for getting your music out there to the world. It lacks some of the high-end features of larger distribution companies, but they make up for this with the flexibility that they provide in their plan options.
- Switch between Free and Premium plans at any time
- Distribution to Asia
- Sell music directly to fans with RouteNote Direct
- Get upgraded to SoundCloud Unlimited at no additional cost
- Payment Splitting
- Releases can take up to 3-4 weeks to go live
- No cover song licensing
- No help with publishing and sync licensing (however publishing administration is coming soon!)
- 45-day delay getting paid
If YouTube is a big part of your marketing strategy and having a Vevo channel interests you, Ditto Music is a good option considering they have the tools to help you in this area.
If you are also looking for a cheaper alternative with unlimited releases then this is a solid platform to go with as well. On the track of keeping more money in your pocket, if you don’t want a company taking a commission, then Ditto Music is a solid choice.
One very unique feature to Ditto Music, helps those interested in starting a label. Their “Record Label In A Box” is an interesting feature that could serve you on your journey.
Finally, for those of you creating in the Electronic/Dance music genre, Ditto Music focuses on your needs as they have a strong connection with platforms like Beatport.
What seems to be Ditto Music’s downfall is there customer service and some negative backlash that they have gained from people in the industry. This is very unfortunate because the platform seems very promising and forward thinking.
- 200 + Outlets
- Take a 0% commission
- Unlimited releases for $19
- Free to add more stores
- In-house playlist plugger
- Immediate payments
- Hourly iTunes and Spotify trending reports
- Label chart services
- Pre-release Features
- Vevo Distribution
- Only select artists get youtube monetization
- Take 10% commission off youtube monetization
- No publishing administration
- No instant verification on streaming profiles
- Customer service complaints
- Hidden fees
- Can’t use PayPal
ONErpm is a no-brainer for artists based in Latin America who are making music that is popular in these markets. However, this doesn’t mean that artists from other parts of the globe can’t benefit from their services.
One of the key benefits of using ONErpm aside from distribution is that they do not charge you any fees to distribute your music. If you are on a budget this can be very helpful. However, the flipside of this is that they do take a 15% commission. If commissions are not something you are willing to hand over then ONErpm may not be for you.
Lastly, artists looking for low cost features to help promote their music will really enjoy ONErpm. Some of their marketing tools are certainly worth it and a lot of them are free!
ONErpm certainly gets overlooked when it comes to the competition but I wouldn’t sleep on what they are offering artists. You do have to keep in mind that they are focused on Latin American markets but this may only affect you if you are really established in your career and looking to develop North American partnerships.
- Zero distribution of yearly fees
- Playlist plugging
- Video distribution
- Payment splitting
- Stong analytical reports
- Publishing services
- Smart link generator
- Promo Art Generator
- 15% commission
- Not catering to all markets as well as the Latin markets
- A smaller list of distribution companies
- Do not obtain mechanical licenses for cover songs
MondoTunes offers artists unlimited yearly distribution for a yearly fee and also takes a 10% commission on your music revenue. If you are very budget conscious you will struggle to take advantage of some of MondoTunes additional features. These tools are meant to help grow your brand and exposure but are not cheap.
Due to their connections in the industry, they are able to distribute your music to a wide range of outlets that even reach the likes of Asia. It could also be said though that they leverage these connections a lot in their marketing to artists but it would be hard to pull any strong correlation to what these connections may do for you individually.
MondoTunes provides a solid distribution platform for their artists and no one can deny that they will get your music out to the largest selection of stores in comparison to the competition.
It is our understanding that MondoTunes is changing their name to Octiive and undergoing some drastic changes that will be very beneficial to artists. We are working to get more details directly from the company and will keep you posted as we find out more.
- Unlimited distribution for the year
- Strong distribution partners
- Customer service
- Promotional services
- 10% commission
- Charging both a commission and yearly fees
- Speed to stores
- Playlist Plugging
- Publishing Admin
- YouTube (Monetization, Content ID,Promotion)
- Do not handle mechanical licenses for cover songs
- Analytics and reporting are not strong.
- Opt out of stores via email
Soundrop is definitely for someone on a tight budget who does not want to deal with distribution or yearly fees. With that said though, you will need to be conscious of the 15% commission. You will also need to be okay with Soundrop’s very narrow line of distribution channels.
A big plus is that Soundrop has a strong grasp in the area of payment splitting that most artists can benefit from. Aside from that, the platform is very easy to use but you will need to keep in mind that Soundrop has limited features in comparison to their bigger competitors.
If you are looking for a quick and straightforward solution to get your music distributed to the main platforms in the industry, then Soundrop is a solid option. At the end of the day, they do a great job of delivering on the services and capabilities that they currently have.
I expect that Soundrop will grow and add more features over time however this is just speculation and you may be better off with a stronger option depending on your needs as an artist.
- Payment splitting
- Zero Distribution Fees
- Zero Annual fees
- Very easy to use platform
- Show.co benefits for being a member
- Mechanical licenses for cover songs
- Pre-Order options
- Analytics and reports
- 15% commission on music revenue
- Lack of features compared to other platforms
- Small amount of distribution partners
- No Publishing administration services
The huge benefit that stands out for Fresh Tunes is the fact that you pay zero distribution fees, zero annual fees and are not charged a commission for any revenue that you generate on your music. That is a pretty strong case for anyone who is looking to eliminate costs on music distribution and doesn’t want anyone getting a commission on their revenue.
If you are just looking for your standard run of the mill music distribution platform that does not come with a number of bells and whistles then Fresh Tunes could be right for you.
Fresh Tunes is the only other company aside from Amuse who offer this zero fees and commissions structure. From there, however, their offering seems to dwindle and they do not provide the strongest offering in terms of their additional features.
This is great for someone with budgetary concerns or someone who is fine with the bare minimum in overall distribution packages. Fresh Tunes has a lot of potential but they need stronger features to support the amazing fact that they do not charge any fees.
- Zero fees to distribute your music
- Zero Annual Fees
- No commission on the revenue you earn
- Professional assessments of your music
- Promotional campaigns via Facebook, YouTube, etc
- Pre-Order option
- A small list of distribution outlets (only 14)
- No admin publishing
- Have to sign up through your social media platforms
- No playlist plugging
- No Payment Splitting
Landr is a solid platform for someone who wants the convenience of getting their masters and distribution done all in one place. Although they do not take a commission on your music, you will still need to have some disposable income to pay for your mastering or distribution fees.
An important thing that artists sometimes do not realize the power of, is collaboration. With Landr they provide you with unique collaboration tools to help you easily connect and work with other artists. If you are big on collaboration then Landr may be the right fit for you. Landr is a strong platform for mastering services and are making headway on the distribution side of things.
This is certainly something that a lot of artists could benefit from. If we were to look at distribution alone it is important to note that Landr is not the strongest when it comes to the additional features they provide artists to help further promote themselves. There are other stronger companies out there but don’t get me wrong Landr is still a good choice for your mastering and distribution needs.
- No Commission
- Access to a Large Number of Digital Channels
- Speed to stores
- Good Support and Customer Service
- Mastering Options
- Collaboration and Shared Workspaces to Work on Music as a Team
- Ability To Get Samples From Other Producers
- Playlist Pluggers
- Desktop App
- ASCAP Member Benefits
- Confusing pricing
- Monthly/yearly fees
- Push You To Try Mastering Services
- No Publishing Administration
- No Seamless Cover Song Licenses
- Not the easiest platform to learn
AWAL is an excellent choice for artists who are already somewhat established and have a track record of consistent quality. Since you have to be accepted into AWAL, make sure to understand exactly what they are looking for in an artist.
According to their website they are looking for artists with a track record of quality music which is well recorded. They also look at your artwork, design, and the overall strength of your brand. Your social media following is also a factor. You don’t have to have millions of followers, but they are looking for artists with a following.
Keep in mind that artists are not expected to have all of these attributes. In the end, AWAL’s A&R executives make the final call. If you think AWAL is a good fit for you, go ahead and apply. After all, the worst thing they can say is no.
It could be argued that since AWAL only pays when their artists earn, that they are looking for commercial artists. While this is true to a certain extent, they have underground and less commercial artists on their roster as well.
With a 15% commission, AWAL’s fees couldn’t be more attractive for someone looking for no upfront, yearly, or hidden fees. I also like the additional label-type features that are offered to high performing artists. Just keep in mind that not all AWAL members are offered these services.
If you’re an established artist who feels they will soon need help reaching a bigger and more diverse audience, then AWAL is definitely worth considering. While their label services are invitation only, the artists who receive them have access to a level of support that is unsurpassed in the digital distribution industry.
- No upfront fees, they only get paid when you earn.
- Excellent app with helpful analytics.
- Label-like services for high performing artists.
- Possibility of advances for top tier artists.
- Submission platform can provide more hands on support depending on the artist
- 15% commission
- Submission Based and not available to everyone
- Customer support is often cited as slow. Some artists have reported that support is delayed unless you are a high performing artist.
- They do not offer payment splitting.
- No admin publishing unless you are signed to Kobalt.
- Four week distribution delay is longer than some of the other distributors.
While Songtradr is first-and-foremost a sync licensing platform, they do have a noteworthy distribution offering. For only $4.99 a month you can upload unlimited music to 200+ stores and keep 100% of your earnings. You can also monetize your music on YouTube and keep 85% of the earnings.
However, they can’t do everything. They have no built-in service to get licenses to release cover songs. Likewise, they have no publishing administration to help you get the royalties from your own original music. Consequently, if you need a fully comprehensive distributor for your music, Songtradr isn’t your best choice.
In the end, Songtradr seems most appealing to an artist who is actively seeking out licensing and sync deals for their music. You can distribute your music to stores and submit your music for placement all in one place.
While their distribution features aren’t as comprehensive as a dedicated distributor, their licensing opportunities are far ahead of the competition. For any artist hoping to get their music on film or TV, Songtradr might be a solid choice.
- Unlimited uploads
- Manage multiple artists at a fraction of the price
- Submit your music for placement on films, TV shows, and more
- Only a 15% commission for YouTube Monetization
- Payment splitting available
- Text notifications sent to your phone
- Pre-orders are not available
- Cover songs can’t be licensed in-house
- No publishing admin
- Payment is only available with PayPal
If you’re wanting a leg-up in getting your music heard by industry insiders, Spinnup’s promotional services are well worth your consideration. After all, why wouldn’t you want the help of a company who will promote your music to Universal and other labels?
Second, if you want a simple and straightforward distribution setup, Spinnup is a great choice again. They prioritize only your most important needs as an independent artist.
However, if you need a distribution company with extensive and comprehensive services, we’re not so sure Spinnup is the best choice for you. This is because we find their overall features to be on the limited side.
For example, they do not offer any way to monetize your music if someone uploads it to YouTube or SoundCloud. In the same way, they do not offer you any services to help you collect royalties from radio airplay, sync licensing, or other similar scenarios.
There are other limitations to be aware of as they have no built-in ability to license cover songs and if you want to sell pre-orders, they have to set it up for you manually – it’s not a feature automatically available.
It would seem then that Spinnup appeals to a specific niche: the independent artist who values industry-insider promotion and wants a streamlined distributor without any fancy extras.
Spinnup is an enticing distributor for the independent musician, particularly because of their groundbreaking offer to promote your music to record labels. However, they lack many of the features and services available from their bigger competitors. Therefore, it is important to consider your exact needs before signing up with Spinnup. They can’t do everything, but the few things they do, they do well.
- 0% commission taken on your earnings
- Music promotion services included
- Free barcodes
- Educational articles to help you as an independent music
- Discounts available to many other music industry services and websites
- Limited distribution to only 44 stores/platforms
- Pre-orders are only available through a manual setup
- No built-in services for cover song licensing
- No YouTube or SoundCloud monetization
- No publishing or licensing offers
- Limited analytics
- No payment splitting
Amuse is very unique for one specific reason which is that fact that they operate on an app and do not offer there services via desktop.
If you are sick of people with their hands in your pockets trying to take a piece of the pie and you are able to embrace technology then Amuse just might be the right fit for you. There are still some features that Amuse lacks but from the sounds of it, they are willing to work closely with you as more of a partner if they feel your brand has some substance behind it.
Amuse is a very new and innovative platform focused on keeping costs low for artists. From what we have seen they really seem to be making an investment in the artist.
This is in hopes that they will develop strong relationships with artists that benefit both parties down the road. It is very bold of them to not take a commission or any fees for that matter. To me, this is a lot of risk but also something that could draw a lot of artists to the platform.
I am excited about Amuse and what they have to offer. I think that they have a very bright future if they continue on this path of creativity and innovation.
- Zero Fees
- Zero Commissions
- Based only on an App (Convenient for some)
- 200+ Stores to distribute to
- Zero YouTube Commission
- No Pre-Order
- Based only on an App (Not convenient for some)
- Have to upload music to the cloud then to the app
- No Admin publisher
- Does not obtain mechanical licenses for cover songs
At the end of the day, Songcast does a lot of things well but do not exceed expectations in my personal opinion. If you are still heavily focused on Soundcloud and are ok with paying the same as other companies and getting less from a features (that benefit you) standpoint, then by all means.
Songcast is an interesting platform and I must give them a lot of praise as they have made a ton of strides to improve upon their service offering compared to what it was a few years ago. I have personally dealt with their support team on a couple of occasions and even though the situation itself was quite frustrating, they were very helpful and understanding throughout the situation.
When I look at the features offered to artists, they certainly sound great on the surface but when you dig deeper you begin to realize that it would be difficult for most artists to really benefit from them.
Even when larger distributors attempt to offer promotional features that are situated on their own platforms, you need to consider how your fans and music lovers alike, consume music. Is someone going to run to Songcast to listen to your music on their streaming app or radio networks? Or are they running to Spotify and iTunes?
I believe Songcast can make a stronger case for themselves by putting more energy into features that truly further the artists career.
- Direct to Soundcloud distribution
- Soundcloud Monetization
- Zero commission
- Customer Support
- No ability to select a release date
- Unable to set up pre-orders
- No Payment Splitting
- Fee for removing music
- Annual fees
- Do not obtain mechanical licenses for cover songs
It would seem that there are more advantages to using the Horus Music platform if you are from the UK as this is where the company is based. Although the company does have a ton to offer in the form of features, these can add up in price as they are not cheap.
If their features are of interest to you, having the budget to take advantage of them will be important. If you are not swimming in money or if some of the features listed will not be a huge benefit to you then you may be better off with some of the other distribution companies out there.
Taking into consideration all that Horus Music has to offer, one must admit that they are a solid platform. They have a ton of features, more than your average distribution company and I believe that in order to provide these services you can’t do it for free.
Although a lot of these features are great, most artists may not be able to sustain them long term unless they plan for it financially. Furthermore one must consider the return on investment for these options and if it’s really helping to grow your career.
Horus Music is very tempting due to their feature set and the fact that they recently switched over to an annual fee with no commission certainly strengthens their case. They would not be my first choice but I could see how they would be a good fit for many artists.
- 100% commission
- Video Distribution features
- Mastering Options
- UK chart Registration
- Distribution to 200+ Stores including China
- In house Playlist Pluggers
- Marketing Services
- Large Fees for Takedown Costs
- Other hidden fees found in terms & conditions
- Fee for faster delivery of music
- Have to use Western Union for payout
- No Admin Publisher
- No Help Obtaining Mechanical Licenses
iMusician is an interesting company that may not be on your radar. From the outside looking in this company might seem like a small startup but they have a decent sized team behind them. For an artist who wants their music distributed to a larger number of stores, iMusician is not a bad choice and has some other features that might be of interest to you like Youtube monetization, iTunes Pro and their sync opportunities.
I am not a huge fan of their commission and fee model from an artists perspective as you are forced to pay more to get more. My thing with that is you don’t exactly win when it comes to giving up more commission for fewer fees or vice-versa because the company is still digging into your pocket at one end or the other. iMusician is not the only company guilty of this but this is something to keep in mind and consider.
I believe iMusician is a solid platform that is not as highly publicized as some of their other competitors. They have a decent line of features that would actually be of benefit to artists but still lack in some areas that would really set them over the top. In all, I like what they have to offer but feel there are more well-rounded companies out there.
- 250 + Outlets
- Dedicated customer Support
- YouTube Monetization
- iTunes Pro
- Sync Opportunities
- Mastering Options
- Pay more for less commission on your royalties
- No admin publisher
- Have to pay for faster delivery of your releases
- No payment splitting
With the large amount of features that are thrown your way it is hard not to consider Reverbnation as a possible option when determining how to distribute your music. I think the ability to get show offerers and other rare opportunities makes Reverbnation a great place to be.
For distribution alone I think you will have a better experience elsewhere. Especially considering the costs associated with their distribution model, they are a bit on the pricey side especially if you decide against the premium options.
Reverbnation is a platform that I believe many artists can benefit from if they use it correctly. They have a ton of features, more than any platform out there which I feel has to do with them being around for so long. They have a lot to offer but their achilles heel is the fact that a lot of their offering relies on the average music listener coming to Reverbnation to enjoy your music.
I am hard pressed to believe that people are running to Reverbnation to purchase and stream music ahead of the likes of Spotify and iTunes. Granted Reverbnation has taken huge strides to offer distribution and strengthen their feature set, I believe they have a tough road ahead trying to attract new artists.
- Festival, label, playlist, radio and audition submission opportunities
- Keep 100% of commissions
- Great place to connect with other artists and learn from their successes
- Social media integration
- No publishing Admin
- Greater fees without premium plan
Record Union is not going to win you over with a long list of features which is fine. They still offer a solid service of distributing your music to the main stores and if that is your only requirement then Record Union won’t lead you astray.
Their list of distribution channels however does not match the reach of some of their bigger competitors.
No I would not consider them to be the best in the industry, but the platform is very easy to use and they have a very helpful support team.
Given their approach to charging you based on the number of stores you decide to distribute to, you might be able to save some money if you opt for the right package.
Having more platforms is not always beneficial if you don’t intend to release your music on a worldwide scale. Although having the option to do so is always a plus.
Furthermore, it should be noted that their commission structure is based on getting you to pay more to lower the percentage that they take (15% is the regular commission, and 7.5% if you pay $25 per year). Not a huge fan of this but they are not the only company to take on this type of commission model.
- It is extremely easy to use even if you have no prior distribution experience.
- Spotify Trends can help you keep an eye on how your music is doing on that specific platforms.
- Covers all major platforms and can help you reach top platforms for a reduced fee.
- Speed to iTunes and Spotify.
- Pre-release available.
- The platform offers great career opportunities due to its links with known labels like Sony Music.
- Record Union members can enjoy discounts on third-party services.
- You have to wait for three months to see your sales report. The waiting period is too long and can be excruciating at times.
- No integration with social media networks.
- Heavy commission.
- Only accepts PayPal and cards.
- Payout takes time.
- Lack of promotional tools.
EmuBands – *Spotify Preferred Distributor
EmuBands, a Glasgow based music distribution company stresses that their platform is very easy to use. They have a decent list of features that makes them competitive and have worked with some notable artists like Angus & Julia Stone.
While EmuBands is not a bad choice from a distribution standpoint, there is one major blemish that artists need to be aware of which is their pricing. EmuBands is another flat fee distributor that only charges a one time fee for each of your individual releases. While there are no extra annual fees, you are looking at $40USD just to release a single and all the way up to $85USD for an album.
While this is quite steep in my opinion, the bright side is that you get to keep 100% of your commissions.
- Instant Spotify for Artists Access
- Offer Pre-Orders
- Worldwide Chart Registration
- Video Distribution
- 100% Commissions
- High Fees for Releases
- No Admin Publishing
- No Payment Splitting
Level Music’s Distribution platform is very new but worth noting. They are so new that they are still in the beta testing phase and looking for users to help them improve upon their innovative platform.
While they will not distribute your music to hundreds of stores, they still help you to get uploaded to the main stores in the industry. At the moment their features are very limited but the great thing is that you pay absolutely nothing to use the Level Distribution platform and you also get to keep 100% of your rights, royalties and earnings.
One feature that they do offer are intelligent landing pages that help you to route your fans to their favourite music platform when your releases become available.
Although this may not seem like the best choice for your distribution needs, you should keep in mind that they are doing a lot to showcase a lot of the artists who do use their services. This may be an opportunity to get in at the ground level (no pun intended) with a distribution company who will get you some extra exposure and is likely to expand upon their features.
- Zero costs whatsoever
- Keep 100% of your earnings
- Interactive landing pages
- Very new and unproven
- Limited stores
- Limitted features
Specialized Invite Only Distributors
Similar to companies like AWAL, the companies listed below are considered invite only distributors and will not just work with any and every artist. You will either have to apply to their platforms or they will seek you out and offer you a distribution deal.
A great article from Heroic Academy, that you can read here, goes into more detail on these types of distributors.
The article describes them as “Specialist aggregators serving primarily independent labels, and powerful independent artists. They do a lot of pre-selection on their clients and attempt to work solely with people they think have potential, or a good marketing story. One-to-one customer assistance is essential in their added value and the good ones are actively involved in marketing releases to the stores. In exchange, they often charge percentage fees.”
A list of these types of distributors can be found below:
- FUGA – *Spotify Preferred Distributor
- The Orchard – *Spotify Preferred Distributor
- Distribution Select
- Move Music
Final Thoughts on Our Music Distribution Comparison List
As you can clearly see there are a ton of options for you to choose from when it comes to the distribution of your music.
We want to repeat that there is no cookie cutter solution for every artist out there and you will need to do your own due diligence to determine the company that is right for you.
While determining which music distribution company to go with is important, keep in mind that this is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding success with your music career.
Now we would like to turn things over to you. Comment below and tell us what your experiences have been with the companies on our list.
Music With Flavor Staff
Helping You Taste Success In Music