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Routenote Distribution Review: The Honest Truth

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You might not be aware that Routenote has been around for a while now and are helping artists distribute music as far as Asia. 

They offer strong support and features geared towards helping you thrive on some key platforms!

Check out our RouteNote Distribution Review!

RouteNote Distribution Review

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As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and the variety of distributors you can work with to release your music is no exception. All of the options open new possibilities to you as an independent artist, while competing to keep prices low.

However, this can be a double-edged sword because with so many options comes the difficult decision of trying to decide which distributor to pick. When there is such an assortment of music distributors, each with their own services and feature-sets, how do you know which company is right for you?

This is where we come in as our goal is to provide you with as much information as possible on all of the music distributors out there. Helping you to determine which one is best for you and your needs as an artist. Today we will be looking at one particular distributor known as RouteNote.

RouteNote is similar to many of the other distribution companies out there but does differ in a few key ways. Read on to learn what makes them special and whether or not they’d be a good fit for you!

[bctt tweet="Pro Tip: Do not mistake music distribution for a marketing plan, this is simply a cog in the machine!"]

Routenote Distribution Review - What You'll Learn

Who Is RouteNote For?

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.

They are 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, bigger 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.

Fees & Commissions

RouteNote is the only distributor to offer both a Free and Premium service. Unlike Distrokid and other flat fee distributors, RouteNote has no hidden fees and their Premium service is one of the most affordable in the world. Depending on your needs as an artist, if keeping costs low is a priority for you then you will enjoy the fact that RouteNote is free to sign up with and that there is no charge for an actual account unless you opt for a premium package.

Routenote’s distribution is broken down into two different plans, each with their own pricing system. Let’s investigate each one:

Free

As the name implies, this plan is without any fees. Instead, RouteNote takes a 15% commission on your revenue. (Of course, this only happens once you’ve started making money from your music)

This plan is a great option if you don’t have any money to pay upfront for distribution or just want to minimize your financial risk.

Premium

In contrast to the free plan, the Premium plan does come with associated costs, BUT there is no commission taken. Here’s the price breakdown:

Single (1 track): $10
EP (2 – 6 tracks): $20
Album (7 – 18 tracks): $30
Extended Album (18 tracks or more): $45

These are all initial fees RouteNote charges to upload your music. Later down the road, RouteNote charges a $9.99 annual fee, regardless of what type of release you’ve uploaded.

Free vs. Premium is a tradeoff, but if your revenue is high enough, the Premium fees may be worth it. This is because the 15% cut of the Free plan may honestly be costing you more than the initial upload fee and $9.99 annual fee of the Premium plan. (If you want to see a quick price comparison, check out this post from RouteNote).

What’s worth noting is that RouteNote allows you to switch between plans at any time. If one plan is no longer working well for you or you think you’ll be able to earn more money from the other plan, you can easily just change plans.

Additional Costs

While some distributors will charge extra for adding new stores or taking down your music from stores, RouteNote includes these services for free. If RouteNote ends up being your music distributor of choice, you can be confident that there are no hidden fees or additional costs associated with using RouteNote!

Outlets & Release Options

RouteNote covers all of your distribution needs, partnering with over 200 stores. These include all of the mainstream platforms – iTunes, Spotify, Google Play – and then some.

Also worth noting is the fact that RouteNote includes distribution to China, an emerging market of unprecedented potential. In this way, RouteNote rivals the competition from much bigger companies like CD Baby and TuneCore, as many of the smaller companies don’t distribute to China.

If for some reason you don’t want to distribute your music to all of their stores or territories, you can easily opt-out of any of them. You, as the artist, are given full control of where your music is distributed.

Speed To Stores

Once you’ve uploaded your music to RouteNote you have the option of determining a release date or leaving this blank. If you decide to leave the release date blank then they Routenote can have your release live on the more popular platforms in as little as 24-48 hours. If you have a specific release date in mind, it will typically take 3-4 weeks for it to reach all stores. However, RouteNote does say that sometimes releases will be live in as little as 2 weeks.

When compared to the competition, these release times are not considered the fastest out there. However, we don’t think this should be a deal-breaker because if you’re smart, you’ll give yourself far more than 4 weeks to plan and execute a release.

Release Dates

As we have discussed many times, setting a release date for your music is a crucial part of promoting an upcoming release.  Fortunately, with RouteNote this is simple and easy to do, coming at no extra charge. Just keep in mind that they require a 4-week lead time (as discussed in the Speed to Stores section).

Pre-Order

They do provide a pre-order feature but you will need to keep in mind their times to stores and also know that this is only for the Google Play and iTunes stores and unfortunately does not include Spotify. As of our knowledge, Distrokid is one of the only distributors to allow you to setup a pre-save option for your fans with Spotify.

General Features

YouTube Content ID

YouTube is one of the most popular music platforms out there, allowing users to both discover and share music. However, there’s a dark side too, as many users upload music that they don’t own and subsequently earn the ad revenue from it. YouTube Content ID works to combat that.

YouTube Content ID uses an advanced audio fingerprinting technology that works to identify all music that has been uploaded to the website. Once your music is submitted into the system YouTube will track any videos that use your music and then give you the option to either monetize them or send a takedown request.

Monetizing videos means you get your share of the ad revenue generated by the video. On the flip side, a takedown request means the video gets removed because the user that uploaded it didn’t get your permission first.

RouteNote offers YouTube Content ID services to their clients, streamlining the whole process. There is no additional fee to use this service, but they do take a 15% commission off the monetization earnings.

In general, RouteNote’s pricing is cheaper than much of the competition. For example, TuneCore charges a $10 one-time fee, plus a 20% commission, while CD Baby charges a whopping 30% commission.

YouTube Tools: Music & Image Databases

Another YouTube-specific feature that RouteNote offers is their free music & image databases. They have worked with artists like Tobu and Axero to make their music available for you to use for free on YouTube. You can use this as intro or background music, or really whatever you like. Just keep in mind that it is only cleared to use on YouTube.

In a similar way, the image database is a collection of images that are free to use, except these are completely license-free and can be used anywhere, however you like.

Soundcloud Monetization

Secondary to YouTube, SoundCloud is another major platform for monetizing your music. It gives you the possibility to earn money from advertisements attached to your songs on the platform.

SoundCloud monetization is available to RouteNote users, offered along with a number of useful features. Most notable of these is that RouteNote will upgrade you for free to a SoundCloud Unlimited account, allowing you to upload as much music as you want with no restrictions. If you were to do this directly through SoundCloud, it would cost you $16 a month.

There is no additional fee for SoundCloud monetization, but they do take a 15% commission for RouteNote Free users. If you paid for RouteNote Premium, you keep all of your earnings.

Routenote Direct

RouteNote Direct is one of the standout offerings from the company, allowing you to create a custom web store to sell your music directly to fans. Since this is your own store you have complete control over how much your music costs and what releases are available. You can also customize the look and feel of the store.

RouteNote Direct also gives you a personalized URL for your store that you can send all your fans to.

While RouteNote Direct is a free service, they do take a 15% commission on the sales. At the present moment, we are unsure if this applies to premium members as well.

Cover Songs & Mechanical Licenses

If you want to release a cover of your favourite song, this is possible with RouteNote. However, they do not have any services to help you get the necessary licenses – you’ll have to do it on your own.

This is an area that some of RouteNote’s competitors have tapped in too, offering built-in services for you to obtain cover song licenses.

Barcodes

As you may already know, ISRC’s and UPC’s are indispensable codes that you need to release your music. Lucky for you, these codes are included for free with RouteNote’s distribution – no need to pay extra for them!

Analytics & Reporting

Very in-depth break down on your music stats, reports and earnings. This is not only in relation to your music but they also track the stats on your YouTube videos as well.

Artist Payout

To make payment to artists, RouteNote uses PayPal. This can only be done after you have earned a minimum of $50. However, the real catch is that there is a 45-day delay between when you earn your money and when you can get paid. Here’s how RouteNote explains it:

“If you are owed $100 earned from November then the amount will be received by you before the 15th of January.”

Payment Splitting

A great feature that only a few distributors offer which is very important if you are collaborating with other artists is payment splitting. Thankfully RouteNote does offer this service for you which is a huge plus! All that is required is filling out a simple form specifying how revenues should be dispursed.

Ease of Use

RouteNote’s platform is simple and easy to navigate. They have an extensive FAQ section answering many of the questions you might have. However, their website does not have any search functionality, which is a bit of a shortcoming.

What’s worth noting is that RouteNote is the first distributor that we’ve seen that has a forum for user discussion. The topics covered include questions and issues relating to RouteNote’s platform, but also just general discussion about the music industry as a whole.

Customer Support

If you need to give RouteNote a call, their phone support is available weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. Keep in mind though that they are a UK-based company, so you will have to take that into consideration.

They are also available 24/7 via email and support tickets with a typical response time of 48 hours.

Final Verdict

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. We highly recommend giving RouteNote some serious consideration when trying to determine who you will use to distribute your next project.

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Music With Flavor Staff

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