Which Is The Best Digital Distribution Platform?
(Digital Distribution Platforms Comparison)
Digital music distributors have made placing your music on streaming platforms as simple as possible. Digital distributors, such as CD Baby, TuneCore and DistroKid for example have provided music artists the opportunity to get their music placed onto major streaming platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer, TikTok, Shazam and much more. This can save you loads of time since you don’t have to upload your song individually to each platform.
Music distribution companies help get your music out to the public for listening and purchasing. Before the transition to online music distribution, a music distribution company was seen as the intermediary between an artist and a music store. This middleman would assist the artist in promoting their music, get people to purchase albums, and would then take a percentage of the profits earned.
Thanks to the evolution of technology, the music industry had to adapt, which led to music distribution becoming digital. This has made the process of distributing music much simpler than ever before.
You’re probably wondering, how do digital music distribution companies differ from each other? How is an artist supposed to choose which platform to use?
Well to find the answer to these questions, you have come to the right place. We have selected the 8 current most popular digital distribution platforms worldwide, and have compared each of them based on certain criteria, them being pricing, fees, commission and distribution options.
By looking into these music distribution services, we will be able to identify which platform is best for you to use to distribute your music.
Comparison summary of the music distribution companies listed below:
1. CD Baby
CD Baby is the largest and oldest digital distribution company. Established in 1998, the platform does not only offer streaming and digital distribution services for artists but also offers physical distribution as well. They review all artists' music submissions and have partnerships with streaming giants Spotify and Apple Music. They also provide the option for physical distribution of music, as they have partnered with over 15,000 record stores. They are also seen as the preferred music provider for Apple Music, so they can make songs available to listeners in just a couple of days.
CD Baby collects all the performance royalties you’re owed worldwide as well as all your mechanical royalties for international downloads and streams which PRO’s do not collect (Performing Rights Organisations).
CD Baby charges a one-time fee per song release with no annual fees, they however, keep 9% of your total digital distribution revenue.
They are a well respected music distribution service any artist should look into.
$9.95 Dollars - Single
$29 Dollars - Album
9% of total streaming royalties
One time fee
150+ streaming and download services worldwide
Distributes to China as well as TikTok
Will collect all of your performance royalties you’re owed worldwide.
No lyrics distribution
Optional additional fees
Take commission from your royalties
TuneCore is a New York based music distribution company that was founded in 2005. TuneCore represents roughly around 10% of the 20 million songs on iTunes.
In June 2022, TuneCore made some major changes to their pricing model in order to compete with other music distribution companies such as DistroKid and CD Baby. TuneCore now offers a variety of annual subscription services to choose from. All plans however, still allow you to keep 100% of your royalties from Digital Service Providers.
It is important to note that Tunecore keeps 20% of your revenue earned from social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
The annual fee to distribute one album on TuneCore is more expensive than DistroKid’s entire annual fee, which provides unlimited releases! The cost can add up over time if you decide to distribute multiple albums. That being said, if you’re the type of artist who likes to keep 100% of their revenue and leans more towards quality over quantity then TuneCore might be better suited for you, especially if your music releases are already receiving a lot of streams.
$14.99 – $49.99 (Annually) for unlimited releases.
15% - 20% (Only from revenue earned through social media platforms)
Extra services like music publishing
You keep 100% of your royalties from DSP’s
Have to pay annual fee and takes comission
No official payment splitting option
DistroKid was founded in 2013, they have been able to become one of the more preferred choices amongst independent artists wanting to distribute music, due to their rapid rate of distribution.
DistroKid’s inexpensive and effective service can get your songs distributed in under 48 hours. Their basic plan only costs an annual fee of $19.99. This is relatively affordable compared to other distribution services. This inexpensive plan provides unlimited uploads and distribution for up and coming artists.
The downsides to Distrokid is that if you don't keep paying for your annual subscription, your songs may be removed/taken down. You will also need to pay extra for features that are not included in the basic plan, such as custom release date and custom label name.
DistroKid collects and keeps track of your revenue generated, and takes 0% commission from your earnings (minus taxes/fees).
DistroKid has provided a helpful payment splitting option for artists, where they can split earnings from any song/album and automatically send them out to collaborators they worked with. Collaborators will only be able to see their own earnings. Artists can also adjust revenue splits at any time and add an unlimited amount of collaborators.
$19.99 Annually for 1 artist
No commission, artist keeps 100% of all earnings (minus fees)
Affordable and quick releases
Payment splitting option
Optional additional fees
Pay extra for custom release date, label name, additional artist.
AWAL works slightly differently from the other distributors mentioned above. AWAL is a free music distribution service however, you have to go through a review process in order to join their platfom. Artists can join AWAL either through a direct referral of someone they trust or through their online A&R submission process. You will need to submit your portfolio to them to be reviewed, and If they like your music, you may be selected to join their platform.
AWAL insists that independent artists own their work from start to finish and keep creative control over their work as well as keep 85% of revenue earned. AWAL state that they enjoy working with artists who are already gaining a decent amount of streams. This can definitely have a positive impact on your royalty earnings.
AWAL distributes music to over 200 territories/platforms and digital stores worldwide. Artists also have the freedom to leave the platform at any time.
Free - (Submit portfolio for review)
Free to join
No upfront fees
Lyric and credits distribution
Need to be reviewed and accepted to join
5. Ditto Music
Founded in 2005, Ditto Music is another popular digital distributor for independent musicians. Their pricing is almost the exact same as Distrokid, as Ditto also charges a $19 annual fee, where you can release an unlimited number of songs.
Ditto Music is also well known for having a few extra services that most distributors do not offer. These services include Vevo channel management as well as assistance in music charts registration. The only downside to this is that these extra services come at an additional cost. Most additional services that Ditto offers are not included in any of their plans. You will need to pay separately for them after creating your artist account.
Even though there have been a few complaints from artists regarding Ditto’s lack of customer service. Ditto has also provided artists with the option to split royalty payments to anyone who deserves a ‘slice of the pie’ e.g band members.
$19 (Annual fee one artist)
Artist keeps 100% of Royalties
Distributes to China and TikTok
Pay extra for certain services
Some upfront fees
Amuse is a digital distribution service that has both free and paid plans for artists to choose from. It is very well known for its free plan in which artists keep 100% of their royalties. The free plan allows artists to upload a maximum of 12 releases per year with 100% of the royalties going to the artist. If you, however, want to upload more than 12 songs a year to Amuse, then you would need to pay for 1 of the 2 paid plans they have on offer.
One of the disadvantages of the free plan is that there is a 4 week review period. Which simply means you need to upload your music release at least a month prior to your desired release date. Amuse also does not allow independent artists to distribute their music to social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok or Facebook while using the free plan.
As mentioned above, Amuse has 2 paid plans to choose from. The Boost Plan and the Pro Plan. The Boost plan costs $24.99 annually, while the Pro plan costs $59.99 annually. The difference between these 2 plans is that the Boost plan is best suited for independent artists who want to release more than 12 songs a year and would also want to reach more audiences on social media platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram, etc. The Pro plan however, is intended for more professional artists who work with a team and individuals who manage multiple artists.
If you compare the services of Amuse to DistroKid for example, DistroKid is by far more popular as they distribute more music than Amuse. That being said, Amuse has the option of a free plan whereas DistroKid does not. Amuse also does not have any additional fees like DistroKid does.
If you're just starting out or if you are already gaining some serious streams, Amuse is a decent option for every type of music artist.
$24.99 (Boost Plan - Annually)
$59.99 (Pro Plan - Annually)
Artist keeps 100% of Royalties
Payment splitting option
Free plan available
No need to continue a paid plan to keep the songs live.
Long review time on Free plan
Some hidden fees
Does NOT distribute to China
No option for lyrics distribution
LANDR is a convenient and well known music distribution company and is a popular choice amongst independent music artists . This creative digital distribution platform built for musicians is famous for their multiple services available for artists, such as music distribution, AI mastering, plugin subscriptions and sample packs.
LANDR has come out with an all-in-one subscription service, where artists can access all of their services in one plan. The yearly subscription costs $12.50 per month. If you however, decide that you want to only use one of their many services, e.g mastering service, you will have to purchase a plan just for that specific service, as LANDR has different plans for the different services they offer.
Regarding music distribution, LANDR has 3 different pricing plans available: Pay as you go, Complete and Unlimited.
Their basic ‘pay as you go’ plan is priced at $9 per single release and $29 per album/EP. There is unfortunately a 15% commission on royalties earned if you select this plan.
LANDR also provides artists the opportunity to split royalty payments automatically and also promised to never take your music releases down, even If you decide to cancel your plan, you will still keep earning 85% of your streaming royalties.
Pay as you go - (No Annual Fee)
Complete - $20 per year
Unlimited - $89 per year
15% commission on the ‘Pay as you go’ plan.
No commission on the Complete and Unlimited plans.
Split royalty payments option
Continue earning royalties even after cancelling a plan
Access to other services
Able to release music in 2 days
No free plans
ONErpm is one of the very few music distribution companies that charge no fees at all! They do however take a 15% commission, but if that doesn't bother you so much, then this platform could be for you. There are also no registration, subscription or distribution fees when using their service.
The self-service platform provides artists the opportunity to upload and distribute an unlimited amount of music and videos without spending a dime. The DIY music distribution company is also a fully established record label.
ONErpm also provides additional services to artists such as promotional, accounting, marketing and analytical tools. They want artists to have full control over the distribution of their own music.
Free (No Fees)
15% commission as an unsigned artist
No hidden or upfront fees
Payment splitting option
Additional free tools and services
Takes 15% commission
No customer support live chat Conclusion:
So what is the best music distribution company you may ask? Well overall each digital distributor has their own pros and cons compared to others. The only way you will know which music distribution company is best for you is by looking at your own current situation as an artist, and try to figure out which distributor can provide you with services that can help grow your career.
If you are on a tight budget, and royalty cuts don’t matter to you at this point, then platforms with free services such as ONErpm, Amuse or AWAL may be the best music distribution service for you. If you are, however, an already established artist that is already gaining a decent amount of streams, and decide you might want a music distribution service that also has additional services available for artists, then DistroKid or LANDR may be better suited to you.
It all really comes down to which music distribution service best fits your needs as an artist. If you are the kind of artist that already generates lots of streams, then you might consider working with a music distribution company that takes a one time fee and lets you (the artist) keep all the rights.
Once you have selected a music distribution service, you can now use a music submission platform like One Submit to expose and promote your music. We help artists submit music to Spotify playlists as well as help artists send music to radio stations, YouTube channels, music blogs, TikTok Influencers and even labels!
Every song submitted receives a review by a curator in the same genre as your music. If they like your music, they will add it to their playlist, channel, blog etc.
It really is as simple as that!
Check out our blogs on How To Get Your Music On Apple Music Playlists, Deezer, Tidal and Spotify.
and "how to promote music in 2023"