best music distributors

Best Independent Music Distributors: 2023 Guide

Summary:

As an independent musician, you’ve undoubtedly put in a lot of effort to create and produce your music. Now it’s time to get your music out there and into the ears of your fans. But how do you distribute your music effectively and efficiently? Enter music distribution services. In this guide, we’ll explore the world of music distribution services and help you choose the best one for your needs.

What Are Independent Music Distributors?

Music distribution services are platforms that help musicians get their music onto popular streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. These services make it easier for artists to reach a wider audience and generate income from their music. By using a distribution service, you can ensure your music is available on all major platforms without having to deal with each one individually.

Why Use Independent Music Distributors?

There are several reasons why using a music distribution service can benefit independent artists. Music distribution services save time by streamlining the process of getting your music onto multiple platforms, freeing up your time to focus on your craft. They also maximize reach by ensuring your music is available on all major platforms, increasing the chances of attracting new fans.

Collecting royalties from streaming platforms and digital sales becomes easier with the help of distribution services. This way, artists can focus on their music while ensuring they earn money from their creations. These services often provide valuable data and analytics about your music’s performance across different platforms, which can help you make informed decisions about your marketing and promotion strategies.

By using a music distribution service, you can maintain full control over your music and career without relying on a record label. This independence allows you to make decisions that best serve your artistic vision and financial goals. In summary, using a music distributor is essential for independent musicians to maximize their reach, streamline the distribution process, and ensure proper royalty collection.

Best Independent Music Distributors

So, Should I Use Independent Music Distributor?

As an independent musician, you might wonder why you need a music distributor when you could try to get your music on streaming platforms yourself. The truth is, using a music distributor offers several key benefits that make it an indispensable tool for musicians today. Let’s explore the reasons why you need a music distributor:

  1. Access to multiple platforms: Music distributors simplify the process of getting your music on all major streaming platforms. Without a distributor, you would need to contact each platform individually and navigate their unique submission processes. Distributors save you time and energy by handling these tasks for you.
  2. Royalty collection: Music distributors not only get your music onto platforms but also help collect the royalties you earn from streams and sales. They handle the complex royalty calculations and payments, ensuring you receive the income you deserve. Learn more about how much Spotify pays per stream to understand the importance of royalty collection.
  3. Analytics and reporting: Distributors often provide valuable data and analytics about your music’s performance across different platforms. This information can help you make informed decisions about your marketing and promotion strategies, ultimately leading to greater success.
  4. Professionalism and credibility: Using a music distributor gives your music a level of professionalism and credibility that can be hard to achieve independently. Distribution services have established relationships with streaming platforms, making it more likely that your music will be accepted and promoted.
  5. Marketing and promotion support: Some music distributors offer additional marketing and promotional services, such as playlist pitching, social media integration, and pre-save campaigns. These tools can help you gain more visibility and attract new fans. Check out our guide on how to promote music for more tips on effective promotion strategies.
  6. Independence: By using a music distributor, you can maintain full control over your music and career without relying on a record label. This independence allows you to make decisions that best serve your artistic vision and financial goals.

How to Choose the Right Independent Music Distributors

With so many music distribution services available, it can be challenging to choose the one that’s best for your needs. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  1. Cost: Some services charge a yearly fee, while others take a percentage of your royalties. Consider your budget and decide which pricing model works best for you.
  2. Features: Different services offer various features, such as marketing tools, playlist pitching, and social media integration. Consider which features are most important to you and choose a service that offers them.
  3. Customer support: Check the reputation of each service’s customer support, as this can be crucial if you encounter any issues during the distribution process.
  4. Ease of use: The distribution service should be user-friendly and easy to navigate, so you can focus on making music instead of struggling with technology.

To help you get started, let’s take a look at some popular music distribution services and what they offer:

What Are The Best Independent Music Distributors in 2023?

With countless music distribution companies available, it can be challenging for independent artists to choose the best one for their needs. Amuse, AWAL, CD Baby, DistroKid, Ditto, Fresh Tunes, Horus Music, LANDR, ONErpm, RouteNote, Songtradr, Soundrop, Spinnup, Symphonic, TuneCore, and UnitedMasters are just a few of the options available. Each service has its own unique features, pricing, and benefits, so it’s essential to understand your specific needs as an artist before making a decision.

Now, let’s explore some specific distributors in the music industry to help you find the best music distribution company for your needs:

Best Independent Music Distributors

DistroKid: A Comprehensive Overview

DistroKid is one of the most well-known independent music distributors in the industry. For just $19.99 per year, DistroKid allows you to distribute unlimited songs. While this seems like an incredible value, there are some caveats to consider.

Subscription Model

DistroKid operates on a subscription model, which means that if you don’t renew your contract annually, the songs you’ve uploaded to digital service providers (DSPs) will be taken down. So, it’s essential to understand that it’s not merely a flat fee per year for unlimited uploads, but rather an annual fee you must continue to pay to keep your music available.

Add-Ons and Additional Services

Another aspect to consider is that DistroKid charges extra for additional services, some of which you might expect to be included in the standard model. For example, the initial cost doesn’t cover the option to set the release date of your upload. If you want this feature, you’ll need to pay an additional fee, which allows for crucial pre-orders and pre-saves.

Since timing is crucial when releasing music, and having control over your music’s release date is vital, this add-on is highly recommended.

User Experience and Analytics

DistroKid is easy to use, featuring a simple interface for uploading your music and offering slick instructional videos to guide you through the process. However, their analytic reports for musicians can be polarizing. While they provide comprehensive sales data and streaming numbers, the way they format the information can be confusing initially.

Benefits for Bands

DistroKid is an excellent option for bands, as bandmates can be added and royalties split automatically among members. Additionally, lyrics can be easily added to platforms.

With DistroKid, 100% of royalties go to the uploader, a feature not always found with other music distributors. They also have a good reputation for customer service, making them a solid choice for independent artists looking for a reliable distribution partner.

Best Independent Music Distributors

CD Baby: An In-Depth Look

CD Baby is one of the oldest independent music distributors and is offering distribution services since 2004. With a well-established reputation, CD Baby is used by a wide range of artists.

Tiers and Pricing

CD Baby offers two tiers: CD Baby and CD Baby Pro. The latter adds publishing royalty collection to the standard distribution service. Unlike competitors offering unlimited digital distribution, CD Baby charges $9.95 for a single and $29 for an album. With CD Baby Pro, the fees are $29.95 for a single and $69 for an album, including publishing royalty collection, which could be a worthwhile investment over time.

Revenue-Sharing Agreement

When using CD Baby, you should be aware of the revenue-sharing agreement. In addition to the one-time fee for uploading your release, CD Baby takes 9% of the digital revenues. This may not be an issue for indie artists just starting, but if you generate significant streams, you might want to consider other distribution services as the 9% could represent a considerable amount of profit.

Hidden Fees and Customer Support

CD Baby charges hidden fees for UPCs (digital barcodes), potentially adding an extra $20 for an album release. Despite their longstanding presence, CD Baby has the highest number of complaints among major distribution companies. Troubleshooting can be time-consuming, but on the bright side, they offer numerous additional services like music promotion, publishing administration, and sync licensing.

In conclusion, CD Baby is a well-established distribution service with various pricing options and additional services. However, artists should be aware of the revenue-sharing agreement and hidden fees before deciding if CD Baby is the best fit for their needs.

TuneCore: A Closer Look

TuneCore, founded in 2005, is among the well-known independent music distributors. It’s known for its reliability and ease of use. However, it is the most expensive option among mainstream digital music distribution companies.

Pricing Structure

Initially, TuneCore’s pricing seems reasonable, with a $10 fee for a single and a $30 fee for an album in the first year. However, after the first year, the cost increases dramatically to $50 per year for an album, starting from the second year onwards.

This pricing structure means that independent artists planning to release multiple albums or singles year after year will face a significant financial burden.

Suitability for DIY Artists

Due to the steep increase in price after the first year, TuneCore might not be suitable for the majority of DIY artists, as the costs can quickly become unmanageable. However, for established artists who prioritize peace of mind in distributing their music to DSPs, TuneCore could be one of the safest options.

In conclusion, while TuneCore offers reliability and ease of use, its pricing structure makes it a less viable option for many independent artists. Those considering TuneCore should weigh the financial implications carefully before deciding if it’s the right fit for their distribution needs.

Ditto Music: A Comprehensive Overview

Ditto Music made history among independent music distributors in 2007 by distributing the first UK Top 40 single by an unsigned band, earning a Guinness World Record for this achievement. While Ditto is similar to DistroKid in terms of pricing and features, it has a few key differences that set it apart.

Pricing and Features

Ditto’s pricing structure is comparable to DistroKid’s, with both services lacking publishing collection. However, Ditto includes most of the additional features that DistroKid offers as paid addons in its standard $19.99 unlimited uploads package.

Playlists and Analytics

One notable advantage of using Ditto is that the service owns its own playlists, offering artists the potential for exposure through playlist inclusion. Ditto also provides users with detailed reports and analysis for tracking sales and trends.

Store Update Feature and Shazam and Siri

Ditto’s store update feature automatically adds your music to new streaming platforms as they emerge, while DistroKid charges an additional fee for this service. Shazam and Siri integration is also included with Ditto, whereas DistroKid charges a small fee.

Customer Service Reputation

Ditto’s customer service reputation is not as consistently positive as DistroKid’s. Although the company claims to offer 24/7 artist support, online reviews and opinions about their customer service can be quite negative.

In conclusion, Ditto Music offers competitive pricing and features, along with playlist exposure and a store update feature. However, artists should be aware of the mixed reviews regarding customer service before choosing Ditto as their music distribution service.

Best Independent Music Distributors

Pros and Cons of Free Music Distributor Services

The music industry has evolved rapidly, offering a range of distribution services for independent artists. Among these options are free independent music distributors, which can be appealing to those on a budget. However, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons before deciding if a free service is the right choice for your music career.

Pros

  1. Cost-effectiveness: The most significant advantage of independent music distributors is that they allow artists to distribute their music without incurring any upfront costs. This can be especially beneficial for independent musicians or bands with limited budgets.
  2. Accessibility: Free independent music distributors open up the world of music distribution to a broader range of artists, enabling those who might not have the financial means to invest in paid services to get their music heard by a wider audience.
  3. Low-risk: With no financial commitment, artists can try out free independent music distributors without worrying about losing money if their music doesn’t gain traction. This can be an excellent opportunity to test the waters and gain experience in the music industry.

Cons

  1. Limited features: Free independent music distributors may not offer the same range of features and support as paid services. This can include limitations in the number of releases, access to analytics, and promotional tools.
  2. Revenue sharing: Some free independent music distributors may take a percentage of the revenue generated from streams and sales, meaning you might not retain 100% of your earnings. This could be a downside if your music becomes successful and generates significant income.
  3. Less control: Free independent music distributors might not offer the same level of control over release dates, promotional strategies, and other aspects of music distribution that paid services do. This can be a disadvantage for artists who want to have a more hands-on approach to their music career.
  4. Customer support: Free independent music distributors may not provide the same level of customer support as paid services. This can lead to delays in resolving issues or a lack of assistance when needed, which can be frustrating for artists.

Distribution and Promotion: A Winning Combination

While distributing your music is crucial, it’s equally important to have a solid music promotion plan in place. Pairing your distribution service with effective promotion strategies can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are some essential steps to take after distributing your music:

  1. Build a strong online presence: Set up social media profiles, create a website, and establish a mailing list to connect with your fans. Our social media for musicians key tips guide can help you get started.
  2. Network with industry professionals: Connect with other musicians, producers, and playlist curators to increase your visibility within the music community. Learn how to find musicians and band members to expand your network.
  3. Pitch to playlists: Getting your music featured on popular playlists can significantly boost your streams. Check out our Spotify playlist curators article for tips on how to pitch your music effectively.
  4. Collaborate with other artists: Collaborating with other musicians can expose your music to new audiences and help build relationships within the industry.
  5. Perform live: Engage with fans by playing concerts and live-streaming performances. Learn how to promote a concert for maximum impact.

By combining effective distribution and promotion strategies, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful music career.

When Will I Get Paid By A Music Distribution Company?

The timeline for receiving payments from independent music distributors can vary depending on several factors. Here’s a general overview of when you can expect to be paid by a music distributor:

  1. Payment schedule: Each independent music distributor has its payment schedule, which can range from monthly to quarterly or even annually. Be sure to check your distributor’s payment terms to understand when you can expect to receive your earnings.
  2. Payment threshold: Some independent music distributors require you to reach a minimum payment threshold before they release your earnings. This means you must accumulate a specific amount in royalties before you can receive a payout. The threshold amount may differ among distributors, so it’s essential to review their terms.
  3. Payment processing time: After you’ve reached the payment threshold and the payment period has ended, the independent music distributor will typically take some time to process your payment. This can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the company and its payment processing procedures.
  4. Streaming platforms and stores: The time it takes for streaming platforms and online stores to report earnings to independent music distributors can also impact when you receive payment. Some platforms may take longer than others to report earnings, which can result in a delay in receiving your royalties.
  5. Banking and payment method: The method in which you receive your payment can also affect the timeline. For instance, direct deposits or electronic payments may be quicker than receiving a check in the mail. Be sure to choose the most efficient payment method for your situation.

Conclusion

Music independent music distributors are essential tools for independent musicians looking to get their music onto popular streaming platforms. By choosing the right independent music distributor and combining it with effective promotion strategies, you can maximize your reach and increase your chances of success. Remember to consider factors like cost, features, customer support, and ease of use when selecting a music distribution service, and always keep your fans at the heart of your promotional efforts.

FAQs

1. Can I distribute my music for free?

Some independent music distributors offer free plans with basic features, but these often come with limitations such as fewer platforms, lower royalty rates, or limited customer support. It’s generally worth investing in a paid plan to access the full range of features and benefits.

2. Can I switch music distribution services?

Yes, you can switch independent music distributors, but you’ll need to remove your music from the current distributor and re-upload it to the new service. Make sure to keep track of your ISRC codes to avoid losing your stream counts and playlist placements.

3. How long does it take for my music to be available on streaming platforms?

Each independent music distributor has its own processing time, but generally, it takes between one to two weeks for your music to appear on major streaming platforms. It’s essential to plan your release schedule accordingly and consider these timelines when setting release dates.

4. Do I need to copyright my music before distributing it?

While it’s not mandatory, copyrighting your music can help protect your intellectual property and secure your rights as the creator. Read our guide on how to copyright a song for free for more information.

5. How do I get paid from music distribution services?

Most independent music distributors pay artists through direct deposit or PayPal. Ensure you have your payment information up to date with your distribution service to receive your earnings promptly.

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