“Which one do you use?”
CDBaby and DistroKid
BUT, there are others that may be better for you.
I figured it was time to whip up a quick blog post for those of you who are looking to sell your music online.
Best Digital Music Distribution Services List
Rather than just breaking down “Distrokid vs TuneCore” or “TuneCore vs CDBaby”, I figured I'd throw out a few more for you. Here's a breakdown of the top digital music distribution services that you could use as well.
When it comes to comparing these services, it isn't always apples to apples. I will throw out a few facts for each below to get you rolling but then you can take it from there.
It is a pretty mixed bag on what the better deal is and it really depends on your personals needs when it comes to licensing, publishing and digital distribution.
Look them over good before making your final selection.
All of these digital music distribution services are pretty solid and are well-respected services in the industry:
Again, this is the music distributor I use. They have been reliable, I have had zero technical issues and I like their dashboard. The dashboard keeps a great record of where your music is being streamed and purchased.
They also have Sync/Publishing licensing built in to track plays on YouTube and a few other site (this is pretty handy).
There is a set up fee and they keep roughly 9% of some of your earnings. UPC codes will cost you extra but ISRC codes are free.
One issue I have is that it seems to me that they're prices seem to keep going up and up. Used to be less than $10 to upload a song or under $30 for an album but now its $12.95 and $49.
Click here to learn more about CDBaby.
Fandalism's spin-off service gives you your first upload free and then a straight $19.99 yearly fee for unlimited uploads.
With no set-up fee, they are pretty reasonable if you are going to be doing a lot of releases.
They are also the first online music distribution companies in the world that can automatically split payments among collaborators. So if you do a ton of collaboration, DistroKid is a no-brainer because of the time and headaches you'll save trying to keep track of who gets what.
If any of those points didn't sell you on them, this might…
MUST READ: You have to check out an article by the founder of DistroKid, Phillip Kaplan's, called “How To Tell If Your Music Distributor Is Ripping You Off.” It will give you a lot to think about before choosing your music distributor (it is definitely making me reconsider the one I've been using).
UPDATE: I am in the process of switching over to DistroKid. Stay tuned for how that goes for more DistroKid reviews in the future.
UPDATE 2: If you plan on doing anything with Tik Tok, of all the online music distribution companies, DistroKid is the only that offers this at this time.
UPDATE 3 [April 2020]: Tik Tok now being offered by most other services.
UPDATE 4 [April 2020]: Total switch over to DistroKid on hold. Lost some data when moving some songs via test from CDBaby [long story]. Bottom line, I will mainly use for singles. This is why it is super important to do your research up front. Hard to switch.
Click here to learn more about DistroKid (and get 7% off).
Yep, the mastering service!
I was in my account for the first time in a long time the other day to master an acoustic take on an older tune. After the master, they offered to distribute my song for me (which I don't remember seeing a few years back).
I didn't use the service to give you a full-on Landr review due to the nature of the song I mastered (i.e. not meant for prime time).
Their pricing is flexible whether you are just starting to release music or a veteran releasing to a sizable audience. They offer some lower-priced packages ($9 single release and a $20/year package) both of which require you to share some of the profits. And an “unlimited” package for $89/year which is a solid deal if you are going to be releasing a lot of music.
They add your track to all the top streaming services (Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, etc). They're list of features is very compatible with all the others listed above and below.
And you own 100% of the rights and match up well feature-wise with all the other services.
Plus if you use Landr for mastering already, you would save a few steps in the release process. Saving time = music to this DIYer's ears!
Very similar to CDBaby.
They have a large distribution network with all the sites you'd want to be on. Plus they can monitor royalties, offer sync/publishing on sites like Youtube and even handle ringtone distribution.
There is a set-up fee of $75. Singles cost $9.99 per single (first year) and albums are $29.99 (first year).
Click here to learn more about Tunecore.
>>> When distribution is set, click here to get my submission checklist and ebook to get more fans, create buzz, & make sales <<<
Symphonic has a pretty unique pricing model (at least compared to the others).
It costs $25 to start and then there ares fees based on the amount of tracks you plan to distribute. 1-5 tracks is $10.99, 1-10 tracks is $19.99 and so on. They give you a slight break the more tracks you upload.
They do everything every one of these other services does and more.
One big one IMHO is that they are the only service besides CDBaby that offers physical distribution. So if that is something you need or want to do, that's a big deal. I like trying to keep as much under one roof as possible. Makes things easier.
They have services/features that many of the other services do not. Like video distribution, something called piracy protection, a promo mailing service and a few more features related to Beatport.
Click here to learn more about Symphonic.
Ditto music offers a few payment options. You can pay $79 to get unlimited distribution for a year or you can distribute by the single for $9.
If you follow my one single release per month strategy for a year, $79 is pretty reasonable.
They have 24-7 phone support which is pretty huge IMHO. There are always questions that pop up and its good to know you can get them answered quickly.
You can also get free ISRC codes and they offer optional extras like iTunes Pre-release, SMS Keywords and worldwide chart registration.
Please Not: Since reading adding Ditto, I was made aware of Ari Herstads music distribution service overview.
Ari is a very well respected music industry blogger and indie musician.
In the spirit of full disclosure and to make you aware of everything I know. here is what Ari's had to say about Ditto.
* Ditto threatened to sue me for asking a question. They are hiding something. I've heard reports from readers that they cannot get their albums removed from stores and aren't getting paid. STAY AWAY **Update 10/8/14
* After this report came out I've received countless emails from musicians and labels saying how horrible Ditto has been to them. Unpaid royalties. Customer service email turnaround very fast only UNTIL you pay, then you never hear from them again. Missed deadlines. On and on and on. If you care about your music career, DON'T WORK WITH THEM!
Click here to learn more about Ditto Music
Offer a monthly and yearly distribution plan with a one time set-up fee.
The have free UPC and ISRC codes. You get to keep 100% of your royalties.
There is monthly fee $5.99 and a set-up fee of $9.99 for singles and $19.99 for albums are $19.99.
Click here to learn more about Songcast.
Those are the most popular music distribution services.
Here are a few newer music distribution services that have popped up on my radar recently:
That should get you started. But note that there are others (like ReverbNation who feels a little sketchy to me… long story.)
If you want more opinions and perspectives, be sure to check out
If you know of digital music distributors that should be on this list, contact me. I don't want to add just and company though, make sure there is something that makes them stand out to you.
(P.S. for when your distribution is set up, download the free music submission checklist click here or click the image below)
Most Recommended Marketing Tools and Services For DIY Musicians
Indie Bible – This 330-page music marketing Swiss Army Knife will show you how to get access to 4000 music publications willing to do reviews, 3200 radio stations willing to play your songs along with 1200 other resources looking to help you get the word out. They have also been adding resources to help you find playlist curators to help you get more streams on Spotify, Apple, and YouTube. Click here to check out the Indie Bible.
Fiverr – Need help marketing and promoting your music? Me too which is why I use Fiverr. I use it to have lyric videos made and tedious small stuff. They have tons of help available for DIY musicians. You can hire people for as little as $5 to help you with stuff like: Flyers(Creation/Distribution), Reviews, Bio’s, Music Industry Contact Lists, Lyric Videos, Music Submission (Radio, Mags, Blogs), Press Release (Creation/Distribution), Website SEO, Social Media (Bookmarking, Likes, Views, & Tweets), Custom Album Art and more. Click here to see what you can get help.
TubeBuddy – Just started testing this, but damn, the handy optimization tools alone saved me a ton of time already. So much to love for marketing geeks like me. They have a feature-filled free tier. If you do any YouTube Marketing you'll see the value instantly. Try it here and you'll see. Its a no-brainer!
Yep, Reverbnation do Digital Distribution.
Thanks for the heads up Kristian!
I use http://www.routenote.com
OneRPM is okay. It’s cool that they offer daily Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Stats.
I love Record Union for their detailed Daily Spotify Analytics. Their stats even tell you if your fans are streaming from Free or Premium Accounts.
DistroKid offers free Upc and Isrc codes. But they do make you pay an additional $0.99 for Shazam.
Hope this info was helpful.
Thank you for the heads up Nikki! I will take a look at them and add accordingly.
Rock n Roll Librarian’s ebook suggests that UPCs and ISRCs issued by digital distribution companies and even PROs (ASCAP, BMI, etc) contain a prefix which credits them as the owner and will fail to generate fair royalties for the artist. Though I wasn’t aware of this business risk for indy artists, I’m not surprised. She suggests that artists who want to control their rights fully and get paid fairly should register for and obtain these codes directly in their own name. I believe CDBaby et al allow the artist to enter his/her own codes.
Can you comment on this, Corey?
Thanks – Freejay
Freejay, sorry for the late reply. Serious computer issues this week and i got way behind. THAT SAID, I’m here now. 🙂 You make a good point. They do allow for that and it is what I do (generate elsewhere and then add). BUT you make me wonder if they still do something even after you add your own. I am going to shoot her and email and see if she can stop by and clarify.
I am I search of the most artist friendly digital aggregator available for my artists. So far they all fail the test. Check out loudr.fm as well, I am currently having the Rock and Roll Librarian do a gotcha report on their service agreements. I’ll let you know what I find.
And yes. Every artist should own their own UPCs and ISRCs and if you get them from anywhere else but the source it will always have someone else’s prefix and ownership attached to your codes. There is an ebook that explains this in more detail and where to get them.
Hopefully the Librarian will check with more details.
Corey and Freejay, per the question about whether CD Baby allows for artists to use their own UPC and ISRC codes with their unique prefixes to the masters they upload, the correct answer is yes.
One problem arises, though, when (not if) CD Baby invokes one of their buried clauses, namely that they can make masters of your uploaded works. There is no way for you to confirm which master it is they are offering for sale, licensing, or streaming; nor can you tell them they cannot do so since the contract you agree to when you join says you’ve given them the right to do that. Since ISRC is, by its very nature, designed to differentiate between works, your ISRC cannot be attached to their new master… therefore…logic tells you where this ends.
Furthermore, that contract gives them the right to make derivative works from yours and only they and God know which ISRC and UPC is attached to that.
I hope that helps. Personally, direct-to-fan sales from your own website is the way to go. Why list yourself amongst millions of others offering the same product? If you are using iTunes and so forth as a way to track your sales so the world will know your validated sales, you can use a service such as Indiehitmaker.com to accomplish the same thing AND do direct-to-fan-sales.
Corey, Bram, Angela…
Thank you for your replies!