Top 4 Best Music Distribution Services 2023: Pros & Cons
Struggling to find an effective music distribution for your new release or you’re not happy with your current one? We know it’s hard to select a suitable one when there are many options out there. In this blog, we will provide the price along with the pros and cons of the top 4 popular music distribution companies so you can make the right choice for your music career.
A side note, to make the most of this review, you’ll need to have some knowledge and criteria on choosing the right music distribution. Sign up for our newsletter to get the first access to our guide on how to pick your music distribution.
What Are Music Distribution Services?
Music distribution is a process of getting your music available to the public. Afterward, your songs will be ready to be streamed and downloaded on physical/digital stores and streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. Hence, this plays a vital role in your music career.
However, opt-in for music distribution doesn’t mean your music is automatically being promoted. For this reason, some distributors also offer a music promotion service as a third-party solution for the artists to expose their songs. Besides third-party solutions offered by distributors, some artists and labels also utilize music promotion services to complement their releases such as Base For Music to grow their fanbase.
As technology grows, more music distributors come into the game and offer appealing features. This list will break down the distributors into 2 categories based on the fee structure: pay per track & pay per year. Therefore, ensure you make the right decision after reading our discussion about their pros and cons.
Pay Per Track
CD Baby is the only music distribution that covers both digital and physical distribution for the artist. Working with CD Baby will distribute your music to over 150 music streaming stores and download services across the world.
With Spinnup no longer open to the public, CDBaby becomes one of the few big players that offer ‘pay per track’ for music distribution.
Moreover, they offer flexible pricing that the artists can pay due to their preferences:
- For a single: $9.95
- Pro single $29.95
- For an album: $49
- Pro album $69
Currently, they have a special discount for 2023, so the price for both standard versions is $4.99, and pro versions are $24.99.
Guarantee no annual fee
With their no annual fees policy, you only have to pay one time to keep your song being distributed. CD Baby guarantees that you won’t have to worry about having a growing bill every year to maintain your song’s availability on Spotify or Apple Music.
Diversify your income stream
Licensing music has always been a headache for independent artists. Understanding this, CDBaby helps artists to get licenses and assists you in monetizing your song on platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. If you’re unfamiliar with licensing, check out our extensive guide on music licensing for independent artists.
Various commission fees
Compared to competitors like Tunecore, CDBaby takes approx. 9% commission on everything you make. Here are some fees that CB Baby can cost you after your release:
- 30% on Youtube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram revenues.
For the Pro version:
- 15% of publishing royalties
- 40% on sync placements
- $4 on physical sales for your CD and Vinyl
Insufficient customer services
Many artists have been complaining about how unresponsive their support team is. There are many reports of delayed response, slow processes, and unreachable telephone contact lines. Hence, if you’re on board with CDBaby, this is something you need to be aware of.
Pay Per Year
Distro Kid is a fast-growing music distribution with unlimited releases to over 150 music streaming stores. With a $19.99 yearly fee, you can upload your numerous pieces of music and keep 100% of your rights and royalties.
One-time payment for unlimited uploads
The highlight of DistroKid is unlimited uploads, which means you only need to pay once and upload as many songs as possible. Thanks to this feature, you can gain a bigger chance to approach the audience. You can freely create your artwork and diversity it with various versions such as lofi, slow and speed-up.
Useful pre-release services (HyperFollow)
In the last article about music promotion on Spotify, we mentioned Hyper Follow as an effective tool for your Pre-save strategy. In short, HyperFollow is a part of DistroKid, and if you distribute your music using DistroKid, your pre-save link will have no extra cost. If you want to know more, check out our article about the Pre-Save Campaign.
Even though DistroKid will not cut off any percentage of your music revenue, here’re some fees you need to notice when you pay per feature business model:
- $0.99 per song a year to be on extra discovery platforms
- $7.95 per album a year to be added to new stores after your release.
- $4.95 per single and $14.95 per album a year on Youtube Content ID. Plus, DistroKid also takes a 20% cut of your Youtube Ads revenue.
Ditto Music is also an unlimited release of music distribution to over 200 stores for the artists at $19 per year. During your release time, you will keep 100% of your royalties and rights.
Ditto divides into three distribution packages available for that artists at every stage of their career - artist, professional, and label.
- Artist: $19/year for 1 artist
- Professional: $29/year for 2 artists
- Label: $69/year for 5 artists
Supportive customer service
When compared to CDBaby and Spinnup, many artists have high praise for Ditto's team being responsive when you encounter technical issues or even need to change small details for your release. With that, releasing songs with them will help you feel more assured as they have a great team to assist you.
One plus point of Ditto is that it lets you track your song sales and trending data with daily analytics reports. By keeping track of your performance, you can make a more informed decision every time you release a song.
They are not hidden fees, but they do require fees for extra services. Firstly, they do take 10% of your Youtube earnings. Secondly, it can cost you $40 for iTunes Express if you want your music to be queued to the front and appear quickly on iTunes after 4 days. Moreover, if you want to use other services like pre-release or promotion, you have to pay additional fees.
TuneCore is top of mind when we talk about music distribution. Tunecore offers the free distribution of your music to over 150 digital streaming platforms and stores. Besides, it also lets artists keep 100% of their music profit from distribution. Here’re 3 kinds of yearly plans with an unlimited release for different levels of artists:
- Rising Artist: $14.99 per year
- Breakout Artist $29.99 per year
- Professional $49.99 per year, plus $14.99 per artist.
- Free social media distribution
They offer a free plan to distribute your music on social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Moreover, it also covers a free Youtube Content ID when you upload your music through Tunecore.
Good customer service
TuneCore has received lots of positive feedback thanks to its customer service. From the artists’ side, their questions are always answered. Others also claim that the customer service team is responsive and knowledgeable about the music industry.
More expensive than others
Despite allowing you to keep 100% of your streaming royalties, Tunecore is on the pricier side with an annual renewal fee of $49.99 for an album and $9.99 for a single. Other than that, there are a couple of fees you should be aware of:
- $75 one-time set-up fee to use their music publishing services
- 20% for sync licensing
- 5% for publishing.
20% of the Youtube commission
Nevertheless, with hundreds of millions of songs out there, being distributed is not enough to highlight your music to the listener. After making your song “available”, it’s time to promote it to music lovers.
If you are looking for a simple tool to help you promote your song, Base for Music is an easy solution for you. We help to boost your release visibility by targeting your ads strategically to the right audiences.
Besides, we can also increase your engagement to stand out among the platforms. We generate your ad campaigns through a simplified dashboard across popular advertising platforms like Spotify, Facebook, TikTok, and Youtube.
Sign-up for your free account today!
Learn How to Grow your Fanbase
Sign-up to our newsletter to receive all the tips & tricks on the Music Industry.