In 2019, streaming accounted for nearly 80% of the total revenue in the USA’s music industry. Europe and Asia are tagging along with solid continuous growth in streaming revenue. Majorly, distribution to Spotify, Apple Music, Tencent and many other services is ever-increasing, and demand is flourishing. Leaving physical CD’s behind, music lovers are switching to digital options by streaming their favorite artist. Contrarily, artists have the common misconception that having their music accessible on Spotify is extremely difficult and expensive. This might have been true five years ago, but now tables have turned and methods to distribute your music are popping up across the globe. Today we will look at the options artists have – from paid to free distribution.
TuneCore is one of the biggest music distributors out there. When you distribute your music, you keep 100% of the music rights and receive 100% of the royalties too. You can select your music to be available in over 150 music stores and over 200 countries. The downside is that you must pay an upfront and yearly fee: 9,99$ per year for a single, 29,99$ upfront for an album and a massive 49,99$ the following year. Furthermore, they offer publishing services and other artist services such as licensing and promotion.
Distrokid is a subscription-based distributor. It allows you to upload unlimited releases for one artist for the price of 19,99$/year. Through them, you get as well 100% of your royalties while remaining 100% the owner of yours work. Distrokid allows you to directly get YouTube Content ID and instant Spotify verification. Disadvantage here is that the sales reports you are very basic and difficult to figure out. Another burden is that you might incur some hidden costs, which can add up if you don’t pay attention.
CD Baby is one of the old-school distributors. They can distribute your music to most stores for a one-time upfront fee, meaning you must only pay this for one year and then you are good to go for as many years as you would like. For this reason, the selective fees are higher: 10$ for a single, 29,95$ if you want total monetization and 29$ for an album. Moreover, you can pay 69$ for an album and have worldwide CD or vinyl distribution. Other services don’t offer this physical sale service. The snag is that they take a 9% commission and there are some hidden costs too, which you can’t avoid.
Sound drop is a simple distributor that is completely free and just keeps 15% of your earned royalties. It offers payment splitting and a fee of only 9,99$ to distribute a cover song. The negative aspect is that royalty reporting isn’t very advanced, and you can just distribute to 5 music services. Also, customer support is slow and requires time to respond, consequently, royalties take long to be obtained.
RouteNote is one of the fist distributors, dating back to 2008. They offer the greatest store selection with a coverage of over 193 countries. They, in addition, have a partnership with SoundCloud which allows you to monetize your music there. If you want to distribute your music for free, RouteNote takes a 15% cut. However, you can also select the premium version and pay a yearly fee if you want to get 100% of the royalties. This system is very flexible; however, the website and support are very slow, and it takes sometimes up to weeks to get your music online.
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REWAVE Distribution is a new distributor from Switzerland. They offer unlimited free distribution with users keeping 90% of their royalties. They came up with a beta program, through which only approved applicants can distribute their music. Therefore, the website and support are fast. Additionally, they don’t have a payment threshold and offer multiple payment methods. The downside to REWAVE Distribution is that they don’t offer premium distribution and you must apply first in order to distribute your music.
Amuse is a new distributor that is app-based. You can distribute your music for free and keep 100% of your royalties. Because of their app, you can upload and check your stats on the go. If you want priority support and distribution you can pay 5$ a month for the pro model. The drawback is that moderation and distribution are sometimes slow and in the free version you can only distribute every 4 weeks. Royalties are also often delayed. If you are lucky, they may also offer you a record deal.
Indiefy is also a new free distributor. They offer distribute your music to 5 stores for free. However, you can only submit 3 releases per month, and they have a 100$ threshold. If you want more freedom and speed, they also have a pro version that costs 19,99$/month. With that, you can distribute unlimited music to more stores and quicker. An additional negative point is that even with the pro they have a 50$ threshold.
These are only some of the many options artists have, to distribute their music on the desired platforms. Through the music industry’s expansion, artists and their listeners are being presented with an opportunity and new possibilities every now and then. Keep your eyes and ears open and evaluate the suitable solution for yourselves in this growing segment.