It’s easier than ever to distribute your music digitally across the world.
That being said, the cost of music distribution has decreased significantly, but so has your ability to earn a respectable income from your music. However, it’s not all about money when it comes to getting heard.
Music distribution is still an essential marketing/promotional tool for independent artists.
So, that’s why we’re talking about some of the best music distribution services for independent artists.
Although all music distribution services provide the same basic service, some of them actually provide some interesting features that may be of interest to you.
I’ll be recommending some of the music distribution services I’ve worked with that I personally believe to be the best for you, as an independent artist.
- Paid vs Free Music Distribution Services
- 1. LANDR Music Distribution [Pay-As-You-Go/Paid]
- 2. DistroKid Music Distribution [Paid]
- 3. Ditto Music Distribution [Paid]
- 4. RouteNote Music Distribution [Free/Paid]
- Summary: 4+ BEST Music Distribution Services for Independent Artists
Paid vs Free Music Distribution Services
You might have heard the saying that “nothing is free in this world”.
Well, that’s ALMOST true when it comes to music distribution services that offer their services for free.
You’ll usually be giving up a percentage of your earnings in exchange (somewhere around 15%).
One of the only exceptions is Amuse (you keep 100% of your earnings on the free plan).
However, you’ll realize after looking at other music distribution services that you’re missing out on some quite important features when it comes to Amuse (namely, the distribution speed).
That being said, even the paid plan has quite a few drawbacks in my opinion.
That’s why you need to realize that paid music distribution services aren’t necessarily perfect either.
I’ve been experimenting with and researching music distribution services for quite some time now and still haven’t found a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Of course, you’ll usually get much better service and features when you pay for music distribution.
It’s extremely important to have great support and reliable service.
So, which music distribution service is going to be the right fit for you? Let’s find out!
In my opinion, LANDR Music Distribution is the best all-in-one solution for independent artists.
I’m not even talking about LANDR’s other products/services, just the music distribution service. Each plan includes everything you’d need from a music distribution service.
However, I personally recommend going with the “Unlimited” plan if you’re considering LANDR.
That’s because it’s the only music distribution plan LANDR offers that allows you to keep 100% of your royalties and doesn’t require you to pay per release.
It’ll set you back $89 per year (less than 8$ per month), but the included features are totally worth it!
The advantages you’ll have with LANDR are…
- Beatport distribution
- Includes SoundCloud monetization
- Includes YouTube Content ID
- Excellent customer support
Besides that though, it’s basically the same as DistroKid’s $35.99 per year plan.
If you value any of those things, then you’re better off with LANDR.
My personal music distribution service is DistroKid (for now, anyway).
That being said, I still want my music distributed as quickly as possible when I do!
In that sense, DistroKid is perfect for music producers like me.
It’s incredibly affordable and LIGHTING fast.
Is it faster than LANDR Music Distribution though? As it turns out, they’re actually pretty much tied at the moment.
DistroKid is just awesome because of its affordability and completely USELESS features.
Seriously, it’s like they keep adding more by the day…
If you’re just looking for something quick and easy and value the whole “Public Mobile self-serve” philosophy thing, then DistroKid is perfect for you.
Don’t expect anything special though, especially in regards to customer support.
If you do need help though, they can be reached on Twitter.
Ditto Music Distribution [Paid]
If you’re looking for something almost identical to DistroKid, but with more features…
You’ll definitely want to check out Ditto’s music distribution service.
The most affordable plan starts at $19 per year, however, that plan makes up for some of the features that are lacking in DistroKid’s $19.99 per year plan.
Look at it this way…
- If you want to pay 19$ per year, go with Ditto
- If you want to pay $35.99 per year, go with DistroKid
Ditto also provides an add-on music publishing service for 49$ per year (+10% of your royalties).
It seems like a pretty interesting option if you want to facilitate and streamline the process of collecting royalties instead of doing all the work yourself.
In other words, Ditto can also be your publishing company.
They’ll also pitch your music to get it placed on TV, film, etc… It’s definitely not the most extensive to go about doing this, but it’ll certainly increase your odds of being heard.
That’s why I think Ditto is better for independent artists who prioritize their musical income.
RouteNote Music Distribution [Free/Paid/Pay-As-You-Go]
So far, RouteNote is the only music distribution service on this list that has a free plan.
I’ve used it in the past and was more than happy to give up 15% of my earnings (so basically, nothing).
However, I’m personally not a huge fan of the pricing model for the paid plan. I’d rather just pay a one-time fee instead of paying for each release I put out.
That’s something to consider if you put out music on a regular basis.
What I really like about RouteNote though is that they include YouTube AND SoundCloud monetization on both the free and premium plans. SoundCloud monetization is RARE with music distribution services.
That being said, RouteNote still keeps 15% of your earnings on the free plan and 0% with premium.
If you ask me, it’s worth it to sign up for the free plan just for the SoundCloud monetization.
If you’re not aware, you’d normally need to pay SoundCloud 29.99$ per month for that.
Also, the distribution on RouteNote is actually pretty quick!
Summary: 4+ BEST Music Distribution Services for Independent Artists
So, there you have it! Now you know about the best music distribution services for independent artists.
If I’ve left anything out, it’s either on purpose or because I’ve never heard of the service.
That being said, I highly encourage you to share which music distribution services you personally work with (and have worked with) in the comment section.
In the meantime, here’s a table that compares the services we covered today…
|LANDR (PAYG/Complete)||LANDR (Unlimited)||DistroKid (Musician)||Distrokid (Musician Plus/Label)||Ditto||RouteNote (Free)||RouteNote (Premium)|
|Pricing||9$-29$/5$-19$ per release||89.99$ per year||19.99$ per year||35.99$/79.99$ per year||19$-299$ per year||0$||9.99$ per year + 10$-45$ per release|
|Release Time||1-2 days||1-2 days||1-7 days||1-7 days||1-5 days||1-5 days||1-5 days|
|# of Releases||N/A||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||N/A|
|# of Stores||150+||150+||150+||150+||200+||200+||200+|
|# of Artists||1/3||7||1||2/5-100||1-40||1||1|
|Payment Method||Automatic (Monthly)||Automatic (Monthly)||Withdrawal (1-2 days)||Withdrawal (1-2 days)||Automatic (instant)||Automatic (Monthly)||Automatic (Monthly)|
|Cover License||15$||15$||12$ per year||12$ per year||NO||NO||NO|
|YouTube Monetization||15%/9%||0%||4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue||4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue||NO||15%||0%|
I still believe that LANDR Music Distribution is one of the best options on this list.
However, RouteNote is definitely the best music distribution service if you don’t want to put any money down. It’s probably the only free music distribution service I recommend.
In fact, I’d recommend the free plan over the premium plan any day!
So, why do I still use DistroKid? I prefer to host my music HERE instead of streaming services.
Why’s that? That’s a topic for another article!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!