Want to Know the Best Digital Distribution Company?

Music Digital Distribution CompaniesThis is the most comprehensive and accurate digital distribution comparison piece on the web for music.

Who is the best digital distributor? Read on… (note: everything is current and has been fact checked by every company).

I sat down with reps at 8 different digital distribution companies, CD Baby, DistroKidDitto Music, Loudr, Mondotunes, ReverbNation, SymphonicTunecore and Zimbalam, to get a full in-depth look at each company and for the reps to explain to me their company’s best features (that I may have missed scanning their FAQ). Being a musician, I asked them questions I deemed most important for independent musicians.

I have personally distributed 8 releases to date using a few of these services.

This review is just taking a look at companies that will get your music into digital stores and streaming services, like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc and NOT about stand alone, digital download, self-managed stores, like BandCamp.

I also left out distribution companies who only work with labels (like The Orchard and Believe). Any artist can signup to any of these distribution companies without having to be approved.

Full disclosure, I should say, I have used CD Baby, Tunecore, DistroKid and Loudr to release my music in the past. I just released my latest album and this piece honestly helped me decide who the best company for this release was.

There is no “winner” necessarily because each company has unique features that may be super important to some artists and not at all to others. Every artist’s situation is different.

If you have any questions or have used any of these companies please let me know in the comments below!

On to the Comparison!

(in alphabetical order)

cdbabylogo

I spoke with Kevin Bruener, Director of Marketing and a musician himself. He has been at the company for 8 years and worked alongside founder (and music biz icon) Derek Sivers for many years. This is one of the biggest (and the first) independent digital distributors in the world. They have over 330,000 artists signed up to their service.

Best:

* Because they have been along for so long, they are proven and aren’t going out of business anytime soon (your releases (and reports) are safe).

* They offer physical CD and Vinyl distribution as part of the digital signup price (they will fulfill (mail out) CD/Vinyl orders for a fee of $4 a pop).

* No yearly (or hidden) fees. Once you signup an album you never pay again for any service (other than publishing).

* iTunes weekly Trend Reports. Still don’t get paid for a couple months, but you can see how the new release is doing.

* They also offer their publishing service CD Baby Pro that will link up. I did a full report on that here.

* Only company to collect SoundExchange (Rights Owner) royalties for you. It’s a massive process (and headache) to signup as a rights owner (and fill out their catalog spreadsheet). CD Baby covers this for you. You still have to signup as a Featured Artist on your own with SoundExchange, but this cuts a lot of the hassle down.

Worst:

* They take 9% commission.

* They charge $5 for single UPC or $20 for album UPC. These aren’t optional add ons. You can’t distribute your album without a UPC – so add on an additional $5/20 for each release.

distrokid

I spoke with the founder, Philip Kaplan about his service. He is a musician and programmed it all himself. He is also the founder of the musician meet up site, Fandalism with over 600,000 musicians signed up. DistroKid is the newest service on the market. It opened up to the public on October 10th, 2013. It’s a completely different model than all the other digital distributors. They have been recommended by Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) and Jeff Price (founder of Tunecore) – who no longer work at the companies. It now has over 90,000 artists in its network and has distributed over 700,000 songs.

Best:

* Unlimited songs. You heard right. Whether you release 1 song or 1000 songs, it’s still $19.99 a year.

* Their website is SUPER clean and simple and you can get started with no headache.

* They offer revenue splitting for your collaborators and will pay them directly whatever percentage you designate. They are the only distribution company that has this process automated (Loudr does this, but you have to contact support)

+DistroKid Will Now Pay Anyone Who Worked On Your Song

* They do not take commission.

* They clear cover songs with a check box (and get you the proper mechanical license)

* Email every step of the way. Every step that you complete you will receive an email – including when it’s live on the store (only company that does this).

Worst:

* They charge for their “Store Maximizer” feature which automatically adds all your releases to any new store that comes out. Worth noting, you can manually add your releases to new stores (for free), but who is going to keep checking back to see if any new stores are added? Adding releases to new stores should be built in for free. **Update 5-4-15

* They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to DistroKid (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)

* Extra features prices (like the Store Maximizer) is not clearly stated in their FAQ or their pricing page. It’s only on the actual Upload page.

* They charge $.99 PER SONG for Shazam atop of the $20 a year

 

dittomusic

I spoke with Lee Parsons, the co-CEO and co-founder of Ditto Music (his brother is the other co-CEO/founder). He is a musician from the UK (now living in Nashville and heading up the US operations). Because Ditto started in the UK its main focus (and angle) is for UK artists. Anyone in the world can signup, but there is a clear UK focus on the website (just like there is a clear US focus on the other sites). They have about 60,000 total artists (now nearly split evenly US/UK and many coming in from Sweden and Australia). Not the biggest, but definitely large!

Best:

* Will distribute up to 10 songs to (just) iTunes for free

* They do not take commission

Worst:

* Lots of expensive extra services (which are free with other companies).

**Update 7/25/14 Customer Service. I’ve heard from many readers, once you pay for services you never hear from them again. This is more than one isolated incident so I have to mention it. I originally had Customer Service under one of their “Bests” as it is listed on their website that they have won awards here. But unfortunately, I’m moving it to one of their Worsts because of the responses I’ve received.

**Update 10/8/14 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

* They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties.

To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to MondoTunes (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)

loudr

**Update: 3-4-16: Loudr has handed its distribution services over to CD Baby. As of now you can still signup with Loudr distribution through their site, but in the future they will be completely transitioning over to CD Baby’s services. Read what I wrote about this transition here.

I spoke with the founder, Chris Crawford. The service was created by 8 musicians. This is the 2nd newest service (by 16 days) and launched October 1st, 2013. Chris had a previous distribution company primarily used for A Cappella groups. Loudr’s digital distribution service is mainly for cover artists to easily get their music on iTunes. Loudr goes directly to the publishers and gets licenses directly for their artists (instead of the artist having to hunt these down). Chris used to work at iTunes so has “an in” there still and understands it a bit better than most new distribution companies. They have a stand alone download store, similar to BandCamp, which is their main focus, but I felt it was worth to include their digital distribution feature as it’s innovative and unique.

**Update 4-27-15: They have recently added a mechanical licensing service so you can obtain a license from Loudr and distribute with other services.

Best:

* No signup fee. You heard right. This is the ONLY company that is free to get unlimited music on iTunes. Whether you’re releasing a single or 10 simultaneous albums, it’s free.

* Obtains mechanical licenses for your cover songs

* Revenue splitting. If you have multiple artists creating a song together (like collaborations) and all artists are owed revenue from the downloads, they can all sign up for Loudr accounts and Loudr will pay out the respective percentages to each artist. This is especially great for “YouTubers” who constantly collaborate on cover song videos.

+Watch Out Harry Fox, Loudr Is Coming For You

Worst:

* They only distribute to 7 outlets – the fewest of any company

* They take 15% commission. (If you want Loudr to clear cover songs and obtain the mechanical license for US downloads it’s 30% – just for US downloads though, it’s still 15% for streams/international downloads)

* Most of their features like iTunes pre-order setup and digital booklet creation you cannot do on the site, you have to work with a support member.

* They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to Loudr (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)
* They have passed off distribution to CD Baby and will be discontinuing their distribution services in the coming year. They WILL NOT, however, rip down your music though. So don’t worry about losing reviews or rankings. They will just transition your existing catalog to CD Baby’s reps for support.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 12.09.11 AM

I spoke with the co-founder Steve Norris, a self proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and a musician. They do not have direct partnerships with their outlets, but rather work through Interscope/Universal Music Group’s (UMG) distribution arm.

Best:

* They distribute to the most outlets by far. They are the only distributor that gets you to the same outlets UMG will. Other distributors built up direct relationships with retailers over the years, while Mondotunes just teamed up with UMG’s distributor who had these relationships already.

* No yearly fees

Worst:

* They threatened to sue me for calling out the fake, very pro-MondoTunes (and anti-others) comments on this report on Ari’s Take. Steve sent me a loooong 8 paragraph email trashing the other services (before I posted this review). The fact that they have to go out of their way to trash others and are so defensive makes me think they are hiding something serious.

* The look of their website. Their website is so ugly and unprofessional looking it may get some to disregard all their good features and run away fast. Seriously guys, get this shit updated ASAP! They need a logo upgrade and a graphic design artist and web programmer who understand how images work on the web (pixelated edges, sloppy logo, etc). Their toolbar looks like it is out of a 1997 Website Building for Dummies book. With how many artists they infer are signed up (they would not give me a number) they should have the money to seriously overhaul this sloppy site.  I have a guy if you’re looking.  Seriously.  Sorry for the rant, but come on, you’re competing with the big boys now.

* (Up to) 30 days to get on iTunes. Because they’re working through another distributor it takes them much longer to get releases out. They have set their release date (by default) to 30 days. Sometimes it’s quicker. Sometimes it’s longer. If you’d like to have it expedited (1-14 days guaranteed, it costs $25).

* They DO NOT pay 100% of net income (like they claim on their FAQ – awfully misleading).

Their distribution partner (they asked me to withhold name) takes 10% commission of net income from retailer. They have since updated their FAQ to mention this (only after my initial report came out and made mention of this clear, misleading omission).

reverbnation

I spoke with reps from ReverbNation twice. First with Ferol Vernon, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Artist Services, when I initially worked on this report for Ari’s Take (11/2013), and most recently for this updated report I spoke with the CEO, Mike Doernberg.

ReverbNation is a one stop shop, “all in one package” for new, young musicians. They don’t target established musicians and they have built up a huge network of bands just starting off who don’t know where to begin (their website boasts 3.56 million). RN tries to keep everything in house (email services, EPK, social media sync, etc), which is great for bands starting off, not good for more established, mid-level bands. They also do not have direct relationships with outlets but use INgrooves Fontana for distribution (like Mondotunes).

Doernberg explained to me the vision of ReverbNation and explained they are currently in a company transformation. Since I first posted this initial report on Ari’s Take, ReverbNation has updated many of their policies, price points and distribution outlets. I guess blogs can make a difference!

Best:

* Packages. For $19.95 a month they offer a mailing list service (up to 10,000 subscribers), free song downloads, the ability to submit to opportunities such as TV placements and festival slots, and distribution of 2 releases per year.

* Tons of Data. Because they have so many bands who have registered so many shows, they have a touring database built up (similar to indieonthemove.com) that can help bands find venues of similar size in multiple cities.

Worst:

* Everything a band sets up with ReverbNation is branded heavily with ReverbNation. It’s hard to operate independently from them in any respect.

* They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to ReverbNation (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)

* They are built for the beginning bands and don’t offer “professional” services for bands that outgrow the beginning model.

The newest company to this comparison review, however, not the newest company on the list. I added Symphonic because I’d been getting many questions from readers and felt I should check them out. Right off the bat, I’m impressed. I sat down with the founder and president, Jorge Brea. They are another boutique operation (like DistroKid and Loudr) and only have 15 employees.

Symphonic is one of the few distribution companies out there that caters more to EDM artists, DJs and Producers (but distributes artists of every genre).  This company was started in 2006 by Brea and now has a roster of over 15,000 artists and 3,500 labels.

Best:

* They do not take a commission

* No yearly fees

* They distribute to Beatport and Pandora

* Have a deal with the global not-for-profit independent digital rights agency, Merlin, which allows them special preference and benefits like Pandora/Beatport acceptance and higher royalty rates. Merlin bargains on behalf of their 20,000+ members (labels/distributors)

* They offer physical CD and Vinyl distribution (in part, powered by CD Baby). They have also partnered with Alliance Entertainment to get your records in shops around the world (must apply for this – not all are accepted).

* Symphonic has an opt-in admin pub service (they use Tunecore Publishing)

* Symphonic distributes to China and Korea.

Worst:

* High signup fees

* up to 2-3 weeks to get up in stores

* They don’t distribute cover songs (automatically). Their FAQ actually states they don’t. Period. But Jorge mentioned that they will if you write in and send the paper work. This is a lot of work, whereas other companies either do this for you or have a check box.

* Their slogan is “Become Major” which is misleading as every musician equates “major” with “major label.”

tunecore

I spoke with Chris Mooney, Senior Director of Artist Promotions and Strategic Relationships. That’s a mouthful. They are one of the biggest distributors and he mentioned that 1 in 3 artists playing SXSW this year was a Tunecore artist.

**Update 9/21/15 – Tunecore has been sold to Believe Digital.

Best:

* They do not take a commission

* iTunes, Spotify and Amazon MP3 Trend reports. You can see how much you sold on iTunes and Amazon (and streamed on Spotify) THE NEXT DAY. You still don’t get paid for a couple months, but this is a great way to see how a release is doing.

* Their backend stats are the best. They have better (more transparent) reporting of your sales, streams and demographics than any other service. Hands down.

* They’ve been around a long time and are proven. Like CD Baby, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Your releases (and reports) are safe!

* They have a publishing service linked up that you can read more about here.

Worst:

* Yearly fees

* Additional store costs. Every store they add after you initially sign up costs $2 to send your existing release to them. Or you can signup for their “Store Automator” for $10 per release to distribute to all future stores at no extra cost. Imagine my horror that releases I had with Tunecore from a few years ago were NOT sent out to a bunch of popular (newer) stores and now I owe over $150 to get it to them?! That’s great they continue to add stores. It’s super shitty they charge for each store. Ouch. No other company does this.

* High fees for most extra features

* They are now owned by Believe. I don’t trust Believe after what they did to Zimbalam artists once they acquired Tunecore (they made every UK artist take down all their releases – losing all reviews, ratings and playlists – and redistribute through Tunecore). Whose to say they won’t do the same to Tunecore artists down the line for another company they acquire? Or just directly through Believe.

zimbalam_logo

***Update 9-13-15
Zimbalam is shutting down.

+Believe Digital Acquires Tunecore

 

final_chart_10-3-16

Chart updated 10-3-2016

Terms from above chart:

Number of Outlets:

It’s very tough to get an accurate number from anyone. I got a (somewhat) complete list from Ditto, ReverbNation and Mondotunes, but they claimed they hit more stores than their list stated. All distributors said numbers fluctuate so much because many outlets are sub distributors (like Medianet and 24-7) who send your music to stores they are partnered with. The outlets listed on each distributors’ site are just the biggest. Mondotunes has by far the most (they hit most of Asia. Symphonic hits China and Korea). While Ditto seems to be a close second claiming they hit “all stores.” It seems CD Baby, Tunecore, Reverbnation and DistroKid send it to about the same places, while Loudr are very clear they only support the ones listed. At some point this numbers game got way too absurd.

More, though, isn’t necessarily better.

All distributors hit iTunes and Spotify worldwide.

AND REMEMBER, just because you’re in more stores doesn’t mean you’ll make more sales. You have to be able to promote to people who buy from those stores.

Commission:

How much the company takes of the net amount. Meaning, after iTunes takes their cut of 30%, these stores will take 0-30% of the remaining amount.

Signup Fee:

This is the fee the distributor charges to get your album distributed and covers the first year of distribution.

Yearly Fee:

This is the fee the distributor charges after the 1st year signup fee. CD Baby, Mondotunes, Symphonic and Loudr don’t have this, the others do.

Adding Stores:

All of the distributors are constantly bringing on more stores and outlets based on those that rise and fall in popularity (some shut down like turntable.fm and others pop up and take over the industry like Spotify). Only Tunecore charges per store they bring on. DistroKid has a Store Maximizer option to automatically add stores for a fee, or you can login and manually add each new store for free.

+What To Charge For Merch

iTunes Worldwide:

Every distributor sends it to iTunes in 100+ countries. It’s important for someone in Venezuela who falls in love with your YouTube video to be able to download it from iTunes.

Speed to iTunes:

Chris at Loudr used to work at iTunes and explained that “there’s no guarantee with Apple.” However, CD Baby and Zimbalam have proven to Apple that their content is up to Apple standards and they no longer get flagged for review. Apple randomly flags releases for review from all the other retailers and if your album gets flagged it can add an extra 16 days to get to iTunes, HOWEVER, any distributor can ask iTunes to expedite it by simply clicking a button on their end.

Takedown Cost:

The cost to remove your album from all digital retailers. Distributors used to charge for this, but thanks to this report, none do anymore. Boom! The power of transparency!

iTunes Pre-Order:

You know how you can buy some artists’ albums on iTunes for about a month before the release date and then get it at 12:01AM the day it’s released? That’s pre-order. Some companies offer “instant gratification” song(s) that customers can get the moment they pre-order the album. Some also are able to set the pre-order price different than the sale date price (like $7.99 pre-order vs. $9.99 day of).

YouTube content ID monetization program:

Will you get paid for your songs on YouTube. Be careful, though, no company should take a % of revenue generated from your videos on YOUR channel – both CD Baby and Tunecore’s affiliates do. Audiam does not. However, typically you can “whitelist” your channel with most YouTube monetization companies (however you then have to signup for Google’s ad service which is a headache).

And to clarify, no company REQUIRES YouTube monetization. These are all opt in add ons.

+11 Mistakes Every Young Band Makes

Digital Booklet in iTunes:

The ability to offer a PDF booklet that accompanies the album when it’s downloaded.

Pandora Submission:

You no longer need a physical CD to submit to Pandora! Hallelujah! Read more about how to submit to Pandora digitally (anyone can) here.

+How To See Your Listener Data On Pandora

Symphonic Distribution is the only company that will submit you directly to Pandora.

Custom Label Name:

All retailers want to know who the label is. If you don’t list one, the retailer will most likely default to the distributor name or the artist name. To have control over this create your own label name when distributing.

ISRC / UPC codes:

ISRC codes are identification codes encoded into the digital files (and in your CD – you should send these codes to your mastering engineer) that helps with tracking and charting. To register with Soundscan you need a UPC code. UPC bar codes are also necessary if you want to sell your CD/Vinyl in stores.

+How To Hire Freelance Musicians

Get Codes Before Upload:

Some mastering engineers like to encode the CD with the ISRC and UPC codes before sending the CD to replication. This ensures that all digital files will be encoded properly and chart accurately. Not being able to get the codes before you are able to upload the masters inhibits tracking. That being said, with sonic recognition software coming out and very few people importing CDs anymore, it’s not super necessary to encode the CD with these codes anymore, so don’t let this be the deciding factor on who you choose.

Soundscan Registration:

It’s free and super simple to do. Go to http://titlereg.soundscan.com/soundscantitlereg/ to do this. All digital retailers report their sales to Soundscan for chart placement. By registering your UPC on the Soundscan website it insures that the sales are tracked to the proper release (and artist). If your physical CDs are sold in physical stores (remember those?), those stores will report their sales as well based on your UPC code. Worth noting that Ditto’s “Chart Breaker Package” registers for worldwide charts (not just Soundscan).

Opt Out of Stores:

Some independent artists have territory specific record deals and cannot distribute their album independently in certain territories (like a deal with Universal UK – not US). It’s important to have this flexibility. You never know what lies ahead for your career.

Payment:

When payment will be in your bank account (or Paypal)

Payment Threshold:

How much you have to have in your distribution account before you can withdraw the money.

iTunes Reporting:

DistroKid, Tunecore, ReverbNation, Zimbalam and CD Baby are the only services that will let you know how your release is doing in iTunes day by day (Tunecore, DistroKid) or week by week (CD Baby, Zimbalam and ReverbNation). All the others will let you know when they get paid from iTunes 6-8 weeks later. Some have added Amazon, Spotify, Deezer trending reports as well.

Obtain License for Cover Songs:

If you want to releaser a cover you must obtain a license first. It’s kind of a headache, but you can do this from Harry Fox Agency, Loudr or Easy Song Licensing.

+ How To Legally Release Cover Songs

Customer Support Email Turnaround:

I tested all of this

Customer Support Phone:

Sometimes it’s important to get a response right away.

Conclusion

Clearly, there is no “best” service. MondoTunes and Ditto, though, are the worst. After MondoTunes trolled my comments board and threatened to sue me, I can comfortably put them in the “do not work with this company” category. And the Ditto CEO lashed out at me and threatened to sue me for asking a question. What is it with CEOs and a lawsuit power trip! I went into this review with absolutely no bias, but digging deep into these companies have really shown me their true colors. And Ditto and Mondo’s ain’t pretty. I’ll leave it at that.

+How To Guarantee Your Music Is Heard By A Film/TV Music Supervisor

As for the best?

Well, you have to decide what is best for your situation. Distrokid is best for constant creators; for those who don’t work in album cycles, but create music all on their own and want to put it out in the world immediately. Loudr is ideal for cover artists, collaborators and those who don’t want to pay any upfront fees. CD Baby and Tunecore are great for all their extra features and because they’ve been in the game for so long. Symphonic has a deal with Merlin, so they get some special benefits. ReverbNation is good for beginning artists who like everything bundled together with the utmost guidance. Where do you belong?

It’s also worth mentioning that Mondotunes and Ditto took swings at the other companies when chatting with me. Props to the others for only talking about the companies they represent. This isn’t a political election!

If you have any questions, comments or experiences with any of these companies please list them in the comments.

+CD Baby Pro vs. Tunecore Publishing (The Full Report)

 

Ari Herstand is the author of How To Make It in the New Music Business, a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

 

How To Make It In The New Music Business by Ari Herstand

222 Responses

  1. JTVDigital

    Hi Ari,
    This is a great comparison table but once again you mainly focused on US-based distributors (only Ditto is from the UK)
    There are plenty of other companies in Europe offering the same or similar services, covering the same range of digital retail stores worldwide, sometimes with lower or at least a different pricing model.
    Thanks,

    Reply
  2. Hmmmm

    Well this just seems like a joke as you have left out the 2 biggest players in Europe! Believe Digital and RouteNote.

    They both offer much better options for indie artists then all of the companies above. I would only class Tunecore and CDBaby as the only serious companies on your list. Everyone else has limited models and just basic distribution with no real support for indie artists!

    What a waste of time!

    Reply
    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      ” I also left out distribution companies who only work with labels (like The Orchard). Any artist can signup to any of these distribution companies without having to be approved.”

      I encourage everyone to read this report before commenting. There’s a lot of info here. Believe requires a submission process and primarily only works with labels.

      RouteNote (according to their site) only distributes to 5 digital outlets (like Loudr) and requires no up front or recurring fees and takes 15% (like Loudr), however they do not secure licenses for cover songs – like Loudr does. And their payment threshold is $50 – the highest.

      What is RouteNote bringing to the table that is better than every service listed in this report? They don’t work with Beats or Google Play – two very important outlets.

      They were left out of this report because I didn’t get requests to review them and when I looked into them I didn’t feel they added anything to the discussion.

      Reply
  3. Shannon

    Great summary! I am with Tunecore and I pretty happy with them. I don’t necessarily want all the extra stores so those fees don’t concern me that much. The yearly fees get a bit steep though. $49 per album/ep every year. I personally make more selling directly through Bandcamp but it’s good to have a presence elsewhere.
    Thanks for this!

    Reply
  4. jake

    this aren’t the “best” companies!!!

    where are services like rebeat, feiyr, believedigital and labelworx?

    Reply
    • Alberto M.

      feiyr is the worst Digital Distribution Company ever .. but really think labelworx should be on this list

      Reply
  5. Virginia Taylor

    Nice attempt but you’ve missed the board on accuracy and contenders. Who are some of these guys?! The best question here maybe which one of these companies is paying you to boast them???
    These guides are ok but Artists are better off doing their own research.

    Reply
    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      Hi Virginia, I spent over 60 hours putting this report together. None of these companies have given me a dime to praise them.

      I originally posted this on my blog, Ari’s Take. I am an independent artist who did this research (for free) and decided to share it with other independent artists. It happens to now appear on Digital Music News as well, but I hope you can trust my integrity as an artist. I’m just looking for answers. Instead of keeping them all to myself I decided to share them and help other artists.

      Again, no company is paying me. I don’t care who the “winner” is to you. And that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t state a clear winner. Every artist’s situation is different and hopefully this report will help you decide who the best distributor is for you.

      It’s impossible to review every digital distributor in the world, but when I did my initial research these were the companies that came up the most from other musicians I spoke with (and tweeted me).

      I absolutely encourage you to do your own research as well and if you find ANY discrepancies please let me know and I will investigate and correct them.

      I’m curious to know how I “missed the board on accuracy.” I fact checked this report with every company. So if anything is not correct, then the company either provided false information to me or has since changed their policies (as of 5/29/14).

      Reply
      • JTVDigital

        You missed almost all European distributors.
        And Ditto is not the biggest at all (and probably the most expensive)

        Reply
          • JTVDigital

            Zimbalam (Believe Digital), Rebeat, JTV Digital, Feiyr, RouteNote, MusicKickup, Awal (Kobalt), Wiseband, iMusician…etc…etc.

            Also in the US & rest of the world: Venzo Digital, Catapult, SymphonicDistribution…etc..etc.

            Just use Google and type ‘digital distribution’, and don’t stop to page 1.

            Unless ‘Best’ meant ‘who are the digital distributors spending the most in AdWords and SEO’

          • Federico Angel

            Thanks for info buddy. But one question, if they are digital distributors that lives in a digital ecosystem, dont you think that a good job in google SEO and ad words talks very good of the ones that appear in the first page of search and not so good of the ones that doesnt think SEO is important when they charge and live as company obviously by digital interaction…

      • Shae

        Thanks Ari for all your hard work! Folks always got something to complain about. They don’t think about someone taking time out of their life to try and help them.

        I am new to all this stuff and my brain is aching from my attempt to understand all this publishing stuff in a very quick period of time. I have a major artist who want to record a song I co-wrote and we are confused ast to what to do. Who do you all recommend for PRO? Then what else do we do after that; who else should we sing up for to collect publishing royalties? We are in a crunch for time as the recording happens around the end of the month. Thanks for everything!

        Reply
      • Shae

        I hope my questions don’t annoy you all, but I could really use some help understand the world of publishing music. I have a song to be released through Universal by a success / established artist. My co-writer and myself need to get set up to get the publishing / writer royalties. What do we need to do? It would appreciate names of companies instead of general references. Thanks, so much! Oh, and what do we need to do to get the publisher royalty? Can we set up without an LLC or Corp?

        Reply
      • zbre shante

        Well I appreciate you ARI. I am too a musician, actress and model from the Midwest, Indianapolis. Artist Name Zbre’ Shante’ Just moved to Hollywood as well: As I work on branding myself as an artist and tackling this independent artist journey your research has been very helpful.Thank You very much. God Bless You!

        Reply
      • Hakon Soreide

        Very good and useful article. In combination with the comments, however, it sounds that there are lots of rogues about, and the more I read about distribution companies, the more I feel like settling for BandCamp and YouTube and sorting out the contentID and royalty collecting societies myself. As an interesting aside, of course, most songs ever uploaded to digital markets don’t sell. Not at all. And a further load of them never make their creators more than it cost to get them there. Perhaps the top 5% make a profit, if that.

        The moral of the story, whatever you do, is of course never do it for the money. Do it because music is your passion. And make sure you keep your day job.

        Reply
  6. John Dunbar

    I hope that I never have to travel anywhere with you, and you are reading the map.GOOD GOD! You ramble on incessantly about nothing, hence, ending up nowhere. Do us all a favor and Get a job at McDonalds. (Remind me no to eat there.)

    Reply
  7. Jota

    Is Tunecore reliable? Is there any guarantee that they don’t take a cut?

    Reply
    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      They are reliable. I’ve distributed with them in the past and have seen the reports. It’s public knowledge that iTunes takes 30%. So of a .99 download in the Tunecore reports it lists $.693.

      If any artists have had payout discrepancies I’ve never heard about it. That would get attention.

      Reply
      • Jota

        How can I be sure that they (or any other who says the artist keeps 100%) don’t manipulate the sales reports before it gets to the artist’s hands? Just wondering…

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          How do you know the gas, phone, electric, company aren’t ripping you off too?

          Or a label for that matter?

          Reply
  8. CJ

    Where’s all the digital sheet music reviews? Do you folks only listen? Doesn’t anyone read music anymore?!

    Reply
  9. Jay

    Interesting and useful to a point. My issue with every comparison like this is that these companies generally represent slight variations on the same model, which is designed with individual artists in mind.

    There are other ways to get content onto these services and labels need guidance on which route might be right for them.

    Reply
    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      On the contrary, I included Distrokid and Loudr because they have drastically different models than what has been the status quo for years. They definitely aren’t the biggest, but I felt they brought something very different to the table and were praised (and used) by big players in the industry.

      There are of course others I missed, but this covers a wide swath of the digital distribution industry (for independent artists – not labels).

      Maybe we’ll do a comparison on distributors for indie labels next.

      Reply
      • MarkoGiacomo

        Thank you for the amazing job done!!! i would like to know any information for Indie Labels, cuz i got one and want to distribute my songs so which is the best company for me?

        Reply
      • mike

        After reading this I went with Loudr. At first I got responses to my questions (emails) but no longer. The 4 albums I have got to iTunes etc, but do not show up on the Loudr.fm site when I search for them.
        So – have you done any more looking into Loudr? On changed to the above report?
        Just curious.
        Thanks,
        mike

        Reply
      • Lewis Teer

        With symphonic recently, your report helped me choose but also done my own research. Working with a label that distributes through them, so costs me nothing at all and the label take a % as normal. Notice quite a few small labels working well like this but this is my first release in this way so only time will tell. check out RatRace – Fidget btw, out now everywhere 😉

        Reply
  10. Steve Maciel

    Thank you for this great comparison! It comes to me at the exact time that I need it. We are about to do a digital re-release for the 15th anniversary of our Hunger Benefit Compilation; “The Time Is Now – To End Hunger”.

    Sorry if I missed it some where in the posts or comments – Is there any experience out there with doing a benefit release where all the profits from the download will go to non-profits?

    Thanks in advance. I don’t have the re-release announcement on our webpage yet, though those interested in our ‘1 of 52’ Hunger Network campaign, visit here: http://www.1of52.net

    Reply
  11. KevinC

    Mondotunes and Universal both use the same INDEPENDENT distributor which is INGrooves.Mondotunes is no distributor but just a glorified virtual label skimming submission fees of the top and charges promo fees for spammy posts all over the net.Nearly every good thing said about them on the net is a Mondo spam post.

    JTV Digital.
    What has happened with your Juno releases? It looks like Juno has removed you as a distributor.Maybe it is best you are not in that list.

    Reply
    • JTVDigital

      We try to focus on services that make sales. It wasn’t the case here.

      Reply
    • Maxwell

      Interesting theory Kevin but that would be the same as saying every negative comment about a distributor is a competitor. Lets call it what it is. All these distributors are battling for our business and they all care about being profitable. We’re all going to see negative and positive comments every which way. I wouldn’t depend on strangers word online without sniffing it out myself. know how many times i read good or bad review about a restaurant and totally thought the opposite? I am surprised at the extend this blogger went to bash them. I used Mondotunes for releasing and marketing solo stuff. Done right for me. Just contact different distributors and see what fits you as an artist. Don’t write awful songs and you should be just fine.

      Reply
  12. Zach Hurd

    Ari,

    Thank you so much for this great layout. I’m in the midst of releasing a new album and all of this info has been a great help in deciding where to take it.
    You clearly dedicated a lot of time and energy to this project. I don’t usually post comments on these things but I feel compelled to let you know what a great job you’re doing.

    Keep up the great work and many thanks again! *Sad to see some of these harsh/negative comments.

    Reply
      • Kensie

        Thanks for all the work you did and sharing. I was in the midst of trying to figure it all out myself and you made it so much easy. I’ll look into what others suggested. Much appreciated!

        Reply
  13. FarePlay

    Very valuable. Too bad there wasn’t more feedback from other artists actually using these services instead of disgruntled vendors. Those who were upset may have fared better if they had gotten in touch with Ari through his website and asked to be included in a future updated post.

    Thanks for your time and research.

    Reply
  14. Jeff

    Great article !! However you missed one great company, “The Orchard”. They’ve been around for a long time and is a great company. Many outlets. Take a look at them !!!

    Reply
    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      ” I also left out distribution companies who only work with labels (like The Orchard). Any artist can signup to any of these distribution companies without having to be approved.

      Reply
  15. DadyRoc Da GreenApe

    Thanks this chart was very helpful. I just wondered which distributor had the best community of artist. Like I know on reverbnation you can actively communicate with members, I wonder is these others distributors are that open?

    Reply
  16. mdti

    Seen on Loudr site: i don’t get how it works, I mean, if the license is 1 million, it’s gonna be long before there is any interest to “sell” the cover.

    >>>
    Loudr is thrilled to be the first platform to offer streamlined cover song licensing for $0 upfront. We pay the publishers behind the scenes as your sales roll in – saving you time, effort, and money.
    >>>

    It sounds cool though, I just wonder how they can get all the licenses, because sometimes, the label asks for crazy prices.

    Reply
  17. Niels

    For my band we have been using Songflow. Too bad it isn’t featured in this article.
    They have a great service, is easy to use and do great support!

    Reply
  18. John

    I can’t see why you haven’t included Spinnup, Universal Music’s distribution service for unsigned bands and artists. Been using it for a while, it’s great, even though it was launched pretty recently (about a year ago I think).

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    A lot of people keep mentioning The Orchard but how does an independent band or musician release music through The Orchard?

    Reply
  20. cautionx10x

    Tunecore is not my cup of tea—-great chart and write up…I found Horus Music in the UK it’s free to launch an album but they take 20%—-Ari can you do an article on streaming royalties? I joined BMI but I am still confused as to how I collect my streams…I have over 30,000 song plays online so what what I get back on that?

    Reply
      • AudioGuy

        Hey great article and very helpful in finding some stores that I didn’t know existed. I use TuneCore my but Loudr has peeked my interest with there auto licensing for cover songs. I’m curious if you gave any thought to this but I’m trying to figure out what’ the correct math equation to figure out which distributer you would maximize your profits with. If you have big sales that paying one time fees might end up being cheaper the letting one of these companies take a cut.

        Reply
        • AudioGuy

          sorry meant to post this in the main comment area not as a response to your comment.

          Reply
      • Tony

        Post number 76 tells ’bout CDBabe and Tunecore Publishing differences. I can not find anything about “Horus Music” even using “search” on aristake.com
        Please, couldn’t You drop a valid link?

        Reply
  21. AudioGuy

    Hey great article and very helpful in finding some stores that I didn’t know existed. I use TuneCore my but Loudr has peeked my interest with there auto licensing for cover songs. I’m curious if you gave any thought to this but I’m trying to figure out what’ the correct math equation to figure out which distributer you would maximize your profits with. If you have big sales that paying one time fees might end up being cheaper the letting one of these companies take a cut.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

    Thank you very much for providing extremely useful information to a father trying to sort out this mess of music distribution for a teenage musician son. As I research this (music) industry, after more than thirty years as CEO of two international corporations, I find that it is a nasty dysfunctional mess that I am so sorry my son wants to become a part of. His talent and passion will likely go unnoticed and unpaid until the fire within him fizzles out. What a shame. I truly feel for all you wonderful artists. I wish you could share your talents with me easily and profitably, but alas, that seems to be a pipe dream!

    Reply
    • Anonymous 2;)

      Dear Anonymous;
      Some suggestions:
      1. CD Baby. Use them for “physical” distribution only. (they’ll only charge you $4 a CD and it’s a solid web presence). It’s a half decent place to build a web site also. I personally prefer Bandzoogle.com for sites.
      2. Distrokid. Use for digital distribution. Only check off Spotify and iTunes. Don’t check off Amazon (once it streams there – forget it!). Whatever you do, don’t check off YouTube. Google is like a giant squid.
      3. Apply to Pandora – it’s longwinded, but it’s the only way. Tim pays. They’re all suing him but he’ll pay you!
      4. Have a presence on Soundcloud but whatever goes up there is “gone” i.e. forget copyright, choose w/ care.
      5. Registere him with BMI as a songwriter and a Publisher but everything should go in from the pov of a songwriter. (assuming he writes his own music – applies to #5 & 6)
      6. Register his publishing company with the Harry Fox Agency. (the one and only decent establishment left standing – I think?)
      7. Copyright his music (From SR-full album can be done online for $45) at the US copyright office.
      8. Truth is, everyone who is supposed to be representing musicians is resume building. No one and I mean “no one” is watching out for us, which is exactly why we need the arts more than ever. Think of it, a civilized society without that balance!
      Truth to power has never been needed more…. May your son’s fire continue to burn!

      JFK says it so much better:
      http://www.wbur.org/2013/11/20/kennedy-frost-champions-arts

      Reply
  23. BRYAN SANDERS

    This is my recent communication with Sara from billing with ReverbNation, regarding my inability to access my account. If you guys have any thoughts or suggestions. I would be grateful.

    Sara (ReverbNation)
    Jun 18 01:39 PM
    Hi Bryan,
    Unfortunately we cannot process transactions from suspended accounts. I apologize for the inconvenience.
    Regards,
    Sara
    Billing Representative
    BRYAN SANDERS
    Jun 18 11:44 AM
    Of course I contacted my bank and reported fraud on you!I paid for a service, I was charged for a service that ReverbNation was unable to provide; Or, unwilling to process and follow through.It was a week of Facebook promotion, the parameters were defined. And my card WAS charged.The activation dates were not met, my card was charged. Once I requested a refund, my request was not processed in time manner that met my satisfaction. So for a transaction that was paid for, but serviced not received. I instructed my bank to regard the transaction as fraudulent.Only after that did I receive my refund, and still. My request for Facebook promotion service was never processed and cost me a value promotional instrument at a critical time in the cycle of my project.The account can remain locked indefinitely because in two years of membership, I found the service to be of no use.If possible, you may credit any remaining balances for services I have paid for back to my account.Thank you.
    Regards,Bryan Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:05:17 +0000
    Sara (ReverbNation)
    Jun 17 09:05 AM
    Hi Bryan,
    Did you, at any point, contact your bank (or Pay Pal) to claim that charges from ReverbNation were unauthorized? If so, this is considered a “charge-back”, and once we receive notice of a charge-back we must suspend the profile from which the charges came.
    In order to get your account back active, you must reach out to your bank (or Pay Pal) in the same fashion as you did when filing the charge-back, and let them know that the charges were NOT unauthorized.
    If you did not make a charge-back dispute, then that means that someone else did, and this suggests that the cardholder did not approve of transactions coming from your ReverbNation account which is considered “fraud”. Thus, the account must remain suspended for the protection of all parties.
    If you did make the dispute, and wish to continue to resolve the issue with your bank or PayPal, then your ReverbNation account will remain suspended for violation of our Terms & Conditions and your bank / PayPal will handle your issue according to their policies as they see fit.
    Let me know if you have any more questions.
    Regards,
    Sara
    Billing Representative
    BRYAN SANDERS
    Jun 16 05:12 PM
    Hello,
    Wanted to know information, unable to access account. Thanks.bryansanders/reverbnation.com

    Reply
  24. Maria Valencia

    Believe Digital is a joke. They claim most of the copyrighted content from Africa on YouTube and pockets the Google Ad proceeds without paying African content creators. One can view their public French profile and they only have a share capital of 222 860 euros or $293,990 and they haven’t filed a public financial report since 2008. A petition is filed at the White House to sanction them for appropriating royalties from the Congo. See http://wh.gov/lSssK

    Source: http://www.societe.com/societe/believe-481625853.html

    Reply
  25. J. Defoe

    Very useful report and much appreciated. It not only helps me judge the services you reviewed, but also thew the features I should check for in other services.

    As another European, I worry about the issues of payment to non US residents – I know there are tax issues etc, which cause delays and even non payments. I wanted to ask if you knew anything about two other European services I’ve been looking at: Songflow (Netherlands) and recordJet (Germany)?

    Many thanks.

    Reply
  26. Skyebeka

    Great article. I would’ve liked to see how Catapult compared to the distributers in the list. I use Catapult and I’m very happy with the service. Their distribution is very wide.

    Reply
  27. Catalina

    You’re so interesting! I don’t suppose I’ve read
    through anything like this before. So wonderful to find somebody with a few genuine thoughts on this
    subject. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is
    something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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    Reply
  28. Lashawn

    I think that everything said made a great deal of sense.
    However, what about this? suppose you typed a catchier title?

    I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your blog, however suppose you added something that grabbed a
    person’s attention? I mean Want To Know Who The Best Digital Distribution Company Is?

    – Digital Music NewsDigital Music News is a little
    vanilla. You might glance at Yahoo’s front page and note how they
    create news titles to grab viewers to click. You might add a video or a related picture or two to grab people interested about everything’ve got
    to say. Just my opinion, it would make your website a little bit more interesting.

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    Reply
  29. Maryellen

    Fabulous, what a web site it is! This webpage gives valuable facts to
    us, keep it up.

    บทความของฉันหน้าแรกทีเด็ดบอลวันนี้

    Reply
  30. Musa

    Thanks Ari for such an amazing revelation!I’m a South African trying to be part of the global market. Asap

    Reply
  31. Tara

    Thank you for the data! It’s muchly appreciated to have everything compiled right here instead of fumbling over multiple internet tabs to try to locate this data. This is a great article. Thank you. 🙂

    Reply
  32. Jerald Pritt

    I am with TuneCore… Yes its expensive. Is it worth it… Not sure yet… My biggest complaint is how streaming music does not pay any royalties. It’s all about the amount of streaming vs revenue vs this and that… which then equals to $0.00 on payout. I’m hear to make money… NOT to give my music away for free. The top artist doesn’t do this so why should “myself” as a “Not so Famous” person.
    My motto “If its played; I get payed” simple as that… I have seen it on ITunes streaming, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora.. etc., everyplace that does streaming uses the same excuse of a calculation of not paying the artists..

    Overall I spent a lot of money and made.. less than $25… sometimes I think these sites are just in it for the money and can care less about helping the artists.

    I think every artist needs to “BOYCOTT” sending their music to non-paying streaming sites. “Period”

    Reply
    • esol esek

      This is a trend that is happening across content. It includes the theft of writing, photography, other visual art, video and music. It seems the only option is to perform your music, give it to college and other forms of radio, and sell your own product. I’m thinking one sacrificial lamb of a great song to streaming just for the promotion, even though if your best songs get the most play, you’ll never see a dime.

      So far, the only approach seems to be not to play the game, which isn’t an answer. Personally, i think a bunch of these geek tech CEO/thieves should be brought up on charges, possibly summary justice in the street, but aggressive legal tactics that are being commenced by sharks like Irving Azoff and the people who shut down Pirate Bay is what it’s going to take. Someone will figure real ‘monetization’ out (YT has NOT), and we’ll get out of these dark ages, I surely hope. Honestly, someone at Google really deserves to be erased. That company is pure thievery and invasion across the board. They are utterly about themselves. So much for generation wonderful. You deserve the apocalypse, since you’re already bent over for it.

      Reply
  33. Ruth

    My opinion is that AMAdea Music is better from all of the mentioned services. They do offer free distribution instead of charging you fees or subscriptions and on top of that they withhold only 10% of your royalties. They have great customer support as well. Worth trying this service.

    Reply
    • Brian D. Fowler

      I’ve been wondering about AMAdea Music. They have a nice looking website but seem to omit some
      information there in their faq’s. I wrote them an email and did get a fairly fast responce.
      Free signup looks like but not much on the web about them.

      Reply
  34. Michael

    Hi Ari,

    Thanks a lot for your time and revelation. I have one question. Do these companies work best for the artists based in South Africa..??

    Reply
  35. Dj AaronzoTD

    Hie guys, I wanted to know about Horus Digital Music. I have not herd much of them. Are they reliable? Am so concern and confused to which one should I pick on these no fee -percent. Am with them for 2 and half month already. Mr Ari!

    Reply
  36. Jathiere Romain

    I’ve use Songflow.
    Make 2 songs.. have withdraw… (like 50€..)

    Since 3 weeks, i’m waiting a 700€’s withdraw… No anwser or lazy anwser “plz wait..”
    i give us proof (creenshot etc)
    , i ALWAY use Paypal, and sudenly they said me i use a bank account to receive my withdraw…I NEVER USE IT !!

    i’m still waiting Mario van Reeuwijk phone call… “tomorrow” … (11/17/2014….)

    Reply
  37. Bill R

    I have used Reverbnation, CD Baby and I do not like being nickel and dimed and sent through hoops to get music worldwide. Musicians are getting screwed and it is not right at all. Why do they make it so hard and so expensive? Musicians are desperate to get noticed and to make money and these companies are taking advantage of us. Distrokid seems like a breath of fresh air in this distribution nightmare. I am seriously going to look into their service.

    Reply
  38. Michael

    Ari, what’s your opinion of Adadea? Did you research them at all? I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.
    Thanks for all the work!

    Reply
  39. Cool Breeze

    Direct-To-Store: Artists can distribute directly to several outlets like Amazon (via CreateSpace) and Google Play (via Artist Hub), BandCamp, and you can monetize on YouTube yourself as well as SoundCloud. It is worth mentioning that many music stores on the Web now allow independent musicians to do this on their own (even though they make it complicated), and I predict this is a future trend that in the near future, there will not be a need for a distributor at all (except maybe to get your music into the almighty iTunes still).

    Reply
    • esol esek

      You can kiss your work goodbye if you give it to Amazon or Google streaming. Apple is coming next. Beatport just joined the raping. THe best way for an artist to sell their music these days is prob to sacrifice one good song to streaming, and then hold all the rest for college radio etc. There’s just so much to be lost giving your music to streaming. I wish this website would discuss what happens when artists get some footholds via streaming, and then request their music be pulled from the streaming. Do the contracts allow this, and is it honored?

      Reply
  40. UK house

    The major flaw with Distrokid (& maybe others too?) is that they can’t do compilation albums (under various artist names) As a label this is just ridiculous. They say there’s a ‘workaround..sort of’ in that you put everything under one ‘artist’ name errrr…hold on…this defeats the point of a various artist compilation album!! C’mon get this sorted! Otherwise this the service/setup/site is great.

    Reply
    • Miguel

      Plus, DistroKid does not allow any African musicians who sing in their original language. If you work with African musicians and release music from Africa, forget DistroKid.

      Reply
  41. Christian Nartatez

    Hello Ari, I am an artist from Venezuela, I did learn interesting things through your research and post and encourage you to keep doing it, for example the loudr and route note kind of similar service, I sign up with Route Note and didn’t knew anything about loudr, now that it seems they work the same I would choose Loudr. Well, at least I learn that with your post. Now, I have a question, giving the circumstances that I am a beginner in music production does work far better with me to stick with reverbnation instead route note or loudr? I am asking because I am just starting to distribute my first single and I choosed the Route Note because of the no upfront payment, since I am starting, then its easier to actually pay for the service when you have something in the pocket you know what I mean right?, but I am not a band, I am just an independent Guitar Player Music Composer and Producer who works with instrumental rock and world style themed songs. In this case does reverbnation keep coming better than loudr or route note even if I am not a band?. Upfront thanks for the answers and your post is excellent. Keep it up.

    Reply
  42. W. Grove

    Amadea has been good to us so far! Free set-up, fast distribution, efficient service and low/fair commission are some attributes to speak of. We went to Amadea after trying CD Baby (horrible since D.S. left) and then Mondotunes (technical errors and high cost). We suggest checking out AmadeaMusic.com

    Reply
  43. Reggmail

    Thanks for all of the great honest non-biased work that you did Ari. Also in standing up to their threats.
    I’m a music producer song writer who also does video’s and only need Distribution.
    This whole Digital distribution thing is crazy. Like record companies are you end up getting screwed one way or the other. I tried a temp 30 day’s trial deal with Rev Nation and didn’t get any additional views other than what I did myself. Then they tried to charge me $20.00 for doing nothing. I Immediately stopped payment from PayPal. I don’t trust none of these companies having access to my Bank account.
    Then they had the nerve to close my account with them like they was hurting me, but it was a favor.. actually they shoot themselves in the foot..Lol. Then you have another company, tunecore that charges more the next year if you stay with them for an additional year.. shouldn’t the price get lower or are they punishing you for staying with them? Don’t make sense to me.. well anyway. We are the creators, so it’s 100% yours from the beginning. It’s your decision how to get distribution, it’s your choice and your are the CEO of your creation. Just remember that, and hire wisely. Air, you deserve more than $1.00 ( Please continue this topic also on Youtube because it’s always changing. Thanks to everyone (who is legitimate costumers and not a company planted spammers) ”we know who you are” who also contributed knowledge about the good and bad Digital Distribution sights. Keep this going. Peace & blessings.

    Reply
  44. Dean

    Hey Ari,
    I really enjoyed your article. I am starting a label and the amount of buzz you created through the responses as well as your original research jettisoned my research so much more. Now i am following your blog. Keep it up.

    Reply
    • Rohan

      Im an unsigned artist and managed to get a AWAL distribution deal a few years ago for a single i did. They were good and gave monthly reports etc.. not that I made any money.

      Recently I tried to get another distribution deal from another project I am doing with a different name and was rejected with the following message: “We appreciate your interest in AWAL, Unfortunately, we cant accept you at this time, we’re dedicated to providing the best tools and services for independent artists who will benefit from our model. If you have further developed your digital presence and release plans in the next 6-12 months, we encourage you to apply again for membership.”

      I guess they want to see that you have some sort of following online and on social media etc…

      Reply
  45. GinaK

    Thanks so much for sharing!!!
    You just saved me so much time!!!
    Hope everyone else in the market is as lucky to find this at the beginning of their hunt 🙂

    Reply
  46. Ted

    As a mid-level artist I absolutely hate Reverberation spamming every one on my mailing list to promote themselves. After paying for their “pro” services, I shut it down within a week.

    I seem to make a good money stream from Tunecore but they do cost more. I’ve concluded that they are probably worth it after dealing with CDBaby though. CDBaby has horrible customer service. I can ask a question 15 times and they will be like a dog chasing its tail with their circular answers that have nothing to do with the question I asked. I seriously don’t think they read the questions before answering, which can take days.

    Reply
    • Consuelo

      Hi many thanks for your awsome article, it really did help trying to decide which digital distributor to choose. I’m going with Distrokid!
      All the best,
      Consuelo

      Reply
  47. Ian

    Any feedback on symphonic distribution? I found them doing a random search. The rates seem better than some of the sites listed here, and they have a huge list of services they distribute to. I haven’t really seem them in any current reviews like this though (only in some old ones dating back to 2009). Thanks.

    Reply
    • Miguel

      DistroKid does not accept any music from African artists who sing in their original languages. So, if anyone works with African musicians, forget DistroKid. They do not tell you this in advance – you only find out after paying for it. So, it is a big NO from me to DistroKid.

      Reply
  48. Dave

    What an excellent report!!

    I currently use Ditto. I’ve only ever released one song as a ‘test’ of their services, back in 2013. My, how things can add up very quickly; and that’s even trying to use ‘discount’ codes that you buy upfront. Must admit, they have upgraded their website a great deal since when I tried to navigate their website artist section back in 2013!

    It took them 3 months to setup my ‘label’, which turns out to be a imprint; and registered to Ditto, so is it even mine?? The mobile text code to download the song as a ringtone, lol, that took a year, (Yes, a whole year) to be setup!!

    On their website switch to the new brand spanking look, they claimed everything would take a day or so to move to the new system, bearing in mind they had 1000’s of accounts to move; and as such, we all had to submit support tickets for missing sales data/artwork, etc. Strange thing for me, I had no sales data (usually just saw spotify), or artwork. However, on submission of the ticket, a massive list of stores appeared. I sent them an update to say I could see everything! Clearly, there was a glitch in the old system, not displaying all the stores data, but, the next morning, the sales data was back to displaying just spotify!!

    Months on, I still don’t see the artwork image in my dashboard for the released song. I guess it’s gone for good. Spotify sales are appalling; and I know others have bought my track via other stores, so where is the sales data?? Ditto’s Facebook account was hammered with negative (and some, positive) comments during the switchover. Now, I don’t see anything negative – moderated posts, maybe??

    On saying the above, they do seem to be changing again; and I’d like to make you aware, that Ditto are currently launching a new service ‘Ditto Plus’ at a discounted price of £49 p/Year, until 1st April 2015, then the price shall increase to £79 p/Year, so they are telling people to buy now, to ‘lock-in’ the discounted rate!

    http://www.dittomusic.com/unlimited-free-itunes-music-distribution-ditto-plus?utm_source=Ditto+Music+%28Website%29+USA&utm_campaign=f90d2c5daf-US_Dittoplus_up_sell3_17_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8099b56220-f90d2c5daf-151732413

    This means, if you take up the service you pay the one yearly fee, instead of the current individual fee for each single/album, meaning you can upload many, many tracks (…and copy all those other singles/albums into the one account – no more individual fees for each release!!). They still have their bolt-on additional services, ie PPL registration for the tracks,registration into the various Worldwide charts/Billboard charts, text keyword, barcode generation, etc. An all-in chart registration for UK/USA/AUS, sms keyword and pre-release pro, costs £79. If you don’t want that, fair enough, but the bolt-ons for PPL (£15), and others (see link below) may be beneficial for some, costing each release between £23 and £102 depending on what you add to each release. Of course, you don’t need any bolt-ons and then get your music in 200 stores (although I’ve never found a list of any of them on this new website.

    So now, after reading your report; and others comments, I’m wondering, do I go for that £49 flat yearly fee, or do I go to something like Bandcamp or Distrokid, which both seem like worthy companies to use?? *scratches head*

    Reply
  49. Charity

    Thank you so much for this. God bless you. It must have taken a lot of effort, dedication, kindness, and time to research and write this piece. This is a very constructive and objective look at Music Distribution companies in a way that is very helpful to the Artist especially, for those who are somewhat new to the Industry.

    Again, thank you very much.
    Charity

    Reply
  50. Chumley

    Has anyone ever tried http://symphonicdistribution.com/ ?

    They are at #1 on Google when doing a search a Music Distribution and was wondering if anyone has any experience with them.

    Also they seem to have really good prices on Vevo channel creation for indie artists so that’s the main reason I’m asking.

    Reply
  51. HalciemRoemble

    Hi Aris, THanks for your hard work and dedication to bringing out facts to the newbies like me. I was very much informed by your report, and your updates. Great work! Any thing to offer on Symphonic before I move ahead?

    Reply
  52. Ayana

    Thank you for taking the time to conduct this research. Great job!!!

    Reply
  53. Anonymous

    Your article is chatty and superficial. It leaves out critical info. Chris Langdon

    Reply
  54. Martin

    It has been my experience that… CD Baby refuses to send statements of account and royalties (as required by U.S. © Law) to all copyright holders listed on music submitted to them.

    When signing up songs with CD Baby, only a single e-mail contact and bank account is allowed therefore, all statements and royalties are sent to the one recipient listed and any other co-writers receive nothing.

    CD Baby states, all issues must be handled by the American Arbitration Association however, despite receiving a judgement by the A.A.A. in my favor against CD Baby, I have still received nothing.

    Reply
  55. Gleiber pinho

    Once I produced a CD to band, my experiences was only with vinil era in another country. I decided sent couple copies to CDbaby (very beginning of this company) and following all rules, as I remember after they sell 3 cds (i don`t remember very well) they start pay right after the 4 one. Friends bought the 3 first, the rest (a minimal they asked) toke long to be sold. After about two years they wrote me saying “Eureka open champgne sold out send more” The band was disrupted already, They insisted they sent me money to my address but it returned because the postman could not find the address and asking me to confirm it. I did and I was in the same address but i got the same message every time. I never got a penny. Scam? hard to say.

    Reply
  56. Show Me The Money

    Can anyone offer any knowledge on symphonic distribution?

    Reply
  57. Carl "WolvOfficial" Schultz

    Hey Guys!
    I’m would consider myself to be a seasoned producer, and have tried my fair share of distribution companies. I really like CDBABY, but they are a little too pricy for me. Now, i’m really interested in Loudr.com because of their prices. I mean, it’s literally free to submit to stores!!! whoah! This is great for me because i’m in a financial road bump right now, and am sitting on at least two albums…ready to be released. It’s a miracles that I stumbled upon loudr.com Also, I really enjoy their split revenue system that they have going on; totally genius. Thanks for the excellent blog post. Huge fan!

    Respectfully,
    Carl “WolvOfficial” Schultz

    Reply
  58. David

    anyone interested in “loudr” because they’re free ? don’t be ! i asked them a very important question but they never answered… is this a company that you can trust ?

    Reply
  59. MTGray

    The review by ARI was well put and fair in script.
    as for indie artist some these distributors play peanuts
    and by digital number tricks give you false number
    and bad accounting. Still excellent article

    Reply
  60. John Qpublic

    As of June 8th 2015, Distrokid only pays out royalties for 5 of the 9 stores / streaming sites that they distribute to. Since January of 2015 they’ve had the same message posted to the payouts page that reads “Note: We’re still working on including sales reports from Deezer, Beats, and YouTube. Those will be here soon.”…. Apparently their definition of soon is six months to possibly a year. And they don’t even mention tidal which is another site they distribute to.

    What’s the point of distributing to stores, and streaming sites if you’re not collecting ALL the royalties. I tried contacting them about it, and they basically told me that they were too busy adding more digital partners. Really? Because I’m still seeing the same list of 9 digital partners over two months after receiving that particular message. The last thing distrokid should be doing is adding more digital partners considering they can’t even handle the payouts from the ones they currently have.

    You need to downgrade their rating on this site because they are running a scam! They distribute to 9 sites, but only collect royalties for 5! What are they doing with the money earned from the other 4 sites? They certainly aren’t paying it out to the artists!!! And it’s been 6 months with the site functioning in this incomplete / broken state! What have they been doing this whole time??? I refuse to believe that anyone can be that incompetent! Total scam!!! Don’t sign up with distrokid if you are considering using them!

    Reply
  61. steven mumford

    Thanks for your insight. It’s refreshing to see people still share.

    Thanks again!!
    Steven Mumford at hongkonggolf.net

    Reply
  62. George K

    Any chance the next comparison might include Bandcamp? I’d be really curious how it compares to these. I see you are using it so it can’t be too bad… 🙂

    Reply
  63. Joel

    For a single song digital release which company will charge the least out of the 99 cents that songs normally cost? I saw your 9% but that seems to be for airplay, the actual cost is 40 cents for them to sell it on CD Baby. Who sells it taking the least amount from the artist

    Reply
  64. Previously MondoTunes now non user

    Absolutely stay away from Mondotunes

    1. Not only do they lie about not charging commission telling you that you get all your Royalties – they take 10% so that is outrightly lying!

    2. If you pay for their PR its effectively a waste of money all they do is put the PR up on a blog site that has no audience worth having. You are better off spending money to promote your artist site. It’ll be read by more people and also provide better ROI for you in the long run.

    3. Don’t ever pay for an expedited release – its never happens thay can’t even get things up on iTunes correctly

    4. The people who work their can not even read web sites let alone get anything done correctly – practically every project I have put up has had issues – some of which have not been rectified a year later…

    5. When there is a problem they are prepared to lie and send false screenshots through that do not represent what is actually on line for the world to see!

    6. Their threshold means that even though you can see royalties you mostly will not get them – mainly due to the inefficiency of their payments and reports…

    7. When you request senior people to contact you – no one does

    8. As soon as you decide to not pay for a service they will be all over you to get the money once they get the money you’ll be lucky if you get the service – correctly delivered anyway…

    9. If they fail to meet a due delivery date – expedite your order which costs $25 but fail to expedite they will not refund

    10. If they fail to meet a release date or promote an album $25 extra fee but do not deliver by the due date – they will not refund

    11. If they totally screw up your project launch they will not seek redress from the partners that screw it up – they expect you to wear it and keep paying them.

    In short Mondotunes are probably the worst service provider I have ever dealt with – but hey its your money….

    Any company that is prepared to lie to you when you can clearly see what is on a published web site is a company to run away from FAST!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  65. Happy

    Yep I left Mondotunes – they are terrible….

    They just don’t care…about you or your music – all they wnat to do is rort you…

    Reply
  66. Anonymous

    Just really a great article with something I have never gotten before on the subject of digital distribution-CLARITY.
    Thanks a MILLION Bro-

    Reply
  67. Kinnor Classics

    The digital distribution industry is still in its infancy. And with all the growing pains, no artist can trust the distribution channels yet. Give it 5 years or more to develop the correct technology and weed out the fly by night scammers. A few solid distribution companies will rise to the top with fair compensation and quality service which will dictate the real winners. For now, Its best to “perform live” as much as you can. Record quality audio and video and then market your music yourself through social media channels. Sell your music through your own website and promote your music through top music sites specific to your genre.

    Reply
  68. Kinnor Classics

    The digital distribution industry is still in its infancy. And with all the growing pains, no artist can trust the distribution channels yet. Give it 5 years or more to develop the correct technology and weed out the fly by night scammers. A few solid distribution companies will rise to the top with fair compensation and quality service which will dictate the real winners. For now, Its best to “perform live” as much as you can. Record quality audio and video and then market your music yourself through social media channels. Sell your music through your own website and promote your music through top music sites specific to your genre.
    Kinnor Classics Intl

    Reply
  69. Patricia

    Hello, anyone have any experience with Label Engine? Heard they’re good…

    Reply
  70. songbird

    Thank you for a great report. Just have a question….why isn’t Contemporary Christian/Gospel music ever mentioned for any of these sites? I’m thinking of Distrokid but am questioning if they have any feedback for Christian artists. What statistics do you have concerning this topic? Can you lead me in the right direction for an original song that I have a copywrite for?

    Reply
  71. Jeff Heiskell

    Thank you for this. Very helpful. I’d planned to rely on CD Baby for my new release, as I have in the past, and this makes me feel better about the decision. If I like the service then I am not so concerned about the commission they are getting. But then I’m rich like that. Just joking. Thanks.

    Reply
  72. JerijCalifornia Flight

    Hi Ari, very good digital online research work Ari’s

    Reply
  73. LeeSun

    I’m with CDBaby at the moment (released an EP many years ago), and Tunecore (album a few years ago).

    I like Tunecore’s service but as an “emerging artist”, not generating even the annual fee on Tunecore in sales is a bit disheartening.

    Plus, I have a campaign in the works, releasing 18 singles over the course of 18 months. It would be entirely impractical to do this on Tunecore where I pay an annual fee for every single song. I would be paying hundreds a year just for distribution.

    I don’t mind a one-off set-up fee.

    Someone I know has recommended Emu Bands in Scotland. They seem more in line with what I’m looking for … a one-off set-up fee, no annual charges, 100% revenue.

    Any thoughts on EMU Bands?

    http://www.emubands.com/stores/

    Btw, Ari, I like your music. “Brave Enough” – lovely.

    You can hear my tunes at

    http://leesun.bandcamp.com

    xx

    Reply
    • BoyintheRain

      I’ve used EmuBands and have had a great experience. They only distribute digitally though.

      Reply
  74. max

    looking for a distributor for physical cd’s that ships for reasonable prices within europe! cdbaby seem’s great for the us but their shipping fees for europe are not interesting, nobody from here would order…

    Reply
  75. taylornelson

    Great article. Thank you. I’ve used Catapult in the past and they aren’t bad. They take a percentage plus iTunes does as well of course, but I my question is, are you familiar with Catapult? What do you think about them?

    Reply
  76. nick

    Loudr has been very shady in their royalty payout reporting. They don’t share any information on what stores have paid and what have not. When asked directly, I was told that they have purposely chosen not to share this information. In my case, I know that I have not been paid on streams from a few different stores, although Loudr states that they did pay. I have an account with DistroKid and an account with Loudr. DistroKid paid royalties on Google streams from April/May at the beginning of August, and I’ve been told (although I have not experienced this directly) that other distributors have paid for those streams at or around the same time. Loudr claims that they paid April streams in June. Why would one distributor be paid royalties from one store two months ahead of all other distributors? When I asked Loudr, they said that they would not comment, nor would they provide the reports to show me that I had been paid. I was pretty much told that I had to take their word for it. I was paid substantially less by Loudr (much lower than the 15% that they take out would account for) for almost 4 times the streams. Something is VERY fishy over at Loudr, and I’m pretty certain that they either have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to ingesting royalties, or they’re purposely keeping more money than they’re paying out.

    Reply
  77. Maggie Hollinbeck

    Beware the add-ons with Distrokid! After tons of research I had decided to go with Bandcamp/Distrokid, but after signing up and getting ready to upload my album with Distrokid I discovered that they charge an additional $1/month for every cover song. It’s actually a good service – for that $1/month they take care of the mechanical license and royalty distribution – but I had already paid for my mechanical licenses and Distrokid would not waive the fee. I just wish they would be upfront about all of their pricing policies.

    Reply
  78. Dayss Olalee Shoplife

    Great article, I’m from Lagos Nigeria and I don’t know if all these services can work here

    Reply
  79. Independent Label Owner

    I would like you to conduct this study on Catapult Distribution. This is the company that I currently use and I really like them. But, I would love to see how they compare to the above companies. I also use Mondo and I feel the same way about their website it sucks…..I only really want the Register my Record Label but what that actually did or what they registered my company with, I have no ideal. Email Me when you complete this comparison at [email protected]

    Reply
  80. Independent Label Owner

    I would like you to conduct this study on Catapult Distribution. This is the company that I currently use and I really like them. But, I would love to see how they compare to the above companies. I also use Mondo and I feel the same way about their website it sucks…..I only really want the Register my Record Label but what that actually did or what they registered my company with, I have no ideal. Email Me when you complete this comparison at

    Reply
  81. Thommy Sides

    Hello Ari, I have a question. Your chart says Distrokid does not do covers, but elsewhere it is mentioned that they do them.With LoudR, both the charts and writing elsewhere support the fact that they do covers and lic etc. Can Distrokid handle covers the same as LoudR? If they can I think I’d rather go with them, as they offer more stores etc. Please clarify that for me. Why don’t more companies allow for a PDF with the music? How are we artists suppose to give legal credit to who played on our albums and who arranged etc? I love what you did here Ari, and it’s great to have this information. I agree with Song Bird though, who wrote and asked you…Why don’t the companies list Christian Music in a better way then they do? Bandcamp calls it devotional…..lol. And when I went to look at what was there it was mostly all eastern religion stuff. Surely they could give Christian Artists a place to showcase their music. I guess it’s the politically correct culture we now live in that’s making it like this.Would love to hear from anyone here who might can shed some light on my questions….thanks.

    Reply
  82. dan

    hello Ari, please i’d like to know, is it possible to sign with multiple online distributors? sighting case of one not being able to meet all your needs like sending same song to multiple distributors just to maximize your stream of income from different stores.

    Reply
  83. Hard Fruits

    I wish I’d found this before choosing who to distribute my first album with! I used Ditto to distribute my album, Hashtag One Through Ten, by my group the Hard Fruits… anyway, I know for a fact they’re not crediting my streams: I have 10+ friends who listened to it in December, 2014, and as of September 18, 2015 I still only have a total of 8 plays showing on my dashboard (for a total of 0.04 UK pounds). One of these friends uses Deezer, which as of yet shows 0 streams. According to Ditto, it takes 50 days after the end of the month of sale for the account to be credited, but we’re now at 261 days after December (the month of streaming), or 111 days after March (the month when we began promoting the album more), and still I haven’t been credited for almost any streams.

    Reply
  84. Zach

    Hey Ari,

    Great article! Just wanted to point out some updates/errors to TuneCore’s pricing.

    – $1.98/store for adding stores is after initial distribution.

    – The iTunes preorder price is not $100 — it used to be before we offered it during distribution.

    – YT Monetization is $10 signup and 20% commission and is open to anyone who distributes through TC

    Thanks for generating the conversation here!

    Zach Bloom
    Product Manager, TuneCore

    Reply
  85. Steven Fletcher

    There seems to be a mistake in the information in the table showing comparisons. In that table it shows that Loudr supports iTunes digital booklets and does this at no extra charge. It seems they do not.** I have just received two emails from their support staff confirming that they do not support iTunes booklets. If you want to do this you need to submit information through the AllMusic guide which pulls information from Rovi. a quick read of the FAQ on AllMusic is that their is no way to be sure the listing will happen if you submit information to Rovi.

    (** This is according to Jesse Buddington, Loudr Community Support by email on 22 and 23 Sept 2015)

    Reply
  86. Da Palani

    First “Thank You” – one of the best reviews I’ve ever read !

    I am with currently with Tunecore.
    In general, I am happy enough to stay put, but I question the chain from retailer sales/digital play commission to me since I’m “still” poor !
    On the other hand for $10 your song is on Itunes, Amazon, etc. and this is cheap advertising as a new artist. Your song is in stores around the world and possibly being played around the world by a variety of sites.

    If you “make it” then you may have the resources to collect money owed on commissions. I am inclined to think that Tunecore is honest, but they cannot trace everything.
    For example, I get a lot of youtube views in France but have no purchases or internet play revenue to show on my reports from Euro distributors ????

    Reply
  87. Amir

    Our label has been with Ditto Music for 2 years now. Their flat annual fee is great but don’t expect much else. We have requested the take-down of our whole catalogue Since August 2015. 7 months gone by and our tracks still show up on half the stores. We have made numerous calls and sent many emails and nothing. Also our last release took 3 weeks to go on iTunes.
    Honestly guys stay away from Ditto Music. We are currently dealing with Label Worx. Fantastic and speedy customer service.

    Reply
  88. Marco Baressi

    Waxtone (www.wax-tone.com), It has 2 years on the market and focuses on electronic music and distributes the catalog of its customers (Labels) only in the most profitable stores.
    A good choice for dance emerging independent labels, highly recommended.

    Reply
    • Tomas More.

      Yeah, Waxtone have the best price of the market, 59,99EURO per month and the label take the 100% of the royalties, uploads releases unlimited, mastering and other services , sales trends daily and report online each quarter, customer service is very good.
      The best of all only work whit the main profitable stores, no sense send to 800 stores if only have sales 100.
      Waxtone recommended?
      Yes.

      Reply
    • New Way Records

      Our label uses Waxtone and is very good, all the information (relase, accounting, sales), is accessible at any time and your customer service is very fast and have a Help center support in 2 languages (English – Spanish), our label has gone through several distributors but we got to Waxtone recommended by another label and was our best choice.

      Reply
  89. Oscar

    Thanks for this article. I started using Loudr, and their customer service is excellent. The main thing they lack, though, is an store widget. So recently found
    http://www.nimbit.com and they do revenue splits (key for me) as well as have a lot of great features. Has anyone had any experience with them?

    Reply
  90. Gianluca Mariani

    Great article. I’m the owner of a small label. I pubblished with a lot of distributor, but I’ve never been really satisfied. On week ago I singned in MixNauten – Global Music Distribution (www.mixnauten.co.nf)
    The service is totally free, only you pay the unlimited file storage after the first year; but the price is reasonable and honest (19,99 musicians and 29,99 labels). They distribute on 240 countries, and all the digital stores, including beatport, traxsource, and othe 250! The customer service is great, always you find someone online to help. No limit to number of releases! Perfect with small label and musicians without money 😉

    Reply
    • Plastic Music Records

      Mixnauten copying the contract and the system of dancephonic, more originality please. I do not think it is a reliable company if they copy the contract to another company.

      Reply
      • DJ Cannonball

        They are both partners of Believe Digital (I read it in contracts). So I think that for this reason the contract is very similar!

        Reply
      • DJ Franco Mix

        Are you sure, Plastic?
        I distribute through MixNauten from last February (directly without label … it’s possible with this company). MixNauten, in my experience, is the best distribution company I’ve ever worked
        I can not tell you anything abiut dancephonic, because I do not know it

        Reply
      • Tech House

        La distribuidora chilena Dancephonic manipula las gráficas de las ventas para llenarse los bolsillos a costa de los nuevos sellos o jóvenes artistas que por desgracia no tienen suficiente conocimiento sobre la industria discográfica y son un tanto vulnerables!
        De hecho es culpable de manipulación de documentos, apropiación indebida, uso indebido y violación de los derechos de autor!
        Aquí abajo mostramos unas de las pruebas presentadas por uno de los labels afectados. En las cuales especificamos claramente cuales son los reportes manipulados y los reportes originales, con el fin de prevenir este tipo de fraudes.

        https://plus.google.com/100727909278023147242/posts/Wp2KYm27sTh?pid=5958329059849077250&oid=100727909278023147242

        Reply
        • California Grooves

          Eso es falso, Dancephonic no tiene acceso a baseware de beatport porque no trabaja “directo” con las tiendas. Las imagenes las puede manipular cualquiera con photoshop. Tipica venganza de label despedido por derechos de autor o porque esperaban mas ventas de musica basura.

          That is false, Dancephonic not have access to Beatport baseware because it does not work “direct” with stores. The images can manipulate anyone with photoshop. Tipical label revenge fired by copyright or because they expected more sales of its garbage music.

          Reply
      • Label worx supporter

        This is a tweet of Label Worx about Dancephonic

        “Dancephonic… another distribution service who has blatantly copied all content from our website and PDF’s. Innovators? We think not!”

        Plastic Music Records….before you say that someone has copied dancephonic, please be a little self-criticism!

        I do not think dancephonic deserves to be copied

        Original Label Worx tweet:
        https://twitter.com/labelworx/status/162492477696253952

        Reply
  91. Steve Bryan Goeller

    Ari, I’m 63 and have made about 100 disks over the years in my “shoebox” studio in the basement. I’m now having my first real studio disk (album) mixed and remastered. I’m going to donate every dime of any money made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I need solid advice on the digital distribution.

    Reply
  92. Denis B.

    From my thorough research the best option to me (An unknown artist who’s album may even be his only) is Symphonic Distribution. They’ll get it out *everywhere* and keep it there, and I’ll get 100% royalties. (Unlike CD Baby…) It’ll cost me $45, which is totally reasonable for a 1-time fee. If ever I wanted to release another album, it would only be $20. No yearly fee, yay! DistroKid would be my alternative if I were to put an album out every year – which isn’t a guarantee of course. The only downside I see in Symphonic is the $50 balance in order to get paid. I suppose that’s just 5-10 people to buy your album tho, which isn’t *crazy*. Any Symphonic users, before I sign up?

    Reply
  93. Blaster Music

    Symphonic Distribution, the service for labels is a real shit $ 500 upfront is crazy for new labels that are starting and want to get 100%, plus its platform has a very old architecture, equal to Houseplanet platform.

    Other compañies for 100% of the royalties only charge 59 euros per month.

    Reply
    • Kaspar B.

      I think $ 500 is a pretty reasonable price, especially, if it’s an one-time payment (I assume so). EUR 59 X 12 make 708 euros per year, that’s about $ 790.

      Reply
  94. bobby brown

    I was about to sign up with Symphonic when i read this in their Agreement: “Modifications by Partners: Partners receiving releases from Symphonic may modify a genre, label or artist name, release name, and/or anything else relating to the release if they feel the need to do so.”

    So they can change your Artist name if they want?!!!! That is insane.

    Reply
  95. DistroSCAM

    Distortkid is a scam AVIOD. The Reps continue to Lie and they say “Unlimited” When in fact you do have a limit of songs you can upload. They won’t tell you that, they just reject when you get to certain number…

    Reply
  96. asheq

    can you suggest some free sign up self managed music sites like bandcamp? no starting cost. only revenue share. thank you.

    Reply
  97. Joshua

    Hey, I sign whit Waxtone (wax-tone.com) from 4 months ago, good experience, their platform in 15 different languages, distribution in main electronic music stores, promotion and reports online, for new or emerging labels a highly recommended option.

    Reply
    • Antinet

      Their domain includes a dash? Wow, that really makes me trust them. Love how everyone under a rock is opening up a distribution company, just hoping they can steal some copyright from a future famous artist. This article does NOTHING!!!! to address the dangers of signing with some hole in the wall distributor who will never pay you and never relinquish control of your music. I’ve even heard MondoTunes is like this. Lot of sharks in these waters.

      Reply
  98. Arnoud

    I MISS THE ONLY ONE RELIABLE OF THEM.. ”KVZMUSIC”….
    They always reply to mail and pay out every time without a hassle.. to the cents!!
    They also can provide your music on radio in 150 countries in a campaign.

    Are you guys this stupid to believe there is nothing more than the scammers mentioned on this site??
    digitalmusicnews is a n00b site… get over it

    Reply
  99. Jodi Gaines

    Hello Ari. Thanks so much for all this great information.

    It seems like CD Baby certainly has a more comprehensive set of services, especially when it comes to CD Baby Pro and licensing. However, Reverbnation seems to be better at artist promotion.

    Would it be feasible to use CD Baby Pro for distribution, admin publishing and licensing and use Reverbnation just for the promotional aspect?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rocket Science

      I’ve used CD Baby since 2011. They are a great company that you won’t regret using. I’ve been using ReverbNation even longer. Marketing with ReverbNation probably won’t reach the average consumer but it’s a great place to interact with other artists.

      Reply
  100. Vik

    Do you know if the 99cents per song for Shazam in distrokid have to be paid every year or is it a only once payment?

    Reply
  101. Miranda

    Hey Ari, thank you for this report. It’s seriously so helpful! I just had one question, have you heard of spinnup, by Universal, and what are your thoughts on it?

    Reply
  102. Miranda

    Hey Ari! Thank you so much for this report. It is so helpful. I just had one question, have you heard of Spinnup and what are your thoughts on it?

    Reply
  103. John

    Hello,

    There is one I absolutely don’t recommend is Feiyr.com (FEIYR) !

    I am with them for 3 years now and it’s a nightmare. They charge for everything comparing to other distributors. They don’t redistribute the royalties properly and on top of this I have the feeling they are not good with Beatport and other pages so you will never see your tracks supported by those pages, even if your releases are with big artist names.

    I am trying to leave them but it’s impossible. One you are with them you cannot leave them. There is no way to quite them unless you pay them shit amount of money.

    You would rather go for LabelWorx or some stuff like this. So please don’t go with Feiyr or Feiyr.com or you might regret them.

    Their staff is ok but compagny is far away one of the worst. I guess they are countless comments on this topic. Feiyr Scammers and stuff like this.

    Hope this can help some to not go to them.

    Cheers

    Reply
  104. opinionated

    even if you are with a distributor that distributes your music to these internet radio stations most indie artist are hidden on these internet stations by not being put in the stations exclusive playlist that would expose them to the stations 100 million users. Your paying the distributor for a code number to list your song on ITunes and to store your song at these stations. Almost NO one knows you are at these stations accept your fans. The general user subscriber listening audience won’t know you exist since your not in the exclusive genre playlists that the stations make up such as pop ,country, etc. Only major artist and very popular indies are put in these playlists because their popularity helps the advertisers sell their products. Listed on a station is not going to make much difference. You need that 100 million user exposure to let enough people know you exist to become a successful major artist.

    Reply
    • opinionated

      The only fair station is one that would mix ALL indies with majors in these exclusive genre playlists. That way the public could decide who is the one who should be number one on the list not these DISCRIMINATORY stations and their advertisers.

      Reply
  105. Saric

    Thanks for taking the time and doing this report. The one I highly r commend is OneRPM. They are great, under the radar and very musician friendly. I think they are able to keep going because their headquarters are in Brasil and Brooklyn. The Brazilian music market it’s huge. Check them out
    https://onerpm.com/

    Reply
    • Antinet

      I’m loath to trust any small copyright company in Brooklyn or Brazil to EVER pay me…

      Reply
      • Pers

        Antinet, You do not trust in any company and any industry…. in nothing. Better You dedicate to something else, philately is a good option.

        Reply
        • Rebel Noise Label

          Pers, you look to be struggling with the world!
          Are you depressed, dude?
          Some business problem? 😉

          Reply
  106. Antinet

    Its inexcuseable that this website not pay to redo this article from scratch in 2016. This is the one thing I need most from this website, is a breakdown of anecdotes from a long list of bands and solo musicians who have used these services.

    Reprocessing the stories from 2 years ago just does not cut it, when the landscape is changing so rapidly. Ditto is now offering unlimited uploads to Beatport for $149 a year. For EDM, that’s honestly kind of tempting. THen again streaming is taking over everywhere from download sales.

    We need A NEW ARTICLE that reflects those changing realities!!! Enough with the celebrity gossip pieces. Get us some actual useful information! CMON!

    Reply
  107. Horus Music

    You missed out Horus Music, they’re based in the UK and meet the specifications you outlined above. they don’t charge unnecessary fees either

    Reply
  108. Daniel

    Yeah. But Horus Music uses Western Union as only payment option, and you can not select where the music should be distributed to on your own at upload. It’s manually done, and you need to tell them. The profile page also look very amateurish and odd.
    For a company that has been around for 10 years, how come Horus Music is never ever mentioned on forums or when music websites mentions others aggregators?

    Reply
  109. Colourful Records

    MixNauten – Global Music Distribution is really great!
    They help me to create my first record label and I found great professionalism and competence; they really are serious people!

    I suggest tu use http://www.mixnauten.com

    Best

    Reply
  110. Luiz De Palma

    Hi all, I’ve been with Dancephonics for 5 years and intentionally things appeared to be okay. Until some of my tracks & albums were charted in different stores yet my quarterly statements stayed about the same and to low. Also the .csv files with the actual sales were also dubious. I’ve not collected any royalties for about nine months and there’s a substantial ammount open at Dancephonic / Believe Digital. When I sent an invoice in June 2016 I initially didn’t get any reply and I got ‘mailer daemon’ messages I mailed again and again and got a reply from Enrique Molina saying that the payments would be made after the next quarterly statement which is now a month overdue. So I’m beginning to suspect that a scam is on. We have 5 years of releases with Dancephonic, about 200+. I’m going to see with Believe Digital what they know and what info they can provide and will keep you updated here…

    my email: [email protected]
    last Dancephonic email that i got reply from: [email protected]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luiz_DePalma

    Reply
  111. Rocket Science

    AMAdea Music has a “non-cancellation period of 12 months for each album…”

    Reply
  112. WhittneyMikkel

    Thank you for this, Ari!
    I have a question about Symphonic – are their submissions to Pandora similar to the general submission process (submit.pandora.com) of sending music and being either accepted or rejected? Or is every release through Symphonic guaranteed to appear on Pandora?

    Reply
  113. Nunoya Beezwax

    I had a really bad experience with onerpm, and after it happened I feel I need to warn fellow musicians about using this site! They made a bogus copyright claim on an original album of mine, deleted my account, and cut off all communication with me (all in one motion). This gave me no chance to dispute the claim or reactivate my account. I noticed a couple of weeks later that all my stuff was still available for sale on their website despite the fact that I no longer could login and request payouts etc. Who do you think is pocketing all the money from the sale / streaming of these music titles that are still online? I’ve tried several times to make contact with them and it’s nothing but radio silence.

    Both me and my friend (a professional touring session drummer) recently had accounts deleted from onerpm, and it was the same story both times. Both of us had original material uploaded and distributed by this company only to one day find our accounts were deleted. Once accounts are deleted, onerpm discontinues (or limits) communication, giving artists little to no chance to dispute the bogus copyright infringement claims, and all releases remain online for sale through their website. In addition to titles remaining on their site for sale, they also don’t delete any titles from the digital partners that they distributed the material to (with onerpm now collecting 100% royalties from them as well).

    They did have further communication with my friend concerning his account. They basically asked him to provide some kind of proof that he made / wrote the audio recordings in question. He was easily able to provide proof in the form of isolated tracks / outtakes / documentation), but after he sent everything, they turned around and asked him again if he could send in some kind of proof as if they didn’t receive anything the first time. My friend didn’t receive any delivery failure emails, or anything else to indicate that what he sent didn’t go through. He said it was a total runaround with them clearly pretending to have some sort of appeal / dispute protocol as if it were all just for show. I myself have yet to receive a single email communication from them nearly a month after having my account deleted, although I immediately wrote them saying that I have proof to dispute their claims.

    For the record, I was earning artist royalties through my account for a little over a year before it got deleted. I estimate (based on earnings history) that I was about to make around $100 (for the month) if they hadn’t deleted my account. No artist royalty payments have been made (at their usual times) post account deletion. This is another thing that clearly indicates they are now pocketing the full 100% instead of the initial agreed upon 15%. If my material is illegitimate, then why are they still trying to sell it on their website? This company needs to be held accountable for the scams that they are pulling against independent musicians like myself. They are basically giving themselves a licence to steal by using bogus copyright claims as their front.

    On Dec 22nd of 2016, I will reveal the artist name and album titles in question as well as documented proof supporting all the claims made. I cannot reveal this information for now as onerpm will simply delete the titles and dispute my claims. I am building a case against them and need to see that they intend on leaving my titles up for sale on their website, as well as the 3rd party music sites that they distributed the titles to.

    Reply
  114. Chandler

    Ari, thank you for taking the time to do this. It seems the holy grail is to get into the “new” and “featured” lists on iTunes. What is the best way to achieve this? Thank you.

    Reply
  115. Olle Hedman

    Do someone here now anything about iMusician?? The services and pricing looks amazing, almost too good to be true..
    If someone has used it, please tell what you thought about them.

    Reply
  116. S.W.I.M.

    Useful article, I’m looking for a new distributer as I have lost all faith in the one I currently use (Mondotunes), I won’t recommend them to anyone. Going to check out some of the other options you have weighed up here though, good to know there is more of a choice about aggregation/distribution than there was when I last looked around.
    Just as a warning to anyone considering using MT: I did a google search and see if my forthcoming release has made it into any of the online store listing already…strangely enough google only returned results for places giving it away for free!
    This single has not been released yet, the only people that had access to the files was MT, so how did some of these pirate sites get hold of it already?
    Hmm…dodgy?

    Reply
  117. J. Davis

    I have been looking at the various digital distributors for an artist I represent. On the recommendation of someone in the music marketing biz I was set to sign the artist up with DistroKid, paid the $19.99 fee and then ran into several issues, which there was no way to know prior to signing up. First, she is a classical pop/rock crossover artist. DistroKid does not distribute classical. Additionally, they charge a fee to handle licensing, even if you have already taken care of licensing yourself, they are going to charge the fee in order to protect themselves. I seem to also remember a charge for IRSC codes, even if you have your own. So, I canceled the account, within 24 hours of signing up, but never received a refund of the $19.99.

    For anyone who is now, or is considering signing up with TuneCore, I cannot stringing enough urge you to read every word of their Terms and Conditions, in particular the Grant of Rights section. There are several parts of these T&C’s that are, well elephant traps, but the Grand of Rights section is where you basically give TuneCore your life’s work. After having all the gotchas pointed out to me by a professional in the music biz, I am so gun shy about all the distributors that it’s making it hard to trust any one.

    Reply
  118. gabriel

    Hi I used Tunecore for a while, and I dont like the expensive yearly fees. Im looking for a company that also takes care of the promotion of the music, otherwise is difficult to let people know that the music exists. I appreciatte any tip! thanks

    Reply
  119. Label worx supporter

    Label Worx [email protected] 26 gen 2012

    @Dancephonic another distribution service who has blatantly copied all content from our website and PDF’s. Innovators? We think not!!

    Reply
  120. Moosike

    moosike.com
    free Digital Distribution Platform

    Moosike.com was made with a purpose of giving our users ability to explore, share, like, and most important sell your music. most independent artist have to use multiple platforms to get there sound heard. At Moosike.com we help you do it all.

    Reply
  121. Steve

    thank you for the review.

    what is the new loudr like now soundrop?

    I liked all the aspects and they don’t just deal with covers.

    I’m finding it hard to find a distributor that is free that takes a percentage, but pays out weekly or monthly. Routenote I’ve used before but the $50 payment amount and payments sent quarterly is pretty annoying. The sales statistics are only updated every 45 days, so its hard to keep track and work on promoting certain areas that are needed.

    Reply
  122. Steve

    basically Is there something like route note, that pay out quicker and update there statistics more regularly. I’m probably asking for to much though lol

    Reply

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