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Want To Know Who The Best Digital Distribution Company Is?

I originally did this report for Ari’s Take. Everything is current and has been fact checked by every company.

This is the most comprehensive and accurate digital distribution comparison piece on the web.

Who is the best digital distributor? Read on…

I sat down with reps at 8 different digital distribution companies, CD Baby, DistroKid,Ditto Music, Loudr, Mondotunes, ReverbNation,Tunecore 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 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.

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)


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.


* 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.


* They take 9% commission.


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.


* 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.

* 2-4 hour upload time to iTunes (if it doesn’t get flagged for an audit by iTunes)

* They do not take commission.

* 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).


* They only offer 7 stores: iTunes (worldwide), Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, Beats, Rdio and Deezer.

* Very few extra features


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!


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

* They do not take commission


* 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


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.


* 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.

* Submission to Pandora. The only company that will submit you directly to Pandora.


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

* They take 15% commission for originals and 30% for covers.

* 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.

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.


* 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


* 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).


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!


* 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 that can help bands find venues of similar size in multiple cities.


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

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

* If you don’t pay your yearly fee and don’t respond to their notifications, in effect “abandoning” your release (their word), ReverbNation will collect and keep 100% of the earnings. **Updated 1/9/15


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.


* 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.

* 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.


* 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 don’t respond to my emails anymore. Signaling that either they hate me (not sure what I did…) or serious shit is going down in the company.



**Updated 1/9/15: I just added this digital distribution company to this report on 12.12.14. They have become a major player in the market with over 100,000 artists on the service. I spoke with the Product Director, Sandrine Hippolyte, from their French offices. Thick French accents are hard to understand! But oh so sexy. Oui Oui!Zimbalam was started by the indie digital distribution company Believe Digital. Believe (similar to The Orchard and InGrooves) only works with indie labels (and a few approved artists). Hippolyte mentioned that Believe got so many requests from artists for their services that they launched Zimbalam in 2009 for unrepped artists. Any artist can distribute through Zimbalam. Zimbalam operates independently from Believe, but because they are part of the same company, Zimbalam artists have access to the same Believe technology, connections and metadata.


* Site can be used in 13 languages. They offer worldwide customer support (in most languages).* Newsletter manager with open and location analytics (up to 10,000 names), single page artist website (with a vanity URL option), and embedded music players come with every distribution package – for life.

* No yearly fees

*iTunes, Spotify and Deezer weekly trending reports

* It’s under the Believe umbrella. If you start to sell a bunch, Believe will take notice and could sign you to Believe Records or Believe distribution which comes with one on one support and advanced promotion.


* Only company to charge a takedown fee. So if you want to switch distributors, it’ll cost you.* 10% commission

* They pay quarterly. All other companies either pay monthly, weekly or immediately.


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). While Ditto seems to be a close second claiming they hit “all stores.” It seems CD Baby and Tunecore send it to about the same places, while Distrokid and 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 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.

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 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 and others pop up and take over the industry like Spotify). Only Tunecore charges per store they bring on.

iTunes Worldwide:
Every distributor sends it to iTunes in 100+ countries (ReverbNation JUST updated this). 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 has 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. No digital distributor charges to takedown your album. ReverbNation used to charge for this, but just changed their policy.

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).

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.

Loudr 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.

Get Codes Before Upload:
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.

Soundscan Registration:
It’s free and super simple to do. Go to 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.

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:
Tunecore, ReverbNation and CD Baby are the only services that will let you know how your release is doing in iTunes day by day (Tunecore) or week by week (CD Baby and ReverbNation). All the others will let you know when they get paid from iTunes 6-8 weeks later.

Obtain License for Cover Songs:
If you want to releaser a cover you must obtain (and pay for) a license first. It’s kind of a headache, but you can do this from Harry Fox Agency or Limelight. Loudr goes directly to the publishers and gets these licenses for you.

Customer Support Email Turnaround:
I tested all of this.

Customer Support Phone:
Sometimes it’s important to get a response right away.

Clearly, there is no “best” service. Every artist’s situation is different and you have to decide what fits your current needs best.

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. Zimbalam is great for artists all over the world. CD Baby and Tunecore are great for all their extra features. ReverbNation is good for beginning artists who like everything bundled together with the utmost guidance. Where do you belong?

It’s 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.


Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download it on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake


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Comments (89)
  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.

  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!

    1. 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.

      1. Maria Valencia

        Believe Digital is a fraud. 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


  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!

  4. jake

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

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

  5. Dave Buerger

    Thanks for this! Really appreciate your legwork!!

    1. Ari Herstand

      Glad to help Dave!

  6. Sebastian Wolff

    As before, excellent summary, Ari! Tons of great companies up there.

  7. 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.

    1. 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).

      1. JTVDigital

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

        1. Jota

          Examples, please.

          1. 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’

  8. 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.)

    1. Tom Conner

      And your point is??

  9. Jota

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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…

        1. Anonymous

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

          Or a label for that matter?

  10. CJ

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

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

  12. 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:

  13. 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.

    1. JTVDigital

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

    2. 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.

  14. Zach Hurd


    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.

    1. Ari Herstand

      Thanks Zach. I appreciate it! Glad I could help!

      1. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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 !!!

    1. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

    1. JTVDigital

      Licenses here means ‘mechanical licenses’, this is not issued by labels but by publishers through HFA or directly.
      This is very easy to obtain (and affordable), read my article about this on DMN! :-)

      1. mdti

        Hi JTV thanks for the reply.
        Could you please post a link to the article? I can’t get to the articles that are not on the main page (wether I login or not).
        Thanks !

          1. mdti

            Cool, super, merci !

  19. 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!

  20. 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).

  21. Anonymous

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

    1. Ari Herstand

      They can’t. That’s why I left them out. You have to apply to The Orchard (as a label).

  22. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. AudioGuy

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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!


    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.
    Billing Representative
    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.
    Billing Representative
    Jun 16 05:12 PM
    Wanted to know information, unable to access account. Thanks.bryansanders/

  26. 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


  27. 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.

  28. Joe Seager

    A fantastic clear review when looking to get your music online- Thank you!


  29. 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.

  30. project2wo

    I Will- (project2wo mix)

  31. 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!


  32. 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.


  33. Maryellen

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


  34. Musa

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

  35. 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. :)

  36. 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”

    1. 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.

  37. 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.

    1. 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.

  38. 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..??

  39. 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!

  40. 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….)

    1. esol esek

      please try harder to be comprehensible. Good Lord.

  41. 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.

  42. 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!

  43. 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).

    1. 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?

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. emerald

    Has anyone got any experience or such with AWAL?

    Trying to figure this out!

  50. runirasmussen

    what about Record Union? are they trustable?

  51. 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 :)

  52. 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.

    1. 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,

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

    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*

  55. 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.

  56. Chumley

    Has anyone ever tried ?

    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.


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