In my opinion, the best music distribution service out there at the moment is DistroKid.
There, I said it.
Now if you want more info on what music distribution is, why I think DistroKid is the best option for indie musicians, how it works and what your other options are, read on!
First things first….
What Is Music Distribution?
Once you’ve written a song, you’ll want to record it.
Once you’ve recorded a song, you’ll want to distribute it, i.e. make it available for people to stream or download on platforms like Spotify, Pandora, iTunes store, etc.
This is where digital music distribution services like DistroKid, CD Baby or TuneCore come in.
If you already know what a music distributor does and just want to know why DistroKid is my favorite, skip this section.
A music distributor will….
— add your songs/EPs/albums to platforms where people can stream or download them
— monitor the number of plays and downloads each of your tracks receives (per country, per store, per everything!)
— collect sales and mechanical royalties related to your sound recordings
— pay you those sales and royalties
Check out the video a little further down to see EXACTLY how that works with DistroKid.
How is a music distributor different from a record label?
A music distributor doesn’t own any of the copyright related to your sound recording.
A music distributor is simply a third-party you hire to make your sound recordings available to the public so that you don’t have to get in touch with each and every store on the planet and ask them to carry your product.
An online music distributor will also track, collect and pay you the royalties related to the streams and downloads of your sound recordings.
On the other hand, record labels OWN the rights to their artists’ sound recordings.
When a record label signs an artist, their role is to provide the artist with everything they need to create a great sound recording that will be commercially successful.
So the label, in theory, pours in money to make the recording process high-quality and then to promote and distribute the sound recording.
In exchange for that upfront investment, the label retains ownership of the sound recording and takes a share of revenues generated by that sound recording.
These revenues may include album sales, mechanical royalties, merchandising, touring, etc.
How is a music distributor different from a music publisher?
A music distributor doesn’t own any of the copyright related to your composition.
It simply makes your sound recordings available to the public for personal consumption.
On the other hand, music publishers OWN the publishing rights to their songwriters’ compositions.
They make your compositions available for licensing by recording artists and through synchronization to audiovisual projects.
In fact, a good publisher will actively promote your compositions to licensing opportunities.
Publishers pay themselves by taking the publisher’s share of performance royalties and a share of any commission or synchronization fee they negotiate for you.
Can the line be blurred between a music distribution service and a publisher or label?
Some music distributors may branch out and offer other services in addition to music distribution.
For example CD Baby offers a publishing deal on top of its music distribution service.
These additional services, however, should be SEPARATE from the standard distribution agreement.
If they’re not, make sure you understand the consequences before you opt in.
Bottom line is, if you sign a no-nonsense deal with a music distribution service, you keep control of all the rights related to the composition and the sound recording.
You’re just asking a third-party to make your sound recordings available to the general public.
In exchange, you pay them a subscription or upfront fee.
They should NOT ask you for any share of royalties.