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Written by Omari
It has never been easier for independent musicians to promote their work and distribute it out for the world to hear. A big thanks for this is due to digital distribution companies — helping artists get recognized and succeed in the modern music industry.
These companies work to collect 100% of all your sound recording and composition royalties from around the world, so the artists don't have to worry about this headache themselves. Digital distributors also are the ones responsible for getting your music onto sites like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, plus more. The best part about it? Artists retain 100% of their rights, no questions asked.
If you’re an independent artist who's steadily been releasing music, then you probably know a thing or two about digital distribution. You may know about or have used Distrokid, not only because it is one of the most popular platforms, but it is also one of the most inexpensive options for distributing music.
However, what many people don’t know is that there are many other alternatives to Distrokid. When it comes to your music distribution, it’s important to understand your options. There are various platforms out there offering the same service (if not better) at the same (or cheaper) price.
Each music distribution company is a little different, so before you decide which one is best for you, read this review first. We are going to provide an objective comparison of some Distrokid alternatives, explaining the features and benefits of each.
Keep in mind that there are also a ton of scams or curators on the web who offer promises that they don’t deliver on. When it comes to your music and your money, always do your research and seek professional and trusted advice before spending. Which is exactly what we are going to give you in this article, so take note!
Before we discuss the best Distrokid alternative, we should look at what Distrokid has to offer.
The reason why this is one of the most popular music distribution services is probably its simplicity and cheap price. About 30% of the indie music distribution market share belongs to Distrokid.
This all seems great but just like any other service, you need to read the fine print. An annual fee of $19.99 will allow you to upload unlimited songs (single musician plan). Your music will also be available in all the top online music stores, and you receive 100% of the royalties. That sounds like a great deal, but is it?
Distrokid has a lot of hidden costs that they don’t always publicize. It's important to know these details before considering the alternatives. These fees include:
Shazam & iPhone Siri: $0.99 per song/year.
Store Maximizer: $7.95 per album/year
YouTube Money: $4.95 per single/year, $14.95 per album/year, + 20% of YouTube ad revenue (run by another company and no control)
IndieMassive is by artists, for artists. They created IndieMassive to give artists a transparent distribution service. During the years, they used many distributors and found that most either take a % from royalties away from artists, or they have crazy hidden fees.
With IndieMassive, that’s not an issue anymore. They pride themselves as the transparent distribution option. For just 39.99 USD per year, you can release unlimited music as an artist with no hidden fees or upsells.
TuneCore is another popular distribution service similar to Distrokid. However, they have recently changed their pricing to allow for unlimited distribution at $14.99/year.
You keep 100% of your net royalties, but they have been missing some key options in the past years such as royalty splits. They have promised to include this feature soon, but the implementation of this feature should have been done much sooner in our eyes.
Overall, with their new pricing they should be competitive in the market given they were in the game earlier on.
Unlike Distrokid, AWAL (Artists Without a Label) requires a submission before you're accepted. This takes some time, as they will first assess your work to determine if they are willing to distribute and promote your music.
The AWAL pricing system might work better for some, especially if you're starting out with no budget. There are no sign-up or yearly subscription fees. However, this is not exactly a Distrokid free alternative. AWAL charges a 15% commission on the sales revenue for your music.
One of the benefits of using AWAL is their personal attention to the progress of artists signed with them. If the AWAL management team believes that you have the potential to grow, they will promote you and your music internationally. This is not something that all their musicians receive, you need to prove that you're worth the effort.
In the end, both you and the agency benefit. The more you sell, the more money both parties earn.
For a slightly cheaper Distrokid alternative, Ditto may be a good option. At $19 per year, it's basically one dollar cheaper than Distrokid. You also receive 100% royalties with no commission. They offer a very similar service, distributing your music to major stores, like Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, Boomplay, and more.
There don't seem to be any hidden costs but there are optional extras that cost more. You can pay to have your music pushed to the front of the line on iTunes and there's a publisher option.
As with any cheap music distribution service, you get what you pay for. While Ditto advertises that your music should be live on iTunes within 2 to 4 business days (some platforms within 4 hours), in reality it can take up to 8 weeks.
Another area where Ditto has not received the best reviews is when it comes to customer service. Even with 165 customer service staff, Ditto doesn't have a stellar record in this department.
Considering the price, it is a great opportunity for new artists to get their foot in the door. Just don’t expect 5-star service from a music distributor this cheap.
Songtrust boasts the widest affiliation with Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), meaning more royalties for their artists. PROs, or collection societies are responsible for collecting royalties when songs are used and paying these royalties to the musicians.
Music distributors are registered to collect royalties on your behalf from these societies. However, there are many such organizations. If a distributor is only registered with a few PROs, they may be missing out on some of the royalties due to their artists. Songtrust has a huge network of PROs in the US and Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) in Europe. This gives them the ability to collect the most royalties internationally.
It costs $100 to join Songtrust and they charge a commission of 15% for royalties collected. Royalties are paid to artists four times per year. This could be worth it since there's a good chance you'll collect more royalties than with some other music distribution services.
Songtrust has a pretty good management setup with over 85 employees and a great network with over 50 societies around the world. They also offer a multi user account and great software for tracking and monitoring how your music is being distributed and listened to.
While Songtrust does pretty much the same job as most other music distributors, their affiliation with numerous collection organizations could mean more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
This is another very unique music distribution service. LANDR is essentially an online AI mastering service that also allows you to upload your music to platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, etc. As a digital mastering app, LANDR is one of the best in the world. It offers automatic mastering to unify the sound of your album like an experienced professional would.
They also offer bulk uploads, free sample service, cloud backup, and a volume matching option. For a professional sound engineer, LANDR will be a little frustrating as it doesn't have a good range and it's mostly automated. Conversely, it allows people with little to no mastering experience to produce professional results.
LANDR distribution services aren't the cheapest, but they are very efficient and professional with a distribution network of over 150 stores. The basic ‘On Demand’ package requires no yearly or sign-up fee. However, this can become expensive if you intend to release a lot of songs or albums. It costs $9 for each single released and $29 for an EP or album.
In addition to this, you pay a 15% commission on royalties. The unlimited package costs $89 per year and allows for unlimited uploads, with no cost per single or album, and no commission. The greatest benefit to using LANDR is the easy and seamless process. You can create your track, master it to perfection, then upload it to a broad promo network using a single app.
This is a new platform and seems almost too good to be true, the closest thing to a Distrokid free alternative. With no subscription fees and only 5% commission on royalties, this is about as cheap as it gets.
Since these guys haven't been around very long, it's hard to determine if their service is any good or if their business model is sustainable. It seems hard to believe that they can offer the same service as other inexpensive music distributors when charging so much less. Users must first apply to access Stem. Judging from the information on their website, they deeply care about their artist and the quality of music they put out to the world.
This service seems like a fantastic option for artists with a small budget but want good results. They offer a huge distribution network and promise a lot of personal services to help promote your career. If Stem delivers on all its promises and remains this cheap, the other low-cost music distributors have a formidable challenge ahead.
When your song is ready to go, it's time to start promoting it to potential fans! Omari has the best organic promotion services money can buy. With packages for Spotify, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, we will get your music the traffic and attention it deserves! Click below for more information.
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© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.