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Ari's Take digital music distribution comparison chart

This is the most comprehensive and accurate digital distribution review comparison for your music on the web.

By far. I checked. Who is the best digital distributor for your music? There are quite a few to choose from:

1. DistroKid
2. TuneCore
4. CD Baby
5. UnitedMasters
6. Songtradr
7. Amuse
8. Stem Music
9. RouteNote
10. ONErpm
11. Soundrop
12. Ditto Music
13. Symphonic Distribution
14. AWAL
15. FreshTunes
16. Horus Music
17. Spinnup

How do you get your music on Spotify? How do you get your music on Apple Music? On Amazon Music, you know for “Hey Alexa play my band”?

How do you get your music on TikTok? On Instagram stories?

I’m keeping this review updated and any time a company lets me know their changes or I hear from you that something has changed at one of these companies, I update the report.

So for the past few months we at Ari’s Take have been learning everything we could about these 19 companies. Well, 17 now. Literally in the past 4 months from when we started the update to when we posted it, SoundCloud got out of distribution and migrated everything over to Repost Network.

DistroKid vs. TuneCore vs. CDBaby vs. AWAL vs. Amuse vs. Ditto Music vs. FreshTunes vs. Horus Music vs. LANDR vs. ONErpm vs. RouteNote vs. Songtradr vs. Soundrop vs. Spinnup Music vs. Stem vs. Symphonic Distribution vs. UnitedMasters

It’s worth noting, that this comparison is for standalone music distribution services that primarily cater to independent musicians – not labels. INgrooves, The Orchard and Believe are all distributors in the space that primarily work with labels. Some work directly with artists and they take around a 20% commission for it. The Orchard is owned by Sony and INgrooves is owned by Universal. And Believe, a French company, owns TuneCore.

Digital distribution companies are evolving into one-stop royalty collection shops for DIY musicians.

Eventually, you will be able to use digital distribution with one of these services and they will collect 100% of all your sound recording and composition royalties from around the world and you won’t need to worry about registering or collecting all your money elsewhere. Some of these companies are closer than others to this reality, but no one is completely there yet.

For clarity, you need a distributor to get your music into Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, TikTok, Instagram Stories, Deezer, Tidal, etc. These music distribution companies do this for you.

You can use multiple distributors for multiple releases HOWEVER you can only use 1 distributor for each release, of course.

You can’t ask Symphonic and DistroKid to distribute the same song to all the stores, then that same song would be listed in Spotify, Apple Music and everywhere else TWICE. Make sense? You have to pick one for each release, which is why it’s so important to choose the best music distribution company for your needs. 

You can, however, SWITCH distributors if you need to. And I explain how to do that


I also want to make SUPER clear that none of these independent music distribution companies OWN any of your rights, copyrights or music.

These are not record labels. These are not label deals. Even though some of them offer “label services” they don’t own anything. These independent music distribution companies are just providing services. You retain 100% of your rights no matter who you use. Even if they take a commission, it’s just from your revenue. No ownership. None. Capiche?

I spoke to reps at every company for this music distributors review 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, like how they calculate music royalties. I have distributed 30 releases to date using a few of these music distribution services.

This best music distribution service review is just taking a look at companies that will get your music into digital stores and streaming services, like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon, Pandora, Deezer, etc and NOT about stand alone, digital download, self-managed stores, like Bandcamp.

Full disclosure, I have used CD Baby, DistroKid, TuneCore, AWAL, Stem and Soundrop to distribute releases with my own project (and we tested a release with Amuse under a fake name).

Also, AWAL, Bandzoogle (CD Baby powered distribution), CD Baby, DistroKid, Songtradr, and Symphonic have advertised, currently advertise or have agreed to advertise in the future with Ari’s Take. I have spoken at CD Baby’s DIY Musician conference and during AWAL’s sponsored sessions at Amplify in London. And I went to a party at the LANDR House in the Hollywood Hills.

HOWEVER, I made super clear to these independent music distribution companies that their advertising does not influence my review AND I only allow companies I trust and support to advertise on Ari’s Take. I turn away more advertisers than I accept.

There is no “best music distribution company” necessarily because each company has unique features that may be super important to some artists and not at all to others.

I included on the chart the categories that I deemed most important. All the digital distribution companies have extra services, and I included some of their services in their review if I thought they were great and left out some of their services if I didn’t care about them. This review is to compare distribution. It’s not a full review of these independent music distribution companies.

What these stand-alone distributors offer that major labels and publishers do not is transparency and intelligible reports.

And many are starting to offer
payment splitting
(where they will pay your collaborators directly so you don’t have to deal with that headache).

Also, the next decade will be heavily focused around Asia. For the first time in history, people in
are PAYING for music (via streaming services). This market is about to explode. That’s why I added it to the comparison chart.

NetEase is the most important DSP in China. If music distributors don’t distribute to NetEase it’s as if they do not distribute to China (so we marked that below).

And, some distributors are moving into “label services” territory. Where, if there is some traction on your songs, they’ll notice and, as many of them put it, “throw gasoline on the fire,” where they can put some marketing money behind it, plug it at playlists, push synch opportunities and other ways to help jumpstart your career.

If you have any questions or have experience (good or bad) with these music distribution companies, please let me know in the comments below!

Digital Service Provider, which is the generic term for streaming and download platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play, Amazon Music, et al.




Amuse now offers a “Pro” version which costs $60/yr with many more features and now also have a desktop version of the service. But they are still app-first. Artists keep 100% of their royalties.

They also offer advances based on previous streaming royalties. It’s completely data driven and artists have received $250 – $300,000 in advances from this program. There is a commission tacked on when an advance is offered.

This Best/Worst comparison is based on their “Pro” version, not the free version.

Amuse started as an app-only music distribution service with no fees and no commission. Their long-term play was to swoop up the artists that start to catch and sign them to a 50/50 label deal by simply analyzing data. No real A&R, just data analysts. One of the founders used to study data analytics at Universal Music Group (Sweden), another came from Warner Music Group (Sweden), and their head of design used to work at Spotify. Oh, and is a co-founder. So there’s that.



Amuse vs DistroKid

When comparing Amuse vs DistroKid, DistroKid is more popular. They distribute the most music in the world – by far. However, Amuse has a free version and DistroKid does not. DistroKid offers payment splitting with recoupment. Amuse offers payment splitting (but no recoupment – yet). Check out the chart above for a more detailed breakdown. 

Questions About Amuse

What is Amuse music distribution?

Amuse is a music distribution company that allows musicians and bands to get their music in digital service providers like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, Deezer, and more.

Is Amuse really free?

Yes. Amuse offers a free tier, but they also offer a “Pro” version which costs $60/yr with many more features and now also have a desktop version of the service. Artists keep 100% of their royalties.

Who owns Amuse music distribution?

Amuse music distribution was co-founded and owned by Diego Farias, a former employee of Universal Music Group in Sweden and




Artists who perform well consistently and have a strong track record will benefit from working with AWAL. They tend to jump on artists who are already gaining traction. So if you’re doing well, you can expect good music royalties, otherwise you might feel a bit ‘unseen’ by this digital distribution company.

AWAL is under the Kobalt umbrella. Kobalt is a very forward thinking (and powerful) publishing company. As a company built on a tech-first (digital) philosophy, Kobalt boasts that it pays twice as fast (and finds more money – sometimes 30% more) than the major publishing companies. It has better transparency than any of the major publishing companies.

AND Kobalt doesn’t own any of their songwriters’ copyrights (unlike every other major publishing company).

Kobalt acquired AWAL in 2012 to be able to integrate their tech-first, transparent reporting, disruption philosophy in the digital distribution space. And to offer not just distribution, but ‘label services’ for their top-line artists. To clarify, Kobalt is a publishing company collecting publishing (songwriter) royalties for songwriters. AWAL is a digital distributor collecting master (sound recording) royalties for artists. If you need more clarification on how music royalties are broken down, read Chapter 13 of .

I’m coming back to this review after initially including AWAL with a lot more hands on experience and personal anecdotes. I have since distributed 3 songs with AWAL to test them out and see under the hood. For transparency, everyone I have worked with at AWAL has been awesome. Clearly music lovers. They were super excited about the project (throwback 70s funk/soul). They offered guidance on how to get it going and even listened to the record before we released it. Now, I know this is not typical. They do not give hands-on attention like this to the majority of their artists. By the sheer number of releases they distribute it is virtually impossible.

This all being said, I have been somewhat underwhelmed by the results.

AWAL claims to offer Spotify playlist plugging support. Of course nothing is guaranteed with any of the major music distribution companies, but I made a list of 20 official Spotify playlists that our songs would fit well on like All Funked Up, Bedroom Jams, Disco Forever, Easy on Sunday, Feel Good Dinner – smaller niche playlists of under 1M followers – and sent it over. I had no illusions about our songs getting on any pop playlists or even New Music Friday. Our music is not pop. Our songs got included on exactly zero official Spotify playlists. The most Spotify love we got was from inclusion on various user generated playlists.

Worth noting that through our own efforts our music has nearly 1 million streams.

+How This Artist Grew to 500,000 Monthly Spotify Listeners With No Playlists

So, they may claim they offer Spotify playlist pitching, but if they couldn’t secure it for my project (with all the love and support they were offering me from the get go) I struggle to believe they can for anyone.

“I was also excited about the potential to work with them on sync licensing opportunities as they claim their sync department is strong, however they decided that their sync team would not have success with our project so they didn’t take it on.

This all is not a huge deal as most of the other digital music distributors don’t offer any kind of hands on service. But giving up 15% to AWAL when the only guaranteed benefits over the other distributors is their backend analytics is a hard sell. Now, their backend analytics are ok. And their app is actually beautiful, intuitive and a very nice overview of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube real-time stats. But their (non-app) browser analytics are not that much better than TuneCore (See TuneCore review below), Stem or CD Baby’s backend analytics. “

I’m struggling to understand where the 15% is beneficial when they aren’t able to deliver real results over the other music distribution companies.

As a top contender in the list of major music distribution companies, they claim to be great at “throwing gasoline on the fire.” AWAL doesn’t offer much in terms of personal support from the get-go, BUT if you start to catch, they can offer you marketing support (money for PR, radio plugging, etc) and pitch you to playlists. And potentially upstream you (if you’re a songwriter) to Kobalt and their in-house sync services (TV, ads, film, video game placements).

It’s worth noting that they do have some pretty huge artists, namely


who they helped get a top 40 hit. But again, this was because he was buzzing and they jumped on it.

+Lauv’s 4 Billion Streams, Top 40 Hit, Without a Label



Questions About AWAL

What does AWAL stand for in music?

How do you use AWAL?

To use AWAL, submit your music to their team for review. If and when accepted, you’ll create an account and be able to begin distributing your music.

Who is signed to AWAL?

Artists like Lauv, Kim Petras, deadmau5, Vérité, Aly & AJ, Moby, Lil Peep, and FINNEAS (Billie Eilish’s brother and producer), R3HAB have signed with (distribute with) AWAL.

CD Baby


CD Baby is one of the only music distribution companies that covers both digital distribution and physical records for their artists. You keep all legal rights to your music and receive payouts from multiple avenues.

CD Baby has been around the longest. They were the first non-label company to offer ‘open to all’ distribution to iTunes back in the day. CD Baby was founded by musician, best-selling author, guru, author of the introduction to my book (!!) and all around brilliant dude, Derek Sivers. He sold the company in 2008 to Disc Makers, but many of the original employees still remain.

I’ve used CD Baby in the past (but don’t anymore for new releases) and still dig some of the people who work there.

In 2019, CD Baby (well, their parent company AVL Digital – including Soundrop,, AdRev, DashGo), got acquired by Downtown Music (which runs Songtrust and Downtown Publishing). It’s becoming one big conglomerate – Disc Makers is still thrown in the mix there somewhere, but I don’t understand their corporate structure. It has gotten much more corporate, that’s for sure.

In the most recent update of this CD Baby review (10/15/2020), I revealed that their analytics and payment reports were inaccurate. I had been tipped off by a couple Ari’s Take Academy students (thank you!) that their streaming numbers looked a bit peculiar for the past year. I looked at my reports, and sure enough, mine looked the same.

CD Baby’s customer support and marketing director had been cagey about what was going on and no one could get a straight answer. So, I published the update.

Then Joel Andrew, President of CD Baby, who has been at the company 17 years, sat down with me to explain.

Long story short, the rate that Spotify paid CD Baby per stream, was not the rate that CD Baby paid out to their artists. 

If Spotify indicated that a song earned $.007 for a stream in the US from a premium subscriber, and $.0008 for a stream in India from an ad-supported account, CD Baby, didn’t pay these rates out to their artists. Instead, they combined them into their own ‘bundled’ rates and paid $.003 for both.

See, Spotify has about 800 different rates per stream. There isn’t just one ‘streaming rate.’ It’s not iTunes. 

A Spotify stream from a user in the US, paying a $9.99 subscription, will earn more than a stream from a user in the US on a family plan or using the free, ad-supported version. A Spotify stream from a user in India also pays way less than a stream from a user in the US. You can see why there are around 800 different rates per stream.

CD Baby thought it would be helpful to simplify this and just bundle all of this together – averaging out a lot of the various rates. So instead of nearly 800 rates, CD Baby decided to pay about 40 rates. And yes, for most of 2019 – 2020, CD Baby paid artists the same amount for a US stream as an India stream – no matter the listeners plan level.

Was this good or bad for artists looking to gain from their digital distribution? Well, it’s great if your listeners are in India because you’re getting paid much more from CD Baby than what Spotify has indicated to CD Baby those streams are worth.

But if all your listeners are in the US or New Zealand, it’s not great for you because you were getting paid way LESS from CD Baby than what Spotify indicated to CD Baby those streams are worth.

Why is this a problem? Well, artists need to know where to spend their marketing dollars.

It’s not just about ‘where am I going to tour.’ Sure, that’s a factor. But if I know I can spend $500 in Facebook ads targeting listeners in India and get $1,000 back from streaming revenue, you better believe I’m going to do that. With every other distributor, this wouldn’t work because India pays so little (from Spotify), but paid so much from CD Baby.

+How This Artist Grew To 500,000 Monthly Spotify Listeners Without Playlists

I’m using the past tense because Joel told me that CD Baby switched back to the 800 (or so) rate system so what CD Baby artists get paid now is much more accurate to what Spotify indicates they should be getting paid from their digital music distributors.

The September 2020 reports in artists’ CD Baby account will reflect the fluctuating rate.

To be clear, CD Baby wasn’t keeping any extra money than their standard 9% commission. CD Baby was paying out 91% of the money – it just wasn’t paying it out to the correct artists based on what Spotify indicated those artists actually earned.

Another thing, in 2020, CD Baby saw a massive spike in releases. 

With the live music industry shut down, it seems most artists decided to release more music. CD Baby could not handle the volume and their customer support got WAY backed up.

I had received more complaints about CD Baby’s customer support in the past 7 months than I had in the past 7 years.

As of this CD Baby review, Joel assured me that they are working on this issue. But time will tell if they’re able to catch back up and offer the same level of customer support they were once famous for.

2020 has been rough for CD Baby (from the artist’s point of view). But as a company, they have grown massively this year and went on a hiring spree because of all the new releases.



Questions About CD Baby

What artists use CD Baby?

Artists that use CD Baby include Ingrid Michaelson, Aloe Blacc, Scott Orr, and Luminara.

How much does CD Baby cost?

$9.95 per single; $29.95 per “Pro” single; $29 per album; $69 per “Pro” album

How do I create a CD Baby account?

Go to CD Baby’s website, click “Get Started,” and fill out the information on the form.



DistroKid was the first distributor to offer unlimited distribution for one annual fee and DK has been continuing to push innovation and challenge the industry ever since. DistroKid has since become one of the top 10 digital music distributors worldwide for total units sold/streamed. It’s sleek and simple interface is praised by artists.

When I wrote my first digital distribution comparison just about 7 years ago, DistroKid was the new kid (pun intended) on the block. They (well, at the time it was just 1 dude, Philip Kaplan) had just launched and had already received praise from Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) and Jeff Price (founder of TuneCore and Audiam). Neither of these founders still work at their companies – obviously they wouldn’t be heartily praising a competitor. (You’ll find many online comparisons of DistroKid vs TuneCore and DistroKid vs CD Baby.)”

And in October 2018, Spotify acquired a minority stake in DistroKid.

This just means that Spotify has a financial interest in seeing DistroKid succeed and that their partnership is a bit deeper now. DistroKid is still a totally independent music distribution company.

DistroKid was built and is run by Philip Kaplan. Philip (known as @pud by the Silicon Valley community) was once on the cover of Inc. and Fast Company magazines for his early 2000s blog F*cked Company. And he’s a kickass drummer.

DistroKid is very data focused with no bells and whistles. It’s sleek and simple. Just one page to distribute your song or album. Very, very simple.

I’ve gotten to know Philip well over the past few years, and he’s a great dude. There’s a lot to be said about the people and culture at a company. If your leaders are petty, thin-skinned, vindictive pricks (I’m not naming names here…) that ethos seeps into every aspect of the company and royally f*cks everything (and everyone) up. If your company is led by good, honest people then your employees (and customers) will feel that.

DistroKid was also one of the first to offer automatic payment splitting.

And recently they became the first to offer “recoupment” along with their payment splitting. So if I paid $2,000 for recording costs and want to split 20% with my collaborators, I can designate that I get paid $2,000 FIRST and after I recoup my costs, THEN my collaborators get the 20%. This has been a long time coming and much appreciated.

I love that DistroKid gives you the ability to set your timestamp for TikTok – huge if you’re trying to go viral on there! It’s also great that they give you the ability to download your songs. So if your hard drive crashes, your WAVs are stored in their cloud (and you can download them and get them back).

Worth noting that things that are possible on other distributors, DistroKid makes impossible.

DistroKid’s customer support will say you can’t do certain things. But that just means with them. For instance, if you want to distribute a remix titled a certain way with the remix artist as a collaborator (sharing Artist credit), DistroKid will block it because it doesn’t meet their style format. Now, DistroKid will say it’s the DSP’s style format and that they will block it, but that’s not true with other music distribution companies. I’ve tested this.

DistroKid also refused to re-distribute a song that was distributed (incorrectly) by an artist who accidentally listed the artists incorrectly (put their collaborator as “feat.” without listing them as a fellow artist – which would link to their profile on Spotify and would show up on both artists’ profiles). They said it just wasn’t possible. But in the end this artist was able to get the song distributed how they wanted it with LANDR.

Philip has setup DistroKid to be as automated as possible. Which can really streamline the company’s workflow, but can be a major headache for when artists need hands-on (non-robotic) attention – like the use cases from above.

They also now offer SMS marketing tools! Like “text ARTIST NAME to this number to be notified when I come to your town.” With SMS marketing becoming more popular and more important than email marketing (with MUCH higher open rates), DistroKid is ahead on this front now too.



DistroKid vs TuneCore

Pinning DistroKid vs TuneCore sheds light on TuneCore’s lack of payment splitting – which we’ll cover more in the TuneCore review below. They carry similar upfront and hidden fees, but DistroKid is outshined by TuneCore in the revenue reports department.

DistroKid vs CD Baby

DistroKid vs CD Baby highlights the ‘WORST’ list of CD Baby coming in with commission payments, no payment splitting, no credits or lyrics distribution, among others. Check out the end of our DistroKid review below for the short ‘WORST’ list of this digital distribution company.

Questions About DistroKid

Is DistroKid better than TuneCore?

It depends on what you’re looking for. DistroKid offers payment splitting, whereas TuneCore does not. TuneCore also charges per release/per year, and DistroKid charges $19.99/year for unlimited releases (and Ari’s Take readers get 10% discount!). But TuneCore doesn’t tack on a bunch of additional fees like DistroKid does.

Tunecore’s royalty reports are AMAZING – DistroKid has a lot to work on in that department. Here’s how I like to break it down: if you’re releasing A TON of music, DistroKid’s $20/year, unlimited releases is quite attractive. If you’re only releasing an album a year or so – Tunecore may be for you. But check out the chart for a more detailed breakdown.

Does TuneCore pay more than DistroKid?

With our data, yes, we’ve found that TuneCore typically does pay slightly more than DistroKid for streaming revenue. Read our report for a more detailed breakdown. 

Is there something better than DistroKid?

It depends. Digital distribution companies, like DistroKid, vary a lot. Each one offers different and specific features that may or may not appeal to certain musicians. 

How long does DistroKid take to upload?

DistroKid can upload your music to Spotify in 2-7 business days and Apple Music in 1-7 business days.

Ditto Music


Ditto Music doesn’t have the greatest reputation – more of my readers have complained about Ditto than any of the other digital music distributors. They don’t take any commission, are open to all, and they distribute to China and TikTok. Look out for upfront fees, hidden fees, and zero credit distribution. Now, let’s dive in:

Ok, deep breath. A lot has changed since I posted my first digital distribution comparison article 7 years ago. I’ve been threatened with lawsuits (twice), companies have ‘pivoted’ and gotten out of the music distributors business. Companies have been acquired (Believe bought TuneCore, Downtown bought CD Baby) and others have gone under.

Ditto Music is one of the companies that threatened to sue me. Well, the co-CEO Lee Parsons did, for asking a question about royalty collection.

Ditto Music is run by co-founders, co-CEOs, co-brothers, Lee and Matt Parsons. It started in the UK and was who Ed Sheeran first used to distribute his self-released music back before his record deal. Remember what I said about the culture and ethos of a company? Well, I’m sorry to say that Lee and Matt have some of the worst reputations in the space. They consistently berate their customers (publicly on message boards) and get into Twitter battles. They have very thin skin and cannot take criticism well. This is all personal, yes, but this attitude seeps into every aspect of their company – including customer service.

I have gotten more complaints from readers about Ditto than any other digital music distributors on the list. 

By far. Complaints about missed payments. Complaints that the customer service is great ONLY UNTIL you pay them money, then customer service is non-existent. Metadata errors and mislabeling/misordering of songs on the album with it taking months to get it fixed. Removals taking months. If at all.

And worst of all, complaints that Ditto rips down releases and doesn’t pay their artists. This is a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.

All in all, even though Ditto has a great marketing department (for the company – not their artists) and even though they have rapidly expanded to two countries with multiple offices and even though there are very good people who work there, I cannot recommend them in this Ditto Music review.

Needless to say, this is the only company that I am confidently putting into the ‘do not work with them’ category.



Questions About Ditto Music

Is Ditto better than DistroKid?

No. Ditto Music’s reputation and lack of customer service has placed them in the ‘do not work with’ category.

Who uses Ditto Music?

Artists who have used Ditto Music in the past include Ed Sheeran, Chance The Rapper, Sam Smith, Izzy Bizu, and Dave.

How does Ditto Music work?

By uploading your music to Ditto Music you’ll be able to distribute your music to digital service providers like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal, and more.

How much does Ditto cost?

£19/year for unlimited releases and 1 artist; £29/year for unlimited releases and 2 artists



After writing this review, I started getting a heads up from FreshTunes users of delayed payment complaints and lack of transparency in reporting – tread carefully!

This is one of the only music distribution companies that doesn’t take a commission OR a fee (like Amuse). They are funded by investors and the company makes money with upsells like LANDR mastering, artwork design and marketing (Facebook ads). Similar to Stem and Amuse, I’m slightly wary of any investor-funded company because if they lose their investor(s) the company goes under. They don’t seem to have a sustainable business model.

This company is based in Moscow, Dubai and London. The headquarters are in Dubai even though most of the employees work in Moscow. I spoke with Andrew Rudetskih and Alexandra (Sasha) Aleksandrova out of Moscow to get a better handle on their service back in 2018.

Since this review was originally posted, I have received many customer complaints that this digital distribution company has delayed payment and that their reporting isn’t very transparent. Beware!



Questions About FreshTunes

Is FreshTunes legit?

Well, it seems to be, but I haven’t used them and I have received quite a few complaints from artists about delayed payment and incomplete reports. So definitely beware. 

Is FreshTunes free?

How long does FreshTunes take?

FreshTunes can get your music onto Spotify and Apple Music within one day.

Horus Music


Artists appreciate keeping 100% of their royalties from music distribution services and Horus Music knows this well. Aside from taking no commission, they also offer payment splitting, lyric/credits distribution, and they distribute to both China and TikTok.

Aside from a few extra fees, Horus Music is known for revenue reports that are clear and intelligible. Even though they are technically open to all, they do listen to every release that comes through to make sure it is of some quality. They want to keep their reputation high with the DSPs.

Like how ONErpm has cornered the Latin American market (which is covered below in the ONErpm review), UK based Horus is starting to corner the Asian market. They have seen success in India and Korea and are expanding into China. They have a lot of mechanisms in place to help with marketing and promotion (for a fee).



Questions About Horus Music

Is Horus Music good?

There are many great features with Horus. Artists keep 100% of their royalties. Horus is open to all artists and their revenue reports are clear and intelligible.

Is Horus Music free?

No. Horus Music only offers paid plans starting at £20 per year to distribute your music to digital service providers like Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

What stores does Horus Music distribute to?

Horus Music distributes to most DSPs like Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon Music, TikTok, and more.



LANDR is known to be both convenient and affordable – making it a go-to for many artists that are looking to keep costs minimal. Anyone can distribute music through their platform and take advantage of their distribution to China and TikTok. Just be sure to keep an eye out for a few upfront and hidden fees. They also don’t provide payment splitting, lyrics distribution, or songwriter/producer credits distribution.

So, if you’ve heard of LANDR Distribution before, you probably know them as an automated mastering service. They have struck partnerships with seemingly every company in the music industry with their one-click mastering service. They have also since launched a samples library and a marketplace to hire recording professionals called Network.

They joined the music distribution companies game in June of 2017. Quietly. Without telling any of their partners. And word on the street is, it royally pissed off some of their distribution partners – which severed some of those relationships.

They have a successful digital distribution arm of their company now and in writing this LANDR Distribution review, I’ve heard great things.



Questions About LANDR

Is LANDR good for distribution?

Yes. I have heard great things about LANDR’s music distribution services.

Where does LANDR distribute to?

LANDR distributes to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Shazam, TikTok, Pandora, and 150+ more.

How much does LANDR charge for distribution?

LANDR’s distribution costs range from $9 to $89 per year for distribution.

Is LANDR free for distribution?



A huge benefit of ONErpm is that they are one of the few music distribution companies on the list where there are no fees whatsoever. If you don’t mind the 15% commission, you can distribute unlimited songs for free (without having to go through an acceptance process). And if you start to catch, the A&R team at ONErpm may offer you a record deal – with an advance, marketing budget and the weight of the company behind you.

They currently distribute about 2,500 releases a day (and have over 520,000 total artist accounts). But with offices all over the world and nearly 300 employees, they seem to be doing alright. I haven’t heard of many complaints from their artists.

ONErpm operates as a DIY artist distributor and full on record label concurrently. Meaning, like the other ‘open to all’ music distributors, any artist can distribute their music with ONErpm, but they also have a full-fledged record label. And a hybrid of the two. 20% of their revenue comes from the DIY community (‘unsigned’ artists) and 80% of their revenue is from the label services side of their business.

If you do get ‘signed’ to them, they can start layering on services which will increase their commission from 15% up to 30% or even 50% if you get the full ‘label services’ package. Worth noting that major record deals are typically 85/15 in the label’s favor. Most indie deals are 50/50. So this is structured like that.

ONErpm is very advanced with their YouTube monetization and have their own “Multi-channel Network” (MCN). If you get accepted into that you will get much more favorable monetization rates and direct ad deals and can earn quite a bit from your YouTube. The channels in their main MCN are currently getting over 300 million views a day (and they have about 20 other MCNs in the ONErpm universe – 7,000 channels globally).

ONErpm launched in 2010 by Emmanuel Zunz without any investor money. ONErpm has never taken investment money. And the company has now grown to nearly 300 employees in offices all over world including Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Spain, Russia, Peru, Nigeria, Nashville, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and 4 offices in Brazil. With Emmanuel still at the helm.

Emmanuel recently stepped me through his backend CMS on how the label-side workflow functions. Everything from playlist pitching, marketing, PR, YouTube MCN, and so forth.

Even though Emmanuel is American, ONErpm is very globally focused – namely in emerging markets. Known to their artists as one of the best music distribution companies, and business is booming.



Questions About ONErpm

How much does ONErpm cost?

ONErpm is free to distribute your music with, but they take a 15% commission on your royalties.

Is ONErpm good?

Is ONErpm free?

Yes. You can distribute your music for free with ONErpm, but they will take a 15% commission on your royalties.

What artists use ONErpm?

Metric, Tame Impala, Ozomotli, Erasmo Carlos, and Leoni. They have more than 520,000 artist accounts.




RouteNote offers great music distribution services for beginners because the platform is simple. Some RouteNote artists are earning a living from music distribution to China alone.

RouteNote has been around since 2008 and has held steady even though it hasn’t made the giant waves of the CD Babys, TuneCores and DistroKids of the space. It has a solid team of 70 in the office (most are actually in working bands) with 60 developers in India. The founder/CEO Steven Finch is originally from Australia and moved to London to run a recording studio.

RouteNote was one of the first music distribution companies to partner with SoundCloud. They have a small record label and management services. RouteNote moderates the data and if they see songs that are starting to catch they will target tastemakers and playlist editors. “Artists don’t typically know that they are being pushed,” Steve told me.

RouteNote is one of the first distributors to reach all of the Chinese outlets in addition to India, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia (with 193 total countries). They boast that they cover “95% of the world’s music market” and are “constantly partnering with extra stores.” Steve predicted that in “5-10 years (the Asian market) is going to be crazy.” They have gotten in on the front end of it all.

He said currently some artists are currently earning a living from the revenue just based from China and that the younger generation is very strong in China.

Steve told me that “mobile phones changed everything” in India and China. It’s driving the youth who might be in very rural areas who before would not have the opportunity to find, consume (and pay for) music.    



Questions About RouteNote

Is RouteNote really free?

Yes. RouteNote offers free music distribution services (for a 15% commission), but they also offer paid tiers for added features.

Is RouteNote better than TuneCore?

RouteNote offers more distribution to services in countries like India and China than TuneCore. RouteNote also has artists living off of their income from China alone.

How long does RouteNote take to approve?

We recommend uploading your music to RouteNote at least 4 weeks prior to your release, but they can get your music onto Spotify and Apple Music within 1-5 days.

Is RouteNote a publisher?

While RouteNote’s main business is distribution of masters, RouteNote does offer in-house admin publishing services as an opt-in service.


Songtradr Distribution


Songtradr is one of the newest music distribution companies. They have in house sync agents and a robust music library searching system. They have been growing rapidly and regularly get syncs for their artists. They launched their digital distribution arm in June 2018. To support artists during the nightmare that was 2020, they offered free distribution with 0% commission through the end of 2020.

Songtradr was started by Paul and Victoria Wiltshire (they’re married). They are both musicians with a lot of experience in the sync space. Songtradr started as a sync licensing service.

It’s kind of like a sync licensing company meets a music library. 

Songtradr uses 3rd party music distributors out of Europe for the actual distribution. Because of this, they have to deal with currency conversion. I got a look at some music royalties distribution reports from August of 2019 and their Spotify payments were nearly half what other distributors receive. They have said they have remedied this (only after I pointed this out). That’s the issue with companies who get into distribution after the fact – pretty steep learning curve. I’ve seen updated royalty reports and it seems they have worked out this issue for since the latest update to this Songtradr review.



Questions About Songtradr

Is Songtradr legit?

Yes. Songtradr’s services, like music distribution and sync licensing, are legit.

Is Songtradr really free?

Yes. However, Songtradr does take a 10% commission on their free plan.

How much does Songtradr cost?

Songtradr offers a free tier for their music distribution services with a 10% commission. Otherwise, their fees fluctuate based on the number of artists. See the chart for a more detailed breakdown.

How do you earn money on Songtradr?

Songtradr allows musicians to distribute their music to digital service providers like Apple Music and Spotify. Once distributed, Songtradr will collect the royalties and pay them out to the rights holders. Songtradr also specializes in sync licensing and many artists have had success getting their music placed with Songtradr. 



Soundrop caters to a very specific artist and is a great platform for music distribution when looking at the big picture. Soundrop is meant for artists who primarily play cover songs. It’s only $9.99 to distribute a cover (cheapest of anyone out there).

You should go check out their Twitter account. It’s hilarious. The best in the biz. Beyond goofy. It’s completely unprofessional, and I f*cking love it for that.

It’s run by the head of Soundrop, Pony. Soundrop was created when CD Baby took over Loudr’s distribution service back in 2017 when Loudr got out of distribution (and then was acquired by Spotify).

With streamlined cover distribution and payment splitting with no additional fees, it’s solid if you distribute covers regularly and need to split up payments. It’s meant for collaborators. Like Stem, it had payment splitting from the very start and is focused around getting everyone paid their appropriate music royalties (so you don’t have to deal with handling paying your collaborators).

Their reports, however, leave much to be desired. They basically just give you an excel sheet and say “good luck!”

Soundrop is technically located in the CD Baby building, but the services are completely separate and Pony mentioned that he doesn’t really talk to the CD Baby people very much.

Soundrop isn’t meant to compete with the other services (like their sister CD Baby). It’s meant to simplify distribution for a very specific kind of creator.



Questions About Soundrop

Is Soundrop free?

Soundrop is free to distribute originals, but it costs $9.99 per release to distribute cover songs. And Soundrop takes a 15% commission on royalties.

What happened to Soundrop?

In 2017, Soundrop was created when CD Baby acquired Loudr’s distribution service. Loudr was acquired by Spotify in 2018 and dissolved their public facing operations. 

Is Soundrop legit?



Spinnup is an independent music distribution service for any artist who may want get “upstreamed” to a record label in the future. Also, its user-friendly interface makes it easy for artists to manage their music.

Spinnup is a distributor that was started in Sweden and now has offices in London, Germany and France. It’s under the Universal Music Group (UMG) arm and is meant to discover emerging talent to potentially ‘upstream’ to UMG. Upstream means that, because UMG can see all the Spinnup data they can jump on an artist that starts to catch and sign them. Do you want to sign to UMG? Well, that’s an entirely different article. But why would you want to give up ownership of your music plus 85% of your royalties? If your music is earning you revenue and you need a fat upfront check (like an advance) there are royalty advance services out there like The Music Fund that can help you with the capital.

Spinnup did tell me that over 100 artists upstreamed to UMG from Spinnup. 

The focus of Spinnup is very European – not UK or US. They use FUGA for as their music distributors which means they have access to FUGA’s power and higher streaming rates.

I like that they are a community driven company and have programs where they work with disadvantaged kids, giving them studio time, teaming them up with mentors and helping them get their music distributed.



Questions About Spinnup

Is Spinnup any good?

Yes. Spinnup allows artists to keep 100% of their royalties, is open to all, distributes to TikTok, and their revenue reports are clear and intelligible.

How much does Spinnup cost?

Single = £7.99 / $9.99 / €9.99; EP = £14.99 / $19.99 / €19.99; Album = £29.99 / $39.99 / €39.99

How do I get signed to Universal Music Group?

Spinnup is under Universal Music Group. One of Spinnup’s selling points is that if you start to pop, UMG can take notice if you’re on Spinnup and “upstream” you.



Stem is a big music distribution services contender. They boast a very high playlist plugging success rate and every client gets a dedicated project manager. Stem has the best payment splitting infrastructure built right into their reports. They had payment splitting from the get-go and everyone else in the space has been playing catch up. Stem is invite-only (submission based) which allows the team to give personal attention to their clients.

Stem is run by CEO and co-founder Milana Rabkin. It is worth pointing out that this is one of the ONLY music distributors run by a woman.

Stem is investment backed – meaning that their business model hasn’t been profitable until recently. In 2019 when they realized that more artists did not mean better business (just more money spent with customer support and tech), they pivoted. They booted a significant number of artists who did not meet their earnings threshold and upped their commission from 5% to 10%.

With its remaining clients, Stem has a good reputation so this was probably a good move in the end (even though it left many artists out in the cold).

What’s really interesting with how Stem runs payment splitting is: all parties must approve splits before music royalties are distributed. This can be a blessing and a curse. You know nothing is getting distributed until everyone agrees on splits, but at the same time, if this hasn’t been agreed upon well in advance some people could hold out demanding a higher cut. This is why you should work with split sheets from the get-go!



Questions About Stem Music

How much does Stem music distribution cost?

Stem’s services are free to use, but they take a 10% commission on your royalties.

What is Stem distribution best for?

Stem has a great payment splitting infrastructure built right into their reports (however they do not offer recoupment as of now – like DistorKid does. Stem also has a very hands-on approach and actively pitches their releases to DSPs like Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Pandora for placement. 

Who owns Stem distribution?



Symphonic has positioned itself as one of the strong indie music distribution services. They now don’t offer a standard terms and conditions like the majority of the other distributors on this comparison, but negotiate every deal separately. Every artist is now vetted and they are only ‘signing’ artists they believe in. Instead of charging up front fees, they now take 15% (like AWAL) and offer additional services (like playlist plugging, PR and advances for select clients).

They now have offices in Brooklyn, Nashville, Tampa, Bogotá and Denver which is definitely helpful to get some facetime if you’re in the area.

Symphonic now has a lot more services other than just straight digital distribution. And with their new hires, they have direct contacts at Spotify, Apple and the other DSPs to help get features and playlist placement.

Symphonic has created a niche in the Latin music market and are actively positioning themselves as the best music distribution service for urban, electronic and Latin artists (Nick used to specialize in hip hop and electronic music when he worked at Caroline Distribution). Not to say they won’t work with others, they are just specializing in these genres. Many of their clients make beats, and Beatport is a major partner for Symphonic. Many music distribution companies won’t touch Beatport (their reputation for payments is iffy), but Symphonic is all-in.



Questions About Symphonic

Is Symphonic free?

Yes. Symphonic Distribution is free, but they take a 15% (flexible) commission.

Does Symphonic distribute to Beatport?

Yes. Symphonic distributes to Beatport and many other digital service providers.

How much does Symphonic distribution cost?

Symphonic Distribution is free to use, but they take a 15% (flexible) commission.



TuneCore is most known for its 0% commission, but high fee per-release music distribution services. It’s hard to justify $50/album/year when DistroKid charges $20/unlimited songs/year and offers payment splitting.

TuneCore’s analytics and sales reports are some of the best in the biz. They offer the ability to carve out territories which can be helpful if you have a territory specific record deal (like a Brazil-only record deal offer, or something like that).

So, TuneCore has been around almost as long as CD Baby and you’ll often see TuneCore vs CD Baby comparisons. It originally set itself apart from CD Baby initially because it offered 0% commission (you receive 100% of your royalties), but makes its revenue by charging yearly fees (which can really add up).

TuneCore was acquired by Believe Digital a couple years back. After the long-time CEO Scott Ackerman stepped down in May of 2020, the vibe and energy of the company dramatically shifted from the detached, cold, corporate environment where everything needed to be run through a PR firm, to where it is now – where it has returned to its artist-friendly, indie focused ethos.

TuneCore has a publishing arm (powered by Sentric). I have a full review on their publishing service here.

TuneCore offers revenue advances based on past streaming royalties

I do have to give a shoutout for their revenue advances feature which IS super innovative – where if your past releases have generated consistent revenue, TuneCore will advance you the money for future releases so you can have more of a budget up front for production and marketing. That alone sets TuneCore at the top when you compare distribution companies.



TuneCore vs DistroKid

It really depends on what you’re looking for. DistroKid charges only $20/year for unlimited releases, but has lots of hidden fees to tack on additional services. Whereas Tunecore charges $50/album with very few additional fees. DistroKid offers payment splitting (with recoupment), TuneCore does not. TuneCore has excellent analytics reports, DistroKid’s reports leave much to be desired. Both take 0% commission.

TuneCore vs CD Baby

Comparing TuneCore vs CD Baby on the other hand – TuneCore takes the cake with CD Baby missing out by taking commission, not giving proper credits and lyrics distribution, among a few others. Although both TuneCore and CD Baby don’t offer payment splitting. TuneCore passes through 100% of your royalties whereas CD Baby keeps 9% – passing through 91% of your royalties. They both have admin publishing services directly built into their services. 

+Songtrust vs. Sentric vs. Tunecore Publishing vs. CD Baby Pro Publishing 

Questions About TuneCore

How much does TuneCore really cost?

Album = $29.99 (first year) and $49.99 each following year; Single = $9.99/year; Ringtone = $19.99/year

Why is TuneCore so expensive?

TuneCore has been around since 2005 and are one of the most well-known distributors in the space. Their high price tag can be justified by their 0% commission, distribution to China, and some of the best revenue reports of any distributor.

Does TuneCore own your music?

No. TuneCore does not own your music if you’re using their music distribution services.

Is TuneCore better than DistroKid?

It depends. TuneCore doesn’t offer payment splitting, but their revenue reports are much better than DistroKid’s.
TuneCore also charges per release/per year, and DistroKid charges $19.99/year for unlimited releases (and Ari’s Take readers get 10% discount!). But TuneCore doesn’t tack on a bunch of additional fees like DistroKid does.

Tunecore’s royalty reports are AMAZING – DistroKid has a lot to work on in that department. Here’s how I like to break it down: if you’re releasing A TON of music, DistroKid’s $20/year, unlimited releases is quite attractive. If you’re only releasing an album a year or so – Tunecore may be for you. But check out the chart for a more detailed breakdown.



United Masters are big in the hip hop space. Some of the best things about this music distribution company is the no hidden fees, their revenue reports are clear, and they distribute to China and TikTok. Non flattering qualities include that they take commission from their artists, they have upfront fees, and they don’t split payments or distribute lyrics.

UnitedMasters has been making waves the past couple years. They just surpassed 500,000 artists and have become a major player in the space. UnitedMasters was founded by industry big wig Steve Stoute. Worth noting, UnitedMasters (UM) is one of the ONLY music distributors with a black CEO. UM is another investment backed company – which got around $70 million from investors like Alphabet Inc and 21st Century Fox.

UM is positioning itself as a label services company to compete with Stem, AWAL, Symphonic, The Orchard, InGrooves, and Believe. They offer advances to some artists (with different revenue sharing models), brand partnerships, and a more hands-on approach (if you’re a priority artist).

They boast that their sync licensing division is strong at that they have direct deals with NBA 2K20. UM regularly run contests for artists to submit music. Winners of these contests get flown out to NYC for various promotional opportunities.

They have struck sync deals with Hulu, Bose, JBL, and NFL.

UnitedMasters has focused on hip hop from the beginning and that’s where their focus remains. Like AWAL, Symphonic and Amuse, UM will “throw gasoline on the fire” if something starts to bubble up. They have the ability (and the money) to help artists pop. But you have to get your song going first on your own before getting backed by this independent music distribution company.



Questions About UnitedMasters

What artists use UnitedMasters?

NLE Choppa, Lil Tecca, Tobe Nwigwe, Lil XXEL, and many more.

Do Youngboy own UnitedMasters?

No. UnitedMasters is owned by Translation Enterprises. Steve Stoute is the CEO.

Is UnitedMasters a record label?

No. UnitedMasters provides music distribution services for independent artists while retaining 0% ownership. 

Which music distribution companies come out on top?

There is no “best” or “worst” distributor. You have to look at your own, personal situation and own, personal career to figure out what is best for you. There is no one way to make it in the New Music Business. And there is no one best music distribution company.

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

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