For this article we have reviewed distributors based on the following categories
– Success rate with Spotify playlist pitching
– Customer service
– Key Features
This is a completely unbiased review, we have no relationship with any distributor, nor are there any affiliate links within this article.
We’ve surveyed artists across various platforms to collect opinions on music distribution companies as well as taking an analytical approach to each platform to compare their packages and customer experience.
In early 2019, Spotify announced their recommended distributors, as getting on Official playlists is a priority for the majority of artists who are releasing music this would be something to strongly consider when selecting your distributor. Even though some distributors pay out more in net royalties than others, the gains from being added to a Spotify Official playlist will far out-weigh the royalty payments you’d receive from not being added to any playlists.
Here’s Spotify’s preferred distributors:
This has helped us narrow down the options to consider for this review due to the force of Spotify in the industry and how their influence can help an artist blow up overnight simply by being added to a few of their large playlists. Spotify stated that the distributor you use does not affect any decisions about how content is treated by their service, however, before the Spotify for Artist’s platform was released, the old method of submitting to Spotify playlists would be each individual curator’s Google form which they created to allow people to submit. And on every form, they asked for the distributor you’ve used, which is an indication that the distributor does play a key role in the consideration for your track to be added to a Spotify playlist.
Customer Service – Winner: Distrokid
When working with Burstimo, we have a lot of things we need from your distributor so we can pitch your music to get it in the right places pre-release. This can cause a few issues as distributors aren’t generally set up to deal with pre-release so these requests can come a little out of the blue for them. From going back through previous emails dealing with these 3 distributors, we found Distrokid to have the most personal approach and quickest turn-around in terms of dealing with requests. It’s worth keeping in mind that the cost of distribution is as little as $20 per year, so less than $2 per month. So, hiring full-time support staff to fulfil requests can be costly for a music distributor who could be dealing with thousands of requests per day.
Price – Winner: Distrokid
There’s a mix across the board of what’s better, an annual fee or giving up a proportion of your revenue from royalties. This to me is a mistake artists are making because everyone always thinks their next release is going to blow up, which means that you find a royalties calculator and see how much money you’re going to earn from 100,000 to 1m streams. But unfortunately, 99% of artists don’t make it above 1000 streams on Spotify and the distributors know this, so the annual fees are the most profitable option for them in the long term.
$9.95 per song – 9% commission
$19.99 per year unlimited songs – 0% commission.
$42.50 per song – 0% Commission
Based on the Distrokid’s website, they charge $19.99 per year for unlimited songs and albums and 0% commission, which really is by far the best deal of the 3. If you only plan to release one song this year then CD Baby is the one to go for, but I very much doubt this applies to many readers of this blog.
Of course, if you stop paying the annual fee there’s a likelihood your royalties will no longer be collected and your music is taken down, whereas with CD Baby you pay a single upload fee and your music will never be taken offline. However, my assumption is that if your songs are a success you’re going to keep releasing and therefore will be willing to continue paying the annual fee of Distrokid.
As for EmuBands, this would only be an option if you are an established artist who is confident that you will be receiving over 100,000 streams.
Features – Winner: CD Baby
EmuBands give their users instant access to Spotify for Artists, which means you can submit to Spotify Editorial playlists immediately, as well as receive instant verification for your Spotify profile for that extra credibility.
EmuBands also includes Shazam registration, this means that if anyone hears your track while they’re on the move, such as played on the radio, at a party or even used in the background of a YouTube video they can Shazam your track and immediately add it to their own Spotify playlist to listen later.
CD Baby’s key feature is their Show.co platform which allows their users to create pre-save links. This is available to non-CD Baby customers but the partnership between the two brands complement each other well. Pre-saves aren’t a native Spotify feature, it involves your fans allowed Show.co to control their Spotify account and automatically save your track as soon as it is released, this can have a positive impact on the Spotify algorithm and help your track to get picked up by Discover Weekly playlists quicker and possibly even editorial playlists.
Instagram music is becoming more and more popular and having your track available for people to use in their Instagram stories is a great way for people to discover the track, so we recommend upgrading to the CD Baby pro package which will include this option.
Distrokid isn’t as feature-rich as CD Baby, however they do have the feature to allow people to split payments. This is similar to splitting an Uber-fare, you are all part of the same track and as royalties come in, they are split accordingly. Every contributor to the track will need to have a DistroKid account which they’ll need to pay for, so unless you really have communication issues within your band, we wouldn’t recommend opting for this as it could end up costing significantly more.
Our Verdict – Winner: Distrokid
When you’re an emerging artist, the price and the opportunity to have your music discovered by a new audience are your two main priorities. So, for us we think Distrokid just edges it due the cost effectiveness and their ability to move quickly. This means you give yourself the best chance to get added to Spotify playlists due to how early you can get your track uploaded to the platform and submitted to the editors without breaking the bank. They also have a fantastic reputation for accurate royalty collection and prompt regular payments. Spotify now owns a stake in Distrokid, which means having your tracks released through them sets you up with extra assurance for the future, with the theory that Distrokid and Spotify’s relationship may be brought even closer with direct uploads to their platform.
There are of course other music distribution companies out there such as Tunecore and AWAL who we have heard great things about, but after Spotify’s announcement we felt taking a close look at their 3 platforms which they recommend.