If you’re looking to release your music, it’s important to consider how music distribution services can benefit you. In this article, we run through a few of the most popular and evaluate what that means to you the musician.
There are a lot of digital distribution services available offering similar services with certain benefits to help get your music out there to DJs and fans. However, with so many choices, it’s hard to know which distributor suits you.
Traditionally, before the digital revolution, music distribution was bundled into a contract with your record label and they would see to it that your track would be available to buy in your local Rubadub, Phonica or Amoeba music.
Today, however, that’s typically only the case with top tier artists. As with most things online, the democratisation of technology has meant that digital distribution is one way you can self manage placing your tracks into digital stores.
Before choosing a service, it’s important to make sure you’ll receive 100% royalties and you’re not paying any hidden fees. You should also consider how the service will help reach your intended audience.
Other questions to ask are: Are you just starting out or is it time to expand and pay a little extra for exclusive services? Do you want your music pushed on streaming platforms like Spotify? Do you want to be on Beatport and Juno? Might it even be an idea to go full DIY and release through the likes of Bandcamp?
To help you choose, we’ve picked out a small selection of the best services currently on the market.
Originally an online algorithm mastering service, LANDR has gone one step further, now offering distribution to streaming platforms.
Let’s take a glance at LANDR’s packages:
- Single release: £9
- EP/Album release: £29
- Commission: 15%
- Single release: £5
- EP/Album release: £19
- Commission: 9%
- Single release: Included
- EP/Album release: Included
- Commission: Included
Included with each package
- Artist-friendly distribution
- Instant AI mastering
- Collaboration workflows
- Promotion tools
- Powerful stats
- Free educational content
LANDR has developed significantly over the past few years and was at it’s birth financially backed by rapper NAS. They offer a full service from mastering to distribution giving you significant control on one platform.
However, the jury remains undecided on how many producers are ready to make the leap to algorithm mastering. As with most things in life, mastering this way is not for everyone and doesn’t pretend to be. It’s subjective. Attack’s advice would be to try both options, budget allowing, and see if you prefer traditional mastering or not.
iMusician is the Swiss start-up with cost benefits to boast about. Their ‘pay once’ model aims to disrupt an established market place.
Let’s take a look at iMusician’s packages:
- Single release €9
- EP release €19
- 30% commission
- 1 store
- Starting at €19
- EP release €29
- 15% commission
- 250+ store
- Starting at €39
- EP release €79
- 0% commmision
- 250+ store
- €499 (paid yearly)
- Single release included
- EP release included
- 0% commission
- 250+ store
One of the biggest benefits to iMusician is there are no annual renewal fees and 24 hour email support. This is particularly helpful for example if you intend to distribute a single on their regular plan. Pay once and there will be no extra costs. You will continue to receive royalties with no extra payment to iMusician, other than commission.
iMusician’s distribution reaches over 250+ stores which is over 100 more than Tunecore, the company with the largest market share in this sector.iMusician is on Beatport, Traxsource, and Juno Downloads, three great platforms for electronic musicians. Your music will be released under iMusician’s genre-specific label or you can register your own label for a one-time fee of 20 euros or free with a Rockstar release or pro unlimited subscription. If low cost, high reach is your goal, iMusician is likely the right platform for you.
Lastly, YouTube Content ID is also included with Rockstar and Pro Unlimited. This means that every release is monetised on YouTube without meeting their minimum threshold of subscribers or plays.
Tunecore will be a familiar name to Attack readers having been around the longest. Their approach is different with just one distribution package while they try to upsell other services.
Let’s look at Tunecore’s distribution package:
- Single release: £7.49
- Album release: £23.99
- Distribution to streaming platforms such as Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Amazon Music and more
- High-end statistics from the Music Publishing Administration
- Keep 100% of your sales revenue & copyrights
- Make money on YouTube and Instagram
- Collect your worldwide songwriter royalties
Celebrating 15 years in business this year, they have gained considerable market share and refined their offerings in line with developing trends. Their multi-faceted model provides users social media campaigns, online mastering from LANDR rival AfterMaster Audio Labs, and music publishing services
The standout feature is 0% commission. On the face of it, it’s a great deal and Tunecore has grown to a size where they can offer this. However, as ever, the devil is in the detail. Whilst Tunecore undoubtedly offers an excellent service if you wish to release a single, is £7.49 each year the track is out. It’s not huge a sum but in business, it pays to be conscious of all costs, both big and small. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the album cost is £23.99 for the first year and £39.99 the following year.
While Tunecore is excellent for licensing and receiving data about how your tracks are selling, some of the extra costs can add up and their credits system can be a minefield.
At the time of writing, the darling of the dance music world. A different ‘feel’ to all the above and generally better suited for certain genres.
Not to negate from the previously listed service, but at the time of writing Bandcamp has become the darling of the dance music world with their honourable commission waivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their commitment to the community has been widely praised and not just in this publication.
Bandcamp is ideal for those wanting a DIY approach. Simply set up an account and sell your music with a ‘crate digger experience online’.
Let’s look at their packages:
- Free to sign up for
- 15% commission to Bandcamp
- Full control over track pricing
- Sell merchandise with a 15% commission to Bandcamp
- Search engine optimised
- High-quality downloads: WAV, AIFF
- Same commission structure as FREE account
- Batch uploads
- Targeted messagin
- Private streams
- Personal domain
- Deeper stats
Bandcamp sits in an adjacent stream to LANDR, iMusician and Tunecore. It’s particularly well suited for more leftfield underground sounds but doesn’t typically reach fans in other genres.
It’s an idea to assess whether your tracks will perform well on Bandcamp and if you have enough attention to your artist profile in real life on social media to draw attention to your Bandcamp profile. If not, the digital distributers above might be for you.
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