The 8 Best Music Distribution Services for Artists in 2024

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best music distribution services

How to release your music and get heard.

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Digital music distribution is how you bring your music to listeners.

The Best Music Distribution Services

Here are the top distribution providers covered in this article.

1. LANDR
2. TuneCore
3. CD Baby
4. DistroKid
5. United Masters
6. Symphonic
7. Record Union
8. Octiive

It’s the service that makes it possible to put singles and albums on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music—and get paid for the streams.

But choosing a music distributor isn’t as simple as it may seem at first. After all, these services represent your catalog online and coordinate payouts on your behalf. They offer different packages at different price points with different features included.

Watch this before releasing music

So which should you choose? In this article, I’ll offer a detailed breakdown of the major distribution services as well as all the background info you need to make a confident decision.

Let’s get started.

What is digital distribution?

Music distribution is how music gets delivered to the listener. It’s a third-party service that connects creators, labels and other rights holders with marketplaces like streaming services and licensing platforms where music is consumed or sold.

When you work with a distributor, they take care of everything required to list your music in commercial outlets online. And they ensure that you get paid when your music is streamed or sold.

In that sense, digital distribution is the successor to traditional distribution networks that stocked physical releases at retailers across a regional market.

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But digital or physical, the result is the same. Your music can’t be paid for if it’s not on the shelf for sale!

Digital music distribution turns your finished tracks into a product that can be bought and sold—a process called ‘monetization’ at the heart of the business of music.

Digital music distribution turns your finished tracks into a product that can be bought and sold—a process called ‘monetization’ at the heart of the business of music.

Why should artists pay for digital music distribution?

By 2023, it should be clear—streaming is the dominant medium for music consumption.

Physical formats like CD, cassette and vinyl may remain popular among enthusiasts, but the vast majority of listeners already get their music primarily via streaming.

And according to industry research, streaming market share is only expected to grow.

For independent artists, that means your music needs to be broadly available on streaming platforms to get discovered, heard and paid for. But making that happen is easier said than done.

Managing the relationship between your intellectual property and the platforms’ end user can be a minefield. It’s the reason why big name artists have entire legal teams advocating for their copyrights.

But that doesn’t mean independent artists should go it alone. Even if you don’t make your entire income from music, you still deserve to be paid for the intellectual works you create. That’s what distribution is for!

The best digital music distribution services for musicians

With the basics covered, here are the top music distributors, ranked.

1. LANDR Distribution

LANDR is the only distribution service that gives you access to professional mastering, global distribution and much more all on a single subscription plan.

Unlimited distribution plans start at just $23.99 per year. You keep 100% of copyrights, so you’ll always keep full ownership of anything you put online through LANDR distribution, and if you cancel your music will stay live on streaming sites.

But LANDR Studio is even better. It includes the best of everything the platform has to offer, including unlimited distribution.

Releasing with LANDR gets your music on over 250 music stores and platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Music, Tidal and more.

It also allows artists to upload songs to TikTok and Instagram, if they want to give fans the ability to use their songs in TikTok videos or Instagram stories.

Plus LANDR handles YouTube Content ID for your music, so you can monetize your streams anytime someone uses your content on YouTube.

It even offers an easy-to-follow reporting dashboard to track your success and fan base to make important decisions about your next moves as an artist.

Today LANDR is a preferred partner with Spotify and Apple music, making it easier and faster than ever to claim your profile on each platform.

Not only that, LANDR Distribution comes with a dedicated team of human support staff to help you resolve release issues quickly and painlessly.

At the end of the day we know that you just want to get your music out in the world. Which is why we’re happy to be offering such a simple and effective way to do it that’s artist-first and transparent.

There’s multiple pricing plans with different features and benefits, so stop by and take a look at what we’re offering.

2. TuneCore

TuneCore gets you worldwide digital music distribution for albums, singles and ringtones. It also gives you a Music Publishing Administration pack that allows you to get royalties and syncs.

TuneCore will get you on: Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube Music and more.

Our favorite TuneCore feature: the Music Publishing Administration is a one stop shop for licensing your music. Their statistics are among the best to track how your releases are selling.

Check their pricing here.

3. CD Baby

Go for both digital and physical (CD and vinyl) distribution worldwide with CD Baby. Distribute albums or singles. Also get sync licensing for TV, film, and games.

Unlike other distributors, CD Baby’s pricing means you pay per release. This may appeal to those who don’t want a subscription plan, but it comes at a price—you’ll give up some of your royalties.

CD Baby will get you on: Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music and more.

Our favorite CD Baby feature: The combo between physical and digital distribution gets you a full distro package. They’re the only who collect SoundExchange (Rights Owner) royalties for you (thanks for the tip Ari).

Check their pricing here.

4. DistroKid

DistroKid is a big name in digital music distribution. They’re one of most commonly used distributors today.

That’s because of their affordable base rate annual fee and they offer plans that allow users to 100% of all commissions.

But, their low-cost plans are known to quickly ratchet up in cost with the additional add-ons the company offers and they aren’t known for having the best technical support.

Some artists have also voiced their concerns about the company’s less than transparent pricing that requires users to keep paying to keep their songs live on streaming platforms.

5. United Masters

Learn how the world of sync placements work. Read - <a href="https://blog.landr.com/music-licensing-and-music-publishing/">Music Licensing vs. Music Publishing: Your Guide to Syncs and Placements.</a>

Learn how the world of sync placements work. Read - Music Licensing vs. Music Publishing: Your Guide to Syncs and Placements.

United Masters is another distribution platform worth checking out, especially if you have a budget for its more advanced features.

The platform offers opportunities to submit music for sync placements with big brands and also boasts a beat market place where beat makes can sell tracks to rappers and producers.

If you go with United Masters, you’ll be able to access everything from its fairly versatile mobile app.

Our favorite United Masters feature: The sync placement opportunities that could get your music used in commercials and TV (if you’re lucky).

6. Symphonic

Symphonic distributes your music worldwide. They get all your music marketing, licensing and publishing needs fulfilled. Symphonic does both physical and digital distribution.

Our favorite Symphonic feature: it gets your music on Beatport, especially good for electronic projects.

Check their pricing here.

7. Record Union

record union digital music distribution

Record Union gives you global digital distribution. Get your music on all major online music platforms – including Tidal, Juno Download and Beatport. Through a partnership with Sony Music, Record Union offers artist opportunities that will help you get heard.

Our favorite Record Union feature: their upgraded Discovery Tool gives your music more visibility. They’re also among the only distributors to offer distribution on Juno Download.

Find out more about their pricing.

8. Octiive

Octiive provides the largest online music distribution channel in the world. It reaches hundreds of online stores and streaming companies in more than 140 countries.

Octiive will get you on: Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Tidal, Beatport and more.

Our favorite Octiive feature: Unlimited uploads through the largest digital distribution channel in the world.

What should you look for in a distributor?

With the main players out of the way, here are the distinguishing factors you should consider as you shop for a distributor:

1. Preferred provider status

Submitting copyrighted material and settling payouts with the giants of tech can be complicated.

Services like Spotify and Apple Music are doing everything they can to provide the best possible experience for their customers.

That means distro submissions need to meet a high standard that remains consistent across thousands of releases.

It’s the reason why some distributors are preferred over others by the major platforms.

Preferred distributor status means a faster, more responsive relationship with the big platforms.

Preferred distributor status means a faster, more responsive relationship with the big platforms.

It’s a night and day difference when it comes to how issues with your release can be resolved.

2. Strong customer support

Rights management is a complicated legal relationship.

When real money is on the line, minor distinctions can have a big impact.

It’s the reason why not every release gets delivered to streaming as smoothly as you might expect.

For example, copyrighted material in samples, revenue splits with co-creators or licensing for cover songs can all cause delays and issues in the process.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may need the help of your distro’s customer support to get your release back on track.

Unfortunately, not every support department can keep up with the volume of requests from its users.

When your entire release cycle depends on hitting your target launch date, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Choose a distributor with a great reputation for customer service.

3. Competitive price

Every dollar you pay for digital music distribution is a cost to settle before your earnings can go to you.

That means price is an important factor when it comes to distribution plans. Unlike the other features that may influence your decision, price affects your bottom line and should impact your choice.

Compare plans and providers, and make sure you’re getting the best possible value for money.

Be especially careful to watch out for hidden costs. Some plans tack on fees you might not be expecting based on the stated price in your plan.

Don’t pay more than you have to for digital distribution!

4. Favorable revenue split

With fees and other costs attached, you may be surprised to learn that not all distros let you keep 100% of your earnings. That’s a big deal.

Streaming revenue is known to grow slowly for developing artists. That makes it extra painful if your distro plan eats into the earnings you take home.

Unfortunately, this is the reality with some distribution providers. Managing a large library of releases comes with costs that need to be covered somehow.

Some music distributors opt for a combination of fees and revenue sharing that may seem attractive upfront, but can leave you with even less when your royalty check comes through.

5. Outlets distributed

Music streaming is a huge landscape with different markets, regions and providers. It may surprise you to learn there are many more out there than you may have heard of.

For example, did you know YouTube and TikTok are now considered alongside Spotify and Apple Music in discussions of streaming royalties?

These platforms have to comply with copyright law like any other media entity. That means you’re entitled to royalties from your views there just like music-only services.

And that’s before you even consider regional streaming outlets like Deezer and Qobuz. These platforms serve markets with licensing requirements that the big players don’t bother pursuing.

But in the end, you never know where your music will find its audience. Your best bet is to make sure it’s available everywhere!

Advanced music distribution info

If you’re serious about monetizing your music, you know that signing up with a distro service isn’t the end of the story when it comes to monetization.

Here’s some additional information that’s worth understanding if you want to be an expert in all things distro.

Metadata and discoverability

Music metadata is the information attached to audio files used to identify, label and present audio content.

It’s the crucial details about the artist, song song titles, album name and track numbers that provide the context for the release.

Metadata helps link audio files to their creator to establish authorship. But it also helps with another important factor—discoverability.

Platforms rely on metadata to retrieve the correct content when users search through their libraries.

And while it’s possible to tag your own files, metadata is usually managed and applied by the distributor to meet the requirements for delivery to streaming platforms.

Distribution and promotion

Distribution makes it possible to sell your music. But music promotion brings in listeners so your revenue from streaming can grow.

You can’t do one without the other! But if you’re just getting started, music promotion can feel like an uphill battle.

Luckily, you can chart a clear path to positive results if you go in with a plan and make an honest effort to execute on it.

Check out our intro guides to music promotion to learn how distribution plays a part of your plans for growth.

The future of digital distribution

Like the music industry at large, distribution is set to evolve in the future.

Changes in listener behavior and the impact of new technologies have the potential to disrupt the status quo.
For example, some artists and companies have explored blockchain technologies for tracking royalties and managing revenue splits.

Additionally, new forms of music licensing and proof of authorship may become necessary in the age of generative AI.

AI itself may open up new channels for music discovery or aid in collecting royalties as in systems like YouTube Content ID.

But that’s not all. Streaming services as we know them today may change in the face of new social media paradigms like TikTok that put sound and audio at the forefront.

Whatever comes next, digital music distribution services will have to react while protecting their customers’ rights and IP.

Distribution revolution

Distributing your music is a foundational step in your journey as an artist.

It sets the stage for you to grow your fanbase, earn royalties and progress in your career.

Luckily, distribution is more accessible than ever for developing artists. That means there’s no barrier to getting your music out to the world!

If you’ve made it through this article you’ll know everything you need to distribute your music with confidence.

Leticia Trandafir

Leticia is a lover of acid basslines and hypnotic techno. She DJs and produces under the name softcoresoft. Writer at LANDR.

@Leticia Trandafir

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