Casual reminder: All information posed here is for educational purposes only. If royalties are in any way relevant to what you’re doing, you should already have an attorney(or a professional acting on your best interests)!
As music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. We work very hard for very little. We live, bleed, and sweat our music. Don’t you think that we deserve a distributor that will work equally hard for us?
When it comes to the digital music distribution arena, not every option is created equal. It’s a tricky business, and never forget that these companies are out to make money from you, not the other way around. As with anything there are pros and cons but one thing is painfully clear – if you want to be in any way relevant as an artist in today’s music industry you’ll have to choose one.
Customer service is something that should weigh heavily in your choice here. You want your music to available to the public with as few headaches as possible, and when (yes, when) you do encounter an issue you want it to be resolved in the most timely and least frustrating way possible.
If your head is spinning with all the distributor options, the amount of stores that they funnel your music to is even more immense. You may be wondering, “Do all of these stores matter?”
The short answer is, “No.”
Some matter a great deal more than others, those being Spotify, Pandora, Amazon MP3, Google Play, and iTunes. While all are relevant, these are the most important and most used.
Another important issue to take into account is the legality of signing up with one of the companies. You have to sign a ‘blanket’ contract, meaning there is absolutely no room for negotiation (though some do offer at least a little bit of wiggle room).
Termination clauses and terms of agreement are important to note as well. The point is to get popular enough to move up the ladder, but labels interested in your catalog might be deterred if you’re attached to a previous agreement. Most of the large aggregators offer an indefinite contract with a general 30-60 day termination policy.
There are a plethora of digital distribution options available to the independent artist today. Some of the most popular include Tunecore, CD Baby, Soundexchange, Loudr, and Distrokid, just to name a few. They all have their pros and cons. Bear in mind that some have submission criteria and have a mandatory screening period. I won’t attempt to form a comparison, as the provided links will show you a great breakdown between them all:
I won’t attempt to state which is the ‘best’ option as everyone’s situation is different. I have extensive experience with Tunecore and use it still.
About the Author: Brandon Stoner has been in and around the music business for over a decade. He is the owner of Audio Ecstasy Productions and LoudLife Media, as well as the lead vocalist and guitarist in the band Thieves & Lovers. He resides in sunny Los Angeles, Califonia with his dog Max.