How to distribute music in digital stores?

In the online world, there are several services that allow you to listen to music by streaming. Have you ever wondered what it takes to release music on these services? There are three main methods:

  1. Be or have a contract with a major, that is to say a record company;
  2. Create a distribution account in each of these services (very complicated);
  3. Use a digital music distribution service.

Which of these methods is most accessible to an emerging musician? The third.
Which of these methods is most accessible to a famous musician? The third.

The first method requires a recording contract with a multinational such as Sony, Universal, EMI, etc.

The second method requires a step that has become almost impossible over the past couple of years. If registering as a client, ie auditor, is easy, registering as an artist is complicated. Many streaming services require fees lump sum or annual, which may be greater than the income from the flows. Many services do not accept registration requests; they make the proposal directly to the artists they want to focus on.

What about music distribution services?

Choosing one of them is the best for an artist. Here are the four most important distributors:

  • Tunecore
  • DistroKid
  • Baby CD
  • Songtradr

The services they offer meet all the needs of both artists and independent labels. All 4 distribute music on the main streaming platforms: Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. However, none of these services are completely free. Registration may require one of the following possibilities:

  • Annual subscription ;
  • Payment lump sum for each single / EP / album;
  • Payment annual for each single / EP / album;
  • Free account with commissions (a percentage of the earnings are retained by the service).
What do these acronyms mean?
Alone 1 to 3 songs divided together
PE From 4 to 6 songs divided together
Album More songs
Note: In the song count, those with the same title may not be included but arranged in different ways

Which music distribution service to choose? Personally I much prefer DistroKid. Anyway too Songtradr it’s a good choice. The following table will compare all distribution services and, if you are a musician, allow you to assess which one to choose.

songtradr tunecore cdbaby DISTROKID DI ++ O REVERBNATION Rod LANDR to amuse
Catalog management X X X
Breakdown of payments X X X X X
Distribution on TikTok X X X X X X X X X
Instagram posting X X * X X X X X X X
Monetization on YouTube X X * X * X * X X X X X *
Shared artist profile X X
Synchronization of licenses X X X
Non-exclusive licenses X
Unlimited distribution – Annual costs X X X X X X X
100% profit X X X X X X X
Monthly royalty payments X X X X X X X X
Free ISRC and UPC codes X X X X X X X X
* Additional fees are required

The table shows that Songtradr offers all the services. However, they depend on the type of subscription you choose.

How to choose the distribution service?

You do not yet know which service to choose? Here are some tips you may find helpful.

How much music do you want to distribute? Do you plan to make an album every 12-24-36 months? Do you plan to release one every 15-30 days? Evaluate the service that gives you the best distribution freedom. Some services like cd baby require payment for each song or collection you publish. Others, like LANDR And DistroKid charge a fixed annual cost. With a free account, Songtradr pays you 90% or less of your earnings.

Do you want to be paid monthly or regularly? The license sync lines show which services pay the fastest. They offer real-time access to their income, broken down by streaming service and streaming type. This information can lead you to decide which digital store to target to create a possible marketing campaign. However, some details can only be provided with a Pro account (this is the case, for example, with DistroKid).

Should you “share” the gains with your employees? The second row of the table shows which services allow you to split your winnings according to everyone who participated in the recording of each song. DistroKid allows to indicate each musician of an orchestra or a group, the technicians and other people who could collaborate. It certainly offers the most comprehensive service in this regard, but every employee must be registered. You will therefore need an account that will allow you to manage perhaps dozens of people or each will have to open their own basic account (from around € 20 per year). Songtradr it is less detailed, but allows employees to register for a free account.

The first row of the table refers to the services (there are only 3 of them) that allow you to distribute your music to the major brands of cinema, television, advertising, etc. You can create a personal page like this. It is similar to a Facebook fan page and allows you to advertise your music.

All streaming services require that you create a cover art for each song / album you want to stream. The blanket, or blanket, should generally be a square image measuring at least 3000 * 3000 pixels. Some distribution services are very picky about the content of the images. Nevertheless, Songtradr has a feature that maybe isn’t available in any other service: the cover creator.


DistroKid: service for those who want to produce music

Songtradr: how to distribute and sell music

LANDR: site and application to produce music

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