November 22

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How to Choose the Best Digital Distributor for Your Music?

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Today, all musicians and music groups must be present on online music platforms such as iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Amazon, etc.

For this purpose, the simplest method is to use a digital music distributor who will be in charge of acting as an intermediary with the sites concerned.

And for good reason, it is almost impossible as an independent artist to share your work on iTunes or Spotify. These platforms are not open to small structures, unless you have your own label.

In order to gain in efficiency and practicality, we will therefore use a digital music aggregator or distributor.

This will allow you to sell your music online, add information about yourself and above all be present on all the streaming and download sites of your choice (as long as they are included in your digital distributor’s offer).

This raises the question of the choice of the platform itself.

Indeed, there are hundreds of alternatives, each offering different functionalities with different terms (especially for price and options).

It is therefore essential before rushing to a particular tool, to weigh the pros and cons of each site and to carefully select the best digital distributor for your music.

It should be noted that once you are hired with an aggregator, it will be very laborious to change distributors and migrate your discography.

Therefore, if you make the wrong choice beforehand, it may result in a significant loss of time and money.

Thus in this article, we will see the essential criteria to take into account when choosing your digital music distributor.

The criteria to be taken into account when choosing a digital distributor

The commission charged on your sales

This is the portion deducted from each of your sales by the digital distributor.

Some distributors do not take commissions and therefore give you the full amount of your turnover. Others pay you about 90% of the sale amount (10% commission).

However, it should be noted that if there is no commission, then the distributor is probably remunerated on the cost of putting the product online and/or on an annual fee.

The costs of putting online

For each single, ep or album you publish online, you must pay a fee ranging from €10 for a single to €40 for an album (depending on the number of titles).

This is a one-time fee, but is often accompanied by an annual fee.

The annual fees

Depending on the aggregator and the number of albums and singles uploaded, you may pay an additional fee each year to maintain your works on online music platforms.

Typically, this fee is equivalent to the initial upload.

Other expenses

Some digital distributors also pay themselves through other types of fees, more or less hidden.

The core of their offer is included in the fees we have already seen, but if you want to go further then you will surely have to pay. This may include, for example,:

  • Monetize your music on YouTube (Content ID)
  • The implementation of a pre-order on iTunes
  • Digital booklets on iTunes
  • Removal of catalogues
  • Adding your music to an additional platform
  • ISRC and EAN codes
  • Detailed reports
  • The registration on Shazam

If you are interested in some of these things, then it will be important to find out and know which digital distributor offers this and at what price.

The platforms concerned

Most digital distributors offer for sale on all the most popular music platforms.

However, if you are looking for something more specific (e. g. Beatport for DJs), you need to make sure that your music will be distributed there via the distributor you like.

As the list of their partners is constantly changing, I recommend that you contact them directly, so that you are given an up-to-date list of the platforms concerned.

The payment of your sales

The payment of what is due to you is also an important point. Most distributors will pay you either through your bank account or via PayPal.

Where that can change is in terms of the income threshold at which you can request a payment. This can range from €0 to €50 or more.

Similarly, some aggregators pay weekly, monthly or even immediately after downloading.

The customer service

If you have a technical problem or question, it can be extremely convenient to have available and professional customer service.

Usually you can contact them by e-mail and hope to get an answer within 24 or 48 hours. But some also offer support by phone or online chat.

Once again, the quality and extent of customer service depends largely on the digital distributor. You can try to send them an e-mail to do the test.

Other criteria to be taken into account:

  • The territories concerned
  • The exclusivity of the contract or not
  • The additional sources of income taken into account (Youtube monetization, copyright, etc.)
  • Integrated promotional tools
  • Optional services in option
  • Clauses relating to termination of contract

agregateurs musique

Comparison of the main international digital distributors

Data subject to change.

iMusician Digital :

  • Starter formula: 1 platform, 30% commission, 9€ per single, 19€ per EP, 29€ per album
  • Regular formula: 250+ platforms, 15% commission, 19€ per single, 29€ per EP, 39€ per album
  • Rockstar formula: 250+ platforms, 0% commission, 39€ per single, 79€ per EP, 99€ per album, free express delivery, iTunes and Google Play pre-orders
  • No annual fees
  • Free ISRCs and EANs
  • Youtube Content ID for 1€ per track (0€ for rockstar formula)
  • Monthly payments
  • Free cancellation possible at any time

Tunecore :

  • 9,99€ for a single, 29,99€ for an album
  • Annual fee of €9.99 for a single and €49.99 for an album
  • Zero sales commission
  • Weekly payments (after two months)
  • Free ISRCs and EANs

You hesitate between Tunecore and iMusician? Discover the complete comparison and my opinion on it:

Wiseband:

  • 10€ for a single, 29€ for an album
  • 9% commission
  • Fees of 49€/year or 4.99€/month (Artist account)
  • Creation of an online shop
  • Monthly payments
  • Free cancellation possible at any time

CD Baby :

  • 13$ for a single, 49$ for an album
  • 9% commission
  • No annual fees
  • Weekly payments (after two months)
  • Paid UPC codes ($5 for a single, $20 for an album)

Other distributors to consider:

  • Spinnup: Very classic offer, but with a service that allows you to be listened to by industry professionals and major labels
  • Distrokid: $19.99/year to publish as many albums and titles as you want. Perfect for artists who constantly publish.
  • Symphonic Distribution: Good value for money and a large number of additional services

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is not an absolutely unbeatable digital distributor in all areas.

But there are many who do an excellent job and may be the best choice for YOU.

It is very easy to register and start uploading to online music platforms, so don’t take this decision lightly.

I recommend that you do your research according to your own criteria (price, platforms, etc.) before making your decision.

As we have seen before, it is far from easy and pleasant to change distributors.

So to avoid all complications, make sure you make the best possible choice from the outset.

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