Choosing the right distribution company
Updated: Oct 28
Choosing a distribution company for your music can be difficult. Not only do you want to find one that can distribute to all the platforms you require but, you also want one that is affordable. Each distribution company offers slightly different services so it is always best to weigh up your options against what you are looking for specifically.
There are two different ways to distribute music:
Physical sales: Through distribution of CD’s in record shops and selling them at gigs.
Digital sales: Through sales on digital media.
Music distribution is the process of getting your music to platforms where consumers can buy or access them. This used to be a long and delicate process as it meant taking a master tape of your recording, pressing it into a master vinyl and duplicating it, followed closely by the creation of artwork sleeve, packaging and distribution throughout the country. A very similar process happened with CD’s and cassettes too. Then the MP3 came along and made everything so much easier. No more large production fees and breakage risks, music could be distributed online. This saw a large rise in the digital stores, starting with the development of iTunes and eventually leading to streaming platforms like Spotify.
What companies are there in the UK and how do I know which one to choose?
I have selected the top UK music distribution companies (according to a Google search). Each one has its own benefits and, as I said earlier, it's about weighing up your options and selecting what one that works for you. In the below list, I have included the benefits of each company and also any upfront fees or additional costs which might occur with each digital aggregator.
Please note: This is not an exhaustive list and there are hundreds of companies you could choose. Do your research into which one suits you.
Songcast and TuneCore
These are both budget aggregators that have a small monthly subscription fee but have one-off payments for each Album/EP/Single that you wish to upload. There are a lot of different options available, with different pricing levels depending on what suits you at the time. They both distribute music to a large selection of online retailers and you get to keep 100% of the royalties and rights to your music.
One consideration for these two companies is that it can take 2-3 weeks to get your music on any digital platforms so consider this when looking at pre-orders etc. Working on a month-by-month basis enables you to cancel at any time, however there are additional costs to each release that you upload. This could work out very expensive.
Music gets distributed to a wide variety of online retailers and all royalties and rights to your music are owned by you. Ditto is also a budget aggregator, and have a pricing structure based on an individual artist, professional or label. This includes unlimited releases for one annual fee. For an individual, the price starts at £19/year but at the moment they are offering a 30 day free trial. Ditto Music will also help you set up your own record label.
Awal has been dubbed one of the best music distribution services. Its service is an app-based one and by invite-only. You can submit your own music but they will review it for sound quality, social media reach, press releases and Spotify plays from the past. If they choose to work with you then they will distribute your music to 200 territories. There is no upfront fee but they will retain 15% of the revenue. You keep 100% of the rights to your music.
By my own admission, this is the one I hear about the most. Distrokid distributes songs to over 150 stores. With an annual fee of £20 to upload unlimited songs and albums you get to keep 100% of your royalties. Money will be sent within 14 days of a withdrawal request.
Want a discount on your first yearly subscription?
Beatchain distributes songs to the world’s biggest streaming sites. Costing just under £2 per month to upload unlimited songs and albums. They will keep 10% of the royalties but you will also get free marketing, analytics tools and access to a social media manager. Other tools include data analytics and an image editor to create promotional artwork.
An APP based 100% free distribution service. You can upload tracks via the app but will also need a Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud account. Amuse works slightly differently to other distribution companies, they discover artists and offer them a record deal. This includes marketing, finance, promotion and playlist pitching. However this comes at a cost of 50% of all profits.
Based down in Cornwall, RouteNote help artists distribute their music either through their free or premium plans. With the free plan, RouteNote will take 15% commission but with a premium plan, you get to keep 100% of everything you earn. Other than the £9.99 annual fee there are costs to upload music, ranging from £10 a single to £45 for an extended album.
Level Music has no yearly fees or upfront costs. It has a landing page to easily promote your music and you will be paid via PayPal. Level Music takes 8% of your revenue but they only distribute to 9 stores.
You can offer your music as a free download and get an email address to distribute your music yourself. You can also use the integrated store to distribute merchandise, vinyl, CDs and tapes. Bandcamp keeps 15% of your download revenue. Any digital transaction is transferred to your PayPal account within 24 to 48 hours after the sale.
What distribution companies do you use? Get in touch.