A Tale of Three Music Distribution Services

It’s as easy as ever to get your music on to the biggest music platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. There’s now a very wide range of choices with regards to music distribution services that help you publish your music on these platforms and straight to your audiences.

While I definitely can’t go over all the options available now, here’s a run-down of those that we’ve used at Melt Records over the years. Hopefully, this helps you get a start on distributing your own music.


 CDBaby

CDBaby Music Distribution

One of the pioneers in the online music distribution business, CDBaby has understandably grown its feature base to one of the most extensive among the competition. That includes their intuitive upload, review, and publishing user experience, well-crafted analytics and reports, and sync licensing capabilities. CDBaby also has several partners like LANDR that provide even more services like mastering.

Of course, in addition to online music distribution, they also provide CD, cassette, and vinyl production capabilities, although with the cost of shipping and local regulations, it might not be as economical for the Philippine setting.

Pros

You can definitely rely on this service to provide good value and it would be reasonable to expect them to always provide the latest features earlier than most. The sync licensing feature is definitely a plus for us, as it eliminates the need to manually monitor copyright infringements on YouTube and other video services (which is impossible to do, by the way, just saying).

Cons

It’s the most expensive music distribution service we’ve used and that’s due to the fact that it’s a one-time lifetime subscription. You need to be pretty committed to the release, and it may take a long while before you make enough revenue to cover the subscription fees.

Bonus Tip

They do a lot of sales on single and album distributions, sometimes up to less than half the price. If you watch out for these, you can pre-pay for a single or album release for cheap and publish it later.

RecordUnion

Record Union -  Music Distribution
This was our music distribution service of choice when we first started out. The annual billing cycle makes it less of a commitment when you put out a release. If you decide not to renew at any point, your release doesn’t get taken down and you still might make revenue out of it, albeit much less than you would if it were paid.

Feature-wise, it has everything you’d need to get a release out and monitoring how the tracks are doing. It has features for Spotify trends and detailed revenue reporting. It’s pretty much up to par with what CDBaby offers, though I’ve yet to see a sync licensing option (I may have just missed it).

Pros

Overall, I feel like Record Union is a great way to get a start in online music distribution. You don’t have to overcommit when subscribing a release, and you get pretty much everything you need to learn the ropes.

Cons

You need to put in a lot of thought as to how far this release might go for you. If it makes money and you renew for at least 2 years, you’d be better off going for CDBaby and getting that one-time subscription.

Bonus Tip

Watch out for that auto-charge renewal that’s enabled by default. If you’re not ready to commit to another year just yet, make sure to disable auto-renewal for your release. In any case, you’ll get an email reminder to renew once the album is near expiration, so you can be intentional about that renewal.

FreshTunes
FreshTunes Music Distribution

This is a music distribution service that I’d be a little skeptical about. It’s a free service and while it does actually work, the business model doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I have no guarantee whatsoever with regards to the future of this service or no transparency as to how the revenues are calculated. I’ve actually used this to publish some of my own back catalog from Psychomonkey which I’d be willing to risk not getting a fair share out of.

Pros

It’s absolutely FREE.

Cons

Given that it’s free, I’m not really sure how they make money and that’s a bad sign to me. You also need to pay to get detailed revenue reports, so if you’re not willing to do that, you won’t have much to prove you’re getting what you’re actually owed. Even the revenue share for albums in my catalog doesn’t look quite right to me.

Additionally, customer service was absolutely a horror to deal with (if they responded at all) when I needed to, and I’ve given up on quite a lot of tickets I’ve submitted.

Bonus Tip

While I may not sound overly enthusiastic about this service, it’s definitely worth a try for releases that you just want to get out there without really caring too much about how much revenue it makes. Not to say you don’t get any revenue at all, as I’ve personally gotten certain amounts from this service.

What else is there?

There’s a whole bunch of other options now available, though never having tried them myself, I wouldn’t be able to particularly vouch nor give feedback on them. I’ll try to run down those that I’ve read about and what I have understood about these services from that information.

TuneCore

They’ve actually been around for a while and I know several artists and labels that are using this for music distribution purposes. It’s quite similar in business model to CDBaby, requiring a one-time fee for each release. The price is actually lower than CDBaby. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not as rich feature-wise, but I think it’s a pretty strong option.

Distrokid

Distrokid is one I’ve only recently heard of that has a unique business model of an annual, unlimited subscription. It might not be ideal for individual artists, but sounds like it could work out well for record labels. The price for an annual subscription is cheaper than 1 album subscription on CDBaby, so if you can release 1 song a year, it might be well worth a try.

ReverbNation

I remember using this service before it support music distribution to 3rd party platforms. Back then, ReverbNation was more of its own music platform (actually quite similar to MySpace band pages). Nowadays, ReverbNation has a business model and price point similar to TuneCore. I don’t have much experience with their music distribution service, so I’ll leave it at that.

Amuse.io

This is another free service, much like FreshTunes, that sounds too good to be true. Apparently, it’s a free distribution service and doesn’t take any cut out of your revenues. The site looks much more legit than FreshTunes, but given my skepticism about this model, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a catch. I haven’t had a chance to try this for myself, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Which Should I Use?

Which do you want to use? It’s entirely up to you and your needs, and what you’re aiming to achieve with your release. Hopefully, I’ve ironed out some of the details for you in this article and it helps you make a good choice. I would recommend to experiment with several services, if you can, and you’ll eventually find the right one for you.

If you have a masterpiece in the works and need some advise or help in getting it out there, we at Melt Records would love to talk with you about how we can help you make things happen. Send us an email at hi@melt-records.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.



Dexter Sy

Co-founder at Melt Records
Dexter Sy is a co-founder of Melt Records, an independent record label based in Cebu City. He has also been involved in the local scene writing music reviews for Bite Magazine and producing music from his home studio.

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