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This is the most comprehensive and accurate digital distribution review comparison piece on the web.

By far. I checked. Who is the best digital distributor? Read on…

Amuse vs. AWAL vs. CD Baby vs. DistroKid vs. Ditto Music vs. Fresh Tunes vs. Horus Music vs. Landr vs. MondoTunes vs. OneRPM vs. ReverbNation vs. RouteNote vs. Soundrop vs. Stem vs. Symphonic vs. Tunecore

4 years ago I reviewed 9 of the top digital distribution companies out there to help DIY musicians discern how to get their music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Pandora, etc and who the best company to help them do this is. I kept that list updated over the years, but it was time for a revamp.

So, today, August 30th, 2017 arrives the updated, official Ari’s Take Totally Awesome Digital Distribution Comparison Article.

Or ATTADDC for short.

So for the past few months I have been learning everything I could about these 16 companies.

It’s worth noting that my team reached out to INgrooves, Believe and The Orchard, but they did not get back to us after multiple attempts. Something to hide? Are they not proud of their service? If you work for one of these companies and want to be included, get in touch and I’ll include you! These three cater to labels and artists with buzz or representation. And they typically offer more personalized service for 15% commission or so. But this is just what I’ve heard because THEY DIDN'T GET BACK TO US so I don’t know for sure. I’ve heard mixed reviews about INgrooves, Believe and The Orchard. Very mixed. So I cannot give any of them my stamp of approval... yet. Maybe when I sit down with them and get a breakdown of their services.

Moving on.

Digital distribution companies are evolving into one-stop royalty collection shops for DIY musicians.

Eventually, you will be able to distribute your music with one of these services and they will collect 100% of all your sound recording and composition royalties from around the world and you won’t need to worry about registering or collecting all your money elsewhere. Some of these companies are closer than others to this reality, but no one is completely there yet.

For clarity, you need a distributor to get your music into Apple Music / iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Deezer, Napster, etc. These distribution companies do this for you.

You can use multiple distributors for multiple releases HOWEVER you can only use 1 distributor for each release, of course.

You can't ask CD Baby and DistroKid to distribute the same song to all the stores, then that same song would be listed in Spotify, iTunes and everywhere else TWICE. Make sense? You have to pick one for each release.

+Read Chapter 13 To Understand What These Royalties Are and How To Get Them

DRY Nike MILER Sports shirt MILER DRY Nike Performance shirt Sports RUNNING Performance RUNNING Nike I also want to make SUPER clear that none of these companies OWN any of your rights, copyrights or music.

These are not record labels. These are not label deals. Even though some of them offer "label services" they don't own anything. These companies are just providing services. You retain 100% of your rights no matter who you use. Even if they take a commission, it's just from your revenue. No ownership. None. Capiche?

I spoke to reps at every company for this review, to get a full in-depth look at each company and for the reps to explain to me their company's best features (that I may have missed scanning their FAQ). Being a musician, I asked them questions I deemed most important for independent musicians. I have distributed 13 releases to date using a few of these services.

This review is just taking a look at companies that will get your music into digital stores and streaming services, like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play, Tidal, Amazon, Pandora, Deezer, etc and NOT about stand alone, digital download, self-managed stores, like BandCamp.

Full disclosure, I have used CD Baby, DistroKid, TuneCore, Stem and Loudr (now Soundrop) to distribute releases with my own project (and we tested a release with Amuse under a fake name).

Also, CD Baby, DistroKid, ReverbNation and Symphonic have advertised, currently advertise or have agreed to advertise in the future with Ari’s Take. I have spoken at CD Baby’s DIY Musician conference and will be speaking during AWAL’s sponsored sessions at Amplify in London. And I went to a party at the Landr House in the Hollywood Hills.

HOWEVER, I made super clear to these companies that their advertising does not influence my review AND I only allow companies I trust and support to advertise on Ari’s Take. I turn away more advertisers than I accept.

There is no "winner" necessarily because each company has unique features that may be super important to some artists and not at all to others.

shirt Nike Performance Sports MILER Nike DRY shirt DRY Nike Sports MILER RUNNING RUNNING Performance Every artist's situation is different.

I included on the chart the categories that I deemed most important. All the companies have extra services and I included some of their services in their review if I thought they were great and left out some of their services if I didn’t care about them. This is a distribution comparison, not a full review of these companies.

We are moving into an era of transparency.

What these stand-alone distributors offer that major labels and publishers do not is transparency and intelligible reports.

Well, most of them do.

And many are starting to offer payment splitting (where they will pay your collaborators directly so you don’t have to deal with that headache).

Also, the next decade will be heavily focused around Asia. For the first time in history, people in China are PAYING for music (via streaming services). This market is about to explode. That’s why I added it to the comparison chart.

And, some distributors are moving into "label services" territory. Where, if there is some traction on your songs, they'll notice and, as many of them put it, "throw gasoline on the fire," where they can put some marketing money behind it, plug it at playlists, push synch opportunities and other ways to help jumpstart your career.

If you have any questions or have experience (good or bad) with these companies, please let me know in the comments below!

QUESTION: What does DSP stand for in music?

ANSWER: Digital Service Provider, which is the generic term for streaming and download platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Deezer, Google Play, Amazon Music, et al.


(in alphabetical order)

Amuse Review:

The second newest company to the party. I interviewed Andreas Ahlenius, co-founder and head of growth, via Skype from Sweden. Well, I was in LA, Andreas was in Sweden where the Amuse team is based.

shirt RUNNING Performance MILER Nike Performance DRY Nike Sports Sports Nike shirt DRY MILER RUNNING The thing that sets Amuse apart from everyone else is that 1) they are app-only. Meaning, they have no desktop version. You submit everything via Dropbox (etc) links. And 2) there is no upfront cost and they take no commission. Their play is that they are hoping to swoop up the artists that start to catch and sign them to a 50/50 label deal by simply analyzing data. No real A&R, just data analysts. One of the founders used to study data analytics at Universal Music Group (Sweden), another came from Warner Music Group (Sweden), and their head of design used to work at Spotify.

This is a company that is all about “throwing gasoline on the fire.” They have very limited extra features and they aren’t really catering to career artists needing a distribution service but rather artists who want to test out a few singles to see if they’ll ‘catch’ and then get picked up by their team. Because they are so new they don’t have too many success stories to relay, but they are quite confident their method will work.

They have a bank roller who is investing in the company and helping provide them with marketing money for the artists they want to invest in. What worries me, though, is if this investor walks their entire business folds. They are a long ways away from becoming a profitable business.

The first two artists they have signed (since launching in March) are Pawl and Plàsi.


  • No fees
  • No commission. You keep 100% of the revenue.
  • Extremely data driven/focused.
  • Give advances (for signed artists)
  • Pay for marketing (for signed artists)
  • Can upstream to a 50/50 (not 360) label agreement.


  • New and unproven. If they lose their investor, their entire company folds.
  • No admin publishing partner to help collect songwriter royalties.
  • No desktop site to upload (app only)
  • Will not obtain mechanical license for cover songs

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