When I first started getting into releasing music, there were very few options for music distribution, especially compared to the number of options today.
Luckily, Spotify has actually made a list of music distributors that they prefer and recommend, so I’ve researched this topic for you, picked a distributor for my own music, and written about it here.
The top 3 Spotify-recommended artist distributors include DistroKid, CD Baby, and EmuBands. These companies handle the legal work, royalty payments, and Spotify For Artists verification and access in addition to distributing your music to Spotify and other services.
In 2023, DistroKid is at the #1 position in Spotify’s list of preferred music distributors (as well as mine 😉) and is a very popular choice for artists because, for a small annual fee, artists get fast unlimited song uploads while getting to keep 100% of their income.
Spotify has a list of their preferred and recommended distributors on a section on their website called the “Provider Directory“. These distributors are vetted by Spotify and are constantly re-evaluated to make sure that they continue to be great options for artist and labels.
P.S. If you’d like to get started with Spotify’s #1 recommended distributor, make sure to learn about the DistroKid discount before signing up to make sure you get the best price.
What Are Spotify’s Recommended Distributors?
Spotify has a dedicated section on its website called the “Provider Directory” where Spotify lists its preferred and recommended distributors, delivery platforms, and partners. All of the listed providers and distributors are “Approved by Spotify” which means that they meet industry best practices and Spotify’s highest standards.
Spotify’s Provider Directory is currently split into 3 categories:
- Artist distributors – companies that help artists get their music on Spotify and provide instant access to Spotify For Artists
- Label distributors – companies that help label workers handle licensing and distribution to streaming services like Spotify
- Delivery platforms – companies that can help get music and metadata in the right places
All of the listed providers and distributors are “Approved by Spotify” and have been chosen because they provide high-quality metadata, enact anti-infringement measures, and generally meet best practices in the music industry.
Spotify also mentions that every company on this list is re-evaluated frequently to make sure they continue to meet Spotify’s highest standards.
Spotify’s Provider Directory can be visited at this link: https://artists.spotify.com/directory/distribution
Spotify’s preferred and recommended distributors for artists
In Spotify’s “Provider Directory”, they have a list of preferred and recommended distributors for artists that can help get artists to get their music on Spotify and other streaming services. The top 3 Spotify-recommended distributors include DistroKid, CD Baby, and EmuBands.
In addition to helping artists get their music on Spotify, these companies handle licensing, pay artists Spotify royalties, and give instant access to the Spotify For Artists platform.
Spotify lists their preferred distributors for artists in this order:
- CD Baby
- Record Union
To see how the #1 distributor and #2 distributor compare, check out my article on DistroKid vs CD Baby.
Spotify’s preferred and recommended distributors for labels
In Spotify’s “Provider Directory”, they have a list of preferred and recommended distributors for labels that can help people who work at a record label distribute music and handle royalty payments, licensing, and metadata. The top 3 Spotify-recommended distributors for labels include The Orchard, Believe, and FUGA.
Spotify’s preferred and recommended distributors for delivery platforms
In Spotify’s “Provider Directory”, they have a list of preferred delivery platforms that can help anyone who only needs help to get their music and metadata where it needs to go. The top 3 Spotify-recommended delivery platforms include FUGA, EMS, and IDOL.
Best Spotify Distributor (Recommended by Spotify)
The best music distributor as recommended by Spotify is DistroKid. DistroKid is a great music distributor because, for a small annual fee, you get fast unlimited song uploads while getting to keep 100% of your income.
To learn more about DistroKid, check out my entire DistroKid review for everything you would ever need to know about Spotify’s most recommended distributor.
In that review, I think that you will agree with me that DistroKid’s approach is definitely the way of the future when it comes to music distribution.
Before they came along, artists and labels had to pay per song (sometimes every year per song) to get their music on Spotify which is honestly awful compared to DistroKid’s pricing model of a small annual fee for unlimited uploads.
Top 3 DistroKid Pros
- Unlimited song uploads (you don’t have to pay per song or album!)
- Simple, low-cost annual fee
- You keep 100% of your Spotify royalties, Apple Music royalties, etc
Top 3 DistroKid Cons
- You need to upgrade to the Musician Plus plan to be able to set custom release dates
- Currently, there is no DistroKid app available (that is changing though)
- Have to keep paying the annual fee to keep your music up on the streaming services and stores
Although my top suggestion and Spotify’s top suggestion for a music distributor is definitely DistroKid, I’ve gone ahead and compared DK to other popular services in case you are in the market for a new digital distributor or are simply just curious.
Popular alternatives to a music distribution service like DistroKid include TuneCore, CdBaby, Ditto, and Amuse.
If you would like to see how DistroKid compares to these services, more closely check out this articles:
- DistroKid vs TuneCore
- DistroKid vs CdBaby
- DistroKid vs UnitedMasters
- DistroKid vs Ditto
- DistroKid vs Amuse
- DistroKid vs SoundCloud
- DistroKid vs Landr
Or, if you would like a more detailed look into what DistroKid has to offer, you can check out my big fat DistroKid review. 🙂
P.S. If you also want to learn about music publishing and make sure that you are not leaving any money on the table with your music distribution setup, I’d recommend checking out these 2 articles:
How To Pick The Best Distributor / Digital Aggregator For Spotify
When choosing the right music distributor for Spotify (and to distribute your music to streaming platforms in general), there are really only 2 things that really matter:
- Being able to release unlimited songs
- Not having to pay a percentage of your music’s income
Today, established and emerging artists alike live and die by their streaming numbers.
Streaming numbers, and most specifically Spotify streaming numbers, are the sign of an artist’s success in 2021.
Spotify has straight-up told everyone that to succeed on their platform, you simply need to release more music and do it frequently.
To learn more about how you can make sure you choose the best distributor, check out my article called How To Pick The Best Distributor / Digital Aggregator For Spotify. 🙂
Beyond being able to release as many songs as you want and not giving away any income your music makes, there are a few other things you might want to consider when making your choice:
- Distributor reputation
- Delivery speed
- The ability to set custom release dates
- Customer service
For more on this, check out my Music Distribution Buyer’s Guide.
Other Music Distributors To Consider
Although the list of Spotify-preferred distributors is a great place to start, there are a lot of other options for music distribution out there (preferred and not) that can be worth checking out to make sure you are making the right choice in music distributor.
I’ve compared Spotify’s #1 recommended distributor, DistroKid, with a bunch of other popular music distributors and digital aggregators for you below.
In most cases, DistroKid absolutely crushes the competition (there is a reason they are #1) but, I think it is definitely a good idea to do some research and see what else is out there. 🙂
DistroKid vs Tunecore
TuneCore is a music distributor that was founded in 2005, and for quite some time, was one of the main ways to have your music available on iTunes and Spotify.
However, flash forward to the year 2021, and TuneCore’s business model is quite simply out-of-date and does not meet the needs of the modern artists trying to make it in Spotify’s streaming world.
Although you could consider TuneCore to have a premium offering when looking at their features, TuneCore is simply far too expensive (they start at $9.99 per single to be paid EVERY year).
In my opinion, if you really like TuneCore’s additional features and, honestly, have lots of cash to throw around, TuneCore may be perfect for you.
If you’d like a deeper dive into TuneCore’s features, why I think this business model is out of date, and for more on how DistroKid compares to TuneCore, check out my article on DistroKid Vs. TuneCore. 🙂
DistroKid vs CD Baby
CD Baby has been around for a very long time, having been first founded in 1998. They first started in physical music distribution (like actual physical CDs) and were one of the first big companies to provide digital music distribution.
However, just like TuneCore, CD Baby has the very dated business model of pay-per-release.
Although CD Baby only charges you once to release a piece of music (they do not charge annually), they do take a 9% cut of your streaming money forever on top of that one-time fee.
In my opinion, CD Baby is a great choice if you plan on releasing very little music and don’t play on seeing a lot of streams or sales for that music (this way you only pay once and the 9% cut doesn’t bother you).
If you’d like a more thorough look into how DistroKid compares to CD Baby, check out my article on DistroKid Vs. CD Baby. 🙂
DistroKid vs Ditto
Ditto Music has been around since 2007, and when compared to DistroKid, they are wayyy better.
…with some serious strings attached.
Where Ditto scores big points is their overall features and the simple fact that they do not seem to focus on trying to upsell their customers at every step of the way.
However, it is just too hard to recommend them at this point due to their poor reputation in the music community.
To learn more about Ditto Music’s reputation and how DistroKid compares to Ditto, check out my full article on DistroKid Vs. Ditto. 🙂
DistroKid vs Amuse
Amuse is a music distributor that popped up in 2015. One of the things that make Amuse stand out is that they are one of the only companies that offer a free plan without taking away a percentage of your streaming money.
Overall, Amuse has a pretty solid offering and only really falls short in the area of delivery speed. The Amuse ‘Pro’ plan is also more costly when compared to DistroKid.
Amuse has one of the best free offerings on the market, and I would definitely take a look at them if you are not in a position to pay for music distribution or simply want to test the waters first.
To learn more about Amuse’s free plan and how DistroKid compares to Amuse, check out my full article on DistroKid Vs. Amuse.
DistroKid vs UnitedMasters
UnitedMasters is a music distributor that entered the scene in 2017. Unlike DistroKid, UnitedMasters offers a “free” plan. However, there are some serious strings attached.
The “free” option is misleading because it simply means there are no upfront or annual fees. The truth is that UnitedMasters takes 10% of your streaming money and cuts back on the features that are provided to you.
Moving beyond the “free” plan, when comparing UnitedMasters’ paid plans to DistroKid’s paid plans, UnitedMasters is the cheaper option.
However, one area that UnitedMasters is unique is in that they offer some kind of potential to get sponsorships and partnerships with big-ticket companies like the NBA (apparently).
If you’d like a more thorough look into how DistroKid compares to UnitedMasters, check out my article on DistroKid Vs. UnitedMasters. 🙂
DistroKid vs SoundCloud RePost
From researching this topic, I found people in forums literally laughing at what Soundcloud is offering…
One person essentially called Repost by Soundcloud “DistroKid but worse and more expensive” because it costs more per year AND they take a cut of your income.
Have a look for yourself below:
*Costs are yearly
After having a look for yourself and comparing the two services, it becomes pretty clear that DistroKid is the superior music distribution service.
To learn more about this, check out my article called Can Distrokid Distribute To SoundCloud?
Do I Need A Distributor For Spotify?
A distributor is needed to get music on Spotify because Spotify does not allow artists to directly upload music to their service. Instead, music distributors handle the music, artwork, and metadata that artists submit to make sure everything meets Spotify’s requirements before sending it off to Spotify.
Although Spotify does not allow artists to directly upload to their platform, it is super easy to upload to Spotify as an artist.
Instead, Spotify teams up with music distributors to act as the middleman between the artists and Spotify.
Artists simply sign up to a music distributor, upload their music and it gets distributed to streaming services and stores like Spotify and Apple Music.
To learn more about why Spotify does not allow direct uploads, check out my article titled Spotify Direct Upload – Can You Upload Directly To Spotify? 🙂
Do Record Labels Look At Spotify?
Record labels do look at an artist’s Spotify numbers because these numbers are a pretty reliable sign that an artist is popular and has a fanbase in addition to being able to listen to the artist’s actual music.
Although it is not the only indicator that a label may look at, Spotify numbers are pretty important right now and give labels a good idea if they can help the artist reach higher heights and, ultimately, make money off of them.
Best Music Distributor For Independent Artists
The best music distributor for independent artists is DistroKid because, for a small annual fee, indie artists get fast unlimited song uploads while getting to keep 100% of the income their music makes. This makes it easy for independent artists to release and distribute music without a record label.
Other distributors may charge artists a fee per song every year, which can quickly add up and does not make financial sense for any newer or independent artists.
If you’d like to get started with the best distributor for independent artists, make sure to learn about the DistroKid discount before signing up to make sure you get the best price.
Best Music Distributor For Cover Songs
The best music distributor for distributing cover songs is DistroKid because they have an optional feature called Cover Song Licensing that allows artists to legally release cover songs.
Cover Song Licensing is an optional feature that DistroKid offers when you are submitting your music to streaming services and stores. It allows you to legally release cover songs by obtaining the license(s), paying the original songwriter(s), and keeping current on music copyright law.
DistroKid Cover Song Licensing costs $12 per cover song per year.
To learn more about pricing and fees, check out my article on DistroKid pricing.
Music Distribution And Publishing
The difference between music distribution and music publishing is that music distribution allows artists to get their music on online stores and streaming services while music publishing helps artists collect publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties
Although both distribution and publishing companies get you artists paid, it is for different aspects of music consumption, and only distributors can get the music up on online stores and streaming services in the first place.
The best way to understand this better is to compare Songtrust vs DistroKid, AKA a music publishing company against a music distribution company.
DistroKid does these things for artists:
- Uploads your music to Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
- Collects the master recording royalties and payments for you (ie: Spotify royalties)
Songtrust does these things for artists:
- Collects the music publishing royalties for you (ie: performance royalties and mechanical royalties)
- Signs up you for and allows you to easily submit your music to performance rights organizations around the world