For independent artists, getting your music on digital streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, etc. is key to growing your audience and generating income. How do you get your music on paid digital streaming platforms? You need a music distributor. The three most popular distributors in the industry for independent artists are Distrokid, Tunecore, and United Masters. In this article, we’ll cover the key takeaways from using all three music distributors. Hopefully this breakdown will make your decision on choosing a distributor easier. Already have a distributor? Check out our other free artist resources.

Distrokid

Distrokid launched in 2013 by Phillip J. Kaplan. Distrokid costs artists $20 a year for their most basic plan. However, artists will need to upgrade to the $35 per year plan for features such as scheduling your release and editing the p line and c line. However, no matter the plan you choose, you will always collect 100% of royalties.

Distrokid also recently released a new update that allows you to set your features and collaborations more easily. You can now link the profiles you’d like the releases to land on to preemptively address the song landing on a similarly named artist page.

For all artists, we would recommend going with the $35 plan, or you won’t be able to set a release date and the song will just go live as soon as Distrokid can push it out. Distrokid has some of the best support in the industry, with a team ready to support artists with any questions via DM or email. Distrokid will typically respond within 24 hours. 

Distrokid also gives all of their users some great features such as the Fixer – to address when your upload ends up on the wrong artist page, a custom link for each release to encourage Spotify pre-saves and iTunes pre-orders, among more. 

If you’re going to use Distrokid, make sure you’re using our referral link to save 7% on your plan.

Tunecore

Tunecore was founded in 2005 by Peter Wells. Compared to Distrokid, they have 8 more years in the industry. Tunecore gives all artists the ability to edit the p and c line and link the upload to the correct platform. Tunecore also gives 100% of your royalties to you.

Where Tunecore loses to Distrokid is the price for large catalogues – while Distrokid charges $35 maximum for one artist, Tunecore charges $10 per year per upload. This means if you have a larger catalogue, you will be paying more money per year to keep your music online.

Tunecore gives artists something unique that no other distributor does – it can collect your publishing. For an extra fee, Tunecore can collect your publishing royalties that you would normally need a performance rights organization such as ASCAP or BMI for. Tunecore also offers exclusive discounts, such as free plugins, to their users.

If this sounds right for you, sign up here.

United Masters

United Masters is the newest entry of these three to the industry. United Masters was founded in 2017 by Steve Stoute. United Masters has two pricing tiers – a free option that allows you to collect 90% of your royalties and only distribute to a few platforms, and United Masters Select, a $60 per year service that distributes to all platforms and gives you 100% of your royalties. 

United Masters, no matter what plan you select, gives all artists the ability to edit the p and c line and link the upload to the correct platform. United Masters also provides unique services to help artists get their music in certain places they may not otherwise be able to – such as in NBA 2K video games. 

If you’re looking for a free distributor, United Masters is the one. But if you’re looking for a distributor to upload a large catalogue to, you’re going to get a better bang for your buck with Distrokid.

United Masters is an invite-only program, but you can apply and should hear back within the week. If you’d like to join United Masters, request an invite here.

Conclusion

No matter which of these three music distributors you use, you’ll be set up for success. All three are great choices, but depending on how much music you release, the best option for you will be slightly different. If you’re going to use Distrokid, make sure you’re using our referral link to save 7% on your plan. Just click here. For more tips for independent artists, check out all of our free artist resources.