Spotify Distribution - Don't Get Scammed!


#1

This is adapted from my blog, https://norfleetmusic.wordpress.com! If you’re interested in music distribution you will probably like it, and I plan to post more in the coming weeks. Feel free to check it out!


Hey all,

Having been in quite a few online music communities before now, I have seen people ask questions about how to get their songs onto stores like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Some of the answers are good, but some of them are either partially wrong or intentionally misleading. Don’t be fooled by the title, Spotify isn’t a scam. However, there are many ways that you can get scammed when you’re uploading your music, and so I thought I’d straighten out a couple of things.

(Note: I’ll be referring to Spotify, but most of the things I say will also apply to other stores such as Google Play or Apple Music.)

How Spotify Works


Uploading

The first thing to know is that you don’t actually upload your tracks directly to Spotify, like you would on YouTube or SoundCloud.

Since Spotify pays all artists, they need to make sure that all music is 100% properly licensed. Thus, they don’t let just anyone upload music.

According to Spotify…

We have deals with most labels and distributors, so if you’re signed to one just ask them to put your music on Spotify.

If you’re not signed to a label or distributor, we have deals in place with companies who can deliver your music to us and collect royalties for you. These are called aggregators.

Almost everyone here will not be a signed artist, so the way to go is to use an aggregator. However, some aggregators (especially the free ones) aren’t very high-quality. Their support teams might be slow, or it might take weeks to get your track moderated (often only for it to be rejected!). In the next main section I’ll talk about which aggregators are the best.

Getting Paid

As I said earlier, Spotify pays all artists on their platform, per stream. The payment is around $0.004 per stream (or $4 per 1000 streams). Why do I say “around”? Spotify pays more or less depending on whether the stream comes from a Premium user, and other factors that I don’t know (because I don’t work at Spotify).

A couple of quick facts regarding payment:

  • If your aggregator isn’t paying you, then there’s a problem.
  • It takes time for Spotify to process and analyze all the streams before they can pay your aggregator. This is usually around 2-3 months, depending on your aggregator.
  • Sometimes, aggregators will take a percentage cut of the earnings you make. I’ll give specific examples in the next section.
  • Almost all aggregators have a “minimum payout threshold” that you need to reach before being able to withdraw your money. This is usually around $10 for PayPal and higher for credit/debit cards.

Which Aggregator Should I Use?


Here are a couple of distributors that I have experience with. I’m including the prices and fees involved, the speed and quality of support and moderation, and the quality of the website (or application, in Amuse’s case).

Amuse.io

This is the most highly recommended one that I’ve seen in the Auxy community. Amuse is the only mobile aggregator. I recommend this if you mainly use a mobile device rather than a computer.

Price: 100% Free, no fee or percentage cut
Release Moderation Speed: Moderate, 2-5 days
Release Upload Speed: 10+ days after moderation
Support Speed: Inconsistent. Can be as fast as 1 hour, but can be as slow as 4 days.
Support Quality: High
Interface Quality: Very High

DistroKid

This is a top quality service, but isn’t free.

Price: $20 per year fee, no percentage cut
Release Moderation Speed: Fast, 1-2 days.
Release Upload Speed: Dependent on the service, usually 2 days after moderation
Support Speed: Fast, up to 2 days.
Support Quality: Very High
Interface Quality: Very High

RouteNote

RouteNote is one of the most popular free aggregators, but I don’t recommend it. As an artist manager I have received payment, but it didn’t match up to what RouteNote claims to pay.

Price: Free to use, 9% cut of royalties (you keep 91%)
Release Moderation Speed: Very slow, up to 4 weeks
Release Upload Speed: Very slow, Up to 2 weeks after moderation
Support Speed: Slow, 5-10 business days
Support Quality: Medium
Interface Quality: Low. Hard to get what you’re looking for, and a very slow website doesn’t help either.

Here is a much fuller list of aggregators, that covers the good and the bad:
http://aristake.com/post/cd-baby-tunecore-ditto-mondotunes-zimbalam-or

Don’t Get Scammed: Which Aggregators NOT to Use


TuneCore

TuneCore is one of the oldest aggregators in the industry, but has been involved in several lawsuits. In fact, its original founder left the company, recommending DistroKid above TuneCore (see above).

Ditto

Quote from the same Ari’s Take article as I linked above:

Ditto Music is one of the companies that threatened to sue me. Well, the co-CEO Lee Parsons did, for asking a question about royalty collection.

Ditto Music is run by co-founders, co-CEOs, co-brothers, Lee and Matt Parsons. It started in the UK and was who Ed Sheeran first used to distribute his self-released music back before his record deal. Remember what I said about culture and ethos of a company? Well, I’m sorry to say that Lee and Matt have some of the worst reputations in the space. They consistently berate their customers (publicly on message boards) and get into Twitter battles with bloggers (me). They have very thin skin and cannot take criticism well. This is all personal, yes, but this attitude seeps into every aspect of their company - including customer service.

I have gotten more complaints from readers about Ditto than any other company on the list. By far. Complaints about missed payments. Complaints that the customer service is great ONLY UNTIL you pay them money, then customer service is non-existent. Metadata errors and mislabeling/misordering of songs on the album with it taking months to get it fixed. Removals taking months.


The End

Well, thanks for reading all the way down here. I hope this information helped you at least a little bit. If you have any other questions or things you’re curious about, then feel free to send me a DM, and I’ll try to answer it. Thanks again!

— N

P.S.

I’ll be posting this, as well as some more tutorials on music distribution on my website, https://norfleetmusic.wordpress.com! Please check it out and follow if you thought this was helpful.


Wooo I'm On Spotify!
What Mastering Really Is
#2

Thank you very much for posting this! This will definitely help out! And I hope that soon I can get some tracks into Spotify :wink:


#3

Thanks for this!

While RouteNote is not really a scam, I strongly recommend not using it. I’ve had problems in the past with their customer service, it takes between 3 weeks to a month just to get something to the stores, and their interface and website are also a bit of a pain.

Edit: looks like the OP already mentioned all of that. :stuck_out_tongue:


#4

It wasn’t actually in the scam section. But it makes sense that you’d think that, after reading the review :wink:


#5

Not only I’ve read the review, I’ve used it myself. :slight_smile:


#6

What would you say about CD Baby? It’s pretty popular. Scam or not scam? Recommended or not recommended?


#7

I LOVE CD Baby!
Not a scam!
Really worth the $10 per single!


#8

Why wasn’t CD Baby mentioned? :eyes:
@Norfleet


#9

@Pinewoodog @NickElle I haven’t actually used CD Baby, so that’s why it’s not in the list. If you have information for these fields, send them to me and I’ll put them in.

Price (Usage fees, Per-release fees, or percentage cuts – if any)

Release Moderation Speed (Time it takes to approve your release)

Release Upload Speed (Time it takes after approval to put into stores)

Support Speed (Time they take to answer your requests)

Support Quality (How well do they answer the questions)

Interface Quality (How good is their website – easy to use? aesthetically pleasing? can you find what you’re looking for?)


#10

I was looking into CDBaby recently.

S’good that they also handle checking for infringements on YouTube, handle the DMCA process as well as gathering monetisation from redirected monetisation from infringers.

Not sure if the others handle that part, but it was a good aspect to their offering.

 
I had assumed I’d go for Amuse, but based on the above, I’m now thinking DistroKid.

The small annual fee seems more than worth it for the reduced turnaround and more reliable customer service/support.

(I’ll take a proper look at CDBaby, just to be sure, but having produced around 40 tracks in the last 12 months, the per-track fees would add up pretty quickly - given that I’m still miles away from any of them actually making any money at all, let alone a profit.)


#11

A few more worth considering: Revelator, Level and Landr.


#12

One of my favorite features. Most other aggregators do as well, these days.

Now, you said you were considering using multiple aliases (in a different thread that I can’t remember), correct? If you wanted to distribute on both, you’d have to pay for two accounts – DistroKid and Amuse both only allow one artist per account.


#13

True, but $20 per year per account is still a fraction compared to the $10 per track option, especially if the service is effectively identical (re: YouTube, customer service, moderation and release turnaround, etc…)

I’m considering the poor review of Amuse’s customer service and turnaround a major put-off. I’d rather pay a bit and not have that headache.

Once I get my ducks in a row, I plan to for 2018 to be a productive year, music-wise. :slight_smile:

That said, I do need to do some research on reasonable/practical release schedules.
…plus I plan to tighten up on quality and reduce quantity.


#14

Oh, of course. I can’t really offer any good opinion on CDBaby other than what I do know (price), so I left that out.

The Amuse support is not that bad – just moderately slow. DistroKid’s a lot better with that.


#15

Re: DistroKid…

Seems they do a little discount for a two-artist account. Huzzah!

£25/year for a two-artist account.
Might get this sorted soon.

Time I think of that second artist name! :wink:

image

 
Plus there’s this…

distrokid_c


#16

They do. I completely forgot about that. :sweat_smile:


#17

Hmm. I’ve always considered them to be fast and helpful.


#18

Sorry, I meant inconsistent. They can certainly be fast – but sometimes not, which is the main problem.


#19

Does Amuse.io only distribute songs made on a mobile device? It’s seems like they have the best service


#20

The tracks can be made any way you like*, but they can only be uploaded using the mobile app.

* Amuse.io: What are the technical requirements?