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!
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
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.
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).
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
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 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:
Don’t Get Scammed: Which Aggregators NOT to Use
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).
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.
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!
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.