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Music distributors

3 min read

What is a music distributor?

There are two main forms of music distribution, physical and digital.

Pre-internet, it was much harder for to release their without the help of a . But now it's easier for independent, to release their sound recordings, grow a fan base, and build a successful career with the help of a music distribution service.

Artists can choose to distribute via a , which handles both physical and digital distribution, or via an , which exclusively handles digital distribution. Learn more about the types of distribution in our Distribution and Marketing topic.

Note creators can't release a sound recording directly to most . You must either have a record label or use a music distributor or aggregator to do it for you.

What is a music distributor?

A music distributor is a company or service that helps independent self-releasing creators and record labels deliver their music to digital streaming platforms (DSPs) and physical retail stores. Unlike a record label, they don't usually make a creative assessment of creators' sound recordings and don't require long-term agreements. You can usually release on a song-by-song basis.

Using a distributor is often easy for creators, simply sign up to your chosen service and follow the service's process to upload your sound recordings, accompanying , and release . Some distributors offer additional services that help you market and promote your sound recordings, though that may come with an extra cost or greater share of your .

When it comes to and , music distributors are independent services so have no ownership of self-releasing creators' sound recordings. However, some services may offer a , which could involve a share in the royalties earned from the sound recording they distribute.

In terms of cost, some music distribution services are free to use but take a percentage of royalties, whereas others will charge an upfront fee in exchange for paying creators 100 percent of the royalties they collect.

What do music distributors do? 

Music distributors can provide a range of services to self-releasing creators and independent record labels, including:

  • Deliver sound recordings to digital and physical retailers

  • Manufacture where applicable

  • Manage metadata

  • Generate and assign and or codes

  • Collect and pay to creators whose content they delivered.

In addition to the core services, some distributors may provide:

  • Marketing and tools or support

What are some examples of music distributors?

There are a number of distributors to choose from, and different services will be better suited to different creators.

Examples of global distribution companies in 2023 include:

  • FUGA

  • The Orchard (owned by Sony Music)

  • ADA (owned by Warner Music)

  • Ingrooves (owned by Universal Music Group)

  • Tunecore

  • Amuse

Click here to contact us and request to add your company to this list.

Video credit: Tiffany Orvet, Daniel Sundström, Eric Ivar Persson, David Wells, Tobias Leo Nordquist, Ponny Höijer, William Engström, Parapix