Just Sayin....   (Les and Friends Blog)

Navigating The World Of Independent Music Distributors (Part 2)

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April 6, 2023

In the first part of this blog I talked more about the different distribution platforms that are available to us independent artist. In part 2, I am going to discuss my take on the main distributors available to us. This discussion does not include "by invitation only" distributors. Please note that the blog relates my personal experience and does not infer in any way that my take is a difinitive universal truth.



My very first distributor was CD Baby and I choose to use them as my #1 distributor. When I signed up in 2016 they were one of the few options for independents. What was great back then is that they covered both Internet and physical (CD) distribution. A little further down the road, as there became less of a demand for physical product, they switched their main focus to Internet distribution. I have come back to them as my main distributor after trying others, mainly because of their stability and reliability. CD Baby is not a subscription so there is no annual fee. Instead, CD Baby is a "pay per release" distributor so you pay a small fee to get each release into stores.


  • There is no cost to sign up
  • Your releases stay in stores in perpetuity.
  • The cost for a basic distribution is relatively low, under $10.
  • They have been in the business for awhile and have a fast and efficient process.
  • You can assign your own ISRC's
  • Sales stats are easy to read and well organized


  • You have to pay for each release
  • They do not collect mechanical licensinf fees. If you distribute a cover song, you must sign up with a 3rd party collection agency such as Easy Song


Ditto is a subscription distribution service. I still use Ditto for cover releases because they will automatically collect mechanical licensing fees for the owner when you distribute a cover song. With CD Baby you have to prove that you are working with a 3rd party collector before you can distribute a cover tune. Ditto makes this one less thing to worry about and one less service to sign up for. The $19.00 basic yearly supscription is perfect for a single artists. You can do all of the basic things you need to and you can use your own ISRCs. My biggest complaint with Ditto is that they are SLOW. It usually takes about a week for support to answer a question and a solid 2 weeks for an approval to send to stores. My takeaway is that if you don't care about how long it takes to release your music, then Ditto could be a good choice for you. If you do care, go elsewhere.


  • A very reasonable yearly subscription price ($19.00)
  • You can assign your own ISRCs even with the most basic package
  • Unlimited releases during the subscription.
  • Ditto handles mechanical licensing so the artist doing a cover song doesn't have to worry about it.


  • If you have multiple artists you have to buy a more expensive package.
  • If you don't renew your subscription, your releases risk being pulled from stores



Tunecore is another subscription service. I tried them and I have nothing good to say about them. What intrigued me is their advertised turnaround time. Here is my nightmare Tunecore story.

I was so aggravated by Ditto's slow turnaround time for anything that I was serching for alternatives. I decided to try Tunecore. My first frustration was creating an account. I use the same password for all of my music sites. When I tried to create an account, of course, the password protocol was different than virtually every other site on the Internet so I had to create a custom password.

At the time, you had to buy into the Professional Package ($49) to use your own ISRCs. This is no longer the case as the basic package now allows you to bring your own, Anyway, because I was moving a catalog from another distributor and the releases already had assigned IRSCs, I had to immediately upgrade.

I tried to republish the titles under Tunecore. Every effort was rejected because Tunecore couldn't figure out if "Les and Friends" were a single artists or multiple artists. They would not distribute the releases under multiple artists. I contacted them and explained that "Les and Friends" was a single artist, a band. I then pointed them to already published releases on CD Baby and then explained to them that the releases in question had already been distributed to stores "as is" by Ditto with no issue. Support was slower than advertised and, by the time I heard from them, I had missed my first release date. After all of this, Tunecore support wrote back and said "We still need to know if Les and Friends is one artist or two." At this point I just said "Forget it. I am going to publish these through CD Baby." By the time I heard from support again, CD Baby had already aproved all of the releases.


  • They offer both subscription ($14.99) and per release packages ($9.99 single/$29.99 album)
  • You can bring your own ISRCs now with the basic package.
  • A very reasonable yearly subscription price


  • If you don't renew your subscription, your releases risk being pulled from stores
  • Found support to be inept
  • Support lead times were not as advertised.
  • Releasing an album is $29.99 as opposed $9.99 at CD Baby. In addition, Tunecore requires an additional $49.99 each year to keep the release in the stores.



There are other distributors besides the 3 above. I have never used them so I don't feel comfortable critiquing them. The one that I would make sure to mention is DistroKid. They have become one of the most popular distributors on the Internet. DistroKid has been in the distribution business since 2013. They are noted for fast turnaround. They are a little more expensive that the others ($22.99) and, like the others, have advanced tools for more money. Amuse is another quite popular distributor. It is easy to find information on the Web about all of the major players. Sometimes though, a little personal experience goes a long way.

If you have any input on Internet distribution companies I would love to hear from you and, maybe, update this blog using your input. Thanks.


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