Music distribution companies play a vital role in releasing your music digitally and reaching a large audience. Without a good music distributor, you’d have trouble getting your tracks on the world’s main distribution platforms and streaming services.
However, paying for a proper digital music distribution service can be too expensive for some.
That’s why we’ve collected and reviewed the sevenbest free music distribution platforms to help launch your music career to the stars.
What Are The Best Free Music Distribution Services?
At a glance, here is a list of the very best free music distribution services you can get. We’ll cover them in more depth below:
RouteNote (Our Pick)
1. RouteNote (Our Pick)
Great marketing tools & analytics
Quick processing time
SoundCloud and YouTube monetization
Allows for cover tracks
15% commission rate
No publishing royalties
Mediocre customer service reviews
RouteNote is the best free music distribution software on offer, with an unlimited cap on releases and artists. They only take a 15% commission of artists’ royalties, which isn’t great but isn’t awful either, considering the platform is free to use.
However, the shortcomings of Amuse’s free services are the 12-releases-per-year limit and the poor customer service reviews.
With Amuse’s free distribution service, the waiting time is four weeks for your music to be processed and released to platforms – a boring wait to say the least. Likewise, their customer service team also comes with the burden of incredibly long waiting times.
On a brighter note, if you are lucky enough to be hand-picked by Amuse’s label, you could be given many marketing tools and great features for artist growth.
Unlimited distribution to social media sites
Access to playlist opportunities
Collects both master royalties and publishing royalties
20% commission rate
Does not distribute to major streaming services unless the artist subscribes to the paid version of TuneCore
Reviews suggest long waiting times to hear back from customer service
TuneCore is one of the leading music distributor giants. Their free distribution service, titled ‘New Artist’ mode, is a great way to dip your toes into the music distribution world.
With ‘New Artist,’ you have access to unlimited music releases to music targeted at social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
There is no annual fee or a fee per release, which is excellent considering what you’re getting. Even their specially-designed competitive pricing for the paid version of TuneCore is very affordable ($30 USD per full album).
After a while, you might find yourself wanting to upgrade to be able to distribute music to the world’s most major streaming platforms and take advantage of TuneCore’s full distribution potential.
Extremely affordable distribution to major streaming services (99¢ per release)
Exclusive discounts on specialist creator tools
Great marketing tools & analytics
Allows for cover tracks
Costs 99 cents per release
15% commission rate
Soundrop isn’t exactly ‘free,’ but offers a pocket-change rate of only $0.99 per release. This price allows you to distribute to all major streaming platforms and also covers licensing fees (an additional fee of $10 on most other distribution services).
Soundrop’s team personally guarantees that your music stays available in all stores and streaming platforms for life. The trade-off is that they take 15% of your royalties, like RouteNote’s commission charge, which isn’t bad but isn’t great considering Soundrop already charges you a small fee per release.
Soundrop also offers to license cover tracks, which is an awesome service for artists who perform many of your covers and upload them to social media sites. You won’t receive any infringement or copyright claims since Soundrop’s team deals with those before releasing your music.
If you already have a considerable following for your cover tracks, then Soundrop offers you a great way to monetize them.
Unlimited digital music distribution
100% royalties to the artist
Free profiles for up to 4 artists at once
Great promo tools
2-week average processing time
Marketing tools & analytics aren’t very good
Reviews suggest a $25 customer service fee
FreshTunes offer unlimited music distribution to all major streaming platforms, e.g., Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music, and artists keep 100% of royalties.
They even offer professional feedback services and promotional deals, which are accessible at an additional cost.
They offer a direct and reliable way to distribute your music for free. The main highlights of using Fresh Tunes are that you keep all your earned royalties, unlimited distribution, and your music doesn’t get taken down after a time limit like some ‘pay-to-stay’ distribution services.
The Achilles heel of using this service is that their customer service and live chat support features cost money – 25 hard-earned dollars per support ticket.
Unlimited distribution for accepted artists
Personal artist manager
Extensive marketing tools & helpful marketing team
Artists must apply and be accepted by the in-house team to use the platform fully.
AWAL (‘Artists Without A Label’) is a great free music distribution service for artists who are already somewhat established but need help with promotion and attaining a wider public reach.
The only catch with AWAL is that you have to apply to be accepted onto the platform. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem provided you take your music career seriously and regularly release good-quality music that already reaches many people.
Their promotional capabilities are well worth the 15% commission fee, and they also flaunt some of the highest payout-per-play rates for when your music is listened to on the world’s largest streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music.
AWAL also boasts a bespoke A&R team, which can upstream artists who are worthy of recognition for their talent.
If you get chosen by AWAL, you will be assigned a personal artist manager who will personally ensure millions hear your music of people. Their track record for this service is gleaming with successful past artists.
Large network of playlists with a high listener count
5% commission rate (not bad)
Private platform not open to public applications – artists must be manually scouted.
Stem is similar to AWAL but just a little more exclusive. They’re an invite-only platform that will give you access to your own personal artist manager. They charge a much smaller commission fee than AWAL, too – only 5% of royalties.
Their dashboards, marketing tools, and analytics are some of the best in the entire music industry. Stem offers similar services to AWAL in terms of bespoke marketing teams, artist advances, and artist development deals.
So, if you’re already an artist with a relatively big presence, it’s worth checking the services out and maybe even writing the team a casual introductory line.
Do Music Distribution Companies Own Your Music?
Most music distribution companies will take a small-to-medium cut of your royalty payments each time you earn from monetizing your music through a performing rights organization (clickherefor a handy guide to these organizations).
This is only fair, as they are distributing our music worldwide in the first place.
However, music distributors DO NOT own any intellectual property belonging to your releases. That means that they do not own the rights to the musicand cannot, under any circumstance, claim that the music itself belongs to them.
Some big digital music distribution services like CD Baby bear contractual agreements over their users, which allow the music distributor to edit manually, cut up, re-structure, and/or advertise your music without the artist’s permission. This is usually fine and actually helps promote your music!
For example, if the music distributor is approached by a production company that loves your song and wants a cut-down or stripped-back version of it, the distributor can actually save you the editing and administrative work by getting the edit done by an in-house member of their team.
Don’t worry – if you’re lucky enough to have your work appear in the work of production companies through your distributor, you’ll still get paid!
These special payments are calledsynchronization royalties, and they operate as per the original music distributor agreement you signed upon releasing your track to streaming platforms.
Paid vs. Unpaid Music Distribution: What Are The Benefits?
Let’s face it: there are some giant music distribution companies out there that can spark awesome career growth for you and pretty much guarantee your music will engage a wider audience, but most of these are purchase-based or subscription-based platforms.
The obvious benefit of unpaid distribution is… yep, it’s unpaid! You could save quite a lot of money by using a free music distribution service, especially if you’re looking to release large volumes of tracks or albums over a short amount of time.
However, the reach and growth factors of these platforms are often fairly limited and stand independently from many of the music industry’s most popular distribution services.
By contrast, paid distribution platforms like CD Baby, DistroKid, and TuneCore Pro (the paid version of TuneCore Free) can grow your fanbase much quicker and more effectively than unpaid platforms can, sometimes triggering huge blasts of exposure for your release catalog.
A lot of these paid distribution platforms also have business deals with huge streaming companies like Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer, which can lead to excellent promotional tools being offered on the platforms’ websites.
One of CD Baby’s tools, for example, is ‘CD Baby’s Spotify For Artists, which includes a facility for pitching your music directly to the curators of Spotify’s biggest official editorial playlists. Each track on these playlists easily amass millions of listens within weeks.
Keep creating and releasing, and most importantly, keep having fun! Happy distributing!