In 2016, I wrote an article CDBaby vs Tunecore that went a little viral and I still like CD Baby but here’s the thing times change and there are so many music distribution aggregators it’s hard to keep up, as well as try them all out. But over the last year I’ve been trying out a few different ones and I’ve actually found two that are absolutely free. I know I usually save this kind of info for my email subscribers but I’m in a generous mood tonight.
I should also point out that we’re not affiliated or get any kind of kickback from these companies for mentioning them so if you have a horrible experience with them don’t @ me. Use these services at your own risk.
The first company I tried is called Awal Music after they were recommended to me by a friend whose also a recording artist and who had nothing but good things to say about them.
Basically how it works is you apply online to join their roaster of artists (they don’t accept everyone) but if your music is already on Spotify and Apple Music and you have a few things like all your social media accounts and maybe a music video or two, they should accept you (don’t quote me on that, they accepted me). Obviously, if your music sounds like crap and isn’t mixed and mastered properly or if you have a Soundcloud with like 2 followers they probably wont accept you (again don’t quote me on that, I don’t know what their guidelines are, I’m just taking educated guesses).
According to their site, they’ll distribute your music to Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and pretty much all the other streaming platforms for free and you’ll keep 100% ownership of your music. The only drawback is that they’ll take 15% of your revenue. So if you make $100, they’ll take $15, which isn’t too bad considering CD Baby is charging $9.95 per song before you make anything (but also takes no royalties).
In my opinion, AWAL is pretty professional and has a sleek website and user interface and seems like they have their stuff together and would make a good partner. And 15% isn’t too much to give away at first, but if your song blows up and makes a million than you’re giving way $150,000 which seems insane. I would hope they would provide additional support and they do list things such as playlist promotion (which is probably pure b.s. they can’t pay Spotify or Apple Music for playlist placement, I mean they can, major labels wine and dine playlist creators but that’s illegal).
Another free music distribution service I tried out is called Amuse and they offer a free mobile app that you use to upload your music and cover art and they send it out to Spotify and Apple Music and wherever else people are listening to music. And it’s totally free. Unlike, AWAL that takes 15%, Amuse takes zero, zilch, nada.
I should point out that this company is based in Stockholm and perusing their site you’ll get the feeling that English isn’t their second language but they do have a snazzy site and their app first approach is pretty cool. The only issue I had with them is that when I uploaded my song to them it created a new artist profile on Spotify and Apple Music and the song didn’t link to my old profile. This was kinda of annoying as my followers on those platforms wouldn’t get notified of my new song. The good thing was that I was able to contact them and within about a week and a half they had corrected the issue. If you’re an artist that already has music on Spotify and Apple Music, you’ll probably run into the same issue, so be aware of that.
Another cool thing is that you can see via their app how much your songs have earned and you can withdraw your money when you have a minimum of $10.00.
The only thing that concerns me about new companies like this are what happens if they fold and go bankrupt? If they get 100,000 artists and they all have $5 in their account and the company goes bust, they just keep the $500,000? Also how is this company paying to keep the lights on if they’re doing all this for free? On their site, they claim that the reason they can do free is because if they find an artist they believe in they’ll sign them and go 50/50 with them. I’m not buying that reason as there’s no proof of them signing any artist and making any money just yet.
I wonder when Spotify and Apple Music are going to quit the shenanigans and get rid of these middlemen and just allow artists to upload straight away to their platforms? While it is convenient as it would be insanely painful to upload to all of the streaming services individually (there’s like 20 of them) , I guess these kind of aggregators do have a role but it’s hard to quantify how much they should cost, what’s a fair price and how long will they be in business?
Hey do you know of any free distribution services? Well then please share with us in the comments.