Best free music distribution platforms of 2023
By Maxence Pepin02 April, 2023
Music and musicians have been loved and revered from time immemorial. Many musicians have even become legends in their own right and continue to live on in our hearts and minds along with their memorable songs and music, years after they are gone.
Composing music though a tough job is only part of the challenge. The real challenge is to make your music/song famous. In today’s digital world, music if distributed properly through the proper digital platforms only stands a chance to live and thrive.
Nothing could be worse for a musician than creating lovely music which no one gets to hear or appreciate. Gone are the days when music used to be available to the general masses through cassettes and DVDs. Today’s world of the internet is fast replacing the age-old physical world of music. For music to reach the world, today's musicians have to make use of streaming sites or online platforms.
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Explore how different distributors compare, how much they cost and what their limitations are.
Some of the most popular streaming sites are Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, iHeartRadio, etc. While some of the most popular download stores are Amazon, iTunes, and so many more.
For independent artists, composing music or songs would be practically futile and useless if they don’t reach the audience that they have been created for. Uploading music on these streaming sites or making them available on such download stores then becomes a matter of survival in this industry, digital music distribution has truly become a need.
All newcomers in the music industry would go to great lengths to have their music available on these platforms since sales of music have become mostly online these days. And online industry appears to be the way forward or perhaps the only way ahead for music in the near future.
The dependency on distribution platforms increased tremendously with the advent and growth of streaming services. However, putting your music on these streaming sites or stores comes at a price and many budding artists, though they have ample talent and ambition, often do not have the finances to match their talent and ambition.
It is here that free music distribution platforms come into the picture and they are the best possible answer to the budding artist’s or newcomer’s aspirations. In this article we will compare the best free music distribution services, we have ranked them by commission, features, their limits and requirements.
3. Boost Collective
6. Fresh Tunes
In this article, we will take a look at the best free music distribution platforms available and even discuss their advantages and disadvantages.
One of the most recent players in the distribution field is Releese, which acts as an infrastructure platform for Creators, Record Labels and Publishers. Releese offers a wide array of tools that go surprisingly in depth such as task management, team management, automated accounting, expense tracking and recouping, landing pages, pre-saves, cross-team collaboration tools, private link sharing, and so much more. Releese offers the best platform for music industry professionals who want to live off the music industry, but is probably not the best tool for people who are new to the scene. You probably would not want to learn how to drive in a Lamborghini, right? Obviously, we would love to tell you to immediately sign up since it is our own platform but we would not be honest if we told you Releese is a one size fits all.
• Offers a free plan
• Offers next-generation marketing tools like Pre-saves.
• Automatic splits, expense tracking and recoups.
• Varying royalty rate between 2.9% and 15%.
• Offers an array of tools not seen in any other distribution.
• Cheapest withdraw fee with Wise direct bank deposit.
• Collect publishing and neighboring rights.
1. High-end subscription pricing.
2. A lot of tools means a lot to learn.
3. Free distribution does not include unlimited releases.
It is an automated mastering service that even allows you to perfect your mix. You can distribute your music to all the streaming sites, including Spotify, for free, even if you are subscribed or not to their mastering plans. There are no commissions, but only a monthly fee of $1 and an annual membership fee of $12 are to be paid. Streaming services can be accessed for as little as $3/month or $36/year, which is quite cheap. So at a very low price, you can distribute your music widely to millions of people out there. The price for uploading and distributing 10 songs to the best music stores online is just $1 per month. You can also collaborate with other artists and has a good mastering service, so it is good for promoting young talent.
• It offers a free plan.
• It offers mastering and distribution on the same platform.
• Collaboration with different musicians is possible.
• High connectivity, offers playlist pluggers.
• It offers a desktop APP.
1. The pricing is a bit confusing.
2. The site is not simple to learn.
3. One is pushed to get the mastering services by the monthly/annual fees.
Probably the most unique platform on this list is Boost Collective, they are a full service distribution and marketing platform with a twist: You must rank up on their platform to gain perks as opposed to paying for a subscription or fee. The more you grow, the more perks you earn such as discounts on promotion, more free distribution credits, and dedicated account rep. This last one is probably the most interesting, they are the only free music distribution platform with a dedicated account rep. Reaching the rank to get there might take some time but an artist starting out would probably need one to begin with. We found Boost Collective to be an interesting and unique competitor in the scene as truly nothing compares to it price-wise.
• Gain free credits every month.
• Fast turnaround and quick distribution.
• Top tier marketing services available.
• Dedicated account rep (once you rank up)
• Rank system can play for or against you. This could be in both the advantages and disadvantages category depending on your rank.
• Must distribute 1 song before unlocking unlimited distribution (You can prepare for this)
This platform has one of the most flexible plans since it allows you to switch your streaming plans anytime. So you can comfortably start with the free plan first and then as you start making money, you can always switch to the Premium plan. In case you choose, the zero upfront fee plan, then after your music starts generating money, they will cut 15% of your royalties. They also have a huge number of partnerships with other platforms, hence your music is bound to reach a wider audience. One of the main drawbacks is that it does not have any publishing or sync licensing. For established artists too, this platform is good since they are allowed to keep their complete royalty, after paying the initial fees.
• Greater flexibility since switching between plans is possible.
• Provides a platform to sell music directly to fans.
• Has a wider coverage that spreads across most of the world, including Asia.
• Slow process and a release may even take 4 weeks.
• Publishing and sync licensing are not possible.
• Confusing dashboard
It is ideal for those who are working on a tight financial budget and those who are well-versed with new and evolving technology. Amuse started as a Swedish startup and though new to this field, it has now got many high-profile individuals and labels as its partners and investors. For example, Will.i.am, Peas frontman, etc. They are even willing to incorporate customized features if they sense that your music will sell well. It is however not available on desktop. One strong point is that they do not take any fees/commission from the artists, but offers them a deal once the artists become famous. If the deal is finalized, then they promote the music and the profits are split between them and the artist. If the deal is not finalized, then the profits are given to the artists only.
• No initial fees, no YouTube commission, and no commission on profits (if outside their deals).
• A vast distribution covering around 200 stores.
• Music can be uploaded only through cloud.
• It is not available on the desktop.
• There is no publishing administration.
For those who want to distribute their music with zero investment, Fresh Tunes is the right choice. Since it does not charge any money either as fees or in the form of a subscription for distributing music; at the same time, it does not take any share of the musician's profit. However, it offers only the bare minimum features for the distribution of music since it does not have any additional features as yet. The platform is very basic and a bit outdated and the response time is more.
• No fees, no subscriptions to distribute music.
• No commission is to be paid on the revenue that the music gets.
• Promotion of your music on social media such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.
• There is no publishing admin available.
• Distribution outlets are limited.
• One has to sign up through your social media account.
AWAL’s commission is 15% and they do not charge any fees upfront. AWAL is the perfect choice for established artists since they are ready to stream your music provided you already have a good name as an artist. Their evaluation is thorough and they will go through your brand name, social media following, artwork, design, etc. They usually are on the lookout for commercial artists only, but they do make exceptions if they come across an especially talented musician or an exceptional score. If you want to get your music on Spotify, then AWAL will aid you in that. They also offer a few label-type features for some high-performing artists. They offer the best label services to the artists and provide the best possible support in the distribution of music in this digital industry.
• No upfront fees.
• Excellent platform for high-performing artists.
• Perform the best analytics amongst all the music distributors.
• They charge a commission of at least 15% which is high.
• Customer service and other features are made available only to the top artists.
• Admin publishing is not possible without signing in with Kobalt.
• Invite Only
Once the digital market became more widespread and prominent, it led to the shutting down of the physical music distribution. During this phase of transition from the physical to the digital world, many prominent names in the physical distribution market took the efforts and guided artists on how to upload their works to enable online distribution. Using these instructions, many artists did eventually manage to upload their music on some of the major online distribution platforms like Amazon, iTunes, etc.
Can an artist himself/herself distribute his/her music for free, using Apple Music or Spotify?
Though the concept of distributing your music on various online stores may appear fascinating for any artist, it is certainly not worth it considering the amount of time and energy spent in doing it. Though even now any artist can upload their music/songs for free, it is not convenient and not effective to do so, when compared with the work done by the distribution companies. The method of distributing music by distributing companies is usually preferred by the streaming companies since it guarantees them a constantly updated source of music.
In short, we have seen that for artists, uploading their music on various music distribution platforms is the most sensible way to proceed in their career. For this, they need to choose the best possible music distribution platform and this can be done only after weighing the pros and cons of each distribution platform carefully.