There are essentially two types of music distribution, physical and digital. In this post I will look at two different digital distributors, one providing distribution to digital services only and one also providing promotional services (at a cost).
The companies I’ve chosen are AWAL (Artists Without A Label) and DITTO Music.
AWAL provides digital distribution to more than 200 different digital stores and services and their fee is a 15% share of your revenue. They operate on a 30 day rolling contract which can be terminated by the client at any time after the first 30 days. Their services include pitching for store features, e.g. store promotions and high profile placement of AWAL releases within the digital store. Note that AWAL only pays out royalties when you have earned £50 or more, the amount will be carried over to the next month if you have earned less.
DITTO on the other hand have fixed fees for different releases, a single of 1-3 tracks will set you back £6, an album of four or more tracks £20 and unlimited releases is £49, all fees to be paid yearly. You can cancel the contract and your releases will be taken down within 30 days, but of course the yearly fee you’ve payed is non refundable. DITTO will pay out royalties when you have earned £25 or more, and here too your earned amount will be carried over to next month until you’ve reached £25. There are more promotional options if you chose DITTO, such as PR campaigns, social media packages and radio PR. These however, all come at a price. Both the PR and radio PR deals begin at £999 for a 6 week campaign, and the social media package starts at £299.
Which company then, is the best?
Assuming you’re an unsigned artist (as AWAL is for unsigned artists only, hence the name), I personally would say that AWAL provides the best deal. With their short contracts and transparent services they seem the more customer friendly of the two. While the 15% share may seem steep, they distribute to all the stores and services, including YouTube and it is all included in the percentage. With DITTO you pay your yearly fee and at first glance it seems to be the same deal, however, to get distributed to some of the stores or services you have to pay for add ons. Distribution to electro charts such as Beatport comes in at £6 and YouTube alone is £25 a year.
DITTO does provide more options when it comes to promotion and marketing, but if you’re an up and coming artist, is that really in your budget? While marketing options may be beneficial as you start earning royalties on your music, with AWAL there’s only a 30 day contract that you can cancel at any time if you want to switch distributors, rather than having already payed a years fees in advance. AWAL also has the digital music store promotion included in the 15% share, while you have to pay extra for that with DITTO.
In conclusion, for unsigned artists AWAL seems to be the best option. For growing bands with bigger budgets it gets harder to differentiate as DITTO has PR options already as long as you can pay for them. With AWAL you might get the opportunity to use Kobalt’s Label Services team, which can provide more services than AWAL alone, such as digital marketing and label management.