There are several well-known digital music distributors, including CD Baby and Tunecore, which are arguably the most established. Then… there is DistroKid! DistroKid may be one of the newest kids in town, but it is fast becoming the most popular distribution service around.
DistroKid, with its low prices, and a la carte music business model, is the easiest way for musicians to get their music into stores and streaming services. Their cost-effective, innovative and artist-friendly features have won over thousands of musicians and labels around the world since its inception.
In this review, you’ll get a better insight into DistroKid. In addition, we will examine what features they offer, pricing, comparison with main competitors, and more!
DistroKid is a digital distributor. This means that the platform sends your music, cover art and data to streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, Pandora, Amazon, YouTube, Tidal and more. Once released, listeners can find you and your music on these platforms.
DistroKid was founded in 2013 by Philip Kaplan, and was launched almost a decade after established competitors like TuneCore and CD Baby. For a new start up, they hit the ground running and they were able to compete right away with the champions of digital music distribution. They quickly became one of music’s favourite distribution companies within a short period of time. Competitors such as CD Baby also offer physical distribution, and Tunecore offers social media promotional tools and other services. But DistroKid’s main selling point is its ability to share an immeasurable amount of music quickly and more cheaply than its competition.
Interestingly, some of DistroKid’s biggest fans are former founders of rival companies like TuneCore and CD Baby. In 2018, TuneCore’s founder Jeff Price said “As the founder of TuneCore I hate to say it but DistroKid is the single best music distribution company in the world. Light years ahead of CD Baby and TuneCore and far less expensive.” In addition, CD Baby’s founder, Derek Sivers said DistroKid is “amazing”. He publicly said that he would direct all his musician friends to the platform – which is a very commendatory endorsement of DistroKid as a great music distribution service!
DistroKid has many positive attributes, and we will highlight some of the platform’s features shortly. Firstly, let’s take a look at what’s great about DistroKid.
DistroKid is the only music distribution service that lets you upload unlimited music to stores for one low price, so that is a massive plus point. It saves you money, and it is convenient. Plus, all of your royalties are going straight into your pocket.
Another huge bonus is that DistroKid is faster than its competitors with regards to getting your music onto streaming platforms. DistroKid claims that with them as your distributor, your music will be in stores 10-20x faster than any other service. You can also see your daily stats, including tons of features along with a simple interface. The range of streaming services offered is fantastic, with the list looking like this:
… and many more! For more pros, read on to the ‘Features’ section.
Now, for the cons of the platform.
If truth be told, DistroKid is not the most visually appealing of the distributors. The interface is a little dated looking and simplistic. It also doesn’t have the additional features and services as some other distributors. DistroKid does offer some additional options for releases (such as additional stores, monetisation etc). However, they are charged on top of the annual amount. In regards to what actual services DistroKid offers, it is only really distribution that’s up for grabs, compared to other platforms which offer more (we will dive into some more in-depth comparisons later).
In terms of pricing and payment, if you are an artist that isn’t releasing regularly, it might be better for you to choose a distributor with whom you pay per release. One final roadblock, also, is that artists can’t choose a specific release date for their music unless they have a ‘Musician Plus’ or ‘Label’ plan. Therefore, the basic $19.99 annual cost doesn’t allow access to this – and your music will be harder to promote without a specific release date.
Now, let’s take a look at some of DistroKid’s stand out features that separate it from other distributors.
DistroKid has a great feature ‘Hyperfollow’, which creates your own personalised page where fans can pre-save your upcoming music. This gives artists a landing page to send fans to, with an easy link to put in their bio. Once a fan has pre-saved, the song will automatically be saved to their Spotify library upon release. Additionally, they will automatically follow your artist page on Spotify. Finally, when fans enter their email address to pre-save the track, the artist is notified and supplied with their email. This is great for building mailing lists and tracking audience engagement!
This is a paid, opt-in feature – but is definitely worth highlighting. DistroKid offers a service to make money when your music is used on YouTube. It works like this: when YouTube detects your music in a video, monetisation (ads) will be turned on for that video. If there is a text or banner ad on the video with your music in, and the viewer clicks on the text or banner, or if there is a commercial before or after the video and the watcher watches up to 30 seconds or the entire commercial, ad revenue is collected. The ad revenue (minus 20%) will go to you, instead of the person who uploaded the video. Simple!
Spotify for Artists is Spotify’s app that gives artists access to stats, control over your profile, access to Spotify’s Artist Support team, and the sought-after blue verified checkmark on your artist page. Normally, to get access, there is an application process with Spotify, which can include a long wait, and may be rejected. As a DistroKid user, artists will be instantly verified and given access to their Spotify For Artists.
When uploading music, DistroKid gives the option of paid add-ons. These include monetising your music on YouTube, Cover Song Licensing, Instagram and Facebook (for use in Stories), and so on. This could be a pro or con depending on how you look at it, as the platform is the cheapest available, so paid add-ons are understandable. Plus, it means that artists can cherry pick what features or services they want to take advantage of.
Although DistroKid doesn’t offer some of the other perks their competitors offer, for the annual price of $19.99, you can upload an unlimited amount of music through a sleek and uncluttered platform. The best part of this? You can upload as much as you want and keep 100% of your earnings. The big difference here is that other services make you pay every time you upload music, which ends up costing a lot more if you plan to release a lot. DistroKid do also offer multiple plans if you want more benefits from the platform, including a service for labels. There is the Musician plan ($19.99 per year), Musician Plus ($35.99 per year) and Label ($79.99 per year). Check out the full list of plans on DistroKid’s website.
Artists also have the option of entering ‘splits’, where you can fill in a percentage split between yourself and a co-writer, co-performer, producer and so on. Great news for artists, also – you will get paid your royalties on a monthly basis. This means no waiting around for quarterly payments.
So, we’ve taken a look at DistroKid’s great features and pricing. But, how does that fare against its competitors?
While DistroKid charges $19.99 per year, CD Baby charges $9.95 per single, or $29.00 per album. After paying this one time fee to CD Baby, you will never have to pay again. Your music will stay on the platform forever. In comparison, the yearly $19.99 fee for DistroKid allows you to upload unlimited music – but you have to pay it annually to keep your music out there (unless you opt for the ‘Leave a Legacy’ option). To ‘Leave a Legacy’ costs an additional $29 fee (non-recurring), and ensures that your music will never be removed from DistroKid, even if you die. CD Baby may be cheaper in respect to the short term, but if you are an artist who consistently releases music, DistroKid is a better option.
In regards to royalties, CD baby takes a 9% commission of all the royalties you make. However, DistroKid doesn’t take any commission. Therefore, artists can keep more of their hard earned money. As mentioned earlier, DistroKid also offers automatic splits for various artists on a track. This feature automatically divides and allocates a portion of royalties to each artist collaborating on a track. CD Baby does not have such an option.
For the few artists that still like to sell physical CDs or vinyl, CD Baby offers these options for an extra fee, whereas DistroKid is all digital. There are many benefits to releasing a cover song as an independent artist. But there is a bit of hassle to sometimes get the copyright and legal issues processed. DistroKid takes care of your cover song licensing fee for $12 per song yearly. CD Baby had this option, but removed it. Therefore, you will have to go to one of the external services they suggest to license cover tracks.
Tunecore has a fee of $29.99 per album for the first year, and $49.99 each following year. If you only want to release a single, you will pay $9.99 per single yearly. In comparison, as you know, DistroKid is $19.99 per year and you get to upload unlimited tracks. As with DistroKid, Tunecore doesn’t take any royalties – so it is an even playing field in this regard.
Tunecore has an extensive and more sleek online experience, including sync licensing. The platform has an interface designed specifically to help you get your music played on video games, TV commercials and films. They also make sure you get paid for any sync licensing. This is a great feature because it gives your music the opportunity to be introduced to a wider audience, and can be a great source of additional income.
Tunecore also offers publishing services for a one time fee of $75.00. This includes other social media features where you can engage with fans and promote your music for a nominal fee. DistroKid might not have a lot of fancy features, as they keep things simple and cost effective. Therefore, if you are an artist just seeking to get their music out to the public and onto all the popular music platforms, DistroKid would be a good fit for you. For more extensive features and for those with a larger budget, Tunecore may be the best choice.
So, after all this information… is DistroKid worth your time?
For those looking to get their music into the world without breaking the bank, DistroKid is a great choice. It is simple, easy to use, and their website contains a ton of information and FAQ’s. However, getting in touch personally with DistroKid’s support and customer service can be tricky, as a lot of the platform is automated – so just bear that in mind.
DistroKid may not look the best from the outside, but there is a reason that it is so popular and fast becoming the top distribution service and business worldwide. With its additional features, low price and lightning-fast distribution, DistroKid is a great, reliable, speedy and trustworthy platform. So, why not give it a try and see if you’d love DistroKid?
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