DistroKid Review and Information
Is DistroKid Good?
Distrokid is an insanely good music distribution service for artists of all levels to use. It has basically gotten to the point that I would not recommend another service and you can see why in the comparisons section below.
The service is extremely easy to use, has a far-reaching network, and has a very good price. The service has only improved since this tweet in 2018:
Who Does DistroKid Distribute To?
DistroKid distributes your music to every important service. As well as tons of other small ones. I’m not going to go over the massive list. This may seem like a non-answer. But if someone is using a service to listen to music 99.9% of the time DistroKid releases to it. In my opinion, DistroKid is comparable to its competitors in its distribution network of distribution networks.
I tried to find a service they didn’t release to.
For a moment I thought I found one with Xbox Music but it turns out that’s now Microsoft Groove, and that’s on the list.
DistroKid doesn’t burn CDs or etch Vinyl and get you into physical music stores though.
How Much Does DistroKid Cost?
DistroKid is inexpensive to artists and has a few different costs associated with the service. Currently, the service has yearly subscription plans and upsells add-ons or subscriptions for each musical release. If you stop paying your subscription, all of your music will be removed from all of the platforms, unless you pay for a Legacy Add-on which makes it a permanent addition.
There are 3 main tiers. Musician, Musician Plus, and Label.
The basic Musician plan only costs $20/yr and will get you distributed and earning income on your streams. This is a totally acceptable plan for small artists with small followings and manual promotion.
The $36/yr Musician Plus mid-tier lets you release under 2 bands, will add streaming performance stats, and allows you to set your release date. It offers a bunch of other niceties as well.
In my personal opinion Musician Plus is mandatory and I see the service as a $36/yr service. You need to use the Release Date feature to set a date with at least 10 days for major distribution platforms to analyze your song for recommendation engines. If used, your songs will be put in front of potential new fans, growing your fanbase.
The Label tier lets you manage a lot of acts, and ranges from $80-1200/yr.
There are some add-ons for uploads. Prices change depending on whether it’s an album or single. Current release add-ons are:
- Youtube Money ($5-$15/yr + 20% Ad Revenue) – If someones using your song on Youtube they will detect and claim ad revenue.
- Store Maximizer ($8/yr) – Whenever DistroKid adds a new platform, they will automatically add your song to it.
- Shazam/Siri ($1/yr per track) – People can use these apps to find info on your song when it’s playing.
- Legacy ($29-$49 one time) – If you cancel your DistroKid sub your music will stay up and you will still receive royalties.
How Long Does DistroKid Take?
DistroKid is very efficient at getting music onto the major distribution networks and I’ve never been burned by them. When it comes to getting your music out DistroKid is comparable to its other competitors. In my opinion, after using this service and competitors for multiple releases; I can’t see a noticeable difference. Distrokid isn’t unique in this regard nor advantageous.
This question is actually a bit complex. So I’ll break it down into how long to upload, how long to get your music submitted to the networks, and how long for the song itself to appear on the networks.
The actual upload process is not too tedious if you have all the information readily available. It will take about 15 minutes to fill out all the information and dot your i’s and cross your t’s. It will go very quickly if you know the W5s of your Music. If you’ve got your name, art, release dates, release extras, intended targeted distribution networks, who’s involved, and royalty splits.
Once you’ve got all the data entry in, the upload itself takes “your internet speed”. The longest it took me was 15 minutes on super-slow free coffee shop Wi-Fi from the back of a van in the parking lot. If you’re not a struggling Soundcloud rapper it will probably take way less time.
Once it’s in DistroKid’s hands it usually takes about 1-2 hours to be distributed to the distribution networks. Technically this is the scope of “How Long does DistroKid Take?”
But now we’ll get into the actual distribution platforms. Each one takes a different amount of time and has different schedules. The large platforms ingest (receive) your release very quickly, and can put them up for listeners equally fast. I’m going to make a random, non-specific, uneducated guess and say within 24 hours you’re likely on most platforms your fans would use.
If you’re a smart artist, and you use the future “Release Date” feature, the big names will take up to 10 days to analyze your song. This feature is only on the $36/yr plan. If you don’t wait 10 days you won’t be featured on a generated playlist for new listeners to discover you.
When it comes to the other lesser-known networks DistroKid has some wait time because smaller distribution networks actually update their libraries at less frequent paces (2 weeks+) because they’re smaller organizations. This is affecting literally <1% of your fans though.
What Do You Need To Release Music Through DistroKid?
The information on what you need wasn’t readily available prior to signing up so I figured I’d share it with you.
As far as being an artist you don’t need much. DistroKid will help you build a Spotify profile, and set you up in all the major stores.
You will need media for your releases such as art, lyrics, and your MP3 or WAV files of course.
Prior to releasing music on DistroKid, you need to share some tax information with the company. If your band is already a business it requires business documentation. If you’re a solo artist it requires your personal information. It will ask for a tax identification number. This is generally whatever your country uses to identify you for income. For me, it was a Social Insurance Number.
Depending on where you live you will need to make tax claims based on the income generated by this United States company. Some countries have treaties and special rules for royalties. When you input your residence, DistroKid may provide drop-downs that show which laws are applicable to you.
USA may hold 30% of income for foreign artists, IDK if you can recover it or not.
I’m not a tax lawyer, this isn’t tax advice. I’m not going through the income tax and royalty laws of countries.
Is DistroKid Legit?
Distrokid is 100% legit and not a scam. It will distribute your music to these streaming services and will pay you 100% of the royalties it receives. It however does not guarantee that you will get any streams once you’re on these services.
DistroKid makes your music available, it won’t make you a star. You will need to do your own promotion. I also highly suggest opting for the $36/yr plan to set release dates for your releases.
How Much Does DistroKid Pay Per Stream?
DistroKid itself just forwards 100% of the royalties generated by your releases by the other streaming and distribution platforms. Service usually pay per stream or pass sales on to you after taking a cut.
Annoying Things About DistroKid
I have very few problems with DistroKid but this is an honest review. I’ll update the list as I interact with the service more but as of August 2020, this is comprehensive.
The first annoyance is specifically relevant to new artists. The problem is this interaction with new Spotify artists. If you intend to do multiple uploads of albums and tracks prior to the release of your track and the creation of your Spotify profile, you can’t bundle the multiple releases together to attach to the same artist. But you have to attach your upload to an account or create a new one. Unfortunately being a programmer I know this problem is a nightmare to solve and inherent in the system.
My recommended solution? Release everything you intend to release for the next few weeks as one Album, otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time, or will have to wait until release to set up your Spotify before uploading any new music. I heavily use Spotify’s analysis timeframe, so the first time I ran into this I actually had to push the release date of tracks back multiple weeks.
My next problem is more of a pet peeve and is entirely unrelated to DistroKid itself (Sorry DistroKid sales team ;^D ). It has been touched on a few times in this DistroKid review, but this will literally change your life as an artist.
All the major distribution networks use machine learning to analyze your song and prepare it for recommendation engines prior to release. ELI5/TL;DR? The longer your release sits on a platform before being released to the public, the more likely that platform will be to share it with people who’re likely to love the songs.
If you want any chance at all of anyone finding your release through Spotify/YouTube Music without looking for it, it’s a 100% must. This is annoying because DistroKid does not properly explain the gravity of the Release Date feature. When you upload you get this in tiny fine print:
“Setting your release date to at least 1-week in the future increases your chances of getting added to playlists.”
No Cap. If you don’t set a release date of at least 10 days you will never be discovered on a generated playlist/radio/station. Period . . . . … .. Plus this is a feature only available in the $36/yr plan. This is totally fine, but so many people don’t even know about this and distroKid doesn’t spell it out enough. IMO the $36/yr plan is legit mandatory specifically for this feature.
Not specifically DistroKid at all, but now you’re learned.
Comparing DistroKid With Competitors
DistroKid Vs(or) Tunecore
If you’re deciding between DistroKid or Tunecore, stop. Tunecore is absolutely blown out of the water. The above tweet by the founder of Tunecore sums it up.
Tunecore charges a subscription for each release yearly. You will keep 100% of royalties on the songs just like DistroKid. Your releases will also stay in the distribution network as long as you pay the subscription for that specific track.
The more you release, the more expensive everything gets. Additionally, to break even on each release, you need to generate a lot of streams and sales. If this was the 90s and DistroKid didn’t exist, this would be a groundbreaking indie distribution network. It’s not the 90s and DistroKid exists.
DistroKid immediately costs less than Tunecore with 3 single releases.
DistroKid Vs CDBaby
CDBaby has a different service fee set up than DistroKid. Essentially you pay a “small” fee and your release will be distributed permanently. Once distributed CDBaby takes a percentage of your royalties instead of letting you have 100%.
In my personal opinion, CDBaby penalizes you for gaining popularity for using their service when DistroKid doesn’t. If you’re just releasing 1 single to release a single, and you don’t intend for anyone to listen to it, CDBaby is better. But if being a musician with fans is an actual goal of yours DistroKid quickly outpaces. Again in as quickly as 2 single releases a year.