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The Truth About DistroKid (Review)

by

The Truth About DistroKid (Review)

by Andre Gonsalves

by Andre Gonsalves

Today is a big day.

As you guys know, I’ve tested all the music streaming distribution sites and have consistently ranked CDBaby as the best one, specifically for up and coming artists.

I finally got around to testing out Distrokid and have been using it for the last three months (on three releases) and in this post will share with you the pros and cons of Distrokid.

Will DistroKid knock CD Baby off it’s music distribution throne? Let’s get into the good, bad and ugly.

Bad Things About DistroKid: Bad and Ugly

There really ain’t another way to put it: It’s definitely the ugliest of the bunch.

The vibe I get from the site, is it it’s a one man operation and that one man is either purposefully making the site look bad (to make us think he’s passing on the savings to us) or just completely ignoring basic design principles.

For example, this is the upload page:

distrokid upload page

Yikes! Now here’s what happens when you click “Team”.

I hope you’re sitting down for this.

Are you still alive? I know, I know, everything is just plain bad.

It’s so bad, I almost didn’t want to sign up but then I saw that Derrik Sivers the founder of CD Baby, is recommending the site.

And since I appreciate Derrik’s way of thinking, I was like “ah what the heck! Let’s give this a shot!”.

I wish DistroKid either doubles down on bad design or just does the web 2.0 style that’s been in-vogue for the last 10 years (*cough* just copy Tunecore).

This half-ass job, makes me feel like they’re going to run to the Cayman’s with my $48 in streaming revenue!

Upselling Me into Oblivion

I know trying to upsell your customers is the snazzy thing to do in ecommerce, but it’s not cool and doesn’t feel human.

Especially when all your customers are musicians: our whole thing is trying to feel more human!

I mean, every song we make is trying to bring some god damn humanity into this cold wired world, and you’re doing this to me:

This doesn’t make my feel more human! Can’t you just include this for free? And what happens when Distrokid dies?

Song Landing Page

It’s nice that they provide this feature and if you don’t know what it is, it’s just a landing page that has links to all the streaming services your song is on (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Deezer, etc).

But it looks so ugly, there’s no way any artist should be sharing that with their fans. In fact, anytime I find a new artist and see their link in bio is to Distrokid, I brace myself.

There’s also a little button at the top that says “Talk to me”, which fans are supposed to use to message the artist. This is a useless distraction as it takes away from the users flow (to listen to the song!).

For independent artists, the song landing page, I like the most is the one from ToneDen.

It’s the one with the link which will usually start with fanlink.to.

It’s free to use and looks much better than the one Distrokid provides.

The Thing About Annual Fees

This isn’t a bad thing but could be a bad thing if you make it a bad thing: why are you making it a bad thing?

For artists who release one song every 10 years, paying an annual fee is not a good idea (obviously) and you’ll want to stick with CDBaby.

But for the rest of us who churn out songs weekly, Distrokid’s interests align not only with our interests but also with Spotify’s.

You see there is reason to believe that Spotify’s algorithm rewards musicians who release music on a consistent and frequent basis.

This is why I recommend every artist, from major to mini, drop a song once a month (at the very least) and you’ll see in the next paragraph how Distrokid makes this economical.

The Good Things About DistroKid!

While the design of the site makes me feel like they don’t give a hoot about me, the actual services Distrokid offers tells me they are 100% for independent musicians.

Let’s start with the biggest benefit: pricing.

And this is something you better be sitting down for.

For only $20 a year, you can upload unlimited songs to Spotify, Apple Music and the whole streaming services cartel.

$20 a year!

Upload as many songs as you can make!

With CDBaby and Tunecore, they usually charge about $10 per song. I don’t get how they’re going to compete with this, cause pretty websites ain’t going to cut it.

Oh and did I mention you keep 100% of your royalties.

I know this is sounding like an infomercial right now. But in my CD Baby vs Tunecore review, you can see exactly how much royalties they snip away from you.

And it’s a lot higher than 0%.

We musicians should treat our royalties like old men treat their lawn: get your damn self off my lawn!

Another thing Distrokid doesn’t charge is for the UPC code, they just give it you for free, which has always felt like a scam the other sites charged for.

Tik Tok Integration

Another benefit, which I assume CD Baby et all, will do is uploading your songs to TikTok.

If you haven’t heard of TikTok or don’t care, download the app and put 100% of your social media content creation into it (especially if you are a musician) because there’s a good chance you’ll go viral on your third post.

For me, I wanted my songs to go on TikTok so I could do silly videos to them and Distrokid is the only one offering that service (and if others are they’re not credible).

Distribution Speed

With CD Baby, it would take two weeks to get a song on Spotify and with Distrokid, my songs were getting on within 1-3 days. This isn’t necessarily a good thing anymore, as to get on Spotify’s playlists they recommend submitting the song two weeks before release.

I’d recommend submitting it even earlier, which means setting your release date 3 to 4 weeks in advance.

Bonus Tips

Now it should be pretty clear I recommend Distrokid over CD Baby, so here are some bonus tips to help you make the transition.

1) Get the $19.99 plan, instead of the cheaper $9.99 plan, because you can’t choose your release date.

This is important for three reasons (and yes I made all these mistakes, so you don’t have to):

(A) You have no idea when your music will be released on all streaming sites as each streaming services has different processing times. So if you tell your fans your song will be out Friday, it might not be out on Apple Music until the following Monday.

(B) You wont be able to submit to Spotify’s playlist as Spotify’s editors wont have time to review it. And you at least want to try to get on a Spotify playlist, even though the chances are 0.02%.

(C) You can’t set your record label name, so on your release it’ll say something ugly like “Distrokid 1872047202”.

2) If you’ve found anything I’ve said today helpful, use my VIP LINK to sign up for Distrokid. You’ll get 7% off your membership and I’ll get a small commission from Distrokid.

Have you made the switch to Distrokid? Let me know the comments what your experience has been with them.

 

 

Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering. When he's not hunched over a mixing console he's hanging out with his son and daughter age 6 and 8.

32 Comments

    • Thanks for the review. I uploaded a song on DistroKid yesterday. I’m hopeful but then I read horrible reviews on Trustpilot about them ripping people off. Have you heard about this and what is your reaction now that you’ve had some time using them?

  1. Distrokid’s customer service is the worst I’ve ever come across, anywhere in my entire life. My music was suppose to release 3 days ago, and I can’t even get a reply to my emails.

    • Did your music go live in the end? I’m asking as mine currently has the yellow dot and “in the midst of being transferred to stores”. Would be good to know how you got on.

    • THEY POSTED MY SONG WITH MY ACCOUNT NAME ON SPOTIFY AND I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT ACCOUNT LITERALLY NOTHING! NO I CANT CHANGE THE PHOTOS OR EVEN EDIT MY OWN ACCOUNT !

  2. What do you say about all the negative reviews for Distrokid on Trustpilot? I chose Distrokid to distribute my music, and after reading the reviews on Trustpilot, I’m very nervous!!!

    • Hello Gordon,

      I’ve had terrible experiences with distrokid. Switched to CDBaby, never looked back. I prefer paying a one time fee and I don’t have to worry about anything.

    • Are you referring to their customer service?
      I have seen a lot of complaints concerning their customer service. Can you be more specific? My biggest concern of course is GETTING PAID and not scammed!

  3. I just started using DistroKid and my experience has been pretty good so far.
    I have been playing at music festivals for 2 or 3 years now and figured that it would be a good idea to get some extra publicity and royalty money.
    And because DistroKid gives you ALL of it.
    DistroKid is the publisher I decided to go with

  4. Distrokid looks like is to good to be true. 20$ for 1 year uploading unlimited music and no comition customizable spotify arstist profile you are able to split the revenue with your band or the engeniers and many more. Its good if you only want to upload your music and just be on spotify for you to promote it. Now lets see. If you want to monetize on youtube your song you have to pay $4.95 per single/year, $14.95 per album/year, + 20% of YouTube ad revenue. If for some reason you havent payed the subscription on time distrokid takes down your songs from all the music stores, unless you pay 30 $29.00 per single, $49.00 per album of 2+ tracks . So if you want to be consistant with the full stenghth of what distrokid is giving you (1 song per month) its costs you about 59.4 dollars PER YEAR plus the 20% from Youtube revenue, for monetizinbg your music plus 360 dollars for not taking down your song if you dont want them to be taken down if you dont pay the subcription on time. You also have to keep in mind that this is just for a year. If you still want to monetize your music on youtube for another year now you pay $118 per year plus 20% of the youtube revenue.
    In conclusion, Distrokid is an awesome website if you want to release a song on digital music stores, but if you want to get the most out of your music this is not the distributer to go with. I was really impressed by the price as well but as you can see numbers almost never lie. And yes.. Its to good to be true

    • Which distributor would you recommend then? Doing my research now. And we are in the thick of Corona. Are songs being uploaded on time? Thank you for any help. Trying to help someone figure out the best distributor platform to go with.

  5. YO MARCUS!! APPRECIATE YOU, MAN!

    I just wanted to echo what “the star creature” said. This is literally this fist thing I’ve read about anything to do with distributing music digitally and this was EXACTLY what I needed to know. Not only did you teach me something about the process but also about the product and I like saving time!
    Keep it poppin’!!

  6. I have been using Dittomusic until they scammed me. They blocked my account saying that they are investigating something and from that moment they never replied. My music was performing well on Spotify and still is and on other major platforms such as Apple Music an Deezer, however they have stolen my Royalties and denied me any access. SO I have resorted to Distrokid and have uploaded my music which already exists on Spotify etc… it has been accepted obviously because I am not scamming an this is my Music which I worked on for nights and days ! What I actually wonder now, how would I get what I deserve from my music especially that DITTOMUSIC isn’t responding which means they won’t be taking down my music! It is so sad! These Assholes on DittoMusic are rich people and dont care at all about the independent artist who has spent every penny he/she has to develop his/her studio in order to gain more and in order to spread the Love ! Horrific ! before becoming a Music producer I was a DJ for 10 years and was resident DJ at SOHO club and once ive discovered I could earn from my Hard worked on Music which I create on LOGIC ive realised that the world of clubs was much more honest than those like Ditto

  7. If you don’t feel comfortable with Distro or CD baby, who do you recommend. I’m in the process of choosing a distributor an any guidance you can offer is appreciated.

  8. All I know is that I cannot stop filling in data midstream, save what I have done, and come back to finish. I spent the last couple of hours filling out forms. Song names, various contributors, etc. I went to save and it said ” you forgot to fill in #26 #27″ So I tried to change the number of required slots…. POOF! All that work disappeared! So frustrating. Yeah, lots of tunes, but it’s years worth of work.

  9. Hi guys, I signed up with Distrokid yesterday and (thankfully) I have only uploaded one song so far.
    A friend alerted me to Distrokid’s bad reviews on TrustPilot this morning.
    Damn! Wish I hadn’t gone with them now…. 🙁
    I see that my song is still in the process of being uploaded…….. but I currently have the option to ‘abort’ it.
    If I do cancel it, does anyone know if I’m free to upload the song to another platform (like CD Baby)?
    Or have I now sold my soul to the devil….?!

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  10. Do you have any insight on how DistroLock works or the Pros & Cons of using it cause this “one man opp” is horrible at helpful email respones & providing problem solving information.

  11. Great article! Very well-rounded review sir!

    Have you figured out how to submit a ticket or ask a question to DistroKid? They take GREAT pains to make sure that no one can contact them by email, phone….and now even through their support site, unless I’m missing something. When you go to “submit a ticket”, it gives you a drop-down menu of about 5 issues. below that is a sub-drop-down menu. It’s a very convenient way to sort questions, as long as you actually have one of the questions they list, in which case they’ll just direct you to the FAQ site. What if you have a question that they don’t list? Is there any way to actually submit a ticket? Or does “submit a ticket” actually mean: we’ll direct you to an online answer if you’re lucky enough to have one of these 5 problems – but if you don’t, we’re not interested.

  12. They have been great, took about a week before I could see my stuff on all major streaming platforms. I’ve read some pretty nasty stuff about DK but also some balanced and pro things about them as well. I just put my big boy pants on and deal with things should they come up. Distrokid is awesome!

  13. So….. Can ANYBODY recommend what would be the company to go with.. Everybody is talking about how horrible these companies are, but no body is saying which company is the best.. can i get a straight answer as far as which company is ideal

    • I’ve used both CD Baby and Distrokid. And I’ve dropped 7 songs with DistroKid this year and have had no issues with them. I even had to replace a song file with them and it was pretty straight forward.

  14. I have done everything they said needed to be done and haven’t been able to upload anything.After everything was uploaded it keeps telling me to try again.

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