The Truth About DistroKid (Review)


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 4 and 6.


  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.

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