We're on a mission to discover the best music distribution platform available to musicians.
Today we’re going to discuss Distrokid – Giving you all the details you need to know when selecting the right distribution service for your music.
What Is Distrokid?
Distrokid is one of the most popular distribution platforms for independent artists. Launched in May 2013 Distrokid has risen to success due to their simple user interface, their fantastic marketing team and the extremely low cost, allowing users to sign up and distribute unlimited releases for only $19.99.
What makes Distrokid such a powerhouse is it’s ability to cater to independent artists on a budget who just want to get their music into stores, easily, without having the hassle of high fees or being overwhelmed with options. At it’s core Distrokid is simple, covers all the basic features that the majority of independent artists need and allows musicians to sign up, distribute their music and get on with their day.
Yes it is cheap. Yes it successfully gets your music into major stores such as Spotify, iTunes, Deezer etc, but does it provide good customer support? Does it actually allow users to submit their music hassle free? Alongside this, does it live up to certain things they claim to offer i.e. ‘In stores 20x faster than any other distributor? Well, lets take a deeper look into the world of Distrokid!
Who Can Use Distrokid?
Distrokid is primerally focused on artists of all genres, whether you’re distributing electronic music or rock – Anyone can sign up and get their music into stores. Record labels can also use Distrokid, however it’s not something that recommend. Simple reason being the pricing options available and the things that happen if you don’t pay those yearly fees. If you can’t afford to continue your subscription, all hell seems to break loose and this is where Distrokid starts to fall apart – Especially if you’re having to pay more than $19.99 a year.
Wait! What happens if I cancel my Distrokid subcription?
This has been discussed extensively across the web as users fail to continue their subscription – They’re left feeling completely lost. Reason being, if you don’t pay, you are no longer of value, which means Distrokid does not care what happens to you or your music.
Some of you may think well, if you cancel – It’s up to you. You’re not paying. Why should they care? The scary thing is that many people deem this acceptable and not fully comprehend the effect having music removed from stores can have on an artists career alongside income. With all distribution services, there needs to be some sort of aftercare, after-all you were once a customer of their service.
This is why we recommend using distribution companies such as RouteNote, who take a small % but you can be rest assured your music will not be taken down due to no up-front payment. Even still, this should not be an issue. Services such as LANDR, and iMusician maintain the availability of your music in stores even if you can’t pay – They just take a % of royalties instead.
Now, Distrokid do have an option called ‘Leave a Legacy’ which costs $30 (per song) and keeps your music in stores forever (according to distrokid). However recently users across Reddit and YouTube are claiming that once they cancelled their subscription (even after purchasing ‘leave a legacy’) their music was still removed from stores.
Take from this what you will, but if you’re planning on distributing your music in the long term then you really need to ensure that you can trust the distribution company that takes care of your music.
It's not all bad! Distrokid offers some great things...
I know that there’s a lot of negatives – Especially when you try to find any user feedback related to Distrokid. Then again, they’re a large company with a lot of users. People tend to speak up when they have an issue. Nobody tends to speak up to praise a service and if they do nobody interacts with it – So it’s not something you’ll usually come across with many large companies. With that said, lets talk about the good things Distrokid does.
- It gives musicians the option to distribute their music at an incredibly cheap rate. Unlimited releases for $19 per year – A price that even the poorest bedroom producer can cover.
- They cover all the major stores and also allow users to earn royalties through YouTube Content ID.
- You can use their split-pay feature to split your royalties with collaborates or artists (if you’re running a record label)
- You keep 100% of your royalties.
Distrokid Pricing Options
Musician – $19.99 per year
- Upload unlimited songs
- 1 Artist
- Upload unlimited lyrics
- Spotify verified check-mark
Musician Plus – $35.99 per year
- Upload unlimited songs
- 2 Artists
- Spotify verified check-mark
- Upload unlimited lyrics
- Synced lyrics for Instagram
- Daily sales stats
- Customizable label name
- Set release dates
- Set pre-order dates
- Set iTunes pricing
Label – $79.99 per year (5 artists) / $139.99 (10 artists) / $239.99 (20 artists) / $599.99 (50 artists) / $1199 (100 artists).
- Features all of the above
Lets Discuss Distrokid's Pricing Options:
Now that you can see the pricing options available, lets discuss the downfalls of each.
Although this plan is dirt cheap it doesn’t really offer much. In terms of getting your music into stores it has you covered. Anything else and you’re going to struggle. The main focus with a distributor of couse is to simply get your music into stores successfully (without errors). So if this is all you care for then you won’t find a better deal apart from Ditto. However, as we grow as artists you’re going to want more control over your music. Especially when you need to schedule your releases. If you ever run promotional campaigns and/or you want to pitch your music for Spotify editorial support, you will need to schedule the dates in which your music goes live into stores. With Ditto Music you can do that with their starter plan at £19.
Musician Plus Plan
This plan offers the extra benefits you will require when moving forwards with your music, but it’s nearly twice the cost. Having the extra artist is pretty cool in case you want to release music under a different name. You can set release dates and you can also access analytics so you know exactly where royalties are coming from. Again, also included in Ditto’s basic plan.
Seems like this is becoming a Distrokid Vs. Ditto article, it’s not meant to be but they’re both very similar in terms of cost, yet Ditto gives you what you should be getting with any distribution plan for the same price. I may do a complete comparison – We will see!
I feel that any distribution companies that collects your royalties should have an obligation to always always to monitor where they’re coming from no matter what plan you’re using, but that’s just opinion…
On a positive note, the daily sale states provided are fantastic – Allowing you keep an eye on everything with ease each and every day!
Whether you chose their basic or pro plan, you will always have to pay $0.99 to get your music on Shazam, and $4.95 per song to take advantage of YouTube Content ID.
Moving on, we have the Label Plan
If you’re running a successful label and you’re using Distrokid, then you need to take a minute to do some research and realise this is not the correct route to go. Lets talk about pricing: $79.99 for 5 artists? I can’t think of anyone who starts or runs a record label who only has 5 artists. It doesn’t make much sense in terms of pricing and options available. You can scale up to 100 artists but then you’re paying an extortionate price for what it’s worth. What if you have more than 100 artists? I reached out to Distrokid and was told users will have to create a second account.
It just doesn’t make sense. Please keep in mind that if you can’t afford to continue your subscription for any reason, you can say goodbye to your labels catalogue of music – Everything will be removed from stores.
There’s so many great options out their for record labels with far superior support and features which we cover over in our full Distribution Guide.
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Still Considering Distrokid?
Even through Distrokid does fall short in a lot of areas due to it’s cheap simplicity for what it’s worth, I can’t argue that it’s not an OK option for musicians on a budget. All-in-all the do distribute your music to stores and you do keep 100% of your royalties. If you don’t care about scheduling releases and you keep up to your yearly subscription fees, Distrokid will do everything you need them to. I would say there must be a reason why thousands upon thousands of musicians use it to distribute their music, but then again – Many of them know that if they leave, they also take the risk of losing their hard earned streams and future sales due to take-downs.
It has to be noted that their user interface is great. It’s simple to navigate and minimises the confusion one could face when opting for a more feature rich service. It takes away the overwhelm which can be a huge benefit to many.
Distrokid Customer Support
With all distributors, especially ones of Distrokids size I would strongly recommend you reach out to their support with a simple query before using their service just to see how good their support is. There’s hundreds of musicians that complain about Distrokids support but I personally can’t fault their effort.
Support is vital when selecting your distributor in case of any issues that may arise. Every time I have reached out they’ve always responded in a timely manner, with a helpful response.
Surprisingly during our experience they surpassed my expectations.
Does Distrokid Offer Music Promotion?
They don’t offer music promotion. You shouldn’t make your decision on whether a distributor offers promotion either – I go over this throughout our in-depth distribution guide. This isn’t a negative, nor am I trying to add another downfall to Distrokids service. Their sole purpose is music distribution.
Final Notes on Distrokid:
Distrokid isn’t necessarily a bad service. For many it fulfils every requirement they need at a completely reasonable price. It’s a good solution for those who simply want to get their music in stores without the hassle of extended features. It covers all the basics which many artists who are just starting out need.
If you are planning on distributing music in the future and you want to grow as an artist then you definitely need to do more research to decide which service is the best solution for you. Don’t worry – We have you covered!
Check out our full distribution guide below or hop on over to Distrokid if you feel it’s the right choice for you!