DistroKid Music Distribution Review

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After using many of the free music distributors I recommended in THIS article, I knew it was time to move on. I had DistroKid on the back of my mind for quite a few months, so I finally decided to give them a try. If you’re wondering if this platform is right for you, you’ll want to read my DistroKid music distribution review to the end. Is it really too good to be true? Let’s find out!

DistroKid is in fact the most affordable music distributor on the market. At a glance, this platform allows you to distribute unlimited releases while keeping 100% of your royalties. DistroKid has even partnered up with Spotify (to your advantage), but you’ll be capable of releasing your music on all major streaming services (Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, etc…). Most submissions will be processed within 1-7 business days which is incredibly fast! However, DistroKid does have some minor flaws which I’ve personally learned to live with. We’ll be addressing those and more, so stay tuned!

What I like about DistroKid Music Distribution

Pricing

DistroKid has built a reputation for being one of the most affordable music distributors (if not the most). One of the main reasons for this is the fact that they charge you annually for unlimited releases.

Competitors with similar pricing models usually charge more than double, but why?

The answer lies in one of the major complaints users have about DistroKid’s pricing model; UPSELLS.

distrokid upsells - Decibel Peak

It’s true that DistroKid’s service is the most affordable UPFRONT, but they achieve this by making certain features optional upsells. The competition usually includes these features by default, but they do charge more upfront.

In reality, DistroKid would actually end up costing you more if you were to purchase these additional features for every release.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:

  • Store Maximizer ($7.95/yr)
  • YouTube Money ($4.95/yr + 20% of your ad revenue)
  • Shazam and iPhone Siri ($0.99/yr)
  • Leave a Legacy ($29 for single/$49 for albums)

In my opinion, most of these services aren’t essential and I could personally do without them.

The “Store Maximizer” feature simply gets your music placed in newcomer streaming services (after you’ve released it). I’m happy as long as my music is in the ones people ACTUALLY use (Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, etc…).

The “YouTube Money” feature is usually an add-on on most platforms, but it’s COMPLETELY useless and here’s why… You can monetize your music on YouTube/Facebook for FREE using Identifyy.

The “Shazam and iPhone Siri” feature could be useful if your music will be playing in public venues, but unless you’re on some Spotify playlist and/or famous… It’s not that useful.

The “Leave a Legacy” feature is unique to DistroKid and perhaps the most useful. Basically, your music will remain available even if you STOP paying your annual fee to DistroKid.

So there you have it!

DistroKid’s pricing model is perfect for people like me who don’t need those extra features. It helps me save money on my yearly subscription, so if you could live without these, DistroKid might be for you!

Marketing Tools

I have to admit, DistroKid includes some decent marketing tools for artists.

Of course, it’s nothing compared to actually designing your own landing pages and creating your own content, but hey, you might have more important things to do (like make music)!

HERE’S an example of the Hyperfollow landing page for one of my releases.

You also get access to…

  • Mini Videos
  • Meme Video Generator
  • Promo Cards

You can use these to promote your music on social media, but the most interesting one (Vizy Video Generator) will cost you extra.

It’s a shame, but it’s not that expensive and might be worth it for you.

There are also much more features to get your music heard and for your fans to keep track of you…

  • Slaps.com (kind of like SoundCloud)
  • Playlist Spotlight
  • Wheel of Playlist
  • Social Phone (connect with your fans via text messaging)
  • Upstream (connect with record labels)

Personally though, I don’t use ANY of this stuff and don’t know anyone who does.

If you do and have had success with any of these tools, let us know in the comments!

What I don’t like about DistroKid Music Distribution

Tiers

For starters, the fact that they have 3 tiers (Musician, Musician Plus and Label) isn’t obvious until you’re actually signing up.

YES, they’re basic plan is the most affordable on the market, but it omits one essential feature. Unless you’re willing to upgrade to the Musician Plus plan, you won’t be able to pre-determine the release date of your release.

distrokid tiers - Decibel Peak

For artists who rely on promotion, this may be a HUGE disadvantage.

For music producers such as myself, it really doesn’t matter because I use these releases as portfolio material. In other words, I’m not counting on Spotify to pay my bills.

Another thing that could use improvement is the ability to list your own publishing/record label. Unless you upgrade to one of their upper tiers, you’ll get something default like “1945434 Record DK” which is fine if you’re someone like me.

Who looks at that stuff anyway?

DistroKid also seems to reserve advanced analytics for their higher tiers. What this means if you’re on the Musician plan is that you won’t get detailed information for your royalties. This doesn’t mean DistroKid isn’t trustworthy, they have an excellent reputation for paying artists.

It simply means that you’ll get less insight on how you can keep marketing your music.

I personally use my websites to market my music, so I’m not too concerned with that.

Payouts

One of my least favourite things about DistroKid has got to be the payout system.

For starters, DistroKid is one of the only music distribution services that withhold tax from non-US artists and it’s about 30%… OUCH!!

With the additional Tipalti fees, you’re losing a big chunk of your income.

That being said, you might not want to use DistroKid if you’re planning to pay your bills with your music. I personally don’t mind because I’m not doing that, but be very mindful of this in the long run.

I really hope DistroKid changes this one day, but it’s been like this for quite some time.

On the bright side, there’s no minimum payout threshold and you can withdraw your earnings whenever you want. You can use Payoneer or PayPal.

DistroKid vs Ditto Music Distribution

DistroKid and Ditto seem identical on the surface, but pricing and unlimited releases aren’t everything.

For starters, it gets more expensive with Ditto if you want to use it for your independent label. You’ll also be missing out on some key features like payment splits and YouTube/SoundCloud monetization.

Here, take a look for yourself…

DistroKid (Musician)DistroKid (Musician Plus/Label)Ditto
Pricing19.99$ per year35.99$/79.99$ per year*19$-299$ per year
Release Time1-7 days1-7 days1-5 days
# of ReleasesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
# of Stores150+150+200+
# of Artists12/5-1001-40
Commission Fee0%0%0%
Payment Threshold0$0$25$
Payment MethodWithdrawal (1-2 days)Withdrawal (1-2 days)Automatic (instant)
Cover License12$ per year12$ per yearNO
YouTube Monetization4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue**NO
SoundCloud MonetizationNONO**NO
Split PaymentsYESYESNO
Label NameNOYESYES
CreditsYESYESNO
Release DateNOYESYES
Pre-OrderNOYESYES
Daily ReportsNOYESYES
Tax WithholdingYESYESNO
Email SupportNONOYES
Phone SupportNONONO
Live ChatNONOYES
*Pricing is dependent on # of artists to be released
**Only available to select artists

If you ask me though, there are definitely some significant advantages with Ditto.

They’ll distribute to more outlets (especially in China) and more importantly, they won’t withhold any tax from non-US artists! How does that sound?

DistroKid vs LANDR Music Distribution

If I were truly invested in music streaming, I’d definitely go with LANDR instead of DistroKid.

Sure, it might seem expensive to go with the “Unlimited” plan (which is the only one that’s worth it in my opinion), but the additional features and high-quality distribution is 100% worth it!

Here, take a look at the differences for yourself…

DistroKid (Musician)DistroKid (Musician Plus/Label)LANDR (PAYG/Complete)LANDR (Unlimited)
Pricing19.99$ per year35.99$/79.99$ per year9$-29$/5$-19$ per release89.99$ per year
Release Time1-7 days1-7 days1-2 days1-2 days
# of ReleasesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
# of Stores150+150+150+150+
# of Artists12/5-1001/37
Commission Fee0%0%15%/9%0%
Payment Threshold0$0$0$0$
Payment MethodWithdrawal (1-2 days)Withdrawal (1-2 days)Automatic (monthly)Automatic (monthly)
Cover License12$ per year12$ per year15$15$
YouTube Monetization4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue15%/9%0%
SoundCloud MonetizationNONONONO
Split PaymentsYESYESNONO
Label NameNOYESYESYES
CreditsYESYESYESYES
Release DateNOYESYESYES
Pre-OrderNOYESYESYES
Daily ReportsNOYESYESYES
Tax WithholdingYESYESNONO
Email SupportNONOYESYES
Phone SupportNONONONO
Live ChatNONOYESYES

Do you need more information on LANDR Music Distribution? Check out THIS article.

I hope you notices that the distribution speed is one of the highest in the industry. It might not be what you need most, but I guarantee that it’ll come in handy.

It’s also great that LANDR includes YouTube monetization and only charges you a one-time fee for mechanical cover licenses.

The support is also 100x better than DistroKid’s!

DistroKid vs RouteNote Music Distribution

I actually used RouteNote for a bit and was really pleased with the experience!

If you don’t want to put any money down, it’s the best place to get yourself started with music distribution. However, I personally don’t like the pricing for the premium service.

Let’s see how DistroKid compares…

DistroKid (Musician)DistroKid (Musician Plus/Label)RouteNote (FREE)RouteNote (Premium)
Pricing19.99$ per year35.99$/79.99$ per year0$9.99$ per year + 10$-45$ per release
Release Time1-7 days1-7 days1-5 days1-5 days
# of ReleasesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
# of Stores150+150+200+200+
# of Artists12/5-10011
Commission Fee0%0%15%0%
Payment Threshold0$0$50$50$
Payment MethodWithdrawal (1-2 days)Withdrawal (1-2 days)Automatic (monthly)Automatic (monthly)
Cover License12$ per year12$ per yearNONO
YouTube Monetization4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue15%0%
SoundCloud MonetizationNONO15%0%
Split PaymentsYESYESYESYES
Label NameNOYESYESYES
CreditsYESYESYESYES
Release DateNOYESYESYES
Pre-OrderNOYESYESYES
Daily ReportsNOYESYESYES
Tax WithholdingYESYESNONO
Email SupportNONOYESYES
Phone SupportNONOYESYES
Live ChatNONONONO

To be honest, the 15% commission isn’t going to hurt you (especially at first).

I’d only upgrade the premium plan if it ever became more profitable to do so. You essentially have all the same features, including the same distribution speed, on the free plan.

You even have YouTube and more importantly, SoundCloud monetization included!

RouteNote is also one of the few music distribution services that has phone support.

DistroKid vs Amuse Music Distribution

Alright, Amuse might seem like a really sweet deal.

It’s FREE and you get to keep 100% of your royalties. However, the distribution speed is atrocious and it’s just as bad on the premium plan (which is pretty expensive).

Take a look for yourself and see how it goes up against DistroKid…

DistroKid (Musician)DistroKid (Musician Plus/Label)Amuse (FREE)Amuse (Premium)
Pricing19.99$ per year35.99$/79.99$ per year0$60$ per year
Release Time1-7 days1-7 days3-4 weeks2 weeks
# of ReleasesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
# of Stores150+150+1414
# of Artists12/5-100UnlimitedUnlimited
Commission Fee0%0%0%0%
Payment Threshold0$0$10$10$
Payment MethodWithdrawal (1-2 days)Withdrawal (1-2 days)Automatic (2-3 months)Automatic (2-3 months)
Cover License12$ per year12$ per year
YouTube Monetization4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenue4.95$ per single or 14.95$ + 20% of your ad revenueNO0%
SoundCloud MonetizationNONONONO
Split PaymentsYESYESYESYES
Label NameNOYESNOYES
CreditsYESYESYESYES
Release DateNOYESNOYES
Pre-OrderNOYESNOYES
Daily ReportsNOYESYESYES
Tax WithholdingYESYESNONO
Email SupportNONOYESYES
Phone SupportNONONONO
Live ChatNONONONO

If you’d go with the free plan, I’d be okay with that.

I just really can’t see why anyone would pay 60$ per year for this service. The payments are also delayed to every 2-3 months so it just seems like you’d need to have a lot of patience to deal with Amuse.

Of course, they don’t withhold tax to foreigners so that’s a HUGE plus over DistroKid.

DistroKid Music Distribution: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much does DistroKid cost?

It costs 19.99$ per year. If you need more than one artist and additional features, you’ll either pay 35.99$ per year for the “Musicians Plus” plan or 79.99$ per year for the “Label” plan.

Does DistroKid let you do covers?

YES. However, it’ll cost you 12$ per year per cover song for the mechanical license.

Summary: DistroKid Music Distribution Review

Although DistroKid’s music distribution service may not be perfect for artists, it certainly is for music producers. It’s incredibly affordable to have your work streamed on all the most popular streaming services.

It’ll make your work seem more professional (because it is, right?) and allow you to make some small changes on the side.

If you had to choose between having your music on SoundCloud Pro and everywhere else, which would you choose? I hope you’d choose DistroKid because you’ll get much more exposure for much less.

And remember, if you are licensing your music and planning to partner up with exclusive music libraries, you CAN remove your music at any point. It usually takes 1-2 business days.

That used to be one of my biggest worries, but trust me, there’s nothing stopping you from getting your music out there TODAY.

DistroKid is completely worth it in my opinion and if you sign-up through me, you’ll get 7% off your subscription. You can thank me later!

Sources

https://www.reddit.com/r/WeAreTheMusicMakers/comments/bute76/honest_review_of_distrokid/

https://www.trustpilot.com/review/distrokid.com

https://distrokid.com/agreement/

https://dittomusic.com/en/terms

https://www.landr.com/en/terms-of-service

https://routenote.com/termsandconditions

https://www.amuse.io/terms-of-use

https://www.amuse.io/terms-of-use-subscriptions

  1. There is a big question right here. do we still need to pay for music distribution nowadays?

    thank you very much for this awesome article. i know that it will be of superb help to so many people just as it has been of help to me. the standards of distrokid music distribution is fair and affordable.

    Reply
    • Hey Smoochi,

      If ever you’re considering not paying for music distribution, I still think Amuse (amuse.io) is the best alternative. Many other free music distribution services take a percentage of your royalties as payment. If you’re not making much, they may actually be worth it, but most people I know end up upgrading to a paid service at some point.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Stefan

      Reply
  2. Thank you very much for such a resourceful article.

    This is the first time that i am hearing about distrokid music distribution and you have explicitly explained the entire process and i now understand why it is cheaper. the fact that it offers much flexibiilty is awesome and you can either opt in for the extra features or leave it as it is

    Reply
    • Hey Kirkman,

      DistroKid is actually relatively new compared to other music distributors. It was founded in 2013 if I’m not mistaken.

      I also mention at some point that you can monetize your songs on YouTube/Facebook for free using Identifyy (identifyy.com). Not many people know about this service which is why these companies usually charge you extra for this.

      Thanks for reading!

      – Stefan

      Reply
  3. Nice article

    Distrokid has a good qualities and allowing one to summit unlimited releases simultaneously is really nice, it will enable artist with many music to summit it at once instead of summitting it singly and waiting for weeks to upload another, it is really stressful and time consuming.. Thanks for sharing this

    Reply
    • Hey Alexy,

      You’re absolutely right, having to wait to upload another release is difficult for those of us who need to upload frequently. It’s also worth noting that you can also upload as many tracks as you want throughout the duration of your membership, no limits!

      Some other music distribution services are limited and/or charge you per release.

      I’m glad you found the article useful, thanks for stopping by!

      – Stefan

      Reply

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