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Music Distribution: Our Distrokid Review – The Honest Truth

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If you haven’t already heard, DistroKid is the new kid on the block and I highly suggest you don’t underestimate them like I first did. 

They pack a lot of punch and are making a lot of waves that will make you take notice. 

Let’s find out what all the hypes about in our own Distrokid review!

Distrokid Review - Music Distribution Review

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As an independent artist, releasing your music to the world is quite the step of victory. You’ve put in countless hours to compose, record, and produce your music and now’s the chance for you to share it with everyone else.

However, distributing your music is still a big question mark in your mind. How are you going to get your music onto iTunes and Spotify and all the other online platforms? Are there any small, like-minded distribution companies out there that WANT to help you?

Enter DistroKid! They have been making big waves since they launched their company in 2013. Their innovative, artist-friendly features and simple pricing system have been out-showing far bigger, more-established companies.

In the following Distrokid review, we will be looking extensively at thier platform, considering all that they have to offer and whether or not they live up to their hype.

Lets get started!

[bctt tweet="Fun Fact: DistroKid is considered one of Spotify's preferred distributors as stated on the Spotify website"]

Distrokid Distribution Review 2019 - What You'll Learn

Who Is Distrokid For?

To give an overview of our Distrokid Review, it is clear that Distrokid has a lot going for them. 

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative on the market offering unlimited distribution for an annual fee then Distrokid is a great choice. Not to mention they do not take a commission on your earnings.

Their recent business moves that have seen them partner with Spotify really make Distrokid a strong competitor in the distribution space. 

After all Spotify is a huge platform that you are more than likely trying to master and distributing your music with Distrokid is sure to help you do that.

They have some very unique features that no other competitors are offering at the moment but a lot of them do come at a price. 

Some will give companies like TuneCore (who is offering artists 20% off at the moment) a hard time for their high fees but a lot of the features that Distrokid charges you extra for are already included in TuneCore’s price. 

Depending how important things like Distrokid’s leaving a legacy program are to you, this may be a great fit for you as you can’t get it anywhere else. 

Not to mention the simplicity of the platform, if technology isn’t your thing then you will certainly thrive on Distrokid.

Fees & Commissions

DistroKid is a distribution company that stands out for their streamlined platform and artist-friendly features. They are very easy to use and have a simple and enticing pricing system.

However, there are hidden fees for many of their features, plus they lack some of the advanced features that are available from competitors.  They have 3 pricing tiers for you to choose from which are as follows:

Musician

This is the least expensive Distrokid option which costs $19.99 a year and can be used for just one artist or band. With it you can upload unlimited songs and lyrics — a pretty sweet deal!

This tier also gives you automatic verification for your artist page on Spotify.

When you visit a page for any big-name artist on Spotify, you may notice a blue checkmark next to the artist name. This checkmark means that Spotify has verified that page as the artist’s official page and that all content there belongs only to them.

Not only that, once you are verified, you can also edit your Spotify Artist page yourself! More on that later. With DistroKid you get this verified checkmark automatically, which is great news indeed!

Musician Plus

The second tier of Distrokid, costs $35 a year and can be used for 2 artists and/or bands. To start, you get everything included in the tier above: unlimited song uploads, unlimited lyrics uploads, and a Spotify verified checkmark. However, it also provides you with the following additional features:

Label

The third and final tier, this costs $79.99 per year and allows you to manage 5-100 artists and/or bands. While this plan includes the same features as Musician Plus above, it stands out because it allows you to upload music for many more artists and/or bands.

Distrokid Review

Outlets & Release Options

This is where the uploading process begins and you are able to hand pick the stores you would like to be distributed to. There are 150+ stores that Distrokid offers! However, it is worth noting that they do not provide as much information on each of these stores as other distribution companies do.

Speed To Stores

According to DistroKid, it typically takes 1-7 business days to get your music distributed to iTunes and Spotify. This is not as fast as some other competing distributors and unfortunately, DistroKid does not offer any features to speed up this process. For distribution times to other stores, you can get detailed information at the DistroKid website.

Distrokid Review

Release Dates

A crucial component of releasing music is working on the promotion and marketing long before it is released. To that end, having a specific release date set as you build up anticipation is crucial.

Unfortunately, if you selected the “Musician” plan you are not able to set a custom release date. While DistroKid’s platform allows you to set the specific date you’d like your music to be released, this feature is only available if you upgrade to the “Musician Plus” plan.

iTunes Pre-Order

If you would like to make your music available for preorder before the official release date, this is an option for you. With DistroKid this service is only available on iTunes, unlike their competitor Symphonic, who offers preorders for multiple stores, including Amazon and Google Play.

Keep in mind that this feature is also not available for their basic “Musician” plan, so if you want to utilize this feature,  you will have to upgrade to “Musician Plus.”

General Features

Store Maximizer

The music industry is always changing and there are new online stores and streaming services appearing all the time. What are you supposed to do if you’ve already released your music but want to stay up to date with distributing to these new channels? This is where DistroKid’s Store Maximizer comes into play.

The Store Maximizer automatically delivers your music to the new distribution channels as they become available with DistroKid. This service costs $7.95 per year.

Distrokid Review

When you look at the other distribution companies out there you’ll see that this service is a place where DistroKid doesn’t stack up well against its competition. For example, Symphonic offers this service completely free of charge!

Even TuneCore, who charges for this service, only makes you pay a one-time fee of $12 per release instead of paying an annual fee like DistroKid.

YouTube Money

Distrokid Review

This feature helps you to collect ad revenue generated by YouTube videos that use your music. If your music is used anywhere on YouTube, DistroKid will work to detect this through YouTube’s Content ID database.

It will then pay you the ad revenue generated instead of whoever uploaded the video. The cost of this service is $4.95 per year, plus they take a 20% cut of all the revenue you make.

Unfortunately for DistroKid, this is another area where they don’t fare well compared to their competition. To our knowledge, DistroKid is the only distributor charging an annual fee for this service every year while also taking a commision on top of that. The majority of distributors just take a commission!

Distrokid Review

Now granted, some distributors take a much higher commission — Symphonic, for example, takes 30%. However, if you don’t make any money from YouTube, guess what — DistroKid is still making you pay out of pocket for this service every year!

Shazam and iPhone Siri

This is another feature DistroKid offers to help get your music out on more platforms and databases. These particular apps, Shazam and iPhone Siri, are designed to make it easy for people to identify your music when they hear it playing somewhere and want to know who the artist (you) is.

If you want your music available in their databases it’ll cost you $0.99 a year.

DistroKid is taking an unusual position in only offering this as an extra feature because other distributors simply include Shazam and iPhone Siri in their standard distribution channels. Therefore, you are having to pay extra per year for a service that should arguably be already included in your basic plan.

Distrokid Review

Leave A Legacy

Consider this situation: what happens to your music if you’re unable to keep paying DistroKid’s annual fees? Does it just go away forever? With the Leave a Legacy feature you can ensure your music will continue to be available even if you are no longer paying for it every year.

For a one time fee of $29 for a single or $49 for an album, your music will be available online forever. This is a feature that is unique to DistroKid and something other companies charging annual fees could learn from.

 

Cover Song Licenses

As mentioned previously, DistroKid can help you to release any cover songs you may record. With this feature, they will automatically file your cover song licenses for you and submit payments to the rights holders so you don’t have to worry about it.

It costs $12 per year plus the royalties that are deducted from your earnings and paid out to the songwriter.

Please keep in mind that DistroKid requires you to file your cover licenses with them even if you already set up a license with another company beforehand. Here’s their explanation:

You… must opt into DistroKid’s license… because we have no way of confirming that the original songwriter is getting paid their legally-required share–unless we’re the ones paying them.

Not opting covers into DistroKid’s cover song licensing program can lead to stores taking down your content–or worse–songwriters taking legal action. And nobody wants that.

We would question whether this is really necessary because if you really did properly arrange the licenses on your own, you should have no problem proving to DistroKid that you’re paying what you need to. Nevertheless, this is their policy so please be forewarned!

Credits & Liner Notes

Here you can give credit to the various people who played a role in creating your music. This could be other songwriters, producers, studio musicians, etc.

Vault

This is a feature that stores your music for you on DistroKids servers. It is similar to Dropbox or other cloud services you may be already familiar with. This allows you to save your music and download it whenever you need it.

You never know when your computer may crash, get stolen, etc. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to have another place to easily access your music and this feature helps you to do just that.

iTunes Lyrics & Apple Artist Image

Ever wonder how your favorite artists get their lyrics and artist photo in their iTunes profile?

Well, you can do this with the help of DistroKid! They provide you with the ability to upload both your lyrics and cover photo to your profile, free of charge. This is a feature that not all distribution platforms offer!

Distrokid Review

HyperFollow

This is a cool feature to help you grow your Spotify following when promoting your releases. Hyperfollow provides you with a landing page for each of your releases to help you grow your fanbase.

Distrokid Review

Once someone clicks on your landing page links, Hyperfollow will then automatically:

Spotify For Artists

When you release music with DistroKid they automatically get your artist page verified on Spotify. Among other things this means you can manage your own Spotify page! You can update your profile image, add playlists, and edit your Artist’s Pick.

You can also gain insights on your fans. This is a particularly cool service available with DistroKid that is not available in many other places.

Distrokid Review

Spotify Artist Separation

This is a very helpful feature for addressing some distribution issues that might happen. One such issue is when your releases are showing up on some other artist’s page.

Another occurs when you switch distribution platforms: your new releases are uploaded under a new artist account that belongs to you but does not include your old music. With the Spotify Artist Separation feature DistroKid will ensure these issues are resolved effectively.

YouTube Whitelist

When you opt into “YouTube Money” DistroKid tracks down every video using your music so you can be paid the ad revenue instead of whoever uploaded the video.

However, what do you do when you’ve uploaded a video featuring your own music and you don’t want DistroKid getting involved with the ad revenue? That’s where YouTube Whitelist comes into play!

With YouTube Whitelist, you can simply tell DistroKid that those videos are your own and they don’t have to worry about dealing with the ad revenue. All of the ad revenue goes straight from YouTube to you, as it should!

Distrokid Review

Payment & Reporting

DistroKid offers various options for you to receive payment including PayPal, wire transfer, etc. There is no payment threshold restricting when you can withdraw your funds which is perfect!

Where reporting is concerned, this is an area where DistroKid falls behind when compared to its competitors. There is not much detail provided to artists and the reports are hard to understand.

For those who pay more for the “Musician Plus” or “Label” plan you will have more detailed reports available. However, this should arguably be something that is available for all customers at any price point.

Distrokid Review

Teams & Payment Splitting

DistroKid is one of the few platforms to offer payment splitting, a very useful and noteworthy feature. Let’s explain:

What would you do if you needed to pay revenue share to a songwriter or collaborator who worked with you on your latest release? Every time you took out a withdrawal of your earnings you’d have to manually divide up the money to pay them, right?

Well, with DistroKid’s payment splitting feature that process is greatly simplified. Instead of having to manually split payment, they will automatically do it for you!

The only catch is that to get paid, everybody on your team has to be a member of DistroKid. However, DistroKid makes it easier for them by offering a 50% discount code to sign up. Consequently, it’ll cost them as little as $10 a year.

Distrokid Review

Customer Service & Support

If you need any help or customer support, DistroKid is available via email and they claim to return messages within 1 business day. In general, they seem to have a good reputation online without many complaints.

Final Verdict On Our Distrokid Review

While there’s a lot to like about DistroKid, I also feel that they have a few blemishes that are overlooked. On the one hand, their streamlined platform and simplified pricing system is very attractive. Their recent partnership with Spotify…Hard to top that!

But, on the other hand, some of the features they are charging for come standard with the majority of platforms. While they seem like the cheaper option at $19.99 per year this option does not grant you some important features like determining your release dates unless you pay extra for it. 

For them as a business this is smart. However, as an artist, they are leveraging features they know you will require. Thus getting you to spend more. I am not here to bash Distrokid but I want to give you honest feedback to help you make the best decision for your career. 

Overall I definitely recommend you give Distrokid a try as they already have a ton of upside in the early days of their existence and are on a path that will surely help artists who are using them to distribute their music. 

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