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DistroKid Review – Is DistroKid Really The Best? (Honest Review)

DistroKid is one of the most popular distribution services in the music community, but is it really worth all the hype? In this DistroKid review, we'll cover everything you need to know about DistroKid before making the decision to purchase or not.

Who Is DistroKid For? (The Quick Verdict)

Distrokid Quicker Review

Whipped Cream Sounds

Speed of Distribution
Stream reporting & earnings reports
Payment times & options
Artist development features & marketing tools
Customer Support
Value for Money

Verdict

Distrokid is the quickest, most cost-effective way of getting your music on multiple streaming platforms. For $20/year you get unlimited uploads with 0% commission and a range of artist development and marketing tools at your disposal. However, extras can add up and customer service is quick to reply, but not very good at solving problems.

4.3

DistroKid is the best for independent artists starting out in a music career. It's the quickest, and easiest music distribution service that pays the most per stream and offers the most in terms of artist development.

They offer everything you need to get started, including pre-save links, cover song licensing, monetisation on YouTube, distribution to all stores and platforms like TikTok and bonuses like playlisting, video generators and more.

If you are releasing music for the first time DistroKid also allows you to access your Spotify and Apple artist profiles. This means you will be able to access services like Spotify For Artists. This is an essential tool for independent artists as it allows you to curate your artist page to attract listeners and also view your listener and stream stats so you can understand your audience and tailor your releases.

DistroKid is best for US and UK based artists as they pay the highest per stream in those countries. However, if you're in a different country, you might want to choose something like Routenote or Symphonic.

This entirely depends on your listener base. So, look into your Spotify/Apple Music statistics before deciding.

If you're a larger artist (without a record label), with bigger streaming numbers you might want to consider other services. For instance, Stem and AWAL can offer artist advances and marketing expertise to make you a bigger artist if you get accepted.

Some services take a commission for this, but if you're a bigger artist, the commission is definitely worth considering, with the benefits included for it.

Pros

✅ Cheap yearly subscription for unlimited digital distribution.

✅ Fast distribution to all stores including Chinese stores

✅ Keep 100% of your revenue from streams

✅ Spotify's preferred music distribution company

✅ Quick customer service

✅ Great artist development and marketing tools like pre-saves, video generators, playlist submission etc.

Cons

❌ Additional costs for extras like legacy features, Shazam, Instagram stories and ad revenue

❌ Don't have publishing partners that help collect your royalties

❌ Customer service is sometimes clueless

❌ Have to keep paying to keep your music up

How Easy is it To Distribute Music With DistroKid?

Once you set up your DistroKid account, releasing with DistroKid is extremely easy and takes less than 10 minutes.

Just go to your dashboard and hit ‘Upload Music'.

This takes you to one page where you have to fill in as much information about your track as possible. This includes title, album cover, genre, sub-genre, writer etc. At this stage you also select where you want the song to be released.

It is really important to fill in this information properly and as well as you can. Although it can seem quite boring, this determines whether your song is released and potentially how successfully algorithms engage with it.

How Quick Is DistroKid Distribution?

It takes 2-5 days to get your music uploaded to streaming services using DistroKid. This may take longer if your track, artwork, and description do not meet DistroKid’s requirements. If this happens your track may be flagged for manual review, which can take up to 2 weeks.

In my experience, some of my releases have been distributed to stores in as little as 3 days. 

Here’s how long DistroKid takes to upload to each store:

  • Spotify: 2-5 days
  • Apple Music/iTunes: 1-7 days
  • Amazon: 1-2 days
  • YouTube Music: 1-2 days
  • Deezer: 1-2 days
  • Tidal: 1-2 days
  • Facebook/Instagram: 1-2 weeks
  • TikTok: 1-3 weeks

The best thing to do is to set a release date for your music – roughly 3 weeks from the submission to DistroKid. This means when you release music it will be available on all stores at the same time and not staggered if and when stores approve your music.

This allows for a much more effective release and fans will be able to engage with your music at the same time as soon as it is released and you can build a release plan to promote this date. This will massively improve your numbers on the first day and push your algorithmic performance as well as allowing you to submit your music to playlisters like Spotify’s own editorial selection.

If you do not set a release date, then when you release music it will be staggered and you will not know when and where it will appear. This makes it very hard to promote. This is quite common at the beginning of a music career and makes the independent artist look unprofessional.

Can You Release Covers on DistroKid?

You can release covers on DistroKid. DistroKid allows you to enter the metadata for songwriters and rights holders, so stores know that you’re releasing a cover. If this gets approved, then your cover is much less likely to be taken down for copyright issues.

However, you do have to pay an extra $12/song for cover licensing costs. But this is definitely worth it – DistroKid sort all the licensing and you can sit back, safe in the knowledge that your cover is all licensed and ready to go.

Does DistroKid Distribute To All Stores?

DistroKid distributes to:

  • Spotify
  • Apple Music
  • iTunes
  • Instagram & Facebook
  • TikTok, Resso & Luna
  • YouTube Music
  • Amazon.com
  • Soundtrack by Twitch
  • Pandora 
  • Deezer 
  • TIDAL
  • iHeartRadio
  • ClaroMusica
  • Saavn
  • Anghami
  • KKBox
  • Boomplay
  • Snapchat 

This is basically all stores and streaming platforms. If you want to get your music anywhere, chances are you can do it with DistroKid. When you distribute with DistroKid, anyone will be able to listen to your music almost anywhere in the world.

Does Distrokid Support Music Videos?

You can use DistroKid to distribute your music videos, using DistroVid. With DistroVid, you can upload an unlimited amount of music videos, and keep 100% of your earnings from videos. Artists who upload music videos with DistroVid can distribute videos to Apple Music, Vevo, Amazon Music and Tidal.

But, this requires an additional subscription fee of $99 on top of your DistroKid subscription.

How Much Does DistroKid Cost?

DistroKid charge a yearly subscription but they do not take any commission on your earnings.

DistroKid can cost as little as $19.99 a year and you get to keep 100% of your earnings from DSPs and stores. This is a major bonus over other music distribution companies which often take a cut from your streaming payouts.

DistroKid offers different subscription tiers, and if you want more control over your output – like the release date – then you’ll need to pay slightly more.

Each of these plans has different benefits, here is a brief description of each:

  • Musician ($19.99) – Upload unlimited songs to all major DSPs.
  • Musician Plus ($35.99) – This plan allows you to control the release date of your music. Other features include Daily Sales stats and being able to customize your song's ISRC Number and the name of the record label you are releasing under. You can also upload to two separate artist pages with this plan.
  • Label ($79.99) – All features listed previously are included with this plan, although you get to upload to up to 5 artist pages (As opposed to two in ‘Musician Plus' and One in ‘Musician').

How Does DistroKid Pay Artists?

DistroKid collects royalties from DSPs and gives 100% of that money to the artist. They don't calculate this payment & the amount you are paid depends on the streaming service. Each service has different per stream rates which are determined by factors like the country of the stream, membership status of the listener, or the net profit.

For example, Spotify split the revenue between themselves and distributors at around 70/30. This means that Spotify take 30% of your streaming income and then DistroKid receive the additional 70% and hand that directly to the artist.

How Quick Are DistroKid To Pay?

When you request to withdraw money from DistroKid they pay for the previous month’s earnings. This is usually updated on the 14th-18th of every month, and it takes 1-14 days to process the payment.

The fastest payout option is PayPal, which often takes 48hrs, although there are many other options such as ACH, eCheck, Paper Check and Wire Transfer.

PayPal is DistroKid’s default payout option but here’s more information on all the choices they give you:

  • PayPal – One of the fastest methods, funds should arrive within 48 hours. Fees are $1 plus 2% of the payment amount with a total ceiling of $2 in the U.S. Amounts over $10,000 will be split into separate payments.
  • Wire – Most expensive fees per payment ($15 in US, $20 international in local currency and $26 International in USD). Arrives in your account instantly.
  • eCheck – Can take 3-5 days to process. Takes a $1.50 per payment fee from U.S. customers and $5.00 from international customers.
  • Check – Processes in up to 5 working days. $3 delivery fee.
  • ACH (US only) – Also known as ‘Direct Deposit'. The money goes straight into your bank account. Takes a $1 Fee per payment.

Ditto Music takes a similar amount of time to pay you as DistroKid, and uses Payoneer as their payment partner. Like Distrokid, you have to register with the payment parter to withdraw your funds.

(Distrokid recently changed from payoneer to Tipalti)

Payouts are usually processed by Payoneer within a few hours, but the transfer time to your bank account will depend on which bank you use.

Ditto only allows you to withdraw if you have over £25 in your account already, so you’ll need to wait a while to get paid if you have a low amount of streams on your release.

Does DistroKid Pay The Most Per Stream?

Distrokid is in the top 5 distributors for pay out per stream. They generally pay around 0.0068/stream in the US and $0.0045 in the UK. Putting them 2nd in the US and 3rd in the UK for payout per stream.

While the amount paid per stream varies between distributors, it is worth noting that no distributor pays out more than $.004/per stream for Spotify US in 2020.

For example, for Apple Music in the US, DistroKid distributes the second most money per stream behind Horus Music, and it pays roughly the same amount as TuneCore (around $0.0068).

On Spotify in the UK, DistroKid comes in at number 3 behind TuneCore and AWAL and just ahead of CD Baby – where DistroKid pay $0.0045 and AWAL pay $0.0048.

What Artist Development Features Does Distrokid Offer? 

  • HyperFollow – Perhaps DistoKid’s most useful tool for artists, HyperFollow provides artists with one easy link to promote your music. Your HyperFollow page takes fans directly to your music on all DSPs and has the option for them to automatically follow you on Spotify and save your release. HyperFollow also includes high powered analytical tools so you can monitor the demographics of your fans and see how they listen and engage with your release.
  • Mini Videos – In an age where social media engagement is key to gaining streams, DistroKid’s mini videos help you get noticed online. They offer free, short, customised videos which you can post straight onto your social media to promote your release. These can be themed backgrounds to post on your IG story, or customised meme videos like Marcel the monkey from Friends.
  • Promo Cards – DistroKid offers many free, instantly customisable images to promote releases online.
  • Playlist Spotlight – As a DistroKid user you can submit your songs to the DistroKid genre playlists and be voted for by listeners.
  • Wheel of Playlist – This is a novelty tool where you can spin the wheel and determine your placement in the DistroKid playlists. For example, if you spin the number 158, your track is placed at 158 on the playlist.
  • Lyrics – DistroKid allows you to add lyrics to your songs which are then made available on streaming services and search engines. This is a great tool if someone’s heard a lyric in your song and wants to find it again. You can also add time synced lyrics to your music which so listeners using Instagram (as well as Spotify and Apple Music) can really engage with and share your song.

How Can I Make Sure My Music Stays Up if I Cancel DistroKid?

If you cancel DistroKid, then your music will be removed from streaming services unless you change to a different distributor before cancelling. However, DistroKid has a legacy option which keeps your tracks up for life. This can be expensive though coming in at $29/single/year or $49/album/year.

Can I Move My Music To Another Distributor?

You can move your music from DistroKid to another distributor. You’ll need the ISRC codes for your releases, so you can update them on your new music distribution service.

To move your music across you need the original audio files, cover art, ISRC codes, and the original titles. Once you have these you can re-upload your music, but once you start there’s no going back so make sure you have this information properly recorded.

The first step is to take down all your songs from your previous music distribution service. If your songs are still on Spotify or Apple Music etc then if you try and re-upload them you’ll run into problems.

Once you’ve taken your songs down it should be as simple as re-uploading them using your new distributor. You’ll need to enter all the information and codes exactly as they were for the previous release.

How Does DistroKid Compare With The Competition?

DistroKid vs TuneCore

TuneCore offers more features than Distrokid and is cheaper. However, they have a previous track record with their customers and reviews. They have recently updated their pricing to be more competitive and it's worked. They are the most feature-rich distribution service for the price right now.

Tunecore also offers a publishing royalty collection arm, as well as a cheaper plan coming in at $14.99/year. They both offer 0% commission and similar artist development tools.

The payout per stream between both is similar, with a slight edge to TuneCore on Spotify UK, and an edge to Distrokid on Spotify US.

Tunecore also offers a free plan (something Distrokid doesn't have) which allows unlimited uploads, but you are charged a commission of 15% for this. This isn't the best when considering other free options like Routenote.

Which is better really depends on your needs. TuneCore is cheaper and appears to offer more. However, Distrokid is a Spotify preferred distributor and has a great past track record, and customer service.

The founder of TuneCore has said ‘DistroKid is simply the best model for artists to distribute their music, keep their rights and get paid’.

DistroKid vs Ditto

Distrokid is a quicker distributor than Ditto & is on Spotify's preferred distributor list. Ditto isn't, but includes a lot more, for the same price. They both take 0% commission, but with Ditto you don't have to pay for extras, and you get access to a publishing arm that will collect your radio royalties.

You also don't have to pay extra for covers, or YouTube monetisation on Ditto – with Distrokid you will.

DistroKid and Ditto are close competitors, and they offer similar distribution models for the same price.

However, Ditto offer you more for your money. There are no hidden extra costs, unlike DistroKid’s many costly addons and they also have a publishing arm which collects non-streaming royalties. This also means that Ditto is better for record labels.

Ditto also offer radio and shop play and they have an excellent dashboard with incredible analytics & marketing tools. DistroKid’s dashboard is very functional but it doesn’t exactly look great and their analytics can get very confusing very quickly. 

DistroKid has a better reputation and is the safer option over Ditto. Ditto have received some bad press from previous customers and, unlike DistroKid, they are not on Spotify’s preferred distributor list. This means DistroKid have faster distribution times. DistroKid also uploads your music to more stores than Ditto.

DistroKid vs CD Baby

If you want physical distribution, you'll have to go with CD Baby. If you don't need it, Distrokid is much cheaper, offers more value for money and doesn't charge a commission on streams.

CD Baby is much more expensive than Distrokid, but they also offer physical distribution and better opportunities for marketing. However, CD Baby take commission and their pay per stream is one of the lowest.

CD Baby are the original players in the music distribution service game and are another one of Spotify’s preferred online music distributors.

With CD Baby, you get paid 75% of your streaming royalties (they take a 15% commission). Unlike, DistroKid who give you 100%. CD Baby also charge $29 per album and $9.95 per single. 

The unique thing about CD Baby is that they do both physical and digital distribution in one place, meaning that you’ll be able to get your music onto CD, Vinyl and all major streaming platforms.

What Is The Catch With DistroKid? – Does DistroKid Have Hidden Fees?

While DistroKid offer one of the lowest prices for distribution compared to other digital distribution companies, they offer lots of extras at a high premium.

DistroKid Extras pricing:

  • Shazam & iPhone Siri– $0.99/year/song.
  • Store Maximizer – $7.95/album/year (automatically delivers songs to new stores).
  • YouTube Content ID – $4.95/single/year.
  • Cover Song Licensing – $12/cover song.
  • Leave a legacy – $29/single/year or, $49/album/year (keep tracks up for life)
  • Tidal Master – $8.99/single or, $17.99/album (displays master badge on Tidal)

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because DistroKid this is how they offer such a low price and none of these things are essential for a successful release. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on costs and what other distributors offer, as these costs can pile up quickly.

Other DistroKid Reviews (What Others Are Saying About DistroKid) 

distrokid reddit trustpilot reviews

DistroKid seems to be a favourite for most people in the music industry. On Trust Pilot they have a 4.7-star rating which is pretty impressive.

If you dig through Reddit reviews and other online articles, some users do find fault with DistroKid in terms of its outdated user interface and additional costs. But, there are also many gleaming, positive reviews too.

This is the case with all distributors and so far none have been found to be perfect – they all have benefits and drawbacks.

One of the main criticisms of most distributors is their customer service, with people finding it difficult to navigate the distribution environment and work out why their music has been lost or taken down. This is where DistroKid are great, their customer service team are helpful and quick to reply.

DistroKid Verdict 

Distrokid Quicker Review

Whipped Cream Sounds

Speed of Distribution
Stream reporting & earnings reports
Payment times & options
Artist development features & marketing tools
Customer Support
Value for Money

Verdict

Distrokid is the quickest, most cost-effective way of getting your music on multiple streaming platforms. For $20/year you get unlimited uploads with 0% commission and a range of artist development and marketing tools at your disposal. However, extras can add up and customer service is quick to reply, but not very good at solving problems.

4.3

To recap:

DistroKid is the best for independent artists starting out in a music career. It's the quickest, and easiest music distribution service that pays the most per stream and offers the most in terms of artist development.

Because of DistroKid’s cheap cost and the features, they offer they make it easy for musicians to upload music quickly and get listeners engaged. Because they’re so established you get a quick upload time and you know what you’re being paid and when you’ll get it. And, if there’s any issues, DistroKid have a good customer services system to guide you through the minefield that is digital music distribution.

However, extras can mount up to create a fearsome yearly cost, and if you cancel you will have to pay extra to keep your music up. Of course, you could just change distributors to avoid this, when cancelling Distrokid, but it's worth noting.

They additionally don't have a publishing arm to collect radio royalties, whereas other services like Ditto and TuneCore do. However, this is easily solved by signing up for ASCAP or PRS to collect those royalties.