Distrokid Review 2023
An in-depth look at the distribution service.
Last Updated: January 2023 | Article Details: 2678 words (13 – 15 minute read)
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In this post we’ll show you what’s good and bad about Distrokid and whether or not it’s right for you!
You’ll learn about how much it costs, what’s included and how it stacks up to the competition.
In recent years there have been a lot of companies to jump into the independent music distribution game. Is Distrokid a good choice for you?
Be sure to read our complete guide on how to get your music on Spotify and other streaming sites.
Let’s get right into our full Distrokid review.
Table of Contents
— Check Out Our Complete Tunecore and Distrokid Comparison —
Quick Review of DistroKid
DistroKid is the fast-growing, original “unlimited-releases” music distribution service for independent artists all around the world.
And overall, they do a good job at getting your music on sites like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. So YES, it’s a good choice for getting music out there.
But Distrokid is not our #1 choice for music distribution.
We think the better option is TuneCore because of a few different things we’ll get into below.
Deviant Noise Top Pick Recommendation:
You can read more about TuneCore in our full review of TuneCore.
But we do love DistroKid as a decent alternative.
That doesn’t mean they’re a bad service – I’ve personally used it to release music in the past. And so it’s a great option for artists.
But with their recent changes to their pricing plans, we think you should use TuneCore instead. They have better royalty payouts (more on that below) and much better customer service.
There are a couple of reasons to use them over Tunecore, though – mainly if you want to release an MQA/Master quality recording to places like Tidal, DistroKid is currently the best place to do that.
7.2/10 Stars Overall
Key Decision Making Factors
- Pricing – 8/10 – subscription based for unlimited releases, no longer the most affordable option, lots of extra add-ons
- Customer Support – 6/10 – support response times lag, not always super helpful
- Perks and Bonuses – 7/10 – decent amount of perks – Spotify/Apple verification, Store Automator, etc.
- Exclusive Features – 8/10 – has a few really cool features, not available on other platforms – ex/ Tidal MQA/Master upload
- Artist Payouts – 7/10 – goes through middle-man for royalty/payout collection. Gives artists 100% of revenue they receive from middle-man
Should you use DistroKid: MAYBE.
Is DistroKid good? Yes. Is it the best choice? No, not in our opinion.
If you have music you want released on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and other streaming services and digital stores around the globe, they are a decent option to use.
BUT, we think TuneCore is hands-down the BEST option from all of the digital distributors out there.
Even when they were the most expensive option to release music, they were still our preferred choice over Distrokid – but now that they’re the most affordable choice as well as the best, using them for your music releases is a no-brainer.
More About the Service
So, what is DistroKid and what do they do, exactly?
It’s a company independent artists can use to get their music on services like Spotify and Apple Music.
Artists can’t do this directly to each site, they need to work with a company like DistroKid. They’re not the oldest company out there, but they were the original company to offer “unlimited releases” for a low yearly fee.
But even though they innovated this sort of payment model, the competitors out there have definitely caught up to the value proposition they once offered.
It’s mostly music artists that use the service, but the service is becoming more popular with producers as well.
Is DistroKid Legit?
Overall, yes, this is a legit company. They aren’t here to steal from you or scam you in any way. I say that having had some suspicions about the company recently. But that was more on the “affiliate” or “partner” side, not the artist side.
I’ve released music with them with no issues or problems. So you probably don’t have to worry about the company, outside of the concerns I get into later in this review.
How Does DistroKid Work?
It’s actually pretty simple… You, as an artists looking to release new music, simply sign up for an account and go through the “release” process.
You’ll need all your song/album data (artist/feature names, producer/songwriter info, etc), all your artwork and high quality digital files of your songs.
You then just fill out a series of pages with that info and upload your files. You select the platforms you want to release music on and choose any extras you’re interested in.
You only have to pay for the release once you’ve finalized it. It can then take anywhere from a few days to a month or more after you submit the music to appear live on stores/streamers.
We have a step-by-step guide on how to use the site here.
DistroKid has been around for quite a while. The company evolved over time into the entity it is today, and is continually adding new features to their services.
And they’ve quickly become a fierce competitor to the more established brands, essentially forcing them to change their pricing to become more competetive.
There’s no doubt they are a great option to release music for a lot of people. They’re cheap, effective and have a few cool add-ons that you can choose for your release. But it’s NOT the best option out there.
They do release to all of the major platforms and make it easy to upload music. Unfortunately there are two areas where they are not the best – customer support and payouts to artists.
And now with TuneCore’s new pricing, they’re also not the most affordable option anymore. We truly think they’re the better option right now.
We’ll explain more in a minute but, over-all, this is still a great service and does work well. So we don’t mind recommending that artists use the service.
Distrokid Price – Plans and Costs: (Get 7% OFF Your First Release Here!)
- Musician Plan – $19.99 / year
- Musician PLUS Plan – $35.99 / year
- Label Plan – $79.99 / year
It’s also important to note that you’ll need to renew your plan’s subscription on a yearly basis otherwise your music gets removed from the streaming platforms. Or you can choose the “Leave a Legacy” add-on to keep them on there forever.
Extras & Addons:
Here is the cost structure for the additional features they offer members. These are separate from the yearly fee and are charged per release.
- Shazam & Siri Recognition – for $0.99/song/year (make your song “Shazam-able” / recognized by Siri)
- Store Maximizer – for $7.95/album/year (your music gets added to newly created stores/streaming sites)
- YouTube Content ID – for $4.95/single or $14.95/album yearly plus 20% cut of ad revenue (get credit for your music if used YouTube)
- Cover Song Licensing – for $12/single/year (makes it easy to get a license to release a “cover”)
- Tidal Master/MQA – for $8.99/single or $17.99/album (put an audiophile-quality master recording for Tidal)
- Leave a Legacy – for $29/single or $49/album (music stays on all platforms even if you don’t renew)
- Social Phone – for $12.99/month (use Text Message Marketing platform)
- Membership let’s you release an unlimited amount of singles or albums for the year.
- Gets your music on 150 music platforms (Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Tidal and More)
- Doesn’t take a cut of your earnings*
- Provides basic reporting of sales data
- Effective, low-cost alternative for independent musicians on a budget
- Great selection of bonus add-ons (like Tidal Master and Leave a Legacy)
- Easy to use platform
- Used by thousands of artists worldwide
- Can actually become very expensive, very quickly (because of add-ons)
- Payouts AREN’T actually 100% of earnings, but are 100% of what DistroKid receives
- Customer service is difficult, slow and occasionally non-responsive
Who DistroKid is Best For
- Independent artists just getting into releasing music online
- Artists who want a low-cost basic distribution option and don’t mind extra-cost add-ons when needed
- Artists who really want to release MQA/Master quality audio onto places like Tidal
- Artists who want the exclusive features not available elsewhere (lyrics sync, etc.)
Comparing the Company to Competitors
There are many different options out there when you’re trying to get your music onto Spotify and other streaming sites. DistroKid is a popular option that’s always been the most affordable. But that’s not the case anymore.
So is it good compared to other options? Let’s talk about it.
DistroKid used to be the best option for anyone who wanted to release music at a low-cost and not have to pay for each and every song/album they put out. They pioneered the subscription based music distribution model, and were always the cheapest to use.
But TuneCore, a much more established brand and original music distribution option for independent artists, now offers an even lower price for unlimited releases. And they also have a better overall service – payouts, support, extras, etc. – in our opinion.
DistroKid is still a better option than something like RouteNote or United Masters. United Masters is a newer company on the market, and they are more expensive to use and don’t offer as many distribution options. They only release music to 35+ stores/platforms.
And while DistroKid has YouTube monetization add-ons, UM only offers Content ID support, and it’s an additional fee.
What’s Included and How it All Works
It’s very simple – you pay a yearly fee (depending on your needs) and you’re then able to release an unlimited amount of music to all of the top streaming sites and music stores out there.
Each release is sent to 150+ platforms and will be available to users all around the globe. The company has a great set of add-on features, but unfortunately most of them have an additional fee attached to them.
With your releases, you get Spotify and Apple Music verification, you have the option of uploading Master quality audio to Tidal and you can make sure if any new music stores/platforms pop-up, your music will be sent to them automatically (on Musician Plus plan).
Distrokid pays out 100% of the revenue they get for your music directly to you.
Unfortunately there are a couple of drawbacks related to both their customer support and those revenue payouts to artists.
What’s the Deal With Payouts?
So you’re probably asking why I keep mentioning lower payouts. Don’t they send artists 100% of the money they receive for sales?
Technically, yes they do.
But the key words are “they receive.”
Unfortunately, because they are a smaller, newer company in the music distribution space they need to work with a partner company to manage store placements and payouts.
This company acts as a “middle-man” between the distributor and all the various music platforms out there. But this middle-man also takes a cut of the revenue as well.
So even though DistroKid is sending you (the artist) 100% of the money they receive, they’re not receiving 100% of the earnings from the stores.
With a company like TuneCore, that isn’t the case. They have direct partnerships with stores and are able to pay out 100% of the entire batch of earnings – no middle-man to take a cut.
Now, it’s not a HUGE amount of money they take, but sometimes every penny is important (especially in the streaming era).
Customer Service & Support
This is my other big gripe with DistroKid, but again, it’s not a deal breaker and I still whole-heartedly recommend using them to release your music in certain circumstances.
My experience with customer (and affiliate) service is a bit of an annoying one. Of course, this website is partnered with DistroKid (and I have personally used them to release music in the past) so customer service is a bit more necessary for us than the average independent musician.
But it’s a minor annoyance trying to reach out to customer service with the company and get things resolved.
Firstly, it’s difficult to even find a way to directly contact the company for support. The contact form is buried in their help section. Once you do reach out, it’s often a bit of a wait to get a response.
And of course, as with all support requests, you have to go back-and-forth with questions and answers multiple times. And each time you may be waiting a couple of days for a response. It can drag out.
Not the best experience, but again not a deal-breaker. You likely won’t need to reach out to support a lot, and I’ve never been totally ghosted by support. They always respond… eventually.
Frequently Asked Questions
DistroKid is a newer company than an established player like TuneCore, but it’s still been around for years and has a good track record and reviews from independent music artists. It is a safe and legit company to work with to get your music on stores and streaming services. If you’re still unsure, try Tunecore instead.
Distrokid offers independent music artists the opportunity to get their music on stores and streaming sites for a low yearly fee. You subscribe to a plan and are able to release unlimited music throughout the year. You simply start a release, upload your song files and enter in all relevant artist/track details. Once you submit, they do the work to get your music out there for you.
Distrokid collects payments from the stores and other platforms on your behalf through a company called Merlin. The money that they get from Merlin is then paid out to you when you request a payment. Payments are usually made through PayPal.
This varies by store. DistroKid will start working on your release right away, but various stores and streaming platforms require lead time to get your music up. This can range from a few days for some platforms all the way up to a few weeks for others. That’s why it’s best to start your release at least a month or two before you want it to show up on sites and stores.
We do recommend DistroKid as an option for releasing your music.
But it’s NOT our #1 pick. We think TuneCore is the better overall option for most artists.
I don’t mind DistroKid, and I’ve used them myself to release music in the past.
But with my recent experiences with support and their affiliate accounting, I’m not the biggest fan anymore.
And with the new lower pricing and unlimited releases, they are just a better option, more established and more reliable support-wise.
Others don’t offer the MQA/Master quality audio or a couple other features. They are definitely a great plus for using the service. But all the extras can get pretty expensive overall.
That’s that – thanks for reading this full Distrokid review! Hope it was helpful.
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