In this review of DistroKid, we’ll go over their features, pros, cons, and ultimately find out if DistroKid is still the easiest (and best) way to get your music on streaming services and stores.
DistroKid is a great music distributor because, for a small annual fee, you get fast unlimited song uploads while getting to keep 100% of your income.
When DistroKid first showed up in 2013, they really turned heads with their business model of offering unlimited uploads without taking any percentages. Today, they are one of the most popular music distributors on the market.
Let’s take a deep dive into what DistroKid offers and for how much, as well as both the benefits and disadvantages of choosing DistroKid to be your music distributor of choice.
Starting off with the basics…
Is DistroKid Good?
DistroKid is good because they offer unlimited song and album uploads for one small annual fee. DistroKid is also one of the fastest music distributors on the market.
In the past, it seemed like the main argument that was made against DistroKid was that they had not been around long enough and people were unsure if what DistroKid was offering was too good to be true.
Fast forward to 2021, DistroKid is considered legit because they have now been around for over 8 years and are one of the most popular music distributors on the market.
With that said, I can imagine why people were skeptical back then…
Unlimited song uploads for just $19 per year when the standard was $9.99 per SONG per year. 😲
To be honest, when I saw that THOSE were the industry-standard prices to simply get my music on Spotify, I just assumed I couldn’t afford to properly distribute my music and ignored it completely until DistroKid came along…
Why DistroKid’s unlimited uploads are SO important
Today, established and emerging artists alike live and die by their streaming numbers.
Streaming numbers, and most specifically Spotify streaming numbers, are the sign of an artist’s success in 2021.
Spotify has straight-up told everyone that to succeed on their platform, you simply need to release more music and do it frequently.
Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, set the internet ablaze in 2020 when he mentioned that it is “not enough” for artists to release music “every three to four years” and that, “artists today that are making it realize that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans“.
When someone tells you who they are, believe them.
And this is exactly why unlimited song uploads are SO important. You need to drop lots of music and paying a fee for every release is old school and a rich man’s game.
DistroKid has really made it easier for anyone to get their music up and (potentially) heard.
The proof is in the puddin’
Time for a quick brag (sorry hehe)…
I’ve proven all of this out myself by using DistroKid’s unlimited upload feature with a music release strategy where I released a new single every month.
Sure, it took a bit of time, and not every single song took off but, this ultimately led to one of my songs getting on over 7 Spotify editorial playlists and racking up well over 300,000 streams on Spotify.
I now have over 25 songs up on Spotify and I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for each one of them without DistroKid. I honestly wouldn’t have even started if I did.
DistroKid Pros and Cons
The main benefit of using DistroKid is that you get fast and unlimited song uploads for a small annual fee, without DistroKid taking a cut of your revenue. However, you do need to keep paying to guarantee your music stays up and DistroKid does try to upsell you on different upgrades.
Let’s take a deeper dive into both the pros and cons of using DistroKid as your music distributor.
Here are the main benefits of using DistroKid as your music distributor:
- Unlimited song uploads (you don’t have to pay per song or album!)
- Simple, low-cost annual fee
- You keep 100% of your Spotify royalties, Apple Music royalties, etc
- DistroKid is one of the fastest music distributors (and they don’t try to upsell you for that speed – they are just fast)
- They are constantly adding new features and new stores
- DistroKid has built up a great reputation over the years and they have a great relationship with its users
- Their customer support is excellent (especially once you know how to contact DistroKid)
In summary, the main benefits I’d call out are the unlimited song uploads, keeping 100% of your $$$, and the low annual fee.
I really think DK changed the game with that combo, to be honest, and I mentioned this earlier but before DistroKid, I decided to completely ignore getting on Spotify because the alternatives were wayyyy too expensive for me.
Here are the main disadvantages of using DistroKid as your music distributor:
- You need to upgrade to the Musician Plus plan to be able to set custom release dates
- Currently, there is no DistroKid app available (that is changing though)
- Have to keep paying the annual fee to keep your music up on the streaming services and stores
- I honestly think that the dashboard and stats area kinda looks like poop 💩
In summary, the main annoyances I would call out are the need to upgrade to Plus for release dates and the fact that you need to keep paying to guarantee your music stays up.
Sure, the upgrade to Plus is not that much more expensive and the annual fee is not too expensive to keep your music up but they are definitely cons in my books. No company, service, or product is perfect!
DistroKid Pricing & Plans
DistroKid has 3 main plans that are available to you:
- The ‘Musician’ plan
- The ‘Musicians Plus’ plan
- The ‘Label’ plans (varying from 5 artists to 100 artists)
From there, the way DistroKid’s pricing works is pretty simple:
- Simply pay the annual fee for the plan of your choice and you are good to release as many songs as you please
- New users can save on their first year by applying the DistroKid discount
I think DistroKid’s approach is definitely the way of the future when it comes to music distribution.
For an artist to succeed in 2021, you need to be releasing music frequently, and having to pay-per-release is simply a dated and ineffective model that ends up being way too expensive.
With that said, DistroKid does have what they call ‘Extras’ which are optional features that can be added on a per-release basis.
These range from cover song licensing to making your music Shazam-able. However, I completely avoid these whenever I am uploading my own music.
For a full breakdown of DistroKid’s pricing, including a comparison of each of their plans, any discounts that are available, and the cost of any hidden fees or extra features, check out my article on DistroKid pricing.
What’s the difference between the plans?
Each DistroKid plan includes the following features:
- Unlimited song and album uploads
- Upload to over 100 stores (including Spotify, Apple Music & iTunes)
- Keep 100% of your earnings
- Instantly verified (blue checkmark) Spotify artist profile
- Access to Spotify For Artists
- The ability to upgrade your YouTube channel to an Official Artist Channel
- All the extra promo features like HyperFollow, Spin The Wheel, etc.
The only difference between the regular DistroKid Musician plan when compared to the other plans is that the Musicians Plus and Label plans also give you the ability to:
- Release music under more than 1 artist
- Customize your label name, release date, pre-order date, and iTunes pricing
When comparing DistroKid Musician vs Musicians Plus, the feature that really makes the upgrade worth it is the ability to set a custom release date (in my opinion).
I personally use and would recommend the Musicians Plus plan to absolutely anyone.
In fact, DistroKid’s unlimited song uploads in hand with that ability to set release dates is one of the reasons I was able to land a song on over 7 Spotify editorial playlists and rack up over 300,000 streams.
Other than that, the only reason you would need a Label plan is if you need to release music under more than 2 artists.
How to know what plan to choose?
For a more in-depth comparison of each plan and how you can choose the right DistroKid plan for you, check out my full article on DistroKid pricing.
Where Does DistroKid Distribute To?
DistroKid can distribute your music to over 150 streaming services and stores.
However, what’s really important (let’s be honest) is that DistroKid can get your music on Spotify and Apple Music quickly.
Some other notable streaming services and stores that DistroKid can upload music to include:
- YouTube & YouTube Music
- Amazon Music
In addition to these more ‘traditional’ places, DistroKid can also get your music on social media. Including:
For a complete breakdown of where DistroKid can (and can’t) get your music, take a look at my article called Where Does DistroKid Distribute To?
It may also be important to note that DistroKid can distribute worldwide and that this includes China (more on these topics in the above article – btw).
Can DistroKid distribute music videos?
In general, if it is not music, then DistroKid can not currently distribute it. I can see this changing, particularly as other big players (ahem Spotify ahem) make a big push towards podcasts in particular.
With that said, even though DistroKid is a digital distributor that focuses on releasing albums and singles, there is actually an exception when it comes to YouTube.
When you are submitting a release with DistroKid, you have the option to select ‘YouTube Music’ and this will actually get your music posted to YouTube as well.
When you select that option, DistroKid will also automatically create a simple video, called an ‘Art Track’, using the artwork and music you uploaded and post this to your YouTube channel.
To learn more about this, check out my article: Does DistroKid Upload To YouTube?
How Long Does DistroKid Take?
An important aspect of considering a music distributor is how fast they are. Both in terms of how long they take to get your music up on streaming services and stores, as well as how long it takes to get you paid.
Let’s take a look into how good (or bad) DistroKid does for both of these:
DistroKid Delivery Speed
All in all, you can expect to have DistroKid get your music sent out to all streaming services within 1 week.
On average, it can take 2 – 5 days to get your music uploaded to Spotify, and may even notice it take less than 24 hours (regardless of whether it is a weekday or weekend).
In my personal experience with using DistroKid, it tends to be 1 to 3 days to get up on Spotify and I have never really seen it take 5 days.
Additionally, it is worth noting that after submitting your music to DistroKid, they actually send your music off immediately. It then takes the streaming service or stores that additional time to “ingest” your release.
For a full breakdown into how long it takes DistroKid to get your music up on all streaming services/stores and how you can speed up the process, check out my full article on DistroKid wait times.
How long does it take to get paid with DistroKid?
DistroKid sends you your money within 1 – 14 days from when you submit your withdrawal request.
In my experience, I tend to see the money hit my account in roughly 3 days.
The default payout option is PayPal, however, you do have the option to withdraw your money using ACH, wire transfer, eCheck, or even a good old-fashioned paper check.
DistroKid never takes a percentage of your payout, however, there may be standard PayPal or banking fees that (obviously) apply.
To learn more about how quickly you can get paid with DistroKid, check out my article, on DistroKid wait times, just scroll down a bit hehe. 🙂
DistroKid Contact & Support Review
Ideally, you will never even need to hit up customer service but it is always a plus when a company has great customer service.
A point that is often overlooked is that the quality of a company’s customer support gives you incredibly valuable insight into that company’s culture and how they view their customers.
Fortunately, DistroKid has some pretty solid customer support.
There are 3 main ways to get in customer support from DistroKid:
- Their FAQ / Support Center
- Submitting a support ticket
- Reaching out via Twitter
Just like every other company out there today, you will notice that DistroKid generally tries to push you to their FAQ / Support Center whenever they can.
With that said, their FAQ is actually quite good and, in a lot of cases, you will actually be able to find the answer to your question there faster than if you were to reach out to them.
In my personal experience of reaching out to them, I’ve always had good experiences. They reply to my tickets quickly, professionally, and I get the impression that their support agents are knowledgable and actually care.
With that said, I did actually uncover a bit of a trick to bypass their FAQ and reach out to their support team more quickly.
If you’d like to learn more about how to contact DistroKid the best way and to learn more about their customer support, check out my article: DistroKid Contact – How To. 🙂
Popular alternatives to a music distribution service like DistroKid include TuneCore, CD Baby, Ditto, Amuse, and UnitedMasters.
Although I definitely recommend DistroKid, it is always worth your time to have a look at what else is out there and make your own comparisons.
To get you started, I’ve compared DistroKid against these other services for you:
DistroKid vs Tunecore
TuneCore is a music distributor that was founded in 2005, and for quite some time, was one of the main ways to have your music available on iTunes and Spotify.
However, flash forward to the year 2021, and TuneCore’s business model is quite simply out-of-date and does not meet the needs of the modern artists trying to make it in Spotify’s streaming world.
Although you could consider TuneCore to have a premium offering when looking at their features, TuneCore is simply far too expensive (they start at $9.99 per single to be paid EVERY year).
In my opinion, if you really like TuneCore’s additional features and, honestly, have lots of cash to throw around, TuneCore may be perfect for you.
If you’d like a deeper dive into TuneCore’s features, why I think this business model is out of date, and for more on how DistroKid compares to TuneCore, check out my article on DistroKid Vs. TuneCore. 🙂
DistroKid vs CD Baby
CD Baby has been around for a very long time, having been first founded in 1998. They first started in physical music distribution (like actual physical CDs) and were one of the first big companies to provide digital music distribution.
However, just like TuneCore, CD Baby has the very dated business model of pay-per-release.
Although CD Baby only charges you once to release a piece of music (they do not charge annually), they do take a 9% cut of your streaming money forever on top of that one-time fee.
In my opinion, CD Baby is a great choice if you plan on releasing very little music and don’t play on seeing a lot of streams or sales for that music (this way you only pay once and the 9% cut doesn’t bother you).
If you’d like a more thorough look into how DistroKid compares to CD Baby, check out my article on DistroKid Vs. CD Baby. 🙂
DistroKid vs Ditto
Ditto Music has been around since 2007, and when compared to DistroKid, they are wayyy better.
…with some serious strings attached.
Where Ditto scores big points is their overall features and the simple fact that they do not seem to focus on trying to upsell their customers at every step of the way.
However, it is just too hard to recommend them at this point due to their poor reputation in the music community.
To learn more about Ditto Music’s reputation and how DistroKid compares to Ditto, check out my full article on DistroKid Vs. Ditto. 🙂
DistroKid vs Amuse
Amuse is a music distributor that popped up in 2015. One of the things that make Amuse stand out is that they are one of the only companies that offer a free plan without taking away a percentage of your streaming money.
Overall, Amuse has a pretty solid offering and only really falls short in the area of delivery speed. The Amuse ‘Pro’ plan is also more costly when compared to DistroKid.
Amuse has one of the best free offerings on the market, and I would definitely take a look at them if you are not in a position to pay for music distribution or simply want to test the waters first.
To learn more about Amuse’s free plan and how DistroKid compares to Amuse, check out my full article on DistroKid Vs. Amuse.
DistroKid vs UnitedMasters
UnitedMasters is a music distributor that entered the scene in 2017. Unlike DistroKid, UnitedMasters offers a “free” plan. However, there are some serious strings attached.
The “free” option is misleading because it simply means there are no upfront or annual fees. The truth is that UnitedMasters takes 10% of your streaming money and cuts back on the features that are provided to you.
Moving beyond the “free” plan, when comparing UnitedMasters’ paid plans to DistroKid’s paid plans, UnitedMasters is the cheaper option.
However, one area that UnitedMasters is unique is in that they offer some kind of potential to get sponsorships and partnerships with big-ticket companies like the NBA (apparently).
If you’d like a more thorough look into how DistroKid compares to UnitedMasters, check out my article on DistroKid Vs. UnitedMasters. 🙂
The DistroKid FAQ is a knowledge base of frequently asked questions about the DistroKid service and music distribution that can be visited at distrokid.zendesk.com/hc/en-us.
I know, I know…
It can be super annoying when any company tries to avoid doing customer support by pushing you off to a FAQ or Support Center, however, DistroKid’s FAQ is actually quite good.
With that said, there are a few topics that they don’t cover (particularly around topics like how Spotify works), but luckily for you, I’ve been researching and writing about them for you. 🙂
- Oddly enough, DistroKid pricing and plans could be expanded upon quite a bit, so I wrote about this.
- The way to use DistroKid to get music on Beatport is only briefly touched upon, so I wrote about this.
- The answer to the question if DistroKid can distribute to Bandcamp is a bit too brief, so I wrote about this.
- The mystery of DistroKid making a Spotify account for you does not go into enough detail, so I wrote about this.
- Can DistroKid Distribute To SoundCloud is not answered (which seems strange since SoundCloud is a pretty big service).
Music Distribution Buyer’s Guide
Picking a music distributor can be hard.
Although they all seem to provide roughly the same service, there are so many options with so many different pricing schemes, from free to pay-per-release.
This is why I put together a little buyer’s guide for you and, luckily, it is actually quite simple to find the right digital music distribution service.
The main things to consider when choosing a distributor
When choosing the best music distribution company, there are really only 2 things that matter:
- Having the ability to release unlimited songs
- Not having to pay a percentage of your music’s income
Let’s take a closer look at these below.
#1 – Unlimited Songs
Releasing music frequently is the key to tripping the Spotify algorithm and eventually landing on Spotify editorial playlists.
By consistently releasing new music, you have more opportunities to pitch to the editors, have your song saved by listeners, and have more chances to influence the algorithim.
This is why being able to release unlimited songs for a small annual fee is so important.
If you are going to be release a lot of music, you do not want to break the bank by having to pay for every single release that you upload. That quickly adds up.
#2 – Not paying a percentage
The 2nd most important thing is to make sure that you choose a company that does not steal a cut of your music’s revenue and Spotify royalties.
In general, the modern artist will avoid giving away percentages to anyone (including labels!), as ownership is key to a successful music career in 2021.
When you know how much Spotify pays per stream, you’ll know you can’t afford to give even the smallest percentage away.
Plus – when your music finally starts to build momentum, or even pop off, you’ll want to make sure you see as much, if not all, of that money.
Other things to consider when choosing a distributor
Now.. you might be wondering: what about the # of stores they can get my music in?
Don’t worry, we will get that to that in good time, my friend. 🙂
But first, there are some other things that you may want to give attention to when choosing a distributor that is a bit more important than that.
All the following things could be considered “nice to have” but they can make the difference between having a good or bad experience with your music distributor in the long run.
Be sure to at least consider these 4 things a bit when choosing the right music distributor for you:
Because working with a music distributor as a bit like entering a relationship, you will want to make sure that the distributor you choose has a good reputation.
It is easy to overlook, but reputation is important.
Here is what you want to look for:
- They have been around for a while (at least 1 or 2 years)
- They have a good track-record (some notable artists uses them if possible)
- They are generally well-liked and praised by the community
You can choose to pick a distributor with a bad reputation if you want to take the risk, but if may very well come back to bite you in the butt in the long-term.
Although you will want to try your hardest to set up your release so that they are as far in the future as possible, life has a way of getting in the way.
This is why it is always useful if your distributor can get your music sent off to streaming services and stores as quickly as possible.
1 – 3 days is ideal.
7 days is definitely acceptable.
Anything longer than that should be avoided (I’m looking at you, the distributor that has a “free” plan but takes a month to send off the music).
Custom Release Dates
It may seem pretty basic, but being able to set specific release dates for your music is a very useful feature. Unfortunately, it is not one that every distributor has.
For example, I love and recommend DistroKid, but truth be told: you need to be on their slightly more expensive “Musician Plus” plan to be able to do this (worth it.. but still).
Setting release dates is important so that you can plan the marketing and hype around your release accordingly. Whether that be through scheduled social media posts, ads, or sending off the song to playlists and press early.
Ideally, you will never even need to hit up customer service but it is always a plus when a company has great customer service.
I’ve definitely been there…
Imagining I won’t ever need to talk to a support agent because the service or product seems simple, only for everything to be on fire the day before my release.
Solid customer support will be able to help you when you are in trouble, that is for sure.
However, a point that is often overlooked is that the quality of a company’s customer support gives you incredibly valuable insight into that company’s culture and how they view their customers.
It’s the difference between you being one of their partners or just a dollar sign.
What to avoid when choosing a music distributor
Not to get all clickbait on you, but some of these points may surprise you.
There are a few things that you should avoid getting caught up on or paying too much attention to when choosing a music distributor.
# of streaming services and stores
Sure, there are quite a few streaming services and stores out there, but what good are they if you are going to get 0 streams from them?
What’s really important is getting your music on Spotify and Apple Music.
Sure, it might be important for some artists to get their music on Abu Dhabi’s premier streaming service, but for most artists, you will really only see the bulk of your streams come from Spotify.
Since almost every music distributor can get you on the main streaming services, I really don’t think this is a feature you should waste your time on.
Websites / Pre-Saves / Etc
These webpages are always limited and crappy. Don’t believe the hype.
Personally, I’m a big fan of building your own website since you get more control and it’s always much cheaper.
And on the topic of pre-saves….
No one (and I really mean no one) is going to jump through all those hoops to pre-save your song.
How many songs do YOU pre-save each day? Each week? Each month?
As the old adage goes: if you want something right you’re going to have to do it yourself.
Spinning a wheel to get on a playlist that no one is listening to that has 1,000s of artists that aren’t even the same genre as you will get you nowhere.
It can be easy to get caught up on these things but they are really just shiny objects that should be avoided (especially the company is charging you extra for any of these things).
DistroKid pulls some of this crap too, even though they are the top music distributor that I would recommend to any artist.
Stay focused on releasing great music and releasing that great music often. That is what is most important. That is what will grow your music career.
For a look into what I did to get on over 7 Spotify editorial playlists and rack up well over 300,000 streams, I put together a free course you can check out called the 6 Secrets To Spotify Success. 🙂
Some of my favorite music marketing tools
Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂
Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.
Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.
To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.
If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.
Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.
Music Publishing Royalties Collection
For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.
Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.
To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.
And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂
Website & Smart Links
I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.
Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.
I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).
Want more tools and resources for your music career?
If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).
P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂