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DistroKid Vs. UnitedMasters: Which Is Right For You?

By Matthew Vultaggio

November 6, 2020

When deciding on how to put my music on Spotify, I was set on DistroKid but noticed UnitedMasters offered some cool things, so I did some research to compare the two.

Between DistroKid and UnitedMasters, DistroKid is better because their membership fees are less and they do not take a share of your royalty money.

If that is enough info for you, you’ll want to learn about the DistroKid discount before signing up. Or else, keep reading to learn more. 🙂

UnitedMasters does have a “free” option; however, they take 10% of your streaming money and give you very limited features. On top of this, you can get their 10% fee waived if you sign up for their subscription, however, these fees are more expensive when compared to DistroKid’s pricing.

You may be interested to see how these offerings compare in more detail, as both companies provide some kind of reporting/insights and additional ways to promote your music.

With that said, let us take a deeper dive into the ultimate cage-match of our generation: the DistroKid vs UnitedMasters title fight.

Distrokid Vs. United Masters: How To Make The Right Choice

I’ve already made it pretty clear that I think DistroKid is superior (it is what I actually use now), but it is definitely worth comparing the two features.

Particularly, UnitedMasters offers some kind of sponsorship or partnership program that can land you promotions with the NBA (apparently), that is worth looking into.

But first, the basics.

Comparing DistroKid & UnitedMasters

I’ve created a table that clearly breaks down the differences in the key areas of cost, # of uploads, payment thresholds, how many stores are available and how long it takes to get your songs uploaded to those stores.

DistributorCostsUploadsStoresSpeed
DistroKid$19.99 – $59.99Unlimited150+1 – 2 weeks
UnitedMasters10% or $59.991 per month – unlimited5 – 383 weeks
A table comparing the key features of DistroKid and UnitedMasters.

As you can see from the neat little table above that I created for you, DistroKid beats out UnitedMasters in every category. Plus, you can click here to save an extra 7% on any DistroKid plan to make things even sweeter.

DistroKid also offers some extra goodies:

To learn more about DistroKid’s Spotify-specific features, check out my article, Does Distrokid Make A Spotify Account For You?, for a full rundown and tutorial.

What about the UnitedMasters free plan?

When comparing the UnitedMasters pricing to DistroKid pricing, one big difference is that UM offers a free plan

However, what UnitedMasters seems to be getting wrong is offering this “free” plan with so many limitations. Sure you can upload your songs for “free” with UnitedMasters but here is the catch:

  • UnitedMasters takes a 10% cut of your Spotify royalties
  • You can only upload to 5 stores via the free UnitedMasters plan
  • You can only upload 1 song per month via the free UnitedMasters plan

On top of all of this, UnitedMasters has a smaller amount of total stores, takes longer to upload music, and has a minimum payment threshold for getting paid. 👎

But how do the two compare on a deeper level?

How to make the right choice

Before diving deeper into comparing the two services, what exactly should you be looking for in a music distributor?

When it comes to picking a music distributor, you should focus on these areas:

  • Which service provides the lowest subscription cost
  • Which service takes the smallest cut of your music payments
  • Which service allows you to release as much music as you want
  • Which service is the fastest to get your music in stores

Everything else, like website builders and gimmicky promotional tools, are secondary benefits, most likely useless, and not important in your ultimate goal of getting your music distributed efficiently and effectively.

With that said, let’s take a closer look into how these two compare for each of the most important categories, starting with costs.

Costs compared: DistroKid vs UnitedMasters

DistroKid offers 3 different paid plans and UnitedMasters offers 1 “free” plan and 1 paid plan. Let’s look at these costs a little closer:

DistributorPlanCostCutStoresUploads
DistroKidMusician$19.990%150+Unlimited
DistroKidMusician Plus$35.990%150+Unlimited
DistroKidLabel$79.990%150+Unlimited
UnitedMastersNon-SELECT$010%51 per month
UnitedMastersSELECT$59.990%38Unlimited
A table comparing DistroKid and UnitedMasters costs.

For a comparison of DistroKid’s 2 main plans, check out my article, DistroKid Musician vs Musician Plus, to learn more. 🙂

The main difference when comparing costs is the fact the UnitedMasters offers a “free” plan and that DistroKid never takes a cut of your money.

To be honest with you, the main reason I’m not thrilled with the UnitedMaster “free” plan is because of the cut they take and the limit on song uploads.

United Masters’ limit on song uploads is particularly awful because releasing music frequently is how I landed my music on 7+ Spotify editorial playlists and got over 300,000 streams.

In their “free” plan, there is a limit to the number of stores your can distribute your music to, but the 5 stores they have available include Spotify and Apple Music (which is all that really matters).

It is also worth noting that you can’t send a song from United Masters or DistroKid to SoundCloud as SoundCloud has their own “Repost” distribution platform.

P.S. – For a full breakdown of where DistroKid can and can’t get your music, check out my article: Where Does DistroKid Distribute To?

With all of that said, it is my opinion that DistroKid wins on costs because you can upload an unlimited amount of songs for less and without losing a cut.

Why does this matter SO much?

When you factor in how much Spotify pays per stream, you’ll agree you can’t afford to give a cut to anyone.

To fully get the scope of this, you can make an estimate of how many streams (and money) you’ll be getting by using a Spotify royalty calculator. You can then multiply the revenue number by 0.01 to see how much UM will be stealing from you.

Getting your music distributed at the lowest possible cost is extremely important. But, so is getting your music uploaded to stores and streaming platforms as quickly as possible.

Speed compared: DistroKid vs UnitedMasters

Obviously, uploading your music as far in advance as possible is important.

This allows you to make sure the stores and platforms have your song ready ahead of release day and, in the case of Spotify, allows you to submit your song to their editors for potential playlist placement (which is a key to Spotify success).

However, in the real world, it can be a lot easier said than done to upload your music weeks and weeks in advance.

Whether it is taking longer than anticipated to finish the track or the artwork, or if you made a mistake and need to re-upload altogether (this happened to me lol), things come just come up.

So between DistroKid and UnitedMasters, which service has your back in terms of upload speed?

  • DistroKid takes 1 to 2 weeks.
  • UnitedMasters takes 3 weeks.

It is important to note that these are simply the times that these distributors have decided to communicate and your results actually may vary.

In my experience, I have gotten songs uploaded and received by Spotify in just 1 or 2 days by using DistroKid (DistroKid wait times are some of the best btw).

UnitedMasters may also be able to get songs sent out quicker than they communicate on their website, but I just don’t have that kind of first-hand experience with them.

So, on the basis of both what DistroKid communicates and my personal experience, I am going to hand the W to DistroKid when it comes to speed.

With that said, let’s move on to compare the specific features that the two services have available to artists.

Features compared: DistroKid vs UnitedMasters

When it comes to features, both DistroKid and UnitedMasters offers the same things:

  • The ability to distribute music to stores and streaming platforms
  • Revenue reporting and insights
  • Crappy websites and webpages to “promote” your music

In my opinion, DistroKid wins on distribution because they offer unlimited uploads, the ability to set a release date and offers more places to upload your music.

When it comes to reporting, UnitedMasters wins on reporting and insights because, from what I can tell, they provide much prettier and aesthetically pleasing reports.

Finally, both services lose on websites and webpages that are meant to help you promote your music. Both services offer inflexible and basic website and webpage creation tools.

They can work in a pinch, but I would definitely recommend building out your own websites so that you can set up Google Analytics and Facebook pixel tracking, and ultimately build a more conversion-focused website.

Oh and by the way… No one gives a !@#$ about pre-save pages.

If you think your fans are going to flock to your pre-save page so that they can re-enter their Spotify login details to save your track earlier, think again. The way these are set up is just way too much of a pain and the user experience is awful.

One potential downside to DistroKid is that there is currently no DistroKid app (however, they are working on one!).

Another potential downside to DistroKid is that they can be a bit hard to get in touch for support without knowing the simple DistroKid contact trick.

But what about UnitedMasters’ Exclusives feature where they offer brand opportunities?

My Thoughts on UnitedMasters’ Brand Opportunities

According to their website, UnitedMasters offers brand opportunities where they can get your music in video games and other potential brand sponsorships.

Honestly, I don’t know too much about this, nor do I know anyone that has actually had any success on this.

But, in a podcast with the Head of Marketing at UnitedMasters, they were asked how they can compete with a service like DistroKid. After struggling to provide a good answer, he pointed to their brand opportunities as to why UnitedMasters is better.

Additionally, I found this article that calls UnitedMasters “the latest tone-deaf artist exploitation scam from Silicon Valley”.

At this point, I am definitely calling BS on this feature. But if, anyone wants me to research this particular feature more and provide my analysis, just let me know in the comments below.

DistroKid vs UnitedMasters Review

If it is not clear yet after reading this article, I definitely think that DistroKid is far superior.

Obviously, I use DistroKid so I am a little biased but my experience with them has honestly been great. Their costs and features perfectly align with my music release strategy and I can’t complain (at least not yet).

Also – in the spirit of being completely transparent:

DistroKid also offers a referral program to all of its users (so you may have noticed affiliate links for them throughout the page). Hopefully, that doesn’t make you think I wrote this article simply to spam affiliate links.

If anything, this is just another cool feature that DistroKid offers as part of its plan that you yourself can use to make a bit more income from music.

For me, it just seems like a simple way to potentially make a bit of pizza money for an article I was going to write anyway. 🍕

Either way, hopefully, this article helps you find the right music distributor for you and your unique music release strategy!

Now you can go learn the correct way how to check Spotify streams now that they are rolling in for you. 🙂

If you’re ready to go beyond checking streams and using calculators to track your Spotify growth, I’d recommend learning about the Spotify Tracker For Artists to see how you can take things to the next level.

DistroKid Alternatives

Popular alternatives to a music distribution service like DistroKid include TuneCore, CdBaby, Ditto, and Amuse.

If you would like to see how DistroKid compares to these services, more closely check out this articles:

If you would like to learn more about what DistroKid has to offer, you can check out my big fat DistroKid review.

P.S. If you also want to learn about music publishing and make sure that you are not leaving any money on the table with your music distribution setup, I’d recommend checking out these 2 articles:

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.

Music Distribution

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.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

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! 🙂

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