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Solved: Is DistroKid A Publisher?

By Matthew Vultaggio

February 27, 2023

After writing music and releasing it through DistroKid, you may be wondering if DistroKid is also a publisher and will handle the music publishing for you.

DistroKid is not a music publisher that offers music publishing services, they are a music distributor that distributes music to online stores and streaming services. However, DistroKid is working on a publishing admin system for artists that may be available at a future date.

At the time of writing this, DistroKid does not offer music publishing services but recommends SongTrust for music publishing.

DistroKid also mentions that you do not need to be registered with SongTrust or any other music publishing service to collect your Spotify royalties from songs you have released with DistroKid.

However, you should know that by not registering with a Performance Rights Organization (SoundScan, SoundExchange, Gracenote, BMI or ASCAP) or a music publisher, you may be leaving money on the table by not collecting songwriting and performance royalties.

What Royalties Does DistroKid Collect?

So if DistroKid is not a music publisher, what royalties or money do they actually collect for you (if anything)?

DistroKid only collects the money owed from your music’s sales on stores and streams from streaming services (Master recording royalties).

However, they do also have an extra (and optional) feature called “YouTube Money” where they can help you collect any money owed from YouTubers that have used your music in their videos.

Aside from this, DistroKid does not automatically collect additional royalties such as songwriting royalties and performance royalties.

Are these royalties important?

If you are starting to see your Spotify numbers go up, you should definitely look into properly collecting the additional royalties that DistroKid does not collect for you.

It may not be a lot at first, but you are definitely leaving money on the table by ignoring the additional royalties you are owed.

P.S. You can learn more about how you can get set up with DistroKid’s recommended music publisher by checking out my article about Songtrust pricing.

What royalties does DistroKid not collect?

The royalties that DistroKid does not collect are songwriting and performance royalties.

Separate music publishing companies such as SongTrust or Kobalt can collect all your songwriting royalties and performance rights organizations (PRO) collect your performance and mechanical royalties.

It is important to note that performance rights organizations are usually specific to each country. Examples of PROs include:

  • BMI

You should also know that you can actually collect royalties retroactively. This means that in most cases you will collect the previous royalties you are owed once you get set up with a PRO or music publisher.

For some more information on this, check out my article: Does DistroKid Take A Percentage?

Mechanical Royalties: Does DistroKid Collect Mechanical Royalties?

DistroKid does not collect and payout mechanical royalties for digital streams and sales that your music makes.

Mechanical royalties are paid out any time a physical or digital copy of one of your songs is made. You earn these from the right to “mechanically” reproduce your music in any format.

However, mechanical royalties are part of music publishing and a music publishing company is needed to collect these.

It’s for that reason that DistroKid recommends Songtrust to artists looking to collect their royalties (just make sure you learn about the Songtrust discount code before signing up with them).

Performance Royalties: Does DistroKid Collect Performance Royalties?

DistroKid does not collect and payout performance royalties for the public broadcasting of your music.

Performance royalties are meant to be paid out any time that a business broadcasts your music in public.

Places that your music can be broadcasted include:

  • Radio stations
  • TV stations
  • Live Venues
  • Restaurants / bars

Songtrust vs DistroKid

Songtrust handles the collection of your publishing rights, as they are a publishing administrator. A publishing administrator like Songtrust pays you royalties from your ownership of the ‘composition’, also known as songwriting royalties.

Songtrust also registers your work with global Performing Rights Organizations to collect your performance royalties from each of the areas in the world in which the performance royalties were actually generated.

DistroKid handles the distribution of your music by putting it into stores and streaming services like Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music. A music distributor like DistroKid pays you royalties from your ownership of the recording.

To sum things up:

  • DistroKid is a music distributor.
  • Songtrust is a publishing administrator.

To learn more about how the two compare, check out my full article on Songtrust vs DistroKid. 🙂

DistroKid does not copyright your music for you or register your songs for copyright, DistroKid simply distributes your music.

But with that said, did you know that you actually may have taken the first steps in copyrighting your music simply by recording it?

In an FAQ article on the topic, DistroKid mention that the act of recording your music is the first natural step in copyright protection and that from there, you have the option to pursue formal copyright registration if you personally feel it is important

However, DistroKid does go on to mention that you may want to go through proper copyright registration for your music simply because it can be helpful in terms of copyright claims and infringement suits.

For more information on music copyright, check out my article: Does DistroKid Copyright Your Music For You?

DistroKid Alternatives

Although my top suggestion for a music distributor is definitely DistroKid, I’ve gone ahead and compared DK to other popular services in case you are in the market for a new digital distributor or are simply just curious.

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:

Or, if you would like a more detailed look into 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. 🙂

Click here to see a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 5,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist (called Best Friends Club).

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.

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