My experience with Distrokid so far, part 2: Frequently Asked Questions
This article is currently only a draft.
Maybe I should have rather named this article "My experience with Distrokid so far: Part 2 Frequently Searched Answers", as the idea to write it came to me when I was looking at the Google Analytics numbers, seeing that my first "Distrokid Experience" article is, in fact, the all-time most popular post on my blog, and then checking out all the different search terms that people used to find it in between all that digital noise.
There was actually a lot of Distrokid related search terms relating to the various aspects of the distribution service, some people searching for differences in between the plans, others wondering how much money they can make out of Distrokid, there were questions on how does Distrokid generally work or if it is legit at all. So in this follow-up article, I'll try to give some answers to the most used search terms. It will be more like FAQ tho' - if you're looking for a Distrokid review, check out the original "My experience with Distrokid so far" post - I'll be referring to it heavily throughout this article anyway ;)
Anyway, let's dive in:
How does Distrokid work
Distrokid is a digital music distribution service and simply put, they're the middlemen between you and all the streaming platforms and digital record stores. Those platforms nowadays don't allow regular people like me and you to upload our music to their servers directly, as historically, this is a fairly new concept in the music industry as opposed to all those years dominated by record labels and music publishing companies. So despite you can easily dump all your stuff on Soundclound and alike, for getting onto streaming platforms and shops, you still do need a distribution service.
The good news is that those services are still almost as easy to work with as aforementioned Soundcloud. Basically, the only difference is that you have to actually pay them at some point (either for opening your account or for uploads themselves, depending on the service) and also that they don't allow everything to pass via their servers as streaming services and shops do have some strict rules for the music they accept.
Enough with the sauce tho - here is what happens (more or less) when you upload your music to Distrokid:
- You upload your music alongside with cover art and some basic info
- Distrokid then processes all that data to rule out all the possible issues they can detect before submitting the music further to the end services (checking for uncleared samples, nasty cover art, titles violating shop rules, etc.)
- If everything is okay, they send your music to all the platforms they work with
- The platforms receive your music from Distrokid and do some of their own internal processing (which might be in fact quite similar to what Distrokid does)
- If everything is okay, your music gets released (or scheduled and released on a later date if you chose for that option)
From what I know, most (if not all) of those processes on Distrokid's side (and probably on the other platforms' side, too) are automated, not judged by humans but completely processed by computers. (And that's very logical given the gigantic amounts of music that gets uploaded there daily).
Is Distrokid legit?
Despite all the posts popping every now and then on Reddit whining about Distrokid doing something bad to them, the service IS certainly legit. After all, if it wouldn't be, you wouldn't be reading this article. It's true that bad things may happen sometimes. But in most cases, it's usually some fuckup on the artist's side - either uploading a beat with some uncleared sample blatantly ripped-off (and mostly unaltered) from some popular tune, submitting a duplicate cover art or tagging some absolutely different genre (sadly, stores themselves don't provide any useful information back to Distrokid when they reject a track).
How much money can you make from Distrokid?
Technically, zero, as you don't make money directly from Distrokid itself - you're actually making money from Spotify, Apple Music and all the other streaming platforms people are listening to your music at (or from shops where they're buying it). Those services are counting all the streams and sales and in certain time periods (different for each service) they release the reports to Distrokid and transfer the money to their bank accounts (and that is also probably the moment when the numbers in your Distrokid Bank finally show up and become available for you to withdraw).
Anyway, there really is no clear answer to this question. You could be making pennies and you could be also making millions, there really is no limit. The thing is, it's all up to you. Unless you're already a well-established artist (that you're probably not if you're reading this article), nobody will start magically listening to your music just because it appeared in records stores - you must actively promote it as much as possible and if all goes well, people like your music and you're doing a constant good marketing job, then you might actually make some quite good bucks.
Is Distrokid worth it?
That depends on what you're looking for. But especially if you're on a tight budget, it might be the best choice for you as the plans are fairly cheap and allow you to upload an unlimited amount of tunes, as opposed to some other distribution services where you pay for every single track you upload. If you ask me, it's definitely worth it.
Does Distrokid provide any kind of promotional campaign for the artists?
Nope, they don't. As far as I am concerned, they don't probably even have enough staff for something like that. When you're with Distrokid, you gotta get your own hands dirty.
How long does it take Distrokid to upload your music to Spotify (and others)?
It's quite fast, actually - if all goes well, it takes only like 1-3 days for a beat to appear on Spotify (and other platforms). However, sometimes, you can get bad luck with your release getting somehow "stuck", not appearing in stores even a few days after release date. In such cases (as it happened to me, too), it's the best idea to contact their support - they were always very helpful, pushing the release through usually really quickly after getting to my support ticket. By the way - I didn't really notice any big differences in the time of the music being released on various services - I usually found all the links for release I needed in the exact release day without any services being delayed compared to the others.
How much does Distrokid cost?
Distrokid has three subscription plans with the cheapest one for a single artist being just $20 per year (allowing you to upload unlimited songs tho' with no additional costs whatsoever), then a Musician Plus plan for $35 per year (two artists and a possibility to schedule releases upfront in order to submit them to Spotify's editorial playlists) and finally a label plan, which begins at $99 per year and can be suited for as many artists needed (however, with more artists the price rises). An important thing to mention here is that Distrokid does NOT take any cut from your earnings - you get 100%! Anyway, I have been elaborating over Distrokid plans in a bit greater detail in the original article, so if you're curious about Distrokid plans and their differences, make sure you check that blog post out.
Does Distrokid have a free plan?
Unfortunately, not. But given the plans' price tags and the fact that artists keep 100% of their earnings, it's very understandable and in fact, Distrokid is one of the cheapest distributors out there.