It is easier than ever before to get your music out to the world. Soundcloud, Spotify and Amazon music let you list your material, exposing you to millions of listeners. If your music is not on one, or all these platforms you are missing out. Yet, just listing your music on one of these streaming services will not guarantee you exposure. That is where companies like Distrokid and CD Baby enter the fray.
If you are struggling to stand out from the other fish in the sea, then Distrokid or CD Baby might be your guardian angels. These two companies fall under the category of digital music aggregators and they work to get your material out to the world. This sounds easy in principle, but it requires expertise, years of networking and knowing which listeners enjoy what.
As the next aspiring John Mayer, David Guetta or Jay Z, pay attention. This article will help you determine which digital aggregator will guide you to fame.
Distrokid vs CD Baby: Core Services
On the surface Distrokid and CD Baby offer the same services, but the makeup of both companies differ in their operations. It is important to know which model suits your budget better, before diving into an agreement.
Distrokid offers users the opportunity to get their music onto Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and Amazon. The company claims that they will get your music into these stores ten to twenty times faster than other distributors. In short, they put your music online and will send you money when people listen to your music.
Now that we know a bit more about Distrokid let us learn about CD Baby. CD Baby offers users much the same service. It enables artists to list tracks on over one hundred and fifty streaming and download sites. They further claim that they offer you the most revenue streams for your music. This means that if there is a place you can get paid for your music they will find it.
The offerings from both Distrokid and CD Baby are similar in appearance. Both companies work with independent artists to get their music listed on streaming and download sites. You are probably thinking how do I know which company to choose, well let’s find out together.
The most important question on people’s mind is generally price. We have all heard the saying you need to spend money to make money, and this is the dilemma facing you with your music.
Distrokid opts for an annual fee, which allows users to upload unlimited songs or albums. CD Baby charges a fee for every album or single distributed.
Distrokid charges an annual fee of $19.99 to upload unlimited songs or albums per year. This is a phenomenal offer if you are producing large amounts of music every year. Musicians such as DJs or producers would get their money’s worth with all the tracks they create in a year.
CD Baby, do not offer a subscription service and instead have a pay as you go setup. Standard distribution of a single through them will set you back $9.99, whereas an album will be $23.20.
From a price perspective, it only makes sense to go with CD Baby if you plan to distribute one single in a year. Practice does make perfect and if you are looking to be famous, you want to create more music than that.
What commission fee do these services take?
Now that we have looked at what the distribution costs are, let us look at the commission charges. You are already paying a fee or subscription for distribution, and you will want to limit any further costs. Let us see how Distrokid and CD Baby fared when it comes to commission fees.
Starting with Distrokid. They do not take any commission from your royalties, leaving you with a beautiful 100% fee. Excuse the pun, but this is music to any artist’s ears and welcomed in the arts fraternity.
CD Baby takes a very minimal commission, costing you 9% of your royalties. This figure is substantially lower than the fee taken by larger distribution companies. Although it is a small price to pay for wide exposure, it is still better to keep all 100% of your royalties. As a result, we have to side with Distrokid in this category.
How do they split royalties?
This section of our comparison is more applicable to bands or artists that have collaborated. Sometimes creating a musical masterpiece requires more than one person. This leads to headaches when it comes to splitting your winnings between the group.
Distrokid has made this process a pleasure, by allowing artists to set up a split. When royalties are distributed the artist automatically receives their cut. No need to whip out the calculator here, you are artists, focus on what you do best. Since CD Baby does not have this feature, Distrokid takes this category.
Distribution to brick and mortar Stores
There is no doubt that going the digital route for music allows you to reach a wide audience quicker. That being said, some artists still want to see a hard copy of their album in a brick and mortar store. If that is your dream then CD Baby is the right aggregator for you. The reason for this is that they distribute to thousands of record stores around the world. Bear in mind that this is not including in the fees mentioned earlier. For an extra fee, CD Baby handles the printing of your CD as well.
If you are on a strict budget then distribution to brick and mortar stores is something I would give a miss. Rather use the power of digital distribution to save you some money. As a result, it is not necessary to have, and I would not mark down Distrokid for not offering this service.
Building a fanbase is a vital tool for growing and surviving in the music industry. Creating a base will require you to run various marketing campaigns which can be a tedious process. There are many platforms that can help you with this such as MailChimp and Hootsuite. CD Baby has a marketing tool tailored solely for musicians, though. The tool is actually brought to you by the website show.co but is free for CD Baby users.
The show.co tool will help you to grow your email list and social media following. You will be able to gain more Spotify followers and YouTube subscribers. Or you can launch a Spotify pre-save campaign. This is where you promote an upcoming release and incentivise your followers to pre-save your music so that it is waiting for them upon release. This is an excellent technique to maximise the performance of your releases.
Since marketing is critical to your musical career, I give CD Baby a big thumbs up for having this feature. It cracks the nod over Distrokid as they do not offer such service.
What if my content is not original?
In days gone by, both Distrokid and CD Baby offered a cover song licensing service. That no longer seems to be the case, and only Distrokid offers this service at an annual fee of $12 per song. Creating a cover version of your favourite song is a great place to start, in your quest to superstardom. It is for this reason that Distrokid gets a vote of approval over CD Baby.
What do the experts say?
Now that we have examined the different elements of Distrokid vs. CD Baby, let us look at what others say about them.
In 2017, rapper Ludacris chose Distrokid to release his single Vitamin D (feat Ty Dolla $ign). Alt-pop artist Megan Davies says Distrokid is the best-valued digital distributor around.
Singer, Aloe Blacc remarked, “CD Baby makes it super easy to drop a worldwide release on your own schedule.”
Let us review the performance of Distrokid vs. CD Baby in our quest to determine the best option. In our review, we started by looking at the significant difference in pricing models. From our research, Distrokid came out on top in this category, due to the better bang for your buck.
Next, in the Distrokid vs. CD Baby battle, we reviewed the commission setup of both companies. Yet again it was Distrokid that was my clear winner, as they do not take any commission.
Moving on, we examined split commissions next, and it was once again Distrokid which was my winner. They allow you to set up split commissions with your other band members from the beginning. Distrokid further offers a cover song licensing service, which is excellent news for artists looking to share their favourite cover song.
Distribution to brick and mortar stores and marketing tools can be covered in one paragraph. CD Baby won both these categories as Distrokid does not offer these services.
That brings us to our final result. From the research we conducted on Distrokid vs. CD Baby, they both serve their purpose. I feel the pay as you go option from CD Baby is worthwhile if you do not plan to release music frequently. That being said Distrokid is my winner because it gives you more bang for your buck. This is critical when every penny counts.