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CD Baby and DistroKid are both online distribution companies for artists that are seeking to put their music on Digital Streaming Providers (DSP) like Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal. These days, there is a wealth of options for music producers to find ways to distribute all of their music; label-free.

It’s important to find the distribution service that works for you and plays to your advantage. Whether it’s the payout for royalties, the marketing tools, the sharing options, they all approach it differently. We’ve broken down the key differences between two of the most popular distribution services—CD Baby and DistroKid.

Pricing & Royalties

CD Baby and DistroKid each have a unique model for pricing and accounting for royalties. CD Baby charges an upfront fee of $29 per album and $9.95 per single to distribute music on most DSPs. DistroKid charges a yearly subscription of $19.95 to distribute to the same deal. With the small payouts that streaming services give per stream, it’s necessary to keep track of every penny in royalties.

Spotify pays $0.00318/play while Apple Music pays $0.00563/play. DistroKid doesn’t take a percentage from your royalties whereas CD Baby takes 9% of royalties from each release(either album/EP or single), mostly due to the fact that CD Baby also offers physical distribution like Vinyl pressings and CD’s. If you don’t think you will release more than one album or a few singles per year go with DistroKid, otherwise CD Baby is a safe bet.

Sharing is Caring

Make sure you understand your options when planning a big release like an album or EP. This means knowing whether there are splits shared between collaborators or anyone contributing to the project in question. DistroKid gives you control of splitting royalties between songwriters, features, producers, or anyone considered a significant member of the music. CD Baby only pays out to the main account holder, leaving them responsible to pay any party involved after the album or track is released.

Distributors vs Record Labels

The main distinction between distribution companies and record labels is that record labels can take full ownership of your publishing rights and copyright material like masters. Distributors like CD Baby and DistroKid do not own any of your rights with the music. They merely help distribute it for a fee or percentage.

This allows music producers to maintain control of owning their music while still existing on all the major streaming platforms. Some distributors go even further as to provide services that a major record label would usually only give.

Marketing Tools

By partnering with Show.co, CD Baby offers artists marketing options and data analytics that one would usually only get from record labels. They provide ways to do audio ads on Spotify, build your email list, and pre-save ad campaigns to other channels like Soundcloud. These tools can help artists push their music to a wider audience.

They can also get you into more playlists while giving you freedom and control of your royalties. DistroKid doesn’t do much data analytics but they provide some insights and ways to connect with fans through other means.  Make sure to look into their specific packages under marketing or label services.

DistroKid partners with Spotify

In the attempt to make uploading to Spotify easier, Spotify has teamed up with DistroKid. This now allows musicians and producers to upload directly through Spotify for Artists. Spotify and DistroKid aren’t an exclusive couple. But, it does give artists an incentive to go with DistroKid when choosing to upload to Spotify as a priority.

Conclusion

In the end, choosing between CD Baby and DistroKid really depends on what you’re looking to get from it. If you are a producer that likes to put a lot of singles and albums out in a year and has a large audience on Spotify, then DistroKid is the way to go. Otherwise, if you’re more into releasing one album and a few singles a year, like distributing physical CDs and want an all in one service that also promotes your music, then CD Baby is for you.

These days independent musicians have many options to get their music out there at reasonable prices. They can get on all the streaming platforms while maintaining control of their publishing and copyrights. As long as your music resonates and you put in the effort, it’s definitely easier than ever before to be a successful musician. All it takes is consistency and knowing how to play the game.

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