DistroKid and RouteNote both offer artists and labels music distribution to top services but which one is the best option?

DistroKid and RouteNote are two of the leading platforms for digital music distribution. Both offer a quick and easy way for artists, musicians, and labels to upload music to the biggest platforms and services around the world.

With some key differences, users will be better suited to one of the services in particular based on their needs and preferences. In this article we will discuss DistroKid and what they offer and compare it to RouteNote’s services so that you can make the right choice for your music.

Read on or select a section from the table of contents below:

What is DistroKid?

DistroKid is a digital distribution platform that allows artists and labels to upload their music to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, TIDAL, TikTok and YouTube Music. DistroKid was founded by Philip Kaplan in 2013, a few years after established competitors like TuneCore, CD Baby, and RouteNote.

Despite launching into an area of established competition, DistroKid managed to make a mark. Today, they are one of the world’s leading digital music distributors thanks to their efficient service.

How does DistroKid work?

To get started with DistroKid, artists need to create an account and upload their songs, albums, or EPs to the platform. DistroKid supports a wide range of audio formats, including WAV, FLAC, and MP3. Once the music is uploaded, artists can add the necessary metadata such as track titles, artist names, album artwork, and release dates.

After the music is uploaded and metadata is added, artists can select the stores and streaming platforms where they want their music to be available. DistroKid has partnerships with popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music, and many others. Artists can choose to distribute their music to all these platforms or select specific ones based on their preferences.

DistroKid offers various pricing options, including a basic plan and an upgraded plan called “Musician Plus.” The basic plan allows artists to distribute an unlimited number of songs and albums for a yearly fee, while the Musician Plus plan offers additional features like faster uploads, YouTube Sound Recording Revenue collection, and more detailed analytics.

Furthermore, DistroKid offers useful tools for artists to manage their release strategy effectively. Their home page lists many features such as split royalties between different artists, distribution of cover songs, getting paid when your music is used in YouTube videos with Content ID, a verified checkmark and customisation of your Spotify and Apple Music artist pages, credits and lyrics on stores, getting a YouTube Official Artist Channel, and pre-saves on Spotify.

Many of these additional features require extra fees or recurring payments. At RouteNote we believe all users should get access to the same stores and powerful tools, with a free option for artists and managers looking to launch their online music career. RouteNote offer all of the above stores and features, plus many more, to all artists and labels for free.

How often are royalties paid by DistroKid and how much do users receive?

As with RouteNote, DistroKid users have the convenience of receiving their royalties on a monthly basis. This frequent payment schedule means that artists can have more regular and consistent access to their hard-earned income.

All DistroKid users receive 100% of their royalties except from YouTube Content ID, from which they earn 80% of the revenues generated.

How much does DistroKid pay for 1,000 streams?

Streaming rates are subjective based on the service and the listeners. For example, Spotify and Apple Music will pay different rates. Spotify alone will pay a varying streaming rate depending on whether the listener is a paying user and their location. As such, there is no defined rate that DistroKid users will earn.

How much does DistroKid cost?

DistroKid requires $22.99 annually to create an account. The home page states the following: “Pay only $22.99 to upload unlimited albums & songs for a year” however, this is misleading. Although Musician accounts start at $22.99 per year, this limits the user to only 1 artist or band name as well as lacking many basic features.

At $39.99 per year, Musician Plus accounts will give you 2 artist or band names. This additional cost is also required to unlock features such as synced lyrics for Instagram, customizable label name, customizable release date, customizable preorder date and customizable iTunes pricing, all of which and more RouteNote offer to all users for free.

The cost of DistroKid’s music distribution

Musician – $29.99/year
  • 1 band/artist
  • Upload unlimited songs
  • Spotify verified checkmark
Musician Plus – $39.99/year
  • 2 bands/artists
  • All above, plus:
  • Customizable label name
  • Customizable release date and preorder date
  • Customizable iTunes pricing
Ultimate – variable
  • 5 bands/artists, $89.99/year
  • 10 bands/artists, $157.99/year
  • 20 bands/artists, $269.99/year
  • 50 bands/artists, $674.99/year
  • 100 bands/artists, $1349.99/year
DistroKid quietly up their pricing by up to 15%

Before even visiting the site, DistroKid require a yearly payment to be set up, with no free trial available. Because of this, additional feature pricing info is limited from DistroKid themselves.

Hidden Fees

Many of DistroKid’s basic features are priced on top of the base subscription. These include:

  • YouTube Content ID – $4.95 per song/year or $14.95 per album/year + 20% of the revenue: Earn ad revenue from videos that use your music
  • Store Maximizer – $7.95: Automatically deliver music to new stores and streaming services that DistroKid partner with
  • Leave a Legacy – $29 per single, $49 per album of 2+ tracks: Distrokid never delete your release, unless you ask them to

How does DistroKid compare to RouteNote in terms of pricing and features?

When comparing DistroKid and RouteNote in terms of pricing and features, there are several notable differences.

All RouteNote features and services are available for free. There are no hidden bonus features or premiums for extras. Whether an artist is distributing with RouteNote Free or RouteNote Premium, they get access to all features – the only difference being an 85% or 100% share of their streaming revenues.

Here are some of the features that ALL RouteNote users have access to:

All of these features and many more are offered by RouteNote for free, with no hidden fees or recurring cost. Artists keep 85% of revenue, or choose Premium Distribution to keep 100% of the revenue.

Asking for $22.99 upfront without clearly laying out the features and limitation is an unfair business model for small artists and labels.

How to move your music to RouteNote from DistroKid

We pride ourselves on making music distribution easy and painless for artists everywhere and of every size. If you’re looking to switch from another distributor like DistroKid to RouteNote, we have some tips on how you can make that transfer as easy as possible too.

Re-upload your music

First of all, re-upload your music with RouteNote. Ensure that you use the same audio data, UPCs, and ISRCs to keep your streaming data. Once your music has gone live you can check to make sure that the track-linking has worked. This ensures that your fans keep your tracks in their favourites and playlists, whilst also ensuring your songs don’t lose their streaming data.

Choose the music distribution plan that suits you

We offer two types of distribution so that all artists can work out the plan that suits them best, because we want everyone to upload their music on their own terms.

Free Distribution offers unlimited distribution to all of our partners at no cost. You keep 85% of all of the earnings you make and can come and go at any time.

Premium Distribution is our paid offering. For a small upfront cost, you can distribute any of your releases worldwide and keep 100% of the revenues your music makes in all stores. It’s only $9.99 after a year to keep your release live on Premium.

You can switch between Free and Premium at any time.

Why does DistroKid not distribute to SoundCloud?

DistroKid do not work with SoundCloud. However, RouteNote can help you monetize your existing SoundCloud tracks with zero upfront or recurring costs. When you add your SoundCloud tracks to RouteNote you also gain unlimited uploads for your account. Click here to find out how to link your SoundCloud URLs with your RouteNote uploads.

RouteNote leaves artists with 100% of the right to their music. This means even if you’re distributing your music elsewhere, you can still use RouteNote to fill the missing gaps. Just be sure to check your distributor does not hold exclusive rights to the music.

Is DistroKid a good option for labels?

Label accounts start at a whopping $89.99 per year. This tier lists “5 to 100 artists or bands” but again, this is misleading. You have to pay to find out from DistroKid that 5 artists costs $89.99 per year, and if you need to upload more artists (which almost all label managers would), you’re looking at eye-watering amounts.

The costs for different DistroKid Label plans based on the number of artists or bands are as follows:

  • Label 5: 5 bands/artists, $89.99/year
  • Label 10: 10 bands/artists, $157.99/year
  • Label 20: 20 bands/artists, $269.99/year
  • Label 50: 50 bands/artists, $674.99/year
  • Label 100: 100 bands/artists, $1349.99/year

Many labels manage upwards of one hundred artists. $1350 per year for this benefit is unsustainable for independent labels.

On the other hand, with RouteNote artists and labels can upload as many songs and albums under as many different artist names as they like, for free. For label managers just starting out or those with hundreds of artists, RouteNote doesn’t cost a penny.

Does DistroKid offer the option to enter ‘splits’ for royalties?

Yes, DistroKid does offer the option for users to enter ‘splits’ for royalties. This feature allows artists and labels to distribute royalties from their music to multiple label artists, collaborators, or rights holders.

By assigning specific percentages to each contributor, DistroKid ensures that royalties are distributed accurately and transparently among all parties involved in a project. This simplifies the process of managing and accounting for revenue sharing, making it easier for labels to share royalties with their artists.

You can also share your revenues with ease on RouteNote.

Summary – Is DistroKid a good option for artists and labels?

DistroKid’s offering of unlimited uploads for $22.99 per year may initially seem like a tempting deal, but a closer examination reveals several key details that are often overlooked. It is important to note that in order to create an account with DistroKid, an annual fee of $22.99 is required.

While the home page proudly advertises the ability to “upload unlimited albums & songs for a year” at this price point, the truth is far from that straightforward. A musician account, which starts at $22.99 per year, comes with a significant limitation – it restricts the user to only one artist or band name. Furthermore, this basic account lacks many essential features that are crucial for independent artists seeking to establish their presence in the digital music landscape.

It is worth noting that these features, which come at an additional expense with DistroKid, are offered free of charge by RouteNote. RouteNote provides all its users, regardless of their account type, with access to customizable label names, release dates, preorder dates, and customizable iTunes pricing. This stark contrast in pricing and offerings raises questions about the true value of DistroKid’s service.

For those considering DistroKid for label purposes, the pricing structure becomes even more staggering. Label accounts start at a whopping $89.99 per year, claiming to accommodate “5 to 100 artists or bands.” However, a closer examination of the FAQs reveals that this pricing tier only includes 5 artists. For label managers and professionals who require the ability to upload more artists, the costs can quickly become exorbitant.

In conclusion, while DistroKid’s unlimited uploads for $22.99 per year may seem enticing, a thorough evaluation of the pricing structure and features reveals a different reality. The basic account severely limits artists and lacks essential functionalities, while additional features come at an extra cost. When compared to the free offerings of RouteNote, the value proposition of DistroKid becomes questionable.

It is crucial for artists and labels to carefully consider their specific needs and assess whether DistroKid’s pricing aligns with their goals and budget

Click here to sign up to RouteNote today for free.