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DistroKid Vs. CD Baby: Choosing The Right Music Distributor

April 26, 2023 
BY DAN SPENCER
Last Updated on January 1, 2024

Are you an independent musician looking to release new music? Well, if you want to see your tracks on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms, you have to use a distributor.

There are many distribution services that you can pick from. However, you’ve probably read the names DistroKid and CD Baby countless times. That’s because they’re two of the most popular digital music distributors in the industry. Each company has certain pros and cons that can make one of them a better option for you.

We understand that choosing the right music distributor can be a hassle for any musician. That’s why in today’s article, we have a detailed comparison of DistroKid vs. CD Baby to help you make the right decision for your career. Let’s dive into the details right away!

How Do Music Distribution Services Work?

Music distribution is the process of making your tracks available for streaming or downloading on different streaming platforms or stores. That includes platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal, Pandora, and YouTube Music.

Music distributors can also license your songs for use in media. Additionally, they can make your music available to the public in physical forms, such as CDs and vinyl.

As you probably know, releasing your music to platforms like Spotify isn’t simple. You can easily upload a video or a song to YouTube, but with music platforms, it can be a more complicated process.

That’s because, in the music industry, you need to keep track of your streaming data, royalty payouts, and other important stats. In addition, you’ll need to upload the track to each platform, which can be a hassle.

Luckily, music distribution services, like CD Baby and DistroKid, can upload your music to different streaming services for you. More importantly, they act like a platform that collects all your streaming and royalty data in one place.

That’s why distribution services are essential to any independent musician.

What Is DistroKid?

Distrokid digital music distributor logo.

DistroKid is one of the biggest distribution services in the industry. You’d be surprised to know that they distribute around one million tracks every month. Additionally, DistroKid stated that they distribute one-third of the music released.

Initially, DistroKid was founded in 2013 by Philip Kaplan. It’s been constantly growing since then.

That’s because the platform is known for its ease of use and affordable prices.

Surprisingly, many popular artists use the platform, including Ludacris, Arizona Zervas, Megan Davies, Kei Henderson, and 21 Savage.

What Is CD Baby?

CD Baby music distributor logo.

CD Baby is an online distribution service that made a huge impact on the industry. The company has been helping artists distribute their music since 1998.

At first, they started helping artists put their music on CDs, hence the name. Eventually, the company became an online music distribution service. CD Baby calls itself an “anti-label” that’s made by artists.  

Further, the company works with more than one million artists and released more than nine million tracks. Additionally, the distribution service has paid out over $1 billion in royalties to artists since its founding.


Related Article: Tunecore Vs DistroKid: Who Is The Best Music Distributor In 2024?


Features Comparison

Each of the service providers has a set of features that can help you in your music career. Let’s check out some main features of each platform.

DistroKid Features

Here are the main features of the distribution service:

1. Unlimited Distribution with a Yearly Fee

If you’re a musician that has many upcoming projects, you can get unlimited track distribution from DistroKid for a yearly fee.

Therefore, you’ll be able to upload as many tracks as you want to all music platforms without having to pay to upload each song.

2. Faster than Most Competitors

The company can get your music on the platforms and in stores faster than most distributors in the market. DistroKid claims that it can get your music to stores 10-20x faster than any other distributors.

In our experience, we found that the service makes your music available within the same day of uploading it. In this regard, DistroKid tends to be faster than CD Baby.

3. DistroKid’s HyperFollow

HyperFollow is a feature that allows you to make a landing page containing all your music, videos, social media, and other useful links.

Additionally, this feature allows you to add a Spotify pre-save link to the page. That way, you can promote your music before releasing it.

Further, you can ask your fans to collect their email addresses for future marketing plans and to notify them when the song becomes available. The best thing about this feature is that it’s free!

CD Baby Features

Let’s check out the main features of CD Baby.

1. CDs and Vinyl Distribution

One of the main features of CD Baby is CDs and vinyl distribution. The company can distribute physical CDs and vinyl to around 15,000 record stores around the world.

Additionally, the service allows you to sell your music on the CD Baby website. More importantly, you have the complete freedom of setting the price of your CDs.

2. Audio Mastering

CD Baby offers audio mastering for a small fee on its website. The company can also connect you with audio engineers to help you with the quality of your music.

3. Helpful Promotional Tools

The service allows you to design your artist profile easily through your CD Baby account. Moreover, you’ll have access to tons of promotional tools for free, such as Show.co and MusixMatch.

4. Educational Resources

Aside from the helpful tools, CD Baby offers a variety of educational sources that can help you with music-making and distribution. The educational resources can be highly valuable for anyone starting their music career.

Pricing Plans Comparison

Each distribution service has a set of pricing plans, so you can pick the one that suits you best. Let’s check them out.

DistroKid Pricing

Pricing chart for DistroKid music distribution services.

DistroKid has one of the best pricing plans for any independent musician. The yearly unlimited plan makes pricing simple: you only pay once a year and get unlimited uploads.

Unlimited plans are suitable for any artist that frequently releases music. However, this plan may not be suitable if you want to release only one track every once in a while. 

As of 2023, the cheapest pricing plan with unlimited uploads will cost $19.99.

The problem with DistroKid is that sometimes you’ll need to pay some extra fees for certain services. For example, you’ll need to pay a one-time fee to the Leave a Legacy program to keep your releases online, even after you cancel your subscription.

Additionally, services like YouTube and Shazam monetization aren’t free.

CD Baby Pricing

Pricing table of music distributor CD Baby.

CD Baby allows you to pay for each release separately, which is suitable if you want to release one track only. As of 2023, you can release a standard single for $9.99.

While the price might be slightly expensive, it includes most of the add-ons you’ll need. For example, CD Baby doesn’t charge you an extra fee to keep your releases public.

Of course, not every feature will be included in that fee. To elaborate, the company charges additional fees for administration services.

Earnings and Payments Comparison

Let’s check out how each service pays artists.

DistroKid

When it comes to earnings, DistroKid lets you keep 100% of the money you earned. Additionally, the service allows you to split earnings if you’re collaborating with other artists on your tracks. Generally, the company sends out earnings every month.

CD Baby

The problem with CD Baby is that they take a 9% royalty fee from your earnings. Further, if you use the Pro Publishing plan, the fee will be 15% of your publishing royalties.

That makes DistroKid a better option when it comes to earnings. On the bright side, CD Baby pays artists every week on Monday once the earnings threshold reaches $10-$10,000.


Related Article: How Much Does Spotify Pay Per Stream? Is The Payout Fair?


DistroKid vs. CD Baby: Which Service Is Better for You?

A hand holding a question mark with the text "Who's The Best".

Both distribution services can provide you with all the tools you need to release your music to the public and promote it.

However, DistroKid is a better option for a musician that plans to make frequent releases. That’s because, in that case, DistroKid will be a cheaper option. In addition, if fast uploads are your priority, this service is the best option for you.

On the other hand, CD Baby is for musicians who focus more on quality than quantity. The service offers many helpful tools that you can use to connect with your fans and promote your music.

In addition, with CD Baby, you won’t have to worry about the Leave a Legacy fee. Your music will remain public forever or until you decide to take it down. Moreover, CD Baby is the best option for physical CDs and vinyl distribution.

While DistroKid will give you 100% of your royalty earnings, CD Baby takes a 9% fee.

Final Thoughts

Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of these services. Both of them will get the job done and make your music available to the public.

However, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons of each platform and how they can help you with your career goals.

Finally, we hope our DistroKid vs. CD Baby comparison helped you make the right decision. Good luck with your new releases!

"Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. These links are from various companies such as Amazon. This means if you click on any of these links and purchase the item or service, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is at no cost to you and the money gets invested back into Audio Sorcerer LLC."

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