DistroKid Will Now Pay Everyone Who Worked On Your Song

DistroKid Masthead

This is groundbreaking.  It’s a first on a mass scale in the current music industry. This is where we have evolved to.  And this is where we are at.

DistroKid is one of the world’s leading digital distribution companies that gets artists and labels’ music into over 90 digital outlets.  That includes Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Tidal, Deezer, etc.  Now, they will directly pay revenue from your releases to anyone you want.

What does this mean?

Your producer gets 3% of revenue from your most recent single?  Before, you would have to download your sales reports every month, calculate the totals for the designated release and write your producer a check for 3% of that. Every month. You did a YouTube collaboration with 5 other artists? Now, instead of one person having to figure out the splits and paying each collaborator directly, DistroKid will do all the accounting, reporting and payments directly to each collaborator. Did a DJ remix one of your songs? You can now split up all the royalties just for that release between you and the DJ. Couldn’t pay freelancers up front, but promised them backend royalties? Now it’s simple and transparent.

And this is especially helpful for indie labels. Now, a label can designate all payout percentages to each party.  That includes the  artist (even down to individual band members), producer, manager, anyone.  This will help transparency, accounting and reporting.

You can designate any percentage for any party. And every collaborator can see full sales/stream stats.

 

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If you release a full album, you can designate percentage breakdowns for each song.

Say, each song has 4 different collaborators and every collaborator is different per song. If someone buys the full album, each collaborator’s earnings are pro-rated based on their breakdown.

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And for bands this is paramount.

Now, DistroKid can deposit each band member’s earnings directly into their personal accounts.

Loudr has had this feature since its inception in October 2013, however it’s not automated and requires contacting support to set it up. And Loudr only distributes to 6 outlets (as opposed to CD Baby, Tunecore and DistroKid‘s 90+). Loudr has started to sunset their distribution program to focus on licensing for cover songs.

Loudr will handoff its distribution catalog to CD Baby this year.

So this leaves DistroKid as the sole player in the all-access (anyone can signup for their services), digital distribution market that provides revenue splitting like this.

DistroKid disrupted the digital distribution market in October 2013 when it launched as the first digital aggregator to offer unlimited distribution for a set yearly fee. Because it was such a drastically different model than what was currently on the market, it instantly received praise from CD Baby and Tunecore‘s founders (who no longer work at the companies).

DistroKid has disrupted the field once again with this new revenue splitting feature.

DistroKid has over 90,000 artists in their network and has distributed over 700,000 songs.  They also boast a #1 iTunes worldwide hit by their artist Jack & Jack, a top-10 Billboard hit by iLoveMemphis (formerly iHeartMemphis) and a top-10 Spotify global viral hit by vōx whose haunting Kendrick Lamar cover is a must listen.

 

As an artist who has distributed my music via DistroKid, CD Baby, Tunecore and Loudr (and having put out a comprehensive review of the 9 of the biggest digital distribution companies in the world), I understand the nuances in these operations which can make a huge difference.

+Want To Know Who The Best Digital Distribution Company Is?

Stats, Reporting and Analytics

Tunecore‘s backend stats are far superior to DistroKid’s (and CD Baby‘s) at the moment – giving the artist/label full transparency with very littler effort. Whereas on DistroKid you need to download pages of Google Sheets reports, filter, segment and copy/paste to analyze the data for your releases, Tunecore offers a very simple way to filter by date range, release (broken down by song and/or album) and outlet to see total streams/sales in any given time period.

 

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There’s no way to see total sales/streams numbers or income for a designated release during a time range in CD Baby or DistroKid.

I can only see thousands of lines of data on multiple pages.  And for some reason I can only see page totals (not complete totals). For instance, I want to know how many total Spotify streams my song got this past year. No way to do that on DistroKid or CD Baby without downloading a spreadsheet file and manually filtering it which would take forever. I can see this in Tunecore very easily with a couple clicks. If I want to see how much a single song earned (which was released as part of an album), I can’t do this in CD Baby or DistroKid period. It’s right there in Tunecore’s backend.

 

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DistroKid’s

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Which brings us back to revenue splitting. If I owe producer X 3% for track #7, producer Y 2% for track #5, producer Z 50% for track #8, and my featured artist 30% on track #6, there is no way for me to know how much to pay each collaborator in CD Baby (or previously DistroKid). Tunecore lists sales/streaming info right there in the backend database. However, Tunecore doesn’t pay out revenue to anyone other than the account holder.

Whereas DistroKid’s backend stats still leaves much to be desired, the new revenue splitting feature solves this specific issue.

To be clear, this is just about the ease in which users can view reports. All 3 services, to my knowledge, have accurate collection, reporting and payouts. It’s just a lot easier to view and analyze the data on Tunecore versus CD Baby and DistroKid.

CD Baby, Tunecore and DistroKid all have iTunes and Spotify daily trending reports (DK and Tunecore also have Amazon), which displays estimates of recent sales/streaming data.

What I would like to see on all services reporting is demographic information.

Currently, Tunecore displays top countries (filterable by outlet).  But this can only be broken down to cities in the iTunes (not Spotify) trending reports (up to the past 90 days) – which would actually help route a tour. CD Baby displays top countries, gender and age brackets for their Spotify trending reports, but only up to the past 90 days and they only display top countries for their iTunes trend repots (also only up to the past 90 days). DistroKid doesn’t have any demographic information in their reporting whatsoever.

And What About Publishing?

CD Baby and Tunecore each have their own, opt-in, add-on publishing services. Each company will collect worldwide publishing royalties (mechanical and performance) and take a small commission (15% and 10% respectively).  They then pass the rest off to the artist/songwriter.

Previously, if a songwriter/artist didn’t have a publishing company, there was virtually no way to hunt down all of these royalties. I did a comparison of these two services a few years back when they launched. DistroKid currently doesn’t have any add-on, admin publishing services (at least not yet). So if you distribute your music with DistroKid and wrote the songs, the only way to collect all of your songwriting royalties is via an admin publishing company like SongTrust, Audiam or Kobalt. Your PRO (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN) does not collect all of your songwriting royalties – only performance royalties.

To be clear, these admin publishing services don’t retain any ownership of your songs. They simply collect royalties, keep a small commission, and pay out the rest.

+How To Get All Of Your Royalties That You Never Knew Existed

In terms of DistroKid’s new revenue splitting program, this is just for revenue earned from sales/streams for the sound recording – not songwriter royalties from the composition.  So, if you co-wrote a song with someone and want to split those songwriter royalties equally, you have to do that with your publishing company.  Which is not DistroKid (at least not as of now). Where it gets complicated is some of these songwriter royalties are, in fact, built into the download sale.  But that’s a whole other topic. You can read more about how all these royalties are broken down here.

Hopefully DistroKid will add on an admin publishing option (similar to CD Baby and Tunecore’s) soon and hopefully the revenue splitting option will be able to be broken down by both non-songwriter collaborators and songwriter collaborators.

Every collaborator who wants to get paid directly from DistroKid will need to create an account for $19.99 a year.

This will enable them to get paid from any DistroKid release by any DistroKid artist (and be able to distribute their own songs as well for no additional cost).  If the collaborator gets invited by a current user, the collaborator gets a 50% off discount for the first year.

As we march forward into the new music industry, DIY artists are seeing massive success without record labels.

Indie digital distribution companies are becoming the one-stop-shops for artist royalty collection services. Artists want to keep everything under one roof. We don’t want to have to signup for 7 different agencies, companies, platforms and organizations just to make sure we get paid everything we’re owed. And we don’t want to have to deal with complicated accounting. The easier these distribution companies makes this process, the happier artists will be. And the distribution companies that do this the best, will be the ones that completely take over the market.

+Want To Know Who The Best Digital Distribution Company Is?

It’s worth mentioning that there are other all-access digital distribution and royalty collections companies out there.  That includes Symphonic Distribution, Ditto, MondoTunes, ReverbNation, OneRPM, RouteNote, JTV Digital, Stem, RepostNetwork, Catapult, among many many others.  And don’t forget the indie digital distribution companies which mostly only serve labels, not artists.  That list includes The Orchard, Believe and INgrooves.

But CD Baby, Tunecore and DistroKid remain to be the top 3 all-access digital distribution companies.  They’re leading the way in the new music industry.

Check out more at DistroKid.com

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

19 Responses

  1. Versus

    How does Symphonic compare in terms of splitting and reporting to these three?

    Reply
    • DurkD

      Symphonic is the worse. I have had them for a year. They report and pay quarterly – only trending reports are iTunes. Nothing else. Sorry I ever signed up with them.

      Reply
  2. Pat Johnson

    Brilliant PR ploy by DistroKid. Yes, it’s a cool service. And charging $19.99 per year per collaborator will bring in way more revenue for DistroKid than for any payee who worked on your songs and is owed a 3% (or, in most cases, even a 20%) split.

    Reply
  3. Tommy Hammarsten

    this is all well and great but distrokid…

    1. has horrible customer service. most of the time, their first response to a question or issue is, ‘well, maybe distrokid isn’t for you.’ rarely do problems get solved.
    2. they pick and choose which music to distribute. so if you are even a little out there, they won’t distribute it. they will say it was not distributed because of editorial review. and they will never proactively tell you that. you have to go back to their customer support after waiting a week and noticing your single never went live.
    3. distrokid doesn’t pay very often. they are usually the LAST of the major distributors to pay. and int he past, they have sat on invoices to the stores for 4-6 months thus delaying any royalties.
    4. the reporting is very basic and not pretty at all.
    5. the ceo is actively shopping distrokid in the industry. so all these features would likely change shortly after he sells them off and moves on to his next idea.

    Reply
    • OOSHTBHFAM

      I believe that DK lost artists a bunch of royalties by waiting 12 months before actually invoicing for a single stream. My artists saw significant reporting abnormalities (thousands of streams one month, then less than ten another) and finally asked to have their music pulled. We ended up leaving DK for another micro distro that has worked much better for us.

      Reply
    • DurkD

      Totally agree. I paid for a distrokid acct but haven’t been able to use it after 5 months.

      Reply
  4. Dan

    Although its a retailer and not a distributor, ClearTracks has had this functionality all along. You can define your splits for both the recording AND publishing. You can assign your splits to anyone, even if they are not a current user and the royalties will be waiting their when they sign up. Users assigned to a split get notifications so they can verify the split amounts; leaving no room for disputes later. ClearTracks can pay out revenue via paypal or bitcoin. So here’s the best part: they pay out daily.

    Basically, you can have a fan purchase a song and have paid out all of the rights-holders the same day. They take 0% commission, pay 100% of the revenue, and it costs $0 for the artist to sign up. There is simply a flat fee for each release.

    Reply
  5. PayToPlay

    Asking every band member, producer and collaborator to give up their credit card numbers and submit to an annual fee just to get paid is a silly approach and will probably see very low adoption. It’s a convenience for the account holder and a hassle for all else. The account holder (and the defacto accountant for the project) should be the ones paying more for this feature as they are the ones that benefit via the convenience this provides. Everyone else is already expecting to get paid their share anyway so why would they pay for the privilege?

    Reply
    • OOSHTBHFAM

      “Everyone else is already expecting to get paid their share anyway so why would they pay for the privilege?”

      Look to DK’s owner’s nose for the answer.

      Reply
  6. Versus

    A step in the right direction, but it’s a bit much to ask everyone involved to pay to sign up for DistroKid. (And why do we have infantilizing company names like “DistroKid” and “CDBaby”, not to mention “Google” and “Yahoo”? But that’s a rant for another day).

    It would make more sense if the primary accountholder on the distributor just payed a reasonable premium for this service, but not sure how the payments would work if the others do not have DistroKid accounts.

    Perhaps the best solution is just simple automatic reporting and accounting built into the distributor/aggregator’s site. This should include:
    – choice of monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual breakdowns
    – choice of summaries for song, album, artist
    – calculation of all recording royalty splits due for the recording
    – calculation of mechanical royalties to co-writers
    – calculation of publisher splits
    – pay-out summaries including names of each collaborator (whether on recording or composition/publishing side)

    None of this should be rocket science. The point of the computer/tech is to automate this sort of tedium, after all.

    Ideally, I should be able to log on, choose the appropriate releases, artists, or time periods, and immediately access a summary showing exactly what check amounts I have to cut to whom. (If there would be secure way to have the system even cut and send the checks, even better).

    Reply
  7. GGG

    I use DK for one band, and the idea is good, but nobody is going to drop $20 for some basic math, gimme a brea.

    Reply
  8. tricky

    Someone by mistake sent iTunes a copyright infringement notice on one of my songs. iTunes unbeknownst to me said they sent Distrokid the notice and gave Distrokid 5 days to contact me and sort it out.
    Distrokid NEVER informed me and iTunes took all my albums down . It took me 3 months to sort everything out and get my albums put back up on iTunes.
    WENT BACK TO TUNECORE.

    Reply
  9. Your English Teacher

    “This is groundbreaking. This is a first on a mass scale in the current music industry. This is where we have evolved to. This is where we are at.”

    redundant
    [ri-duhn-duh nt]

    adjective
    1. characterized by verbosity or unnecessary repetition in expressing ideas.

    Reply
    • Versus

      …and you didn’t even mention where the misplaced prepositions are placed at.

      (But thank you for the article, Ari, very informative).

      Reply
  10. TheOneAndOnlyAnonymous

    “Every collaborator who wants to get paid directly from DistroKid will need to create an account for $19.99 a year. ”
    Seriously? That’s genius.

    Reply
    • Long Live Indies

      Dear DistroKid:

      Please make this a onetime $19.99 fee for collaborators who want to get paid. Not all collaborators need to release music via DistroKid (e.g., managers, producers, session musicians, etc).

      You do this. You win! Game over. Drop the Mic. You become the leading standard bearer for Indies.

      Sincerely,
      Long Live Indies

      Reply
  11. Socrates

    Comical. Distro-kid are well known for awful customer service and not paying people. Apart from you ari, whom they sponsor. And you write this garbage for them.
    distro kid suck. They have 2 staff and don’t cover any major stores apart from iTunes n Spotify. Awful

    Reply
  12. Just Offshore

    To all musicians, bands, and recording artists:

    Please consider carefully what I’ve outlined here before you decide to do business with online music distributor Distrokid.

    There are many online music distribution companies; Distrokid is one of them — based upon my experience with Distrokid, I can’t recommend their service to musicians, bands, and recording artists.

    I won’t go so far as to say Distrokid is a scam, a ripoff, or a fraud. I can’t make that determination, and I’ll leave that up to you to decide after reading my story.

    In June 2013, I signed up to use Distrokid’s music distribution service for my music with Just Offshore and a few of my label’s other artists. For an annual fee, Distrokid will distribute your music to online music sites such as Apple iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, and others. I signed up for the service plan for my label, for which Distrokid charges an annual fee. This annual fee allows you to upload and have distributed as many albums and singles from as many artists as you like. I uploaded our music and our other artists music, and it was distributed to the various online sites.

    This process continued without any issues until June 10th, 2016, when I noticed 8 unauthorized credit card charges on my bank statement from Distrokid. I disputed these charges with our bank and was credited back the unauthorized charges. Keep in mind that we are current with our annual fee that was paid to them.

    On July 4th, 2016, I logged into our account at Distrokid after having recently uploaded some new tracks. I noticed that our download and streaming data reports were not available and that our earnings report was missing. We had a small amount of earnings being held by Distrokid that I had not yet requested payment for. At first, I thought that maybe they were experiencing technical issues, so I sent them an email and asked them about it. I received the following reply shortly afterward:

    “Thanks for reaching out! I’m happy to help. Your account has been cancelled due to the fact that you have disputed charges from us, via our credit card processor. Your albums have been deleted from stores. Please try another distributor.”

    When I first signed up there was no explanation that music we uploaded to the various online stores would be removed if we were no longer using Distrokid’s service. Also, Distrokid has no terms of service posted on their website. They have not responded to my request for them to pay us the small amount of earnings they have been holding. Please think about my experience before making a decision as to which online music distributor to use for your music.

    Just remember, your music could be removed from stores and your earnings confiscated this easily, as my experience with Distrokid demonstrates.

    Reply

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