Distrokid or CD Baby - Why an easy decision became a hard one for me

Originally, I released some music via Distrokid. I liked it at first. Now, I’m looking at CD Baby. Hoping my experience helps you and I welcome ANY and ALL input and wisdom you have to help me make my decision.

This is something I wrote to the founder of Distrokid, Philip Kaplan (I’ll update you when he replies):

Hi, Philip.
I released my first album through Distrokid. Fairly happy about it but have been recently having some frustrations. I want to hear from you and I’ll hear you out. I feel a little under the gun and frustrated at this point because I was hoping to have my new album released by now… Anyway, here’s how it started:

I’m a stock music composer by day. My music (in the albums to come) live in the genre of epic, dramatic, inspirational, film score music. Looking at iTunes categories, I decide I would like to release my music under “Classical Crossover.” When I select to release an album under “classical” on distrokid, a yellow box pops up that says something like: “iTunes won’t accept classical music but every other place will.” I email Distro support because I see new classical music coming up on iTunes all the time… So I know iTunes accepts it. Then I’m told that Distro doesn’t submit classical to iTunes at all, and so I ask about the yellow box message… They then tell me that Distrokid doesn’t have the capability to submit to the many styles and subgenres under “classical.” Okay. Fine.

Anther genre my music could live under is “Soundtrack.” I choose that genre and ANOTHER yellow box comes up that says it has to be for a movie or TV or broadway show and include parentheses and the name of the movie or show it is associated with… Well, what THEN do I submit my music under? New Age? Nope. Doesn’t fit there.

Then I look at CD Baby.

Albums that get released to iTunes under “classical crossover” are being submitted to CD Baby’s genre list as Classical->Contemporary. I go: Yes! That’s what I want. BUT Distrokid has my first album and I want that one to remain online and to move it to CD Baby means I have to remove it from all stores, lose all my download data (and how it translate on services like iTunes, with those popularity bars), lose my release date, etc. It’s a hassle.

What does CD Baby also have that Distro doesn’t? Music publishing and PRO registration: two things I need. Everything is there under one simple site, under one simple account, and distributing my album under my desired genre categories.

Distrokid makes it hard to leave because of its prices. But I’m also afraid that it doesn’t have the track record that CD Baby has, who will be around for a long, long time, as they already have. People are concerned Distrokid may not be here in five years…what happens then?? I lose it all?

I hear your argument about CD Baby not deserving to profit off of your new popularity of old (before your were popular) material they released. And that’s what their commission allows to have happen for them. However, it is that commission that I’m realizing is what I’m paying for for a team of powerhouse know-how’s, their own blog, email following, podcast episodes, spotify playlists, etc. where they give preference to their CD Baby musicians and offer the ability to be featured and talked about. Also, their support is incredible. I got multiple people speaking to and answering my questions. Is it worth it to pay a little extra for a huge team behind you (instead of automated formulas and support robots)? I think that it might be. Also, your support person (or robot?) was basically saying, “yeah, sorry. I can’t really help you.”

Also, with the “set it and forget it” of CD Baby, I think I’m willing to pay a little extra for some peace of mind with CD Baby. I don’t know that I can trust your “leave a legacy” option (that music will remain on forever, even when I die)…if Distrokid dies… yeah? Also, the fact that you charge for Shazam and iPhone ID per song, PER YEAR is outrageous. Not to mention your store maximizer (all things CD Baby offers for free). So it’s unlimited…BUT… your annual payment to make it unlimited and maximize the reach of new songs via Shazam and iPhone is going to increase over time. Am I missing something here?

Please, share with me how I’m wrong and convince me to stay and I will! Otherwise, I’m afraid I have to say goodbye to Distrokid.

(also) Philip


I don’t really have experience so I can’t really help you choose between these two. But I’ve read that Ditto Music also does promotion for you which might be interesting to look into…

I 've worked with both companies and tunecore, never had issues with them. But this case is specific, as I never had to move my tracks from one service to another. Also, the point of how long does Distrokid will stay around is a good one. I wonder what would happen to my tracks. So I hope that moving tracks from one service to another is easy as filling in a form :stuck_out_tongue:
Distrokid is very active at reddit too, you should check him out there.

Good luck Phil

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Thanks. Actually, Reddit is where I posted this “letter.”

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