Music distribution services offer a way to get your music out to the public and make it available on online stores, streaming platforms, and physical stores. In this day and age, most music distribution happens online, and finding the perfect music distributor is, now more than ever, a crucial step in your music career, especially if you’re an independent artist.
Back in the day, your music was made available to listeners by a record label that you had a contract with. If you didn’t have one, you had almost zero chances of reaching a wide audience.
Fast forward to 2023, and things are completely different. If you subscribe to one of the music distribution platforms, they will get your music to Spotify, Apple Music, Instagram, Amazon, TikTok, Deezer, and more, making your music accessible and available to billions of people worldwide.
Some of the distribution platforms will also collect your royalties from streaming platforms like Spotify or social media (e.g., YouTube) and send you the money or even split the amount between you and your collaborators involved in the piece.
The best distributors won’t do all this for free, and each platform offers a different approach to distribution that makes it ideal for certain artists but not for others. In this article, I will dive deeper into two of the currently most popular distribution services: DistroKid and LANDR.
If you’re considering one of them or not sure what distribution provider to choose for your music, this article will help you decide!
DistroKid was the first distribution service to offer unlimited distribution on an annual subscription plan and one of the first to get artists’ tracks on TikTok. Launched in 2013 by Philip J. Kaplan, DistroKid continues to challenge the industry and stays at the front of innovation in music distribution. Beloved by music professionals, including Ari Herstand, Kaplan is also a “good guy” who continuously strives to improve the service offered and create a positive working environment.
Spotify acquired a minor share of DistroKid in 2018, and while the platform is still an independent music distribution company, the collaboration with Spotify aims at making digital distribution even more effortless. To date, DistroKid has released over six million songs.
I’ve written about LANDR a great deal recently, mainly in reference to its mastering services. Today, I will focus on distribution provided by this all-rounder, which offers music mastering, distribution, and collaboration tools for “modern musicians,” as well as samples, plugins, and tons of educational materials.
LANDR was launched in 2014 as an online mastering service developed by a team of artists, music professionals, and engineers at MixGenius, an AI company from Montreal. Over the years, they have introduced other services, creating a powerful and versatile platform that helps millions of musicians worldwide, and have released over 560,000 tracks. Their distribution service was officially launched in 2017.
DistorKid is known for its extremely simple, user-friendly interface and easily recognizable 80s look (The logo is a bit weird, but I kind of like it; it definitely makes it stand out among today’s modern-design websites). You upload your tracks on the website (there is just one page to do it), and they do the rest. Not much to explain here, really.
The tracks are usually updated on the streaming platforms within 1-5 days, but it can take up to 7 days in some cases.
I won’t list here all the services offered, but the most important ones that can help you make up your mind.
DistroKid was among the first platforms to offer payment splitting options, and they also pioneered a “recoupment” option on top of that. “Recoupment” allows you to keep part of the earnings to cover your costs before splitting the rest with the collaborators. It’s worth mentioning that each of your collaborators needs to create a DistroKid account and purchase a plan to be included in a split (They will receive a 50% off coupon for the first year). If they don’t want to subscribe, you can purchase a $10/year “Split subscription,” and they will directly receive their part of the earnings.
DistroKid has an option to set the timestamp for TikTok, which is a cool perk. Additionally, they let you download WAV versions of your tracks, so even if you lost the original file, you will be able to get it back.
DistroKid has some great marketing tools, including a recent addition – an SMS marketing service (available as an add-on) letting your fans know when you’ll be performing in their city or when you published a new release.
DistroKid has made some effort to include more community-based features, and they even introduced their own social media platform for musicians called “Slaps,” where you can upload your music and connect with other musicians.
DistroKid offers efficient email support, and the response time is usually one business day. I never had a problem with getting support from them, but there are various reviews online from people who said it took a bit longer to resolve a more specific issue, like the track name not being accepted by the platform. They do not have live chat or phone support options. Still, you can find answers to many questions in their FAQ section.
Recently, DistroKid released Mixea, its own online mastering service. You can try it out for free on one song before paying $99/ year for the service.
“Nothing will ever replace the artistry and expertise of a real, human mastering engineer,” – said Kaplan in a statement released earlier this year, “But for artists who are short on time or resources, Mixea is a powerful tool to help make their music sound great in a hurry,”
Intuitive and easy-to-use interface with an elegant and visually pleasing design. It might take a little longer to navigate through the page if you want to take advantage of other services they offer.
The average upload time is 1-2 days, but it depends on the plan you choose, and a basic plan can take up to 7 days.
LANDR distributes your release to all major streaming platforms, including some great options, such as Chinese streaming platforms like NetEase, TikTok, and Shazam (which is only included as an add-on on DistroKid).
Their in-depth analytics are impressive and surpass the DistroKid reporting by a mile. They also have great promotional tools, such as Spotify verified checkmark and lyrics management. Still, advanced reporting is not available on their Basic plan. LANDR allows you to release remixes, cover songs, and monetize your YouTube content, all included in the payment plans.
LANDR has great customer support via email, live chat, and also via phone (by request only). They will get back to you on the same (business) day in most cases. However, the customer support response time varies depending on the plan you choose, from 12 up to 72 hours. They also have an extensive FAQ section.
As mentioned, LANDR is not only a distribution service but a versatile platform that supports music production from mixing and mastering through collaborations to distribution and promotion. Their STUDIO and STUDIO Pro plans give access to all services, so if you’re looking for more than just distribution, it’s an excellent solution.
DistroKid once was one of the most affordable distribution platforms, and although it still offers a competitive price, it’s not the cheapest on the market, and you should also watch out for extra costs. They take 0% commission on all royalties collected, though.
DistroKid offers three payment plans:
- Musician Plan (for one artist) – $19.99 / year
- Musician PLUS Plan (2 artists) – $35.99 / year
- Ultimate Plan (5 artists, up to 100 artists) – starting at $79.99 / year
Introduced in 2022, DistroVid, a music video distribution service, is available for $89.99/year, and it allows you to distribute unlimited music videos on streaming platforms, including Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon, and VEVO.
It’s worth noting that if you don’t renew your plan, all your music will get removed from the streaming platforms. You can choose to purchase the “Leave a Legacy” extra to keep the release on the platforms if there is a payment problem or if you decide to cancel your subscription. You will need to purchase it per each release for $29.00 per single and $49.00 per album of 2+ tracks.
DistroKid offers various add-ons on top of the subscription plans: some of them are available per track, while others are subscription-based. Still, many of these options, like Store Optimizer or YouTube content ID, won’t be useful to you unless you are a big artist, and then you can easily afford to pay for these.
LANDR unlimited distribution is available on unlimited distribution plans or with the STUDIO plan, which also gives you access to unlimited mastering, a library of samples, plugins, and courses. They don’t charge a commission if you purchase one of these plans:
- Basic Plan (1 artist) – $23.99/year
- Pro Plan (5 artists) – $89.98/ year (available for 50% off at the time of writing)
- Studio Plan (1 artist) – $143.88/year
I’ve seen a number of reviews saying that the basic plan doesn’t include unlimited distribution, but that’s not the case anymore. On all plans, you can purchase mechanical cover song licensing for $15/track and add an extra artist for $10/year.
You can also choose to distribute your music per release:
- Single $9/relese + 15% commission
- Album or EP $19/album + 15% commission
LANDR distribution plans include many options that you need to purchase at an extra cost on DistroKid, like Youtube Content ID (for a limited time only on the basic plan), customizable label name, advanced stats, including your release in newly added stores, and keeping your royalties even after you cancel the subscription.
- 0% commission on all plans means you keep 100% royalties.
- Offers payment splitting and
- Distributes to China (NetEase and QQ Music).
- Distributes to TikTok.
- Lyrics and credits distribution.
- A Spotify preferred distributor.
- Music video distribution (available on a separate plan).
- Relatively limited revenue reports.
- Extra/ hidden costs.
- Offers payment splitting.
- Distributes to China (Tencent, NetEase, Xiami).
- Distributes to TikTok.
- Lyrics and some credits distribution.
- Great, clear, and intelligible revenue reports.
- Takes commission on per-release distribution.
- Advanced analytics only available on premium plans.
And that’s a wrap! I hope this guide helped clarify the similarities and differences between these two excellent music distributors.
DistroKid has been on the market for longer and has been praised as one of the top and best value-for-money distributors out there. In my opinion, it’s a great choice for an indie artist, but you need to be cautious of the hidden costs. Its recently introduced mastering service and music video distribution plan, making it a more holistic solution and player competing with LANDR and other all-rounders. If you are looking for an affordable, fast, and efficient distribution platform, and if you are releasing a lot of music, you won’t get it wrong with DistroKid.
LANDR offers a better deal with the STUDIO plan if you want to use its other services, including unlimited mastering. It distributes your music to all major platforms and does it fast. It has more features included with the basic plan, and if you are serious about the marketing side of things, it might just be a better option.