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CDBaby vs. DistroKid: Which one is the right music distributor for you?

CDBaby vs. DistroKid: Which one is the right music distributor for you?

CDBaby vs. DistroKid: Which one is the right music distributor for you?

CDBaby is renowned for being one of the most prominent music distributors. However, their prices may be challenging for small and young artists to afford. As a result, many musicians are turning to DistroKid, which offers easy-to-access pricing and is becoming increasingly popular. In this article, we'll explore the differences between these two services and what they can offer artists. 

In addition, you can also check our article on Top 4 Music Distribution Service 2023 to find out more options and price ranges in distributing music.


When it comes to payment structures, CDBaby and DistroKid take different approaches. CDBaby uses a pay-per-release plan, meaning that artists must pay for each single or album they wish to release. In contrast, DistroKid charges a single fixed fee per year, allowing artists to release an unlimited number of songs and albums.

If you are a young artist who’s just starting out and looking to release your music gradually, CDBaby might be the more cost-effective option for you. With CDBaby, you only need to pay a one-time fee to keep your releases on streaming platforms, whereas with DistroKid, you will have to pay a renewal fee every year, even if you are not releasing a significant amount of music to make the most out of their subscription. 

Here's a breakdown of their packages:


  • Standard Single: $9.99
  • Standard Album: $9.99 
  • Pro Single: $49.99 
  • Pro Album: $49.99 

CDBaby's pricing model involves a one-time fee for each release, which allows artists to keep their music online permanently. Although the upfront cost may appear higher than other distributors, this approach can actually save artists more money in the long run. With CDBaby, you won't have to worry about recurring fees, and your music will remain available to listeners indefinitely.


DistroKid on the other hand, offers artists an unlimited amount of releases per year with a fixed fee and renewal fee every following year. This means that you only need to pay a certain amount of money to distribute as many songs and albums as you want, and pay a renewal fee to keep them online each year. 

The packages that DistroKid offers look like this: 

  • Musician $19.99/year/artist 
  • Musician Plus $35.99/year/2 artists
  • Label Plan starts from $79.99/year for 5 - 100 artists


Distribution Features 


CDBaby's Standard features are limited to music distribution and YouTube Content ID and sync licensing. To access the royalties collection, you'll need to upgrade to the Pro option. However, CDBaby's pricing is relatively high compared to other distributors, particularly due to the annual fee required to keep your music online. One advantage of CDBaby is its physical distribution option, which can be challenging to find with other services.

For the Pro version, CDBaby will take commissions as follows sections:

  • 15% of publishing royalties 
  • 40% on sync placements
  • $4 on physical sales for your CD and Vinyl


It's important to note that DistroKid is known as a music distributor rather than a music publisher, hence why they do not offer any publishing features for artists. 

However, they do provide a useful tool called Youtube Content ID, which scans for any videos on Youtube that use your music and helps monetize them on your behalf. 

The fee for the Youtube Content ID feature is $4.95 per year and DistroKid will take a 20% commission from this revenue.

DistroKid offers a service for artists to keep their music updated on new stores for only $7.95/year. This will keep your music up to dated on every platforms, which help your visibility as much as possible. 

Last but not least, another feature that DistroKid has is Leave a legacy, with just a one time fee of $49 per album and $29 per single. Your music will be available online forever, even when you stop your subscription with DistroKid!

Customer Support


One common complaint from former users of CDBaby is the company's inadequate customer service. Many have reported slow response times and delayed operations, which can be frustrating for artists who need support.

 While CDBaby does offer many benefits, it's important to consider whether the risk of not having reliable support is worth it. Ultimately, as an artist, you'll want to ensure that your distribution partner is responsive and attentive to your needs in order to help you succeed.

Riccardo from Great Britain posted on TrustPilot on November 22, 2022:

“Absolutely shocking service. I had released previous albums with no trouble. I released my latest band’s album on September 2nd. We decided to go PRO but have been advised by CDBaby to downgrade to standard which we agreed and filled out the forms 3 times as if nothing was actually happening. It’s been nearly 3 months and still no replies or downgrade. Just random emails saying that we have to fill out a form to collect royalties. They said that they were very busy and processing times are 2 weeks. It’s so hard to get in contact with anyone from them. I definitely won’t use them again and I still can’t collect any money from sales. So frustrating.”


DistroKid's customer support primarily operates through Twitter replies and directing users to their frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. The company has received numerous positive reviews from customers about the quality of their support system. 

However, it's important to note that even though DistroKid's support is generally excellent, their service is not always perfect or flawless. In some cases, you may not be able to find the answers you need immediately, but these situations are relatively infrequent compared to what users have experienced with CDBaby. Overall, DistroKid's customer support is a reliable resource for artists who need assistance.

Eric Ridenour from the US posted on TrustPilot on February 17, 2023:

“Great for Our Modest Needs

We aren't gunning for a giant record label contract or fame or fortune. For a small, private school like us, Distrokid makes so much sense. We can have our music files available to all of our families at any moment without having to renew individual soundtracks each year. Really happy to have found it.”


Why go for CDBaby 

CDBaby will be a suitable choice for two scenarios and types of artists: 

  • You're an aspiring professional artist looking to publish your music and earn royalties, CDBaby's PRO package provides access to all the features you need to maximize your visibility and reach your audience. Along with enhanced promotional tools, this package also offers a range of income-generating opportunities. By selecting the PRO package, you'll have access to a wealth of resources to help you build your music career and achieve your goals.
  • You're a young artist looking to distribute a limited number of songs or albums each year, paying a one-time fee with CDBaby can provide peace of mind. With this approach, you won't have to worry about your music being taken down if you can't afford to pay a distributor's fees every year. Instead, your music will remain online permanently after a single upfront payment. This can be a particularly attractive option for artists who are just starting out and want to keep costs low while still sharing their music with the world.

Why go for DistroKid 

  • You are a group of artists wanting to find a distribution service together. With their package Musician Plus or Label Plan, the cost that each individual artist has to pay is actually very affordable to release an unlimited amount of songs or albums every year. 
  • You are only releasing a small number of songs but with the goal of keeping them online for the long term without having to pay for an unnecessary yearly subscription. DistroKid feature of Leave a Legacy will be able to fulfil this requirement of you very easily.

In conclusion, each music distribution service comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. As an independent artist, it's crucial to carefully consider which service is best suited for your needs and budget. You'll want to weigh the cost of the service against its drawbacks and determine if it's a worthwhile investment. We hope this information has been helpful in guiding your decision-making process and wish you the best of luck in your music career.

Understanding how competitive the music industry is, and how independent artists are struggle to not only distribute their music, but also the promoting process after. At Base For Music, we offer a complementary service to help artists promote their music on to the streaming platforms. We recognize how crucial it is to be recognized and reach the right target audience in order to develop a successful music career. Our service includes a strategic ads campaign designed to promote your music to the right audience and maximize your visibility on popular streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, TikTok, and more. With Base For Music, you can take your music career to the next level and gain the recognition you deserve.

Sign up for your free account with Base For Music now!

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