I currently use both of these music distributors for my song releases, and both have treated me very well. I started with CD Baby when I began publishing songs over 12 years ago, and I switched to using Distrokid for my song releases after 2015.
I kept my old releases on CD Baby since I do like a few of the extra services they provide, so I'm getting the best of both worlds, in a way.
I recommend one more strongly, but in some instances, I would change my opinion. It's all about how you plan to distribute your songs.
Let's look at a few categories in which the two differ to see which would be a better fit for you when you release your music. The good thing is, neither is likely to do you wrong!
The two companies have different pricing models, but one is clearly more affordable than the other. DistroKid members pay an annual fee to release an unlimited number of singles and albums. There are three membership plans:
Distrokid Musician - $19.99
Distrokid Musician Plus - $35.99
Distrokid Label - $79.99 for five artists, up to $1199.99/yr for 100 artists
CD Baby has a different structure where members pay per release. Their prices are as follows:
CD Baby Standard Single Release - $9.95
CD Baby Pro Publishing Single Release - $29.95
CD Baby Standard Album Release - $29
CD Baby Pro Publishing Album Release - $69
Both of these companies have good feedback from other artists on their platforms. Neither of them will outright ignore you. I've heard some say that Distrokid tends to respond a bit faster, possibly within a few hours, while CD Baby will respond within a day or so. I've had instances where both responded within a day!
Distrokid allows you to keep 100% of the royalties that are owed to you. This is wonderful news since royalties are pretty much like counting pennies these days for independent artists like myself.
I don't really want anyone taking a cut of what is already cut too much by the big companies like Spotify and Apple Music. CD Baby takes 9% of your royalties, which isn't terrible but doesn't win them this round. If you're using their publishing services, they also take 15% of those royalties.
Related Post: What Are Royalties In Music [See How I've Gotten Paid]
Both Distrokid and CD Baby offer in-site and 3rd party resources that can come in handy. There are almost too many to name, but I will say that CD Baby Pro gets you a much larger amount of free and paid tools to use compared to what is offered by Distrokid.
While CD Baby gives you a lot of resources for connecting with fans, Distrokid has a lot of resources that connect you to other musicians.
Both sites' user experience and design are pretty easy to use, considering that they have so many features. Distrokid makes it look a bit simpler, which is why I'd say it can be easier to use at the start. CD Baby has more options and services, making it a bit overwhelming when you first start using their platform.
Both of these distribution companies will allow you to submit your music to over 150 outlets for people to stream your releases. They are similar in this regard, and both submit to Instagram and TikTok.
Distrokid takes a slight edge in the race when you consider the fact that you can distribute the lyrics to your song in addition to the credits, while CD Baby only lets you include the credits.
CD Baby reviews their submissions before sending them to their musical platforms. Distrokid has a more automated process for this, which cuts down their delivery time.
Most platforms you want to get on will receive your music within a few days with Distrokid. CD Baby takes up to a couple of weeks to send your songs out. While that time allows them to scan your music for copyright problems or audio errors, it really isn't appealing to most artists.
One of my favorite things about Distrokid is the options they give you for royalty splits with other creators. As a hired singer and songwriter, I have way more song releases that are collaborations than I have for my own personal catalog.
I've been able to receive hundreds of dollars in royalties thanks to clients who allowed me to receive a cut of the royalties for the songs I collaborated on. CD Baby does not offer this.
Here's one reason I am holding on to my CD Baby account. They offer physical distribution services in addition to digital releases.
I know we're living in the digital age, but in-person marketing with CDs is still effective for independent artists looking to get in front of a larger audience over time. This is especially true for artists that regularly do shows.
CD Baby doesn't have a service for licensing cover songs. This is another big deal for independent artists trying to market to a large audience, so here's another winner for Distrokid.
They charge $12 a year to manage each cover song for you. With this service, they obtain the license(s) you need and pay the original songwriter(s) every month.
Both of these services are pretty good with payouts. They both allow you to have a $0 payment threshold. CD Baby pays out automatically every two weeks, while you can manually request a payout from Distrokid at any time. Both have paid me on time and delivered on their word.
While both stat reports can be complicated to read, CD Baby can give you more data than Distrokid does. I understand that many people will not be that concerned with getting down to the nitty-gritty here, especially if the earnings are very low anywho.
But it's good to know that CD Baby can break it down really well for you if you need them to when it comes to your income.
You can see some instances where CD Baby can really come in handy, especially if you are trying to get into physical releases or collect your own publishing royalties.
Again, neither company has done me wrong, and I would recommend both, but Distrokid is a great choice when it comes to price, ease of use, and additional features.
Distrokid also allows you to sign up and get 7% off of your membership if you sign up and are referred by someone that already uses their platform (me!). You can get started with their services here.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.