DistroKid Endorsed by Founders of CDBaby and TuneCore


“Iconoclast” fits Philip Kaplan well.

He first wore the title in the early 2000s with his Fucked Company website, a “dot-com deadpool” known to everyone who was around for the dot-com bubble burst. Kaplan empowered hundreds of abused and exploited employees to vent their horror stories as the ship was sinking. His punk whistleblower approach shattered the confidentiality agreements of many mighty corporations, and exposed the ugly truth in what was an ethical vacuum.

In 2012, Kaplan jumped into the music world with Fandalism, the largest online community of musicians seeking other musicians to collaborate with.

Fandalism was just a taste of what Kaplan was planning, and in 2013 he launched DistroKid, an attempt to disrupt the digital music distribution aggregator market dominated by TuneCore and CDBaby.

When DistroKid launched, there was a collective gasp from musicians. “$19.99 for unlimited digital distribution, with 100% of royalties going to artists?” Many thought it was too good to be true.

And yet, there it was: your entire catalog on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Beats, Rdio, and Deezer for twenty bucks a year.

We caught up with Kaplan to ask about how DistroKid works, and to share his experience putting together one of the most exciting digital services for musicians in quite a while.

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At the top here, for our readers, could you please give the quick pitch for what DistroKid does for independent musicians?

DistroKid is the cheapest and easiest way for musicians to get their music into iTunes, Spotify, and other online stores. For $19.99 per year, musicians can upload unlimited songs and albums, and keep 100% of their royalties. Plus we get music into stores faster than anyone else. It’s super easy.

Giving artists 100% of their royalties is as musician-friendly as it gets. You could have easily taken a small percentage and still been cheaper than the competition. Why didn’t you?

DistroKid is designed to be really simple. Pay $19.99/year and upload unlimited music. That’s it. Nobody wants to think about percentages or fees every time they upload something.

DistroKid is utterly simple and efficient to use. I used the site today to upload a track just to get a feel, and you’ve nailed the user experience. It’s also pretty cool that you get tracks up to iTunes in less than four hours. How are you beating the competition in that regard, and how do you plan to scale up operations to maintain an edge on speed?

Thanks! Our competitors, specifically Tunecore and CD Baby, were designed a long time ago and their interfaces are really clunky. DistroKid’s interface is clean and simple.

You fight the good fight and making digital distribution less of an expensive, complicated nightmare for the independent musician. In the beginning, companies like CD Baby and TuneCore were fighting the same good fight, democratizing the music business by opening up digital distribution for independent artists. The value of digital distribution was different back then because the market for digital music was still under construction, and the technology hadn’t developed to the point it’s at today, with APIs and talented visionary coders like yourself to shift the balance. When CD Baby’s Derek Sievers sold to Discmakers and Jeff Price left TuneCore, did those companies lose their way, and how did it all that factor in to forming DistroKid?

Jeff Price and Derek Sivers have both said publicly that DistroKid is the best. They are the innovators and I idolize those guys. Their products were brilliant at the time, but have languished since they left.

Jeff wrote, “DistroKid is simply the best distributor in the market.”

Derek wrote, “This is amazing. This is exactly what I would have created if I didn’t sign a non-compete agreement when I sold CD Baby. I’ll be sending everyone I know to DistroKid now.”

Our site is all about helping musicians make money so they can sustain a life of making music. What is your advice to musicians on career success in this ever-changing industry?

Play lots of shows and have a friend with a clipboard get the email addresses of everyone in the audience. Then add them to your mailing list. I recommend using TinyLetter.com (which I founded and sold to MailChimp) for email newsletters & show announcements. It’s 100% free.

Also, connect with musicians who are more popular than you and ask to play at their next show. Also, be professional with not just your music — but with every aspect if your stage show. That includes lights, outfits, how long you pause between songs, bass drumhead artwork, and more. Don’t look amateur.

And have fun! Music is the best thing in the world.