Record Union Vs Distrokid

Daniel Tuttle
By Daniel Tuttle Owner Bottle Imp, photographer and chicken keeper. @DanielCTuttle

Introduction

When releasing music for the first time, figuring out the best way to get your music on Spotify, and other digital platforms, can be daunting. A while back, I used TuneCore to do this, and got frustrated with TuneCore’s massive price hikes, so I wrote an article comparing them with Record Union. That article helped a lot of people get away from TuneCore and release their music in a more affordable way. Now I want to showcase Record Union Vs Distrokid, as I think both can help different people.

In the time since I wrote that article, other options have cropped up, and I’ve been exploring them. Having used a few, DistroKid stands out as the most viable replacement, so I am going to explore the two services, how they are different and when you will want to use each.

Why I Can Help

Record Union Vs Distrokid: Daniel Tuttle will provide a comprehensive breakdown.

I have been releasing music online and digitally since the mid 90’s. Back then, I was part of a post-industrial band titled Ogun’s Will. The band helped form Killdevil Studios, an underground music hub, trying to keep underground music afloat in the 90s. Since then, I have released dozens of albums for many musicians that have met critical acclaim, do cover design, run an independent record label and generally love music.

I want to help you on your journey. 🎶

Discounts

At the end of the article, I offer discounts on both services. If you want to skip to those, you can.

Try Record Union

If you want to skip straight to it, I can give you your first release there for free.

Try DistroKid

If you want to skip straight to it, I can give you a discount on you fees.

Feature Comparison

In terms of additional features, DistroKid comes out way ahead. Record Union’s baseline is to get your music on digital stores and streaming services. It does that fairly well and at little risk, but compared to DistroKid’s plethora of features, premium and free, it pales in comparison.

Record Union Features

Most of what Record Union provides is pretty standard: get your music on the main digital stores. It doesn’t do much else, but for first timers on a budget, they do this well.

Reporting

Their reporting is much better than DistroKid’s, whose reporting is very rudimentary and ugly, but it basically works. The reporting is intuitive and doesn’t need much explanation. It helps with the marketing aspects of your music, if that sort of thing interests you. 🧠

Exclusive Offers

This feels kind of goofy, but they have some discounted services that they offer their customers. Personally, I don’t see a lot of value in them, but you may feel differently.

DistroKid Features

There are a lot of nice features at DistroKid, some of which I have not seen elsewhere.

Facebook and Instagram

Want your music available in peoples’ Instagram stories? This is available for free with these guys. Not sure how much you get paid but it is optional and doesn’t cost anything extra.

YouTube Money

If someone uses your music in a video on YouTube, you can collect some commission from it. This is a nice bit of automatic police work, but you may only want this if your music gets relatively popular. It costs $4.95 per year, plus DistroKid gets 20% of the revenue earned from this. I’d do the math on this before you throw down money on it. Be mindful though, people get their music from YouTube videos. A lot.

Store Maximizer

For another $7.95 per year, DistroKid will add your music to any new store or streaming service that they start working with. It is unlikely you’ll recuperate with this feature, but it is cool they offer it. If you want really wide exposure or your music is streamed a lot, it is probably worthwhile.

HyperFollow

This is a nice landing page link you can use to broadcast your album to once you release it through DistroKid. It includes an array of links directly to your release for all the major digital store. It also has a fair amount of statistics with it, so you can see if it is being used. This is extremely useful if you are using Instagram to promote your music.

Record Union Vs Distrokid Feature Comparison

Both of these music distributors have a lot of features. This article would be very long if I talked about all of them, but rather than talk about every item, here is a list.

Clearly, the winner for Record Union Vs Distrokid here is DistroKid.

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Pricing Comparison

I find assessing the subscription pricing on these services is not how they describe it in the simplest terms. There is a huge difference between Record Union Vs Distrokid, but it isn’t as easily broken down as it would seem.

Annual Fees

DistroKid has a flat $19.99 per year all-you-can-eat subscription fee. This is for one artist, and you can release as many albums as you want with no hidden charges or fees. That’s going to be difficult to beat for anyone that has a large catalog.

Record Union has pricing that is far more like TuneCore’s, but it is much fairer. There is a base price to just put your music on Spotify, a middle tier package that covers all the important stores, and a higher tier package that includes a more full array of stores.

In most cases, Record Union’s middle tier is what you want. It covers most of the premium stores that artists care about: Tidal, iTunes (or Apple Music now?), Google Play, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube Music.

And making things even more confusing, their pricing is based on the number of songs on your album. This is the full breakdown:

Record Union Vs Distrokid - Pricing grid directly from their site
Record Union’s pricing. I generally recommend Top Dog.

At base, DistroKid is a flat $19.99 per year, with as many albums as you want. If you have more than one artist, the subscription price varies:

The more artists or band names you represent, the cheaper it is per. Basically, you’re going to pay an annual fee per band, but if you’re a label and represent a lot of musicians, you get a bit of a discount on them.

Optional annual fees

While DistroKid advertises as an all you can eat model, there are some annual fees per release you can sign up for. These are optional niceties that you can completely ignore if you want. But, it is worth noting because they are things you can get via Record Union for free if you want.

Shazam

Shazam isn’t a streaming service, but it puts your music in a database and if someone is listening to your music somewhere, it can be identified using Shazam’s app on their phone. It is useful, and is one of the places your music gets aggregated to with Record Union’s “World Domination” package. DistroKid charges ~ $0.99 per track(though it also includes iPhone’s Siri), which by itself can rival Record Union’s entire pricing.

This is a service you want if your music has any popular traction, otherwise it is just a vanity feature.

Leave a Legacy

What happens when you die? ☠ DistroKid’s “Leave a Legacy” addresses that. It is actually a good feature. You pay a one time $49.00 fee, and when your subscription lapses, the album stays in the respective stores forever. When you eventually die, and I think we all do, your account still makes all the royalties on that album ad infinitum. This works, too, if you simply quit paying for your account, so it is a bit of a long term investment.

With Record Union, you sort of get this feature for free, but you also don’t earn money from the music, i.e. they keep the earnings. But, if you’re just looking to get your music out in the world, it is a less expensive option. If your music stands to make someone a lot of money, you are best off paying for DistroKid’s “Leave a Legacy”.

Related

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What they take

DistroKid takes nothing. You earn 💯 percent of your commission, minus the portion taken by the store in question. With Record Union, they keep 15% of your earnings. Personally, I don’t think this is much of an issue, but if you stand to actually make a lot of money from streaming services(🤣🤣), getting the extra could make a big difference.

Calculator

I threw this calculator together to highlight Record Union Vs Distrokid, and to show the strengths of each. It is pretty clear that if you are new and testing the waters(and use the coupon I can provide below), Record Union is a good way to go.

If you have only one or two albums, Record Union might be a better option, if cost is more important than premium features.

If you are established, DistroKid very quickly becomes the preferred selection since their price does not increase with the number of albums you have, not considering extra options.


Available Digital Stores

Both services have a wide selection of digital stores, but again, DistroKid wins out.

Record Union Stores

Record Union has three tiers. The first one allows you to choose any one store. Top Dog has the standard set of stores. World Domination has a few interesting premium options, which you should strongly consider.

DistroKid Stores

These guys generally put music everywhere for their single, yearly fee. Plus, they distribute to TikTok, and I don’t think anyone else does. These are their standard stores:


Ease of use

Both services are easy to use. In my article comparing Record Union and TuneCore, I noted that Record Union’s interface was poorly designed. It has improved a lot over the years. It still has a few goofy interface elements that do not seem like they were tested, but it is mostly a smooth experience.

DistroKid is a little rough around the edges, but is pretty straight forward and you shouldn’t have any problems using it. Record Union unquestionably has a nicer experience, though.

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So, which one do I use?

If you want to look at Record Union Vs Distrokid, DistroKid is almost always a better choice than Record Union, or any music distribution service. With a few notable exceptions, you will almost always want to go with them to release your new music. If you are new, however, you probably should start with Record Union.

DistroKid is almost always a better choice than Record Union, or any music distribution service.

When is Record Union better?

Record Union is a better choice in a few situations:

I can send you an invite that makes the risk even less since your first release WILL COST NOTHING for the first year. You can try it out, and if you’re able to make it work, switch your provider to DistroKid (Yes, this is an option).

Record Union Invite

I can send you an invite so you to try Record Union for free to see for yourself.

Record Union logo

You can try Record Union with one album at no cost. Simply fill out this form, and when I get your notice, I will send you an invite.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When is DistroKid better?

DistroKid is better for most prolific artists:

Distrokid Logo

GET 7% OFF DISTROKID

If you sign up through my link, you’ll get 7% off. That isn’t huge, but it helps!


tl;dr

Record Union is preferred for new musicians who want to try out releasing their music, but DistroKid is better for almost anyone who is serious and committed.

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