The hidden DistroKid limitation that'll get you

I took most of my music off streaming as of October 28, 2023. The reason has three parts and involves DistroKid, which is the distributor that I used. Let's talk about it.


You see, I never earned out my distributor payment, ever. So I've been distributing my music to streaming for about three ish years, three or four years maybe. In none of those four years have I ever earned out the cost of the annual flat fee that I pay to use Distrokid and upload all my music to it.

So, really it's, it's never been useful for me that way. It's never really driven me any resources that I could use. So, in that sense, it's easy to let it go. That's not like the reason why I would let it go, but it's certainly easy to let it go when you realize, "Oh! I've always paid more money to be on streaming than I've ever gotten back from it."

And that is partly because of reason number two...

DistroKid's most nefarious hidden limitation

I chose a plan on DistroKid three or four years ago that was the second-tier price plan, so it cost more than the cheapest DistroKid plan, because I was distributing my former bands' music on there as well. I needed to pay for more artist names to be usable on DistroKid, and they charge more if you want to upload more artists to the same account.

So, I was paying more through DistroKid than I really needed to, because I didn't really end up using those other bands' tracks in the subsequent years: we rerouted them later.

DistroKid doesn't let you downgrade, you have to cancel. But also, if you cancel, you cannot upload the same tracks to a new DistroKid account. You have to upload them through a different distributor because of how they do their databases or whatever. That is the hidden limitation.

Don't worry, this doesn't mean that you can never re-upload that music to streaming. You just need to use a distributor other than DistroKid for those tracks (defined by ISRC; any ISRC previously used on DistroKid accounts can't be used on another DistroKid account).

What's the solution? Well, I signed up for a new DistroKid annual fee at the cheaper price, like half the price, just to distribute my own music. I can't redistribute my old music onto it, though.

Maybe I can find a free distributor that I actually like, but I thought it was just going to be, "I'm canceling my expensive DistroKid, I'm signing up for the cheap one, I'm re-uploading it all, boom!" But I actually can't do that, so that's why it's turned into a whole thing, instead of it just being down for like a week which is what I was expecting at first.

This store

The last thing and certainly not the least factor in the decision was that by this point, I already decided to make a Chernoff Music store and host recordings here. To the extent that things end up here exclusively, to be honest I'm here for that. I still have my annual DistroKid at the cheaper price now, that I can upload future music to streaming with; but if I end up keeping my older recordings exclusive for you to buy on CD, or maybe I'm even going to put out an LP, who knows. I dig that. I want that for this store.

These are the real reasons why that music came down from streaming. Now you can rest assured that I didn't suddenly become a UMAW activist!

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