DistroKid announced an update of its ‘Splits’ royalty distribution service on Friday, but what’s even more interesting is a claim made towards the end of the announcement about the distributor’s scale overall.
“It is estimated that 30-40% of all new music in the world is distributed by DistroKid, with the company ingesting and processing more than 35,000 new tracks every day,” claimed the company, adding that its catalogue now comprises nearly 20m tracks from more than two million artists.
That’s certainly big, although the company has not thus far shared deeper stats on how many streams that catalogue is generating, or – equally usefully – any data on how that catalogue looks in terms of its fat head (tracks doing lots of streams and thus the bulk of the revenue) and its long tail (tracks that are… not).
DistroKid has certainly grown its client base: in October 2018 it had more than 250,000 artists on its books. That’s also the month when it raised “significant investment” from VC firm Silversmith Capital Partners, and then immediately afterwards took a “passive minority investment” from Spotify.
This was during the short-lived experiment when artists could upload music directly to Spotify, and then use DistroKid to distribute those tracks to rival streaming services if they wanted. Spotify ended those tests in July 2019, but DistroKid’s growth has continued, including a focus (like its key rivals) on signing deals with new platforms including TikTok, Twitch and Snapchat. It also recently launched a feature called ‘Upstream’ to matchmake artists and labels.
As for Friday’s main announcement: ‘Splits’ is the feature where DistroKid artists can automatically split their royalties with their collaborators, from musicians and producers to photographers and investors. What’s new is ‘recoupments’ – the ability to pay some of those people before the actual split, for example to cover expenses.
Useful, for sure, but it’s DistroKid’s growth, its Spotify relationship and the bigger picture of the relationships between distributors and DSPs (see also: Apple investing in UnitedMasters) that made it our lead story today. There is plenty to ponder about where this all leads in the coming years.