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What I've been up to for the past year (pud.com)
616 points by pud on Oct 9, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 171 comments

Well now he's got the founder of CD Baby on board, too. ☺

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 just created an unlimited account on DistroKid and I'm uploading all of my own music in the background as I type.

I'll be sending everyone I know to DistroKid now.

Congrats, Pud! You rule.

What!!! Yeah!

Great... also to see the distribution channel evolution and the implied step in maturity: from CDs to generic distribution, from Baby to Kid. Smart naming.

The baby->kid thing was unintentional, but I like it! :)

I immediately thought of the story behind CD Baby when I read the post. I'm glad you're supporting it (at least in spirit / as a user).

Well, I thought exactly what you just said and just sent the link to all my musician-friends here in Germany (ok, not that many, but non the less.

The simplicity of the distrokid landing page makes me weirdly happy:

* Clear headline right under the logo that explains the service.

* Dead ass simple call to action where you'd expect it.

* Clear benefits listed next to form.

* Complete explanation of the service & FAQ on the page.

* Social proof from solid brands.

The style isn't "gorgeous" and it doesn't follow best practices necessarily - maybe too much info, not enough contrast, not enough focus on the call to action, etc but for some reason it's jumping out at me.

Just feels honest and straightforward which is easy to over think / over-design.

There's something very honest and almost nostalgic about it. It contrasts with all the startup sites that follow the latest design fashion down to the t. This is real simplicity -- no gimmicks.

I was just happy that it loaded quickly and with no problems. I'm on an iPad 1, and more and more sites nowadays either take forever to load, or flat out crash iOS safari.

Yes and it was built with Railo, open source CFML

That was my impression as well. I've actually signed up and found the main interface beautifully simple, too.

By trying to post this on Reddit, though, I've discovered a surprisingly negative comment that also seems to have a point: http://www.reddit.com/r/WeAreTheMusicMakers/comments/1o1abq/...

That negative reddit comment had a point that doesn't fairly apply. Read the responses, they address all of its concerns.

I am following the discussion, most of my doubts were resolved.

This is the kind of disruption the music industry needed. You've eliminated one of the only two reasons a band should sign to a record label with this site. A feature (even if it cost a few dollars more per month) that allowed music to be submitted for consideration to radio stations that accept solicited material would be fantastic. The only reason really left to sign to a label is their generous press and album advance cash, but even those two conditions are easily bypassed going with a bedroom producer who is able to come close to a studio quality recording for a couple cartons of beer with a PC, mixing desk and copy of Protools.

I can't applaud you enough Pud. I am envious of what you've been able to achieve, especially the agreements in place and easy no BS interface that allows you to easily upload music with any gimmicks. I'll be keeping my eye on this, I have no doubt it's going to be huge.

I do believe there is one more thing that a record label can bring to an artist: marketing.

There's a gigantic amount of music produced every day, and only a limited time for listening, so filtering is a real issue, and labels do help there.

Record labels are labels, and in some genres of music, labels are a really good way to filter the signal from the noise for listeners. I do not believe this entitles them to keep a big part of the money generated by the sales of music, but it is clear that even if your music is on iTunes, Google Play, or any other service, if no one hears about it, it will just sleep there.

Therefore, to me, the next step in the elimination of the need of record labels would be an efficient music discovery service, where you could be sure that if your tunes are good, no matter the lack of promotion, they'll fall in the relevant ears. There is Pandora and the likes, but I don't think we're quite there yet (hype will probably always be a very strong thing). I have good hopes though.

I believe the GP covered that function under "generous press" -- but even still, this isn't really a reason to make yourself beholden to a label; marketing is a service you can pay for like anything else, where the marketing agency is beholden to you.

Stripping off distribution and press, "labels" are really just left as VC firms and/or incubators for music-production "start-ups" (in est, bands.) Which sounds about right.

Yep, that's what I meant by press in my comment, I should have probably worded it as "marketing budget" or something more obvious as I can see how it could get confused with press as in pressing a copy of a record.

You are right about labels one day just being startup incubators and venture capitalists for bands. I guess when you factor in all of the benefits the Internet brings to a band, there aren't many left a label provides other than cash. For a true decent recording you need cash for studio time, a producer and then more money to get it mixed and mastered.

I think macklemore already showed the world how to handle marketing: Instead of signing the rights to your music over to a label in exchange for their marketing talent, simply hire the label to do your marketing for you. apparently they're open to that.

Interesting technical question (disclaimer: I have no financial interest in these things). How is stuff like "Then stuff to automatically convert audio & image files to the right formats." usually done ?

Does the webapp push stuff in a queue and call a commandline tool like mencoder or something is there an industry standard tool ? How do you deal with concurrency (some kind of Actor model ) ? And most importantly, do you have to tune the linux kernel to achieve performance on this (just saw the LinkedIn NUMA post as well, so thinking about that)?

I am sure Youtube and all do it using the enviable Google infrastructure, but how does someone else do it

All the stores have different requirements. One store requires 2500x2500 artwork, another requires FLAC audio, etc. So when users upload audio or video to DistroKid, everything gets converted to appease all the different stores.

Right now there's a cron that runs every few seconds, finds the next unprocessed file, and processes it via command line. If/when volume gets really high, I'll probably have to do this somewhat differently to make sure it scales.

DistroKid uses MediaInfo to figure out what the user uploaded:


Then uses SOX for audio conversions:


And native Railo (the backend programming language I use) functions for image processing/resizing.


Railo claims to be based on JavaEE, so you have lots of options for scaling this if needed (TimedTasks can be run on more than one server, JMS provides queuing when jobs are waiting, etc).

>Right now there's a cron that runs every few seconds, finds the next unprocessed file, and processes it via command line. If/when volume gets really high, I'll probably have to do this somewhat differently to make sure it scales.

Hah! Really cool. I wrote a very similar script/program to do that for huge video files using tons of different case/switch methods that carve up mplayer2.

Really awesome project, BTW.

thanks ! very interesting - I have never heard of any of the things that you mentioned .

could you talk about why you chose Railo, which looks to be a fairly esoteric stack. Is it something you chose specifically for its media capabilities ?

I love Railo. And I love the CFML language, which is what it uses. Railo is free (as opposed to Adobe ColdFusion - the other CFML platform), open source, has a great community, and does everything I need. I'm a speed demon in it. And the pages load super fast.

+1 for the simple & pragmatic solution w/ cron and not over-engineering this at the current stage!

How did you decide on using MediaInfo and SOX, rather than say eyeD3 and ffmpeg?

I forget why I didn't use ffmpeg. There was a reason. I evaluated both and decided SOX was better for me. It's working well so far.

I can't speak for them, but yes it almost certainly stores it in a database and queues it for processing by a command line tool like ffmpeg. You could just have a script that checks to see if there are songs in the queue, then runs the command line tool against the next song in the queue when one of a specified maximum number of processing slots is available. You could fire that monitoring script with a cron.

This isn't the type of service that would do massive Youtube-like volume, so I cannot imagine that they are doing anything special to handle high volumes of uploads. I would guess that a single lower-end AWS server would do an adequate job for the volume they'll be handling.

My does that kind of "stuff", we automatically convert audio and embed inaudible watermarks to prevent piracy,leaking, etc.

AWS makes a lot of the concurrency issues easy (and scaling). Basically you can use their SQS ("Simple Queue Service"), add tasks to it, and when the individual drones check out a song from the queue, it's no longer available for a set amount of time.

If the drone finishes the process completely, it removes it from the queue permanently, but if the drone fails, dies, whatever, after that time-out it gets bumped back into Queue for the next worker drone.

We use FFMPeg for conversion.

--- note: tracktrack.it, if you're curious about watermarking.

Store all the assets/data however you like, then append a job description (referencing the assets/data) onto a queue. Separate servers have a worker process running that tries to fetch a job from the head of the queue and start processing, taking as long as it takes. When it's done, it fetches another. A separate overlord process monitors the queue health. If the queue grows too large, it fires up more servers. When the queue is small, it shuts down idle servers.

I've solved this kind of problem before, albeit for video.



Plus a delayed job worker process managed by upstart, tada, got yourself a video-encoding-and-streaming system.

> And most importantly, do you have to tune the linux kernel to achieve performance on this (just saw the LinkedIn NUMA post as well, so thinking about that)

Ha, no. Definitely not until you have really significant scale - it's remarkably fast on a reasonable dedicated server and scales well across cores, run N/2 to N+1 delayed_job processes for N cores depending on how well ffmpeg et al make use of your cores. Well faster than realtime.

thanks - one tangential question: why upstart and not runit or supervisord or all the other tools ?

Running ubuntu, don't rock the boat, just use the system default unless you have strong opinions.

From my brief last.fm experience, industry standards are a huge mess. I think we actually had our own program for doing at least some of the conversions, but it was just a couple of hundred lines calling standard libraries; commandline ffmpeg would not be unreasonable.

And yeah, it's an actor-like model, except you don't really have a problem with concurrency. You just need some kind of task queue that you add encode jobs to and a bunch of worker machines that take tasks off this queue, run them, and respond. Almost every big system seems to start looking like this.

It can convert all those formats, but it can't convert a .jpeg to a .jpg.

Are you likely to do the same for movies?

If you think the music industry's distribution model is broken, check out the movie industry. Currently it'll cost me over $1,000 to use the easiest route to getting a feature into iTunes.

Good idea. I'm not a movie maker so I don't know much about the business, but I'll investigate.

I am a movie-maker (obviously), and I know a lot of other experienced movie types too - happy to help with research.

Good starting points would be the current leaders in getting movies onto iTunes and Netflix: KinoNation and http://www.distribber.com/ .

The situation for filmmakers is so bad that the latter's offer to take 3+ months to get a single movie into iTunes for the low, low price of $1295 was - rightly - considered to be a massive leap forward for filmmakers worldwide.

Isn't that really chump change for a movie?

it's chump change for hollywood feature films. there are other types of movies.

Excellent product and targeting, actually almost muttered 'ooooh' after reading your post. I'd also add in some other promotional channels on next iteration like Soundcloud uploads. Promotional and general 'radio' like stations, I find lots of new music at Soundcloud, get started http://developers.soundcloud.com/docs

What are you going to do to protect the store from the spam? Especially with the "upload for free" feature? Looks like the potential for trouble and the inconvenience of all the users of the store.

If I gave details on this, it would aid the spammers. So I can't really give details. I wish I could.

Good, I'm glad that you have thought about the subject.

ORRR he doesn't have an answer yet! Just kidding Pud, congrats man. Always liked your stuff and made a crazy living off Adbrite back in the day! Good luck.

Security through obscurity usually isn't a good idea.

Spam isn't a security problem, it's an abuse problem. All spam protection systems I know of rely at least somewhat on secret special sauce.

Not to pile on, but it's helpful to explicitly spell out the difference between security and spam: In the former, you're preventing access for anyone who's not on a whitelist. In the latter, you're hunting for people (who have access by default) to add to a blacklist.

That applies to security, but not really to fighting spam. The only people who will tell you exactly how they avoid spam are either a) not worth spamming or b) covered in it.

First off, this looks excellent.

This undoubtedly trumps the likes of CD Baby in many ways, but one reason I could see people sticking with them is that, even though to upload an album at CD Baby is more expensive up front, it's a one-off payment. You pay the $40 or whatever it costs, then that's it, the music stays up there at no further cost. From the DistroKid FAQ, if you stop paying your yearly fee then the music can be removed.

Clearly though such users aren't your target audience, you're going after the musicians that want to upload songs all the time, as opposed to albums.

Good luck to you though, this is the type of innovation this industry desperately needs.

CD Baby takes a percentage of your royalties forever. DistroKid doesn't.

TuneCore charges a (much larger) annual fee.

You should probably mention this in the FAQ or something, for the next person to wonder.

Congrats and good luck! Gonna say that you should charge more though, $20 a year unlimited is incredibly low.

A few other people have also suggested I raise the price.

If "too many customers" becomes a problem (increase in customer service expenses, etc) I'd consider it. But right now that's not an issue and I love that it's cheap.

I love that it's cheap, too. It recognizes the reality of the situation: There is no reason for middlemen, like this, to exist...except that the market is currently broken because of over one hundred years of copyright law being built up around expensive duplication and distribution.

I believe you're doing it Right, both from an ethical perspective and a business perspective. At this price, you can position yourself to be the distribution partner people choose even after the market evolves to fit reality. It will still be easier to use your service, and you can add additional features for marketing, discovery, licensing for other purposes (like film use of songs, or for commercial use in businesses, which is owned by Sirius/XM and their ilk currently) and more.

Put any new/advanced features in a premium tier and put a higher price on that. At $20, it's a no-brainer for so many people.

Congratulations on the launch and all the positive feedback. (We build with Railo too.)

The problem would be better named "too many customers, too much hassle and not enough income to support it". It might be wise to come up with a premium service for users who can/want to pay more. In general you don't want to compete on price, but on quality and convenience.

Congratulations btw! :)

> In general you don't want to compete on price

When selling to independent musicians, you want to compete on price.

Well said ... it's not a "too many customers" problem so much as you need to maximize the profit per customer. If you can build a service that's intuitive and error-free (within reason) customers and costs scale linearly. Peldi (Balsamiq) and patio11 (BingoCardCreator) are great examples of this.

Top bloke!

So at first I was skeptical of "...a service where musicians can just upload songs whenever they want..."* -- where I was thinking "How is this different than SoundCloud" -- but with reading about how to submit to the various providers -- that is awesome!

Pud should provide an API for these other music hosts to channel user content to these providers.

What I am interested in though, more than the ability to submit, is to FIND -- If this service were able to allow me to find micro-artists in certain genres on the major players - that would be fantastic... or to create channels/playlists of them.

I LOVE electroswing -- and it is dominated by the wonderful Parov Stelar -- but I have every track by him... so I'd like to branch out. If I could track a genre of "ElectroSwing" and have it look for artists across all the major vendors, and keep a purchasable playlist of these guys... that would be farking amazing.

Also, been a fan of Pud's for years... don't wind up on some fucked list ;-)

Concerning ElectroSwing: Do you know 'Proleter'? Found him a few days, it's sort of ElectroSwing meets Triphop - amazing stuff. I assume you also know Caravan Palace? I love those two, not a big fan of Parov Stelar however.

Why is music still sold like this?

Why isn't everything digital sold like apps?

What's the point of these middlemen?

iTunes provides the store and artist provides the product. In 2013 why does capitalism and technology allow this to occur

It is available and it's called bandcamp. I said it before but I think it's a superb platform for musicians and listeners alike.

iTunes / Apple takes the curated approach with their catalogue, they obviously don't want you there unless you're signed to a label. That is fine - let's not act as if iTunes is the holy grail of music distribution - I'd argue that if you aren't big enough to get into iTunes without another middle men you're very unlikely to make any sales there either - especially as a small indie artists. It caters to casual listeners of popular music.

Bandcamp on the other hand is for enthusiasts actively seeking for obscure music. Depending on your audience you might be a lot better served there.

When I was reading this, I was asking myself the same questions. Unbelievable that a musician can't just upload a song to iTunes. I thought that was one of the huge driving factors of digital music distribution, breaking down the old barriers? I don't use iTunes, but apparently I missed something - sounds like the music industry hasn't changed much after going digital.

I think Apple was/is scared of "unprofessional" music. Apple doesn't want to be the YouTube of music. Not allowing shitty (or pirated!) music is a hard problem to solve. A bunch of suits and contracts does a decent job because not many people are going to take the time if they just want to troll.

So, how does Distrokid factor in to this? After reading, I had the impression that anybody with $20 could upload their music via Distrokid... is the idea that the annual fee is supposed to be a filter to prevent shitty music? Pirated music is one thing, but 'shitty music' seems a bit tougher to police.

pud said in an earlier post that there's a propietary spam filtering system in there that he's understandably reluctant to share details on.

A spam filter is different than an "amateur" or "unprofessional" filter though. I don't see how it could protect against that.

Who decides what shitty is? Well, just listen to Gagnam style and compare it with others. Everybody is different. And the tastes are different, too.

Agreed. Good music is 100% subjective, good apps are at least partially objective.

Not allowing shitty (or pirated!) music is a hard problem to solve.

As others have said, shitty is entirely subjective.

But pirated is a really easy problem to solve. Just run it through an identifier like Echoprint.


> As others have said, shitty is entirely subjective.

I strongly disagree that shitty is entirely subjective. Contextually, "shitty" could mean music recorded on a cell phone, or tracks that were 2 seconds long, or tracks that have been transcoded 7 times and sound like they're being played from a walkie-talkie at the bottom of a well.

I can understand why a music platform might want to enforce some standards of professionalism or technical competency, even if they didn't want to do so for matters of taste.

or tracks that are actually completely stolen. this is a HUGE problem on BeatPort. DJs take 90s house records and just change the speed do a small edit and then release it as their own production. and BeatPort releases it. I have many friends who are furious because their music has been blatantly stolen.

They literally do the same thing with apps. Pay a yearly fee and you're good.

A yearly fee AND every single app has to go through an approval process.

Which just weed out competition with what they have/will have. Fart apps pass just fine.

initially it was very difficult to get on iTunes unless your label was big enough for Apple to deal with. or if your indie label could work with their own indie distributor (Caroline etc.) to do a deal with Apple.

then came TuneCore which became the middle man to make it easy for both sides. this was great and empowering. but they have a big yearly fee.

it is possible to deal directly with Apple but its actually a significant value add to go through a middleman and reduce the labor and billing complications.

A few year ago I worked for a company that offered a similar service, but was more focused on labels than individual artists. Even though iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Play may be there big ones there are 100s of music stores, plus ring tones, call back tones, lyrics sites, user generated content sites (youtube, vimeo etc) etc that need to get the latest content, either the music or just the metadata. There are new sites springing up and dying regularly.

When a site starts up, they don't need to go cut individual deals and setup the transfer technology with every label and artist. They can approach a few companies like the one I worked for, write a plugin and get a huge amount of content right away. The labels don't want to monitor every site that starts up and send content and handle royalties. They could set usage rules and the content would be sent to the appropriate sites.

Once sites get huge like iTunes, they cut their own deals with the major labels. But without services like this there is no way small artists and music sites could ever survive, it would be far too time consuming.

> In 2013 why does capitalism and technology allow this to occur

I'd ask why music is sold at all when people will freely distribute it for you, and marginal costs are gone.

The answer to both cases, though, is legislation. Tons of law around recording, labels, etc that make it even if Apple wanted to be kind and play nice it is probably a legal morass to let anyone sell music next to labels.

Though the more likely case is that the middleman exist because they are powerful. Apple couldn't have launched itunes and had the success they did by trying to ignore labels - when all the popular bands are on labels, and new musicians think they need a label to be successful, Apple has to play ball with that mindset.

And mindsets change slowly. Expectations will evolve much slower than technology. It is the same reason apps took 15 years past the launch of the Internet to come to fruition, because moving past pieces of plastic in ones hand took some time.

If iTunes et al solely deal with distributors/publishers, then they can pass all copyright concerns onto them - there's a vetted company/organization (which presumably must be a legally-formed entity).

As someone else pointed out, they don't want to become the "YouTube of Music" - but I suspect it's more because they want to avoid all of the copyright issues that come with such a mantle. No need to be sued or worry about DMCA so much etc.

There are multiple music store providers and a musician should have presence in all of them.

It seems that DistroKid solves this problem by uploading the music to all the music stores (not really all atm but maybe they will get there). This way musicians doesn't need to study what kinds of hoops they need to hop through to get included in any of the stores.

It will change eventually. Responsive web albums are just a matter of time.

>> "We'll put your music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon"

Are these the only services the music will be on? I can't even list the services I get on with CDBaby it's that long but you are missing some important ones:

Rdio Deezer Last.fm

I just looked through my sales reports on CDBaby and those are some of the most used services. I would love to use this but Rdio and Deezer in particular are too important for me.

and for many BeatPort is essential. though many of us DJs hate BeatPort

Afaik it's not possible to get your music on BeatPort through any of these services (I've looked around before). I think they are pretty strict about curation and it requires a label with prior connections to Beatport to get on it. If I'm wrong about this I'd love to know!

yes, all my friends are saying this distrokid looks great, but its missing dance stores.

OTOH we all hate BeatPort, and iTunes really is not important. I only care that I get on boomkat, but I care about music more than I care about sales :) I've been on frontpage beatport, juno and boomkat. nice to take a screenshot of, but it doesn't translate into much money.

Beatport is kind of like iTunes, its been getting less and less strict about the curation. usually if you have a distributor agreement then you can get in that way. but honestly I haven't checked recently. maybe you can just apply.

they have huge problems with people buying tracks from other people (so they didn't even produce them) and buying soundcloud views to pump up their stats. and the music is just dull. but they still get in to beatport.

This is an impressive accomplishment, I would say almost more because of the deal-making and logistics of dealing with the online music stores than the coding but together these accomplishments show you really have your heart in the game!

I will immediately share this with the people I know who would be interested.

Also let me know if you need/want marketing help, I would love to help spread the message of Distrokid!

Agree. It would be interesting a post where you explain how you made all the agreements with Apple, Google & co. and how do you handle association for copyright protection (like RIAA).

Exposure: http://distrokid.com/api/passwordResetEmail/

Glad to try out CFML again - trying out Railo.

Awesome stuff, Pud! As a cfml dev its awesome to see startups drooling over Railo (Which is open source coldfusion, shhhh don't tell anyone ;). I give it 6-12 months before Railo is the "new" hotness.

Looking forward to reading more about the technology you used. Maybe a separate post? ;)

I used it for one song some time ago, and I was impressed. Everything went super smooth.

The only reason I didn't pay to upload my whole EP was that if I understand well, you have to keep paying every year if you want them to stay in the stores; it's not really practical for me since I only have 4 songs that I want to put in the stores and I don't even think I'm going to sell enough of them to cover the price, and I don't know if I'm ever going to record anything else that's good enough for the stores.

But it probably just means that I'm not in the target market, so don't take my story for what it's not. I think this is an awesome service, and go try for yourself if you don't believe me!

If you aren't willing to "lose" 20 bucks a year then I doubt you are really serious about it.

He's got to make money somehow...

Looks like you've found a cool sweet spot in the market place! I'll definitely put in a good word with my musically inclined friends.

Thanks! Hope so.

Just really wanted something where as a musician, I can just upload my music to stores without really giving it much thought. Kinda like how anyone can upload to YouTube easy cheesy.

Very nice on the market place approach. I wish discovery services were of sufficient quality to allow us to find new and unknown/small musicians. Word of mouth and algorithms only go so far.

Founder/OP here.

Totally agree. Funny how things change: Old technology for music discovery was FM radio. Today it's YouTube's related videos and stuff people are tweeting.

I encourage all musicians to make videos for their music if possible, for YouTube discovery... (related business opportunity: make this easier)

But if/when they're ready to buy, I think they go to iTunes/Spotify/Google Play/Amazon.

Funny how things change: Old technology for music discovery was FM radio.

Interestingly Radio Helsinki is a radio station that doesn't have playlists. Therefore they play every day 99,5% different songs than yesterday. I listen to that station when commuting and I tend to end up finding 1-2 new artists or albums on daily basis. At least for me Spotify manages just to suggest annoying and mediocre crap, if I try their random radio or what ever it is called. That's the difference between qualified and experienced DJ and some algorithm randomizing songs.

I ran a community radio show (3 hours, one night a week) in Brisbane for a few years. That's what I did: I'd rock up in studio with my music collection and play whatever I felt like at the time.

Now, it was a small station, but I had thousands of listeners in the country who tuned in online (was broadcast on DAB+, AM and online) and the main reason they gave was because of the bands I played that never got airtime anywhere else.

It also made me happy that other people got to hear my favourite local post-rock bands, and really helped with getting interviews ;) Was a lot of fun. I miss it to be honest, and am sad that it's going the way of the floppy disk...

When I first bought my car, it had Sirius/XM free for a few months. Most of it was schlock.

One show I did find interesting was "Metal Roots" -- it was on Saturday sometime in the afternoon -- usually when I wasn't driving. The shows I did catch were quite amazing -- places like indonesia and south america. Learning something new.

I've seen the same w/ Radio Helsinki (lived there for about 1/2 a year in a previous life), CBC Radio 3 Sessions, etc. But most of the US doesn't seek out anything more than the local cumulus station.

FM was always local (to a point).

Born/raised in the bay area, lots of small venues including 924 Gilman and Slims provided early exposure. Then there was "The List", I believe Steve Koepke started, which was a great way to track local shows.

I usually augment local with attending festivals in other cities (one such in Vancouver on and off for the last 15ish years), but as tastes change and more is available to us globally, true discovery is hard. There is a lot I find I like in passing, but bands I truly want to see live or hear more from, it's hard.

Youtube and, to an extent, the audio "platforms" I've you access, but there are no real good filters.

My best avenue, for now, is follow the musicians I know and follow up on who the like/are inspired by.

Hi pud,

Congratulations, looks really good. You mentioned some related business opportunities. Is there a way to reach you by email? Thanks.

Can you explain more about how the music store APIs work? Do their terms allow you to represent unlimited artists?

How do artists authenticate themselves? How do you know I'm not Kanye?

Are you or the stores handling payments?

This is great. On one hand I'm happy that record labels and middle men are cut off from the process, on the other, being an old-fashioned music listener, I will never stop considering music as part of an album, and I will never buy a "song". I will always buy full length albums. I like real bands, not Internet phenomena‎. Not saying that one excludes the other, though. But the concept is absolutely brilliant and the same is true for the execution.

I love the fact that pud makes great stuff and just keeps building and shipping good ideas. It's a simple thing, but he does it quite well.

Small quibble: Those press quotes pretty much each say the same thing - recounting the four point list that is directly above them.

Bandcamp is going to hate this.

Bandcamp allows musicians to sell their music directly to listeners.

From DistroKid.com: "We'll put your music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon."

Different model, no?

DistroKid helps musicians get their music in the mainstream stores. Bandcamp is its own store.

I think they're serving different ends.

Doesn't that sorta directly compete? Why bother buying on Bandcamp when you can support the artist right from Google Play/iTunes/Amazon MP3, which you're already using?

Better audio quality, cheaper price, better shopping experience, can buy physical products eg vinyl and tshirts, shopping page is customized by artist and has links to their online presence, bigger cut goes to artist, some tunes given away free, traffic is driven by music review blogs, the list goes on and on.

Did I mention that I love bandcamp?

In Bandcamp you can buy with Paypal. I appreciate that. On the other hand Bandcamp is a bit more like that brick-and-mortar record shop next door compared to those huge corporations. Music and corporations don't match too well for me. I know my reasoning is out there for the most, but can't help it :)

If I remember correctly, Bandcamp takes a 15% of revenue (it drops to 10% once you go above 5K) while Apple takes 30%.

I buy on Bandcamp because it's significantly less expensive.

Artists set their own prices and many are below the $0.99 price point.

A lot of albums are "name your price" and you can't beat that.

Because there are many people who simply don't. They may require lossless audio or local storage instead of streaming. I know I do - and none of those services offers these options. That said, bandcamp, boomkat or qobuz are indispensable lossless audio stores for me.

to be fair, you can listen to the whole song on Bandcamp before buying compared to 90 seconds on iTunes

My money flows primarily to stores that sell FLAC, so Bandcamp still has an edge there.

Thought this at first but seems like the model is pretty different. Bandcamp sells direct and allows tons of free streaming. This service is geared towards placement in "stores" like iTunes and Amazon.

Also the community feature of bandcamp will be harder to beat.

Yep, and CDBaby and others..

This is an enormous achievement, as is the fact that an uploaded song is available in all countries worldwide, wherever each store is supported. The payout method being via PayPal email address is also a good move for users outside the US.

How do you keep out/manage the musical equivalent of spam since this also lowers the barrier to entry? I could see some sub par artist use the right keywords and get their sons to come up on lots of search results.

Serious question; What happens when you stop paying? That's why I use CDBaby for my stuff. I don't have to keep paying out for tracks that MIGHT sell 1 or 2 copies over the course of a year.

From the FAQ:

If you stop paying the $19.99 per year, we may remove your DistroKid songs & albums from stores. You will continue to have access to DistroKid.com and (of course) will receive any royalties owed to you.

The reason why we remove former-customers' music from stores is because it's a lot of work for us to gather revenue reports from stores, pay out royalties, do customer service, and so on. Your $19.99 per year covers all that.

We'll automatically re-bill you every year so you don't have to think about it. If the charge fails, we'll give you ample notice before removing any of your music from stores. We know you don't want any surprises when it comes to your music.

Also, in the rare case that we remove your music from stores after your yearly subscription ends, you can of course re-join DistroKid any time and upload it again.

I assume the content stay in the store but you can't upload new content.

I hope so, I'm planning on releasing about a dozen e.p.s over the course of a year, which i don't expect to ever sell more than 5 copies each, tops. it's a personal project to help myself improve as a song writer, and spending 45$ apiece is not worth it.

Do you specifically want it for sale if you don't expect it to sell many copies, or are you just looking to have your music out there? There are sites you can put music out there for free on. Shameless plug for my own site: http://www.audiomack.com. It is predominantly used for hip hop so that's what comes up in the top music charts, but there's nothing keeping anyone using it for any genre they like.

congrats. as a musician and a coder this is super intriguing. also, the technology you used (railo ?) is interesting and the cron stuff is just great.

well done.

i can't wait to put my stuff up.

(i've shared this on my vast social networks.)

pud - been a fan since "death metal office drumming".

i've been looking to putting some of my music on iTunes recently, so really excited about this service. any chance of supporting Pandora?

It's actually free for anyone to submit to Pandora: http://submitmusic.pandora.com/

I may figure out a way to automatically submit there from DistroKid (so there's one less thing the artist needs to do), but in the meanwhile, Pandora makes it easy.


As a pretty well learned guitarist cutting his teeth in bedroom producing, this is fantastic. One of the things that stifles creativity sometimes is the fact that there are so many options out there that just don't work well or don't reach enough people or are out of reach for people like me who are doing this on the side. 

I wish this was around when I was in college. Thanks for all the hard work! I will definitely be giving your service a workout this winter! Cheers!

@pud - Do you do Xbox Music as well? My brother just published an album through some distribution service and I was very surprised to find it on Xbox Music.

I think it was a year well spent! Nicely done. This is an important step in the right direction for independent musicians that don't have the benefit of large distribution.

Quick question: How do the various services handle categorizing the uploaded music? My concern as a musician is my music might not be as easily discovered via Spotify Radio or on related artists pages.

Brilliant! Independent musicians need as much help as possible, can be really tough making any sort of dough these days. Quick question- As a label releasing a compilation album, what would be the best way to use your service? The compilation is 15 tracks from 15 different artists, so would be quite expensive if I were to sign up via the label option!

Looks awesome! A minor typo on your main page:

> Or you can pay $19.99/yr and upload unlimited songs for a year!

s/for a year//

Cool, I just uploaded a track to see what would happen. All seems very painless so far.

I'm interested in the question somebody else asked - doesn't this mean there's now basically no quality control on itunes etc? I feel like it shouldn't be quite this easy to look like a proper musician...

This is fantastic. Small gripe: if you pay via Paypal, why don't you accept payments from Paypal?

I just know this is going to be one of those famous archived Hacker News posts one day. This is the kind of thing that changes the game - amazing that you pursued separate deals with these four music services. Record industry - it was a good run, but your era is over.

If artists get 100% of the royalties how do you make money? I want to be sure that a service I use for something as important is this will still be around in 12 months.

Also, do you collect and pay out money to artists like CDBaby does or do they have to collect it themselves?

DistroKid makes money from the $19.99/year.

DistroKid collects royalties & pays out monthly. I also founded AdBrite which paid out several million dollars per month, if that adds to DistroKid's credibility.

And the good thing is that even if your distributor disappears, your music is still in the stores. It's decoupled from the distributor. Tho I'm not sure how you'd manage your music if your distributor went away, but I'm sure there's a way. Also, the stores vetted DistroKid somewhat. Likely so they can avoid having to figure this out.

Thanks. I'm definitely going to try DistroKid out with my next release.

He charges each artist $19.99/year. Hopefully that'll be enough - cause I'd love for this service to still be around in 12 months.

Sorry, saw that after clicking through to the site.

Very cool!!

Is it possible to upload but say you don't want your stuff to go to Spotify? I'm interested in doing digital downloads but not streaming, since I believe they rob sales to a greater degree than they create new sales through discovery.

Yes. You can specify which stores you want to be on.

Great job dude, this is awesome. I'm sharing this with everyone I know who makes music, and not just because I want the referral. I'll probably upgrade as soon as I release another track, regardless.

Still using Railo I see :-)

What are the royalties each of those companies pay to the musician? Also, do they filter music our uploads? I can imagine users uploading popular music to earn on top of succeeding musicians.

How is it different from https://www.recordunion.com/? Because you get rid of the concept of "albums"?

Interesting. So every amateur can make an account and upload their stuff to Amazon? No filtering? Also, wont this attract people who upload Motorhead songs as their own?

How does a user know that you will continue to pay them royalties for their songs in 10 years time? Are you still going to be manually PayPal'ing payments...

very cool! but do you worry that making it easier/cheaper to submit to iTunes might cause iTunes to be flooded with "bad" music, thus prompting iTunes to crack down in some way? it seems like the current financial barriers in place might be JUST enough to prevent people from submitting who aren't serious about it, and you could be opening the flood gates

Having money to publish or produce doesn't immediately make you a good artist.

of course not, but in general i think that a monetary barrier prevents lots of people from publishing on a whim or prematurely

That's fair. Sorry, upon re-reading my comment it was a bit flippant.

I just feel that there is a lot of shitty commercially-backed music out there already, and we're in the Internet age of "share everything" already, so even if this does open the door to poorly produced crap ending up in online stores, we have enough mechanisms (both technological and cognitive) to filter the good stuff to the top I think..

And if doing it this way lets good stuff get discovered more easily, and helps independent artists get paid more easily, I'm all for it.

Plus I think artists who take their craft seriously (and therefore may end up being floated to the top in my previous example) will be very conscious of the quality of the product they want to put out there..

Looks awesome. I would make a big push into electronic. So many producers out there.

Send me a release and we'll post ben@whiteraverrafting.com

thx so much for creating this! I just uploaded my new track "Miles Away": https://soundcloud.com/hit8run/miles-away

Some time ago I thought that a tool like this should have been created but I didn't focus on this project. So glad to have this!

Sounds great - eagerly awaiting it to show up in spotify!

Thx a lot! I'm glad you like it :) Common Spotify get it online! :D

Congrats on the release.

I think the simplicity would be the biggest selling point to Distrokid.

I'll pass this to some of my friends who are musicians :)

All the best!

I love the idea behind this, hope it's successful and will be making sure my musician friends are aware of it.

Was there a reason for not doing MVP? You could have made it easy to publish and scrap everything else.

Please consider supporting 7digital.com It powers the samsung, blackberry, hmv music stores.

What is your technology stack?

Congrats, Pud! I hope you will share some growth stats in the months to come. :)

Congrats Pud and good luck!

This is immensely useful and i'm going to sign up!

How is Apple not taking/getting a cut?

They still do ... the 100% royalty refers to the portion paid out by the store, which is possibly something like 70% of the purchase price for iTunes?

Who says they don't?

If you are smart you will sell a $5 a month atccount for unlimited streaming/downloading. And distribute the funds to the artists based on viewership.

"What I've been up to for the past year" another one of those hn typical "I'm not telling you anything until you click me"-links.

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