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.
* 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.
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/...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
TuneCore charges a (much larger) annual fee.
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 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.
Congratulations on the launch and all the positive feedback. (We build with Railo too.)
Congratulations btw! :)
When selling to independent musicians, you want to compete on price.
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 ;-)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
Glad to try out CFML again - trying out Railo.
Looking forward to reading more about the technology you used. Maybe a separate post? ;)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
Congratulations, looks really good. You mentioned some related business opportunities. Is there a way to reach you by email? Thanks.
How do artists authenticate themselves? How do you know I'm not Kanye?
Are you or the stores handling payments?
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.
Did I mention that I love bandcamp?
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.
Also the community feature of bandcamp will be harder to beat.
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 can't wait to put my stuff up.
(i've shared this on my vast social networks.)
i've been looking to putting some of my music on iTunes recently, so really excited about this service. any chance of supporting Pandora?
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.
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!
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.
> Or you can pay $19.99/yr and upload unlimited songs for a year!
s/for a year//
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...
Also, do you collect and pay out money to artists like CDBaby does or do they have to collect it themselves?
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.
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.
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..
Send me a release and we'll post firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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!