DistroVid roared onto the scene July 18th offering a new music video distribution service. The surprising announcement from the makers of DistroKid means anybody can now distribute their music videos to platforms like Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, and Vevo with only a few clicks.
The biggest piece of news, though? Artists can upload unlimited videos for only $99 per year. Most distributors charge at least $99 just to distribute one music video to these platforms.
And if you want to upload videos for more than one artist, DistroVid charges just an additional $49 per artist per year. In the world of music video distribution, that's incredibly affordable. But is there a catch?
Hold Up What Exactly Does DistroVid Do?
In the music video world, YouTube clearly reigns supreme. And sure, anybody can upload their music videos to YouTube. But if you want those music videos you poured your time (and probably money) into to show up in gated communities like Apple Music, Tidal, Vevo, and Amazon Music, you need to go through a distributor.
And pretty much every distributor charges an additional fee for this service. Even if you have a revenue sharing deal with your distributor, they'd likely charge at least $99 per video to get them up on these sites.
DistroVid is doing this exact thing for the flat rate of $99 per year for unlimited music videos. Which means if you have a big catalog of videos that never showed up on the streaming platforms, you can now get them all up for a super affordable rate.
Why Do I Care If My Music Videos Are On These Platforms?
For starters, you do make money from these videos any time somebody watches them. Now, if your YouTube channel is monetized via ads, you'll be getting money there, too. But typically you get a bigger chunk of change from services like Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Tidal, than you do from YouTube. And meeting YouTube's bar for monetizing your channel isn't an easy feat for a lot of newer artists.
Plus DistroVid's flat fee is all they take — there's no additional revenue split coming from you wallet on top of that.
There's also a certain "legitimacy" factor in having your music videos show up on these platforms. When fans discover new music, if they see a song has a music video, they may be more likely to identify that tune as a focus track, or to simply take you more seriously as an artist in the first place. Might sound kind of silly, but it's real.
There is an element of discoverability here, too. That's not to say having your music video in Apple Music is necessarily the "it" factor you need, but as with all online platforms now, you really want your presence to feel as complete as it possibly can.
So How Does DistroVid Work?
It's pretty dang simple. It's even simpler if you already have a DistroKid account. In fact, when you actually sign in to DistroVid, you'll notice it's part of DistroKid already. So if you use DistroKid, you just need to purchase the DistroVid package upgrade. However, you don't have to be a paying DistroKid user to use just DistroVid.
From there, you do really basic stuff like enter your artist name, label name, video title, featured artists, writers, and other credits. If you can at least add things like who directed the video etc. that's always helpful.
Then you just select the video file, associate any existing artist profile links in Apple Music or Vevo, check off some boxes, and upload. The whole thing is one page and takes maybe 5 minutes, tops. Once your video has been approved for its technical specs, you'll get an email saying it should be anywhere from one to seven days before the video shows up on platforms, but anywhere as long as a few weeks for Vevo.
What Are The Restrictions?
There are a few immediate and obvious restrictions for the service. These platforms want all of the videos they have to look nice and uniform, which means no lyric videos, no vertical music videos, and it needs to look "professional" (a subjective benchmark). You can't have ads in the video or have it only be part of the song or multiple songs strung together.
However, your video only needs to be a baseline of 1280x720 resolution and it doesn't have to be rendered out in Apple's ProRes codec — a regular H.264 codec will do. If that sentence made absolutely no sense to you, just know that it means the bar is significantly lower than it used to be.
Oh, and you can't upload cover songs. Original songs and music videos only. You might be saying to yourself, "But I see official music videos of cover songs all the time by other artists." And that's true, you do! But those artists probably get to play by different rules than you, the new DistroVid user. It's a bummer, but for right now, let's try not to do anything to get you in trouble.
Should I Upload To Vevo? What About The DistroVid Gallery?
Let's start with the second part first. The DistroVid Gallery is an upcoming feature that hosts music videos for discovery, but no royalties. It's basically the definition of "doing it for exposure." Is there a huge gamble choosing this option? Not really. You can take your video down at any point from here. And the likelihood that you have a music video blow up on DistroVid Gallery but not see any subsequent benefit on streaming platforms is rare. That's just not really how people consume content.
As for Vevo, well, that's a different story. If you don't know anything about Vevo, here is the SparkNotes version.
Vevo started as an attempt by the major labels to pool all their artists' videos together and make more money from them than what they were getting on YouTube. But very few people were going to Vevo's site relative to YouTube, so they entered into an agreement with YouTube that would, in theory, still allow them to make more money from YouTube ad revenue but also have their videos on YouTube.
Fast forward over a decade later, and Vevo is a shell of its former self. There's really no distinction between Vevo and YouTube at this point, save for people still recognizing the "Vevo" watermark. (By the way, it stands for "video evolution"). And for some, that little Vevo watermark was motivation enough to distribute their video through Vevo. They saw it as a mark of validation or quality because it only use to go on content distributed by major labels.
Nowadays, we're not really sure any fans care about that at all. So are there any positives to still having your music video go through Vevo? Maybe a few. Vevo does run some playlists that could potentially boost your video views. They also have an app, making the videos more easily available on certain Smart TVs and devices. In theory, if you're part of the Vevo network, you're at least have the potential to get more traffic.
But there are major cons. For starters, if you upload through Vevo, you probably shouldn't upload it on your own channel. Which means you can't easily make changes, edit the description, or see really specific stats about the viewership. (Yes, you can still see certain stats in your YouTube studio if you have an OAN or "Official Artist Network," but these are paltry compared to what you can see of videos you upload yourself).
Also, Vevo does take a cut of your revenue for being part of the network. There's more to talk about here, and we'll do it in a separate article.
But for the sake of simplicity, we'll just say for a lot of users the perceived value of distributing through Vevo instead of your own channel will be very subjective and might not outweigh the cons.
Is There A Catch To DistroVid?
Well, it's pretty early, but so far the process is seamless. The biggest catch, however, will likely be the same catch with DistroKid: customer support.
DistroKid is able to be as cheap as it is because it's really a "you're on your own now" kind of service. You've probably heard horror stories about people trying to get in touch with DistroKid to make changes, get help, or fix errors with their release. You're probably not going to get to talk to somebody. They have a ton of users. You can always submit support tickets etc., but it's just a bit of a gamble.
There's no reason to believe this will be any different for DistroVid, even with a slightly higher price point than their music offering. You kind of know what you're going to get.
DistroVid does say it's possible to make changes and submit edits to your releases. We'll kind of have to wait and see what the story is when anything like that has to happen. But for now, if you choose to use DistroVid, understand it is a budget service and just triple check everything about your uploads before hitting submit.