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Signing Up For Distrokid: End To End

June 1st, 2013 by Andrew Smales

If you’re looking for Distrokid, here’s the link – this article isn’t really a review of their service (which is great though), it’s more of an article about purchasing decisions.

I recently changed something on the Castmate front page. Because it wasn’t a huge change, (and not a good situation for an A/B test), I was trying to guess how long it might be to see any results from it. To me, one of the most frustrating things about running a website, is that until a customer actually goes out of their way to tell you all the thought behind their decision to sign up, it’s tough to get a really thorough picture of what goes through their head.

Even when they do tell you, you can’t necessarily be sure that what they’re telling you is complete. Last weekend, someone wrote me with some questions, we wound up trading a few emails, and at one point, I asked how he heard about Castmate, and he said he had searched for “podcast hosting 2013” and found us. That is very specific (and good info, now that referrer data is becoming harder and harder to come by), but even that doesn’t tell the whole story: What other sites did he visit, how far along in his purchasing decision is he (it turns out, he’s not actually ready to sign up yet, he’s planning to start a podcast, but said it might be a month or two), etc.

Back to the change I made to the site: After making this change, I read something where someone who runs a web service (I don’t remember who, but it was either the guy who owns or one of the 37signals people) was saying that their average customer visits the site 7 times before signing up. That’s something that’s easy to measure, but sometimes it’s easy to just assume “oh this guy clicked on a link, came to the site, and signed up.”

Anyhoo, this is all very long-winded, and this is what it leads to: I recently signed up for Distrokid, which is a service that lets you upload music you’ve created to the iTunes Store, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon. It costs $19.99/year per artist, for unlimited songs and albums. That’s a lot cheaper than something like Tunecore, who charge $29.99 per album (for the first year – subsequent years cost $50), or $19.99 for a single song.

I’m somewhat familiar with Tunecore. I’ve seen bits and bobs written about it in the last couple of years, and I’ve discussed it a little with Drew, since he uses it to release his Crudbump albums. It always seemed like a decent deal to me, but Distrokid is obviously a fair bit cheaper. But this isn’t a review or comparison of the two really.

So, the point is, shortly after I heard about Distrokid, I realized that I was probably going to sign up for it at some point, and because I had just read the thing about the 7 site visits purchase thing, I decided to start a .txt file and keep track of my buying decision.

I want to make clear, I absolutely did not change my buying decision, or how long it took me to sign up, because of keeping track of it. I’m constantly updating little text files with a million things, so I just kept track of how long it took me to actually sign up, it’s not anything that new or weird for me, and didn’t change anything.

So here’s the log:

Mid May: I decided to follow some more people on Twitter, and added about 20 from the suggestions Twitter gives you. One was Philip Kaplan, founder of Distrokid.

May 28, evening:  I kill a bit of time by checking my tweets while waiting for someone. I see a tweet Kaplan sent about Distrokid that links to a Techcrunch article, which I skim for about a minute.

May 29, morning: I see a tweet Kaplan wrote where he links to a random Distrokid user he found. I follow the @distrokid account, partly as a bookmark so that I remember to look it up later.

May 29, afternoon (this is the session where at some point I actually decide to start keeping this text file): I check Twitter, and I see that someone faved a tweet I wrote. I click through to their blog, and I notice they link to a Soundcloud page for Anamanaguchi, who I think are some nerd band I saw a Kickstarter for recently. I go to their Soundcloud page to see what they actually sound like, and while I’m there I give a quick look at my own Soundcloud page, which I mostly just use for exporting scraps of music from my iPad.

Seeing my own music reminds me of Distrokid, and I google ‘distrokid’ for the first time. Their site doesn’t come up in the results, so I click on the link to the Techcrunch article, thinking it will link to their site. From here, I click a link to another TC article about Fandalism, the site that Distrokid was spun out of. That article contains a Youtube video showing a Fandalism meetup, and I start watching it.

I open a new window while I watch the video, and I go to Distrokid’s site. Notable: This is the first time I’ve actually gone to the site, weird!

There’s no pricing on the Distrokid site, and I can’t remember if it was 9.99 or 19.99, so I click over to the TC window that was playing the video, and go to the article with pricing.

At this point, I might have signed up, but I wasn’t sure what name I actually wanted to release my old songs under, so I decide to think about that, and I go and do something else.

May 31, 5PM: I see Philip Kaplan tweet something about Distrokid, and I’m reminded that I wanted to sign up for it, but I don’t actually do anything (other than update the log.)

May 31, 10PM : I see that someone tweeted at me, mentioning an old song of mine, and I have some time to kill, so I decide to actually go and sign up and upload that song.

So at that point, I went, signed up, intending to pay the $19.99, but I forgot there was a free plan, which lets you upload 1 song for free. I plan to sign up for the yearly plan soon, but I didn’t actually need it right away, so that was handy.

So that’s just a little diary of an end to end purchase decision, for whatever it’s worth. Of course in the end, I didn’t purchase anything, since there was a free plan, but I did intend to, and I’m pretty sure I will at some point soon.

As for the site itself, I can’t say a ton, since I’m writing this 12 hours after signing up, but it seems fine. It has a good design and works how you’d expect. I will point out that it says most albums will appear on iTunes in 2-4 hours, but mine is still marked as “Still waiting” on iTunes and Spotify. Not a big deal, I would make a guess that if there is some human step anywhere along the chain, Friday night at 10:30 is probably going to be the slowest time possible. And the site is brand new, and presumably in some sort of beta. Also the song I uploaded sounds okay, but was recorded at a very low bitrate, many years ago, and if it somehow got rejected by iTunes or something, I wouldn’t be shocked at all.

So I don’t have any huge review on Distrokid or anything, the article was mostly just about the log I kept of the purchasing decision. Not very Rock and Roll!


This is my general blogging place right now. I also have some stuff up on Medium, not sure how long I'll stick stuff there though. I'd like you to follow me on Twitter, or check out Castmate, the podcast hosting site I run.