Blog Audio

How DistroKid can leverage its podcast partnership to help artists tell their stories

Cover image for How DistroKid can leverage its podcast partnership to help artists tell their stories
Photo of Rutger Rosenborg
by Rutger Rosenborg

On the heels of MIDiA’s report “Defining podcast taste: The universal appeal of music, news, and comedy”, podcast network Evergreen Podcasts and independent music distributor DistroKid announced a sponsorship deal. This speaks not only to the growing appetite and crossover opportunities for music and podcasts but also to the potential for music and podcast companies to do so much more together. 

While just one of many new cross-industry partnerships that are sure to crop up in the next few years, this particular deal illustrates the potential for podcasts to serve as an important platform for smaller artists to tell their stories and get discovered by new audiences. It also reveals how much more DistroKid, and other companies like them, can do to bring music and podcasts into greater harmony.

The artist’s dilemma

In the streaming era, artists struggle to break through. According to MIDiA’s report “The State and future of music fandom: Unleashing fan creativity”, 70% of professional artists cite “breaking through the noise / oversaturation” as one of their most difficult challenges. With more than 10 million artists on Spotify alone, getting heard is increasingly difficult — and made even harder by the addition of podcasts and audiobooks on the platform. At the same time, social media marketing efficacy — what marketers call attribution — is difficult to measure, making artist storytelling increasingly important for creating personal connections with audiences. For an artist trying to stay afloat, it requires more than just asking strangers on the internet to listen to their music. It requires a hard won relationship between creator and consumer, and that relationship is built through storytelling. Great podcasters tell great stories, which means there is plenty of fertile soil for DistroKid and Evergreen to help creators from industries bloom.

For a nuanced breakdown of why it’s important for the music industry to think beyond the album campaign, read our 2023 report “Kill the campaign: Music marketing needs branding, not direct response”.

How podcasts may help artists tell their stories

If there is one company in the music industry that understands the sheer volume of music that is uploaded to streaming services every day, it is DistroKid. In 2021, DistroKid claimed the platform was distributing 35,000 tracks a day or roughly 1 million tracks a month, which they estimated was 30-40 percent of all new music in the world. With AI thrown into the mix, that number is only increasing. That makes breaking through the noise like winning the lottery. 

Though DistroKid’s business model is predicated upon this infinite supply of music, it still has a vested interest in seeing more of those artists succeed. As distribution is increasingly commodified, today’s distributors must differentiate their offerings for artists, including building and participating in new revenue streams. According to DistoKid and Evergreen Podcasts’ announcement, their aim is to “spotlight artists both within and outside Evergreen’s network, helping them to ‘Be Prolific’ and succeed in the competitive music industry”.

As the partnership stands, DistroKid is sponsoring Evergreen music podcasts, with the aim to reach music-makers in the audience. While this makes sense from a marketing perspective in the immediate term, DistroKid could be doing so much more for musicians — and bolstering its own position in the distribution landscape — in the long term.

DistroKid could, for instance, licence their catalogue of artists who opt in to Evergreen, giving Evergreen shows the ability to use those artists’ music in their episodes. Currently, music is missing out on this opportunity because there is no simple solution for podcasts to licence from rights holders at scale. Not only would a licensing partnership benefit both parties, but it would also set the precedent for other companies — and perhaps the industry writ large — to strike similar deals. 

The company could also create its own branded podcasts highlighting artists who distribute through DistroKid. Making hit podcasts is as hard as making hit records, but the point is less about finding widespread success than it is about creating more meaningful access points for creators to connect with their audiences. While adding more content to an already oversaturated environment may seem like an odd solution, there is untapped demand for music podcasts. After all, music is the most popular podcast genre globally, according to MIDiA’s latest report. 

Because podcast marketing is currently an opportunity available primarily to artists who are already successful, if DistroKid could prove the value to smaller artists, it could help those artists break through, ultimately helping the distributor differentiate itself from every other distributor on the market — especially at a time when distribution is oversaturated and more competitive than it has ever been. 

The discussion around this post has not yet got started, be the first to add an opinion.


Add your comment