If you are an independent musician looking to distribute your music online, you have likely come across two popular digital music distribution services: DistroKid and TuneCore. While both platforms offer a way for independent artists to get their music on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, there are some key differences between the two.
In this blog post, we will compare DistroKid and TuneCore, looking at their features, pricing, and overall user experience. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of which platform is the right choice for your music distribution needs.
Music distribution refers to the process of making music available to the public. This is done through various channels such as streaming services, digital stores (downloads), physical sales (CDs, vinyl, etc.), and licensing for use in media.
In the past, distribution was typically controlled by major record labels who had the resources to manufacture and distribute physical copies of albums to music retailers. However, with the advent of digital music and the rise of independent musicians, distribution has become more accessible and democratized.
Today, musicians have the option to distribute their music independently online using major music distribution companies such as Tunecore and DistroKid. These platforms allow musicians to upload their music and distribute it to major streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, as well as to other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.
Some music distribution companies also offer additional services such as music publishing administration, which helps musicians collect royalties when their music is used in media. This media can include film, television, commercials, and video games through the use of sync licensing.
Related Article: How Much Does Spotify Pay Per Stream? Is The Payout Fair?
DistroKid is a digital distribution company for music that was founded in 2013. The platform allows musicians to upload their music to all of the major streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. DistroKid is known for its fast and easy process for releasing music, which allows artists to get their songs on streaming platforms within a matter of hours.
One of the key features of DistroKid is its flat fee pricing model. For a yearly fee, artists can upload as much music as they want to the platform. This pricing structure has made DistroKid a popular choice among independent musicians who are looking for an affordable and easy way to distribute their music online.
TuneCore is another popular digital music distribution service that was founded in 2005. Like DistroKid, TuneCore allows musicians to get their music distributed to all of the major streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music.
Unlike DistroKid, TuneCore offers tiered pricing and flat fee options. Musicians can pay a flat fee per release or album, as well as an annual maintenance fee for each release. This goes for both the tiered system and unlimited release plans. NOTE: the tiered pricing model is great for musicians who only release music sporadically.
When discussing DistroKid vs Tunecore, we must look at the features that each platform offers.
Unlimited Distribution: As mentioned earlier, DistroKid offers unlimited distribution for a yearly fee. This means that musicians can upload as much music as they want to the platform without having to pay any additional fees. (As low as $22.99/yr)
Fast Upload Time: DistroKid is known for its fast upload time. Musicians can get their music on streaming platforms within they same day of uploading it.
Spotify Pre-Save: DistroKid offers a Spotify pre-save feature, which allows musicians to create a landing page for their music before it is released on Spotify. This landing page can be used to collect email addresses and build hype for the release. This feature is called HyperFollow.
YouTube Content ID: DistroKid offers a YouTube Content ID feature, which allows musicians to earn money from their music when it is used in videos on YouTube.
Split Payments: DistroKid allows musicians to split royalties and earnings with other collaborators on a track.
Tiered Pricing: TuneCore offers a tiered pricing model which is available for a single or album release. This used to be the only model they offered, but now they also support an unlimited releases plan. However, the tiered pricing does offer more flexibility for musicians who only release music occasionally.
Music Publishing Administration: TuneCore offers publishing, which allows musicians to collect royalties from their music when it is used in TV shows, movies, and commercials. This costs an additional $75 to setup and you keep 80% of all sync licensing royalties and 85% of everything else.
iTunes Pre-Order: Market your release with an iTunes "buy" link. You can offer extra tracks and create excitement all before the release. And, best of all, any of the sales will count toward the iTunes charts.
YouTube Money: TuneCore offers a YouTube Content ID feature. This will make sure a musician gets paid when their music is used in videos on YouTube.
Shazam: TuneCore offers an included Shazam feature, which allows musicians to get their music recognized by the popular music recognition app. NOTE: Distrokid offers it for a fee in their "album extras".
Overall, both DistroKid and TuneCore offer a variety of features that can be useful for musicians looking to distribute their music online. However, there are some key differences between the two platforms that may make one more attractive than the other depending on your needs.
As mentioned earlier, DistroKid provides a flat fee pricing model, while TuneCore offers a tiered pricing model on top of that. In this DistroKid vs Tunecore review, Let’s take a closer look at the pricing for each platform.
DistroKid offers 3 pricing plans:
All plans include features such as Spotify pre-save, YouTube Content ID, and split payments. DistroKid also offers additional features for an extra fee, such as cover song licensing and music video distribution.
TuneCore has 2 different pricing models which we have broken down below.
Flat Fee Model
The Rising Artist plan lets you released a limited amount of music per year as to where the Breakout and Professional plans allow for unlimited releases. The Professional plan is more for labels and music industry professionals who need advanced analytics, partnerships, and further control over their releases. To see a full breakdown of the plans, check out the Tunecore pricing page.
In terms of payment processing, both Tunecore and DistroKid pay out artists relatively quickly compared to a traditional record label.
DistroKid pays out royalties as soon as they are reported from the streaming services. This means that you can expect to receive payment 3 months after your music is streamed. For example, if your music was streamed in January, you would receive payment for those streams in April. This timeframe has nothing to do with DistroKid and more so with the streaming platforms. Read more about DistroKids payout schedule.
TuneCore pays out music royalties for streams at around the same pace as DistroKid. For music publishing, you can expect to wait much longer. Below is their payout schedule for publishing.
Q1 = January – March (payouts happen in May)
Q2 = April – June (payouts happen in August)
Q3 = July – September (payouts happen in November)
Q4 = October – December (payout happens in February of the following year)
NOTE: It usually takes 9-12 months to receive your first publishing royalties check.
Automatic splits refer to the ability of digital distribution services to automatically split revenue and royalties between multiple collaborators or rights holders for a given track or album.
For example, if a band consists of multiple members who share songwriting credits and royalties, automatic splits allow the platform to distribute revenue and royalties to each member based on their share of the songwriting credits. This can be especially useful for artists who collaborate with other musicians or producers on a regular basis and want to ensure that each contributor is fairly compensated for their work.
Music distribution platforms such as DistroKid and TuneCore offer automatic splits as a feature, allowing musicians to easily split streaming revenue and royalties between multiple collaborators or rights holders. These music platforms typically allow musicians to set up automatic splits by specifying the percentage of revenue or royalties that should be allocated to each collaborator or rights holder. Once the revenue or royalties are generated, the platform automatically distributes the appropriate share to each collaborator or rights holder.
Automatic splits can help musicians avoid disputes over royalties and ensure that all contributors are fairly compensated for their work. They also make it easier for musicians to collaborate with other artists and producers, as they can easily split revenue and royalties without the need for complex legal agreements or manual calculations.
Tunecore does offer music publishing services but DistroKid does not.
TuneCore's publishing service helps musicians collect their songwriter royalties from various sources. They offer tools to help musicians register their songs with PROs, collect their mechanical royalties, and monitor their music usage across various media. TuneCore charges a one-time fee of $75 for their publishing service, and a 15-20% commission on the royalties collected through their sync licensing service.
It is worth noting that SongTrust is a great alternative as they specialize in music publishing. If you end up choosing DistroKid, then signing up with them is a must to make sure you receive all your money.
Lastly, don't forget to sign up for Soundexchange as they collect an entirely different type of royalty. After all, as a starving artist, you want to make sure you get all the money you can!
Related Article: BMI Vs ASCAP | Who's The Best Performing Rights Organization?
Transferring your music catalog to DistroKid or TuneCore is generally a straightforward process, and both platforms offer tools and support to help you move your music from other music distributors.
To transfer your music to DistroKid, you will need to sign up for an account and select the option to "Add Existing Music." You will then be prompted to upload your music files and enter the relevant metadata, such as song titles, artist names, and release dates. DistroKid also offers an option to transfer your existing music and metadata from other digital distribution companies, such as CD Baby and TuneCore, to make the process even easier.
To transfer your music catalog to TuneCore, you will need to sign up for an account and select the option to "Distribute New Music." You will then be prompted to upload your songs and metadata. Like DistroKid, TuneCore also offers an option to transfer your existing music library.
TIP: It's always a good idea to review the terms and conditions of each platform and seek guidance from their customer support teams if you have any questions or concerns.
If you would have asked me several years ago, I would have definitely said choose DistroKid vs Tunecore. Today, it's more of a toss up with the new pricing models and features Tunecore has to offer. They have really stepped their game up.
If you want a platform that has music publishing built-in, then you will want to go with Tunecore. If you choose DistroKid, then you will need to signup with SongTrust to get your publishing royalties. Either way, you can get publishing no matter who you signup with.
Though I have more friends and acquaints using DistroKid, you truly can't go wrong with either of them.
In conclusion, both DistroKid and TuneCore offer a range of features and benefits for musicians looking to distribute their music online. They both offer attractive pricing models and will get your paid in a timely fashion.
DistroKid’s fast distribution process and additional features such as cover song licensing and YouTube Content ID can be advantageous for musicians looking to monetize their music. TuneCore’s music publishing administration is great for musicians looking for an all-in-one suite of tools for royalty collection.
Ultimately, the choice between DistroKid and TuneCore will depend on your specific needs as an independent musician. Before making a decision, it’s important to carefully consider the pricing, features, and user experience of each platform, and to determine which one will best help you achieve your goals as a musician.
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