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DistroKid vs Tunecore – the Best Digital Music Distribution Service?

by Vaibhav
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It took you some time and hard work but you’ve finally created your music track or album. But is that the last step? No! To reach a wider audience you need to have your music on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, etc. So, the two leading digital music distribution services are DistoKid and Tunecore. You decide how many songs or albums you plan on releasing, pay them what they ask for and voila!

But while these look similar on the surface, there are very different in many ways. For instance, DistroKid and Tunecore have a different subscription approach, the way they distribute royalties, etc. So, here is a side-by-side comparison of DistroKid vs Tunecore. Let’s find out who comes out on top.

DistroKid vs Tunecore

As a musician, you might just be in a mood to make one or two songs and release it. Up to three songs under 10 minutes are generally considered a single. Other options are to release an EP (extended play, 4-6 songs) or an entire album (6 or more). Now that being clear, let’s understand how much both these apps charge.

1. Subscription Model

DistroKid’s approach is very simple and straightforward. With an annual subscription that comes at $19.99, you can upload unlimited songs and albums without any restrictions. If you wish to handle two bands or artists, there is a Musician Plus plan as well, which comes at $35.99. Tunecore, on the other hand, works on a flat-fee basis. You’ll have to pay $29.99 per album and $9.99 per single annually.

Now that we know how many songs to upload and which one saves more money while being efficient, wouldn’t you want to make money with your tracks?

Winner: DistroKid

2. Royalties

Royalties are one of the many ways a musician can earn through his tracks. Both these services let you keep 100% royalties that are generated. So you receive all the revenue that is generated by streaming or track downloads.

However, DistroKid takes a lead again with what it touts as revenue splits. So, if you’ve other artists, says a producer, another guitarist or anyone else, you can define what percentage should the revenue be split. Hence, you don’t have to pay any heed to pay them, rather it happens automatically, making it streamlined. There is just one small requirement, te collaborator should have a Distro account as well. If you send an invite to your collaborators, they’ll get a 50 percent discount as well. The payment options are also similar as you can add your PayPal or bank account in both. DistroKid in addition to that also has wire transfer and even paper check option.

Winner: DistroKid

3. Publish it Only on Selected Platforms

If you are someone who just wants to upload your music on one platform say Spotify. It is the first reference for most, personally, it doesn’t make sense to me. However, you do have this option in both the services.

There is a long list of websites these services push the tracks to, with some of the major ones being Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, TikTok, therefore there is nothing much to miss out on. However, both of these give you the option to select specific stores that you want the publishing to be restricted to. But if you have a change of mind, check out Distro’s and Tunecore’s store support.

Sorry, but no clear winner for this one!

4. Can you Delete Tracks?

Chances are you’re making really good music and if it ever turns out that you’re famous, the next thing is signing a deal with a record label. Now, there are chances that you might want to pull off your music from all the platforms. In both DistroKid and Tunecore, you have the feature to take your songs down.

But here’s a catch, remember how Tunecore charges per song/album, while DistroKid doesn’t have a cap on the number of uploads. That comes into play here, as when you delete a song from Tunecore, you don’t have the option to upload it again. You’ll have to make a fresh upload and hence, lose money. On the other hand, you can delete the song any number of times and upload it again on DistroKid. So, even you have a better version of the song or you changed some parts and you want to re-upload the track, you have an upper hand.

Winner: DistroKid

5. Physical CDs, Vinyl, Hard Drive

Let’s come to it straight, DistroKid is a strictly a digital distribution platform. On the other hand, Tunecore does provide, TuneCore’s Disc Duplication service, where you can manufacture  CDs, DVDs, and even posters.  In addition to that, you don’t have to design from the ground up. Tunecore provides free CD and DVD templates. It has the support of Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress, CorelDRAW formats, so you can modify it in the software you’re comfortable with.

With Tunecore you can also customize your own packaging, cool right? You can also check the price estimate, date of arrival and also shipping charges. You must note that Tueccore doesn’t distribute these physical CDs, so you might want to use something like Amazon Advantage, where you can sell your media products directly on Amazon.

Winner: Tunecore

6. How much time does it take for the upload

Everyone wants to get their music online as soon as possible. While both these digital music platforms ultimately depend on store review policy, here’s a list of stores and the claims both these services make.

DistroKid Tunecore 
Spotify 2-5 Days  5 Days
iTunes | Apple Music  1-7 Days 5 Days 
Google Play 1-2 Days 1-2 Weeks 
Amazon Music 1-2 Days 1-3 Business days
Deezer 1-2 Days 3-7 Business days 
Others  1-3 Weeks 1-3 week

Can you set a release for future upload?

Yes, however, there are limitations. DistroKid only lets you set a future date if you have a Musicians Plus account. It also lets you set a previous date for a previously released track or album. Tunecore, on the other hand, doesn’t charge extra for that, all you have to do is set a future date, which will restrict the stores to upload it before that.

Winner: DistroKid

7. Custom Pricing

DistroKid and Tunecore set a default price on all your tracks, for example, the default price for a single on iTunes is $0.99. But what if you want to change the price. Both these services let you change that. While with Tunecore you can only set a price only for Amazon and iTunes, with DistroKid, you get Google Play as an addition.

Because the features are almost the same, this one is also a draw.

8. Advancing Feature 

This service doesn’t give a head-start to new artists but if you stay long enough and you qualify Tunecore’s criterion, you can get advance on their future sales. So, if you’re an artist you upload frequently plus you have 12 months of earning that adds up to $870.  This advance will automatically be paid off by incoming sales revenue. This helps with the problem of constant money generation that artists face.

Winner: Tunecore

9. Spotify Instant Verification 

If Disktroid is what you’re leaning towards, you are in luck. Instant verification is not only exclusive but completely free. This gives you a blue verified tick on your Spotify profile, access to the artist’s bio page and access to the Spotify artist control team. While with others you get through an application process and a certain wait time before you’re verified.

You can be a Spotify artist and then sign-up for Distrokid without losing play counts.

Winner: DistroKid

10. What if you don’t pay the Annual Fee?

I hope this day never comes, but if it does, DistroKid will remove your songs from all the stores and clear all the royalties owed to you. The alternative that it provides is a feature called “Leave a Legacy” which comes at $29 per single and $49 per album (2+ tracks) and is non-recurring. Hence, even if you membership lapses, you’ll be entitled to royalties forever.

Tunecore also takes the tracks down from all the stores in case of a renewal lapse. However, it just notifies you with an email before and after the renewal date. It lacks any sort of legacy option as well.

Leave a Legacy has to be paid every time you opt-in for a new single or album. In addition to that, you also have to pay annual membership.

Winner: DistroKid

Which One to Choose?

Well, both these digital distribution platforms are great and have their own advantages. In my personal opinion, I’d choose DistroKid for the sole reason, that it is cheaper in comparison to Tunecore, and lets the user add and delete their tracks, as many times as they want to (don’t over-use). Even the upload time to stores is a wee bit better than Tunecore’s. However, if you want advance features like future release date, royalty advancing option and physical CD manufacturing, it isn’t a bad option either. Do let me know what you think, until then, happy producing!

Also Read: 8 Must Have Apps for Every Musician

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