CD Baby or Tunecore?

It’s funny how quickly the music industry changes. One day A is good. The next day B is better. Then a week later, C trumps both. After trying both CDBaby and Tunecore, I’ve seen my allegiance shift back and forth. So I thought I’d offer pros and cons of each company and their respective methods.

I decided to stick primarily to money-related points since that’s probably what you’re most concerned with. I hesitated to label which points are PRO or CON because that will actually be determined by you and what you’re looking for. Your additional thoughts are also welcome!  note: while CD Baby offers distribution of physical copies as well, this is merely an analysis of digital distribution

Oh and because we don’t assume anything on this blog here’s the definition of a digital distributor for those who don’t know.

Digital Distributor: a company or “middle man” (if you will) that sends your music to online music stores such as iTunes, AmazonMP3, Napster, Rhapsody…etc.

 

TUNECORE: www.tunecore.com

  • costs $29.99 to submit an album, $9.99 for a single
  • after the the one-time setup fee for submitting your music, they charge an annual maintenance/renewal fee of $49.99 per album, $9.99 per single. They do not take a percentage from downloads.
  • From past experience, Tunecore took 1 week to get my music on various digital download stores, including iTunes. This was faster than I expected.
  • offers free monthly “Sales Reports” letting you know how many downloads each of your songs received
  • if you really want them, they charge for weekly “Trend Reports”. These allow you to see city, state, zip, country of everyone who downloads your stuff off iTunes.
  • puts your money in your Paypal account for free, but charges $2.75 for direct deposit and $3 to mail you a check
  • Sales reports and downloadable spreadsheet information is pretty reader-friendly

CD BABY: www.cdbaby.net

  • costs $39 to submit an album, $9.95 for a single
  • there is no annual maintenance fee but instead, CD Baby takes 9% of each download. In other words, if you sell a $10 album on iTunes, and iTunes take roughly 30%, CD Baby takes 9% of the remaining $7. That’s  63 cents per album)
  • I have not used CD Baby in the recent past so I can’t tell you how quickly it actually takes to get your music up on digital stores, but CD Baby claims that it only takes 48 hours for music to appear on iTunes. 
  • has been around much longer than Tunecore and has relationships with the most digital stores
  • allows you access to sales reports “Digital Partner Sales” charts so you can see which stores consumers are buying from.
  • sends you a check in the mail, does direct deposit, or puts your money directly in you bank account – all free of charge

If you’re aware of any other digital distribution companies or have opinions on the above, please stick them in the comments.

 

  • http://midwayfair.org Jon Patton

    ReverbNation will do digital ditribution across multiple platforms. Their pricing isn’t bad, but for someone like me, all these result in a negative return on investment compared with something like BandCamp.

    One thing that wasn’t addressed here is that some physical CD print manufacturers offer lifetime distribution with companies like these. My band’s first album was printed by Oasis, and it came with a lifetime CDBaby membership for that specific album. Just have to mail in the card. Any day now . . .

  • http://Hukegreen.net Huke

    I’ve done Tunecore, ReverbNation and CD Baby. When I comes down to it I prefer CD Baby. They have put speed on getting things up and our album was on iTunes very fast.

    I do however agree with John and take on Bandcamp, which goes to my paypal) and take this approach.

    I point my fans to download at bandcamp first. I like having the iTunes and others for the casual fan to stumble across as well, but the bandcamp is hard to beat on the artist side of things.

  • http://reverbnation.com/stretcherbearer stretcherbearer

    Hey! first a shout out to you guys in beaverton from Salem. I just released my new album Smiley’s far Out Railroad on cdbaby, they’ve sped things up , direct upload of wav,flac,other high quality files at signup, and my cd’s we posted the day after i mailed them in ( living in oregon probably helps) but in 07 i released my first album through them, and have had nothing but good things from them..I’m not familiar with tunecore, but use reverbnation as my “webpage”..But yeah, cdbaby has been great.
    Cheers!

  • http://www.joyike.com grassrootsy

    Thanks for the words stretcher bearer! How long did it take CD Baby to get your tunes on iTunes after you sent them your album?

  • http://www.monkeycorner.net Sean O’Donnell

    Even when I’ve had trouble with the length of time for CD Baby to get things going, I always found that if you call the customer complaint number, they’ll address the problem almost immediately. E-mail, on the other hand, usually garnered no response, or a very very delayed response.

  • http://www.tunecore.com Peter Wells

    Let me make a few fact checks about TuneCore so you’re comparing apples to apples:

    –It takes between 24 and 48 hours for your music to go live on iTunes. Weekends, holidays, or oddities with your album (if it’s really huge, say), can push that up to 72 or even 96 hours, but that’s about the max. It’s darn fast.

    –Accounting reports showing all sales (stream and download) activity, plus all the money that comes with it, are free, always. They come out monthly, reflecting sales of the period (the delay is about 1, 2, or 3 months, depending on the store). But yes, we also have the TRENDING reports, which are unofficial, and show you activity at iTunes much faster, from the previous week. Stay tuned for more info on the availability of those, good things are afoot.

    Feel free to holler if you have any questions about us, or the industry.

    –Peter
    peter@tunecore.com

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention CD BABY OR TUNECORE? : -- Topsy.com()

  • http://reverbnation/stretcherbearer.com Stretcher Bearer

    Thanks for the response! I just checked and it’s up and running so…i sent in my 5 cd’s last Monday, and uploaded my files the day before…so yea..sorry for the half-confused responses, my memories crap and my ADD is monstrous LOL!

  • http://www.robertillesh.com rockgod42

    CDbaby digi processing is far quicker now than 2 years ago, esp. helped by upload facility. However, going off track a little, is anyone experiencing severe delays in getting CDs posted to CDbaby? I’m talking specifically from UK via UK Royal Mail to USA. My last lot took 1 month to arrive and the current lot is still somewhere in the system after 2.5 weeks. I do not know if this is post delay or CDbaby inbox delay. Anyone?

  • http://www.joyike.com grassrootsy

    Hey Robert,
    I would definitely call CD Baby and get to the bottom of it. That’s a bummer!

  • http://cheyennemedders.bandcamp.com cc

    Oh Bandcamp is the way to go. You have control with them. Let’s go Bandcamp and vinyl for the best of our releases. Vinyl is exciting, cds just aren’t exciting anymore. I hope the price of vinyl falls soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/theblufs Phil

    Just so you know… TuneCore now charges $49.99 for the annual renewal. Kind of a bummer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottcolesby Scott Colesby

    It should also be stated that if you are looking for a web host, when you use HostBaby (CDbaby’s hosting site), you get 5 submissions a year for free. When you take the cost of web hosting ($200/year) and the cost to submit to them ($39.95 for an EP/LP), if you release 5 EPs during the year, You’ll be paying $.25 for web hosting.

  • http://www.stackmuzic.com DoloDark

    I co-sign what Phil said, the only thing stopping me from seleting Tunecore over CDBaby is the $49.99 Annual renewal fee. Even with the current ASCAP member discount that renewal is a pain point.

  • Simon Le Boggit

    In my experience, ReverbNation appears to be an elaborate scam designed to rip off musicians. They led me (and others) to believe we would only have to pay a “One-Time Fee” to sell our music tracks in Amazon, iTunes etc for a year. However, when that year expired, they insisted on payment of an additional “Take Down Fee”. Non-payment would result in them keeping (stealing) the tracks’ future Royalties. In my case, they took a “renewal fee” from my bank account without permission, and despite the fact that I had clearly told them not to. They refuse to return my money. They warn that they will continue to milk my bank account on an annual basis. Catch 22 – either pay the “Take Down Fee” (which I hadn’t agreed to), or have my bank account plundered every year, or give up the Royalty on the tracks that I created. This whole stinking episode reeks of entrapment. Avoid ReverbNation like the plague!

    Sorry – there’s more. When musicians complain about the “Takedown Fee”, they get replies that are evasive (if they get a reply at all). If complainents persist, they can expect to have their Comments deleted from the ReverbNation forum. In my case, they have deleted my entire complaint thread, without warning. A few hours later, they blocked my access to their forum. As far as ReverbNation and its customers are concerned, I have been censored out of existence.

  • http://twitter.com/Alternate1985 Nick Mango

    I will not argue right or wrong with this comment. All I’ll say is the fees for takedowns are clearly stated in the FAQ http://www.reverbnation.com/controller/artist/distro_faq

    Quick reference screenshot http://cl.ly/143M0o0p2P180v3g451b

  • Simon Le Boggit

    If only it were that simple Nick. The information you have highlighted is actually buried pretty much out of sight.

    Newcomers to ReverbNation who wish to sell their music are directed towards a “Digital Distribution” page here: http://tinyurl.com/2gycmwt

    That page has a big two-line headline: “Distribute your music to iTunes and all major stores for a flat fee.”

    That same page fails to make any mention whatsoever of:

    – The extra “Takedown Fee” that you will be required to pay when you decide to terminate the deal.

    – Nor does it mention that a “renewal fee” will be automatically deducted from your credit card / PayPal account on an annual basis into you pay that extra “Takedown Fee”.

    – Nor does it mention that – if you prevent them from accessing your credit card / PayPal – they will retain 100% of your royalties for themselves!

    That deception is compounded by the 4th line on the page which states: “Keep all your rights and 100% of your royalties”, and 7th line which states: “You can set it up for free and pay only when you are ready to distribute.” Again, no mention that you must pay extra to terminate the deal.

    The 9th line of information is a large green button inviting you to “START NOW FOR FREE”. i.e. it is encouraging people to sign up without reading further. (That bold button – “START NOW FOR FREE” – occurs twice on that page.)

    A bit further down, an “Online Music Distribution / Promotion Comparison” includes “Price per Year”, but fails to mention Additional Price Charged When You Choose To Terminate The Agreement.

    Towards the bottom of that Digital Distribution page we find the “Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Distribution”. That bold red list of questions does NOT mention any of the above strings that will be attached to the deal!

    So, where do we find the FAQ that you are pointing us towards Nick? The answer is that REVERBNATION HAS A SECOND SET OF “FAQ”! These are accessed by a very small link at the bottom of the page.

    When we click that link, are the strings attached to the deal immediately brought to our attention? Nope. The relevant question is buried way down towards the bottom of that second long FAQ page – in paragraph 173 out of a total 177 paragraphs. Or if you’d prefer: line 957 on a page that’s 975 lines long!

    I don’t know about you Nick, but I regard the essential information to have been well and truly buried.

    Here is one further example to illustrate the kind of dubious approach that ReverbNation takes towards its customers. A few weeks ago on ReverbNation’s forum, its Head of Digital Distrubution stated: “We cannot be held responsible if you did not read the Terms & Conditions in their entirety.”

    The last time I looked, those Terms & Conditions ran at 23,455 words! Is it reasonable to expect new customers to read and understand 23,455 words of legalese? Or are customers more likely to accept a summation from a ReverbNation “Official Rep”, such as: “You will not have to pay a takedown fee if you let the release distribution run out.”

    That false statement from “Official Rep” Johnny has been misleading people for the past 11 months, on a ReverbNation forum thread entitled “distribution take down fee question”. See for yourself here: http://tinyurl.com/626q8mh

    It remained uncorrected for almost a year. Despite being well aware of its existence for at least a couple of months of that time, ReverbNation’s Head of Digital Distrubution did nothing to protect the public from that blatantly misleading top-of-thread answer. A top-of-thread correction was only added a couple of days ago, after he had been cornered by a protest written by the originator of the thread.

    Given all of the above, isn’t it fair to conclude that ReverbNation are a bunch of misleading scammers?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Simon! Thanks for your comments. This is good and i hope people read it!

  • Wrapk
  • TDU

    9 months later, but the same thing still applies… the issue is people have a certain comfort zone buying from iTunes and Amazon. Bandcamp is a superior service in every way, and in a common sense world more people would use it over iTunes. You can provide/download tunes in every format from Wav to Flac to mp3. You can provide whatever artwork you want with the albums. They give you enough extra data to even include video etc with your release if you wanted. You can charge whatever you want for a release. The list goes on and on. As far as strictly digital services, their feature set is superior.

  • Pingback: grassrootsy» Blog Archive » Grassrootsy’s Top 10 Posts of 2011()

  • http://members.cdbaby.com/ CD Baby

    Thanks for all the kind words. Love to see some CD Baby artists weighing in.

    With our new MusicStore for Facebook, Store Widget, and Sync Licensing deal for Movies, TV, and YouTube (all free to all CD Baby clients) we feel CD Baby is a killer deal.

    You can find updated pricing here:

    http://members.cdbaby.com/cdbaby-vs-tunecore.aspx

    Our new Facebook Store:

    http://members.cdbaby.com/sell-music-on-facebook.aspx

    Let us know if you have any questions!

    1-800-Buy-My-CD

    Chris B (at CD Baby)

  • wesleymccants

    We, the Macbrothers, Inc., released two songs at Tunecore, Priscilla & Egypt, over a year ago. We haven’t made a red cent on either song since the release date at the beginning of February 2011. In all the distribution outlets Tunecore is affiliated with you would believe confidently that one individual from the whole of the worldwide web would have bought a copy of one of the two inexpensive released songs: at least. Not so. Zilch. This smells of manipulation or favoritism on the part of Tunecore and whoever else is involved. We plan to elicit the succor of the U.S. Justice Department about the moral integrity of this online service for songwriters and musicians. I don’t believe Tunecore is as forthright as it boasts itself to be. In contrast, it doesn’t appear in the forefront to be shady, but when one plus one doesn’t equal two, as the Principia Mathematica teaches us, then one needs to check at the backdoor to find out what’s going on.

    Wesley McCants
    Member of BMI
    Disabled Veteran

  • JP82

    Ditto Music weighed in with prices cheaper than both of these stores. We switched our catalogue over back in May and have been much happier. I cant be bothered going through all of the price differences and stores between everyone but there is a good video here that breaks the difference in cost down.
    http://dittomusic.com/dittomusic/blogcomments.aspx?45
    I also use bandcamp and have a reverbnation account for my homepage but iTunes is where i make 80% of my revenue.

  • Wesley McCants

    I wrote a prior commentary about Tune core. It concerned the possibility of their being involved in underhanded schemes of favoritism; akin to the old days when radio ruled the music industry: the 1950s and 1960s. I forgot to mention that Tune core will take money out of your personal bank account, without proper authorization, since there are only two methods of payment available: either your credit/debit account or paypal.

    When they engage in such criminal acts without consulting your first they should be investigated by the FBI. This is what happened to me. When I found out they renewed songs by taking the money out of my debit account without my authorization I called my bank to stop payment. Then I called Tune core and told them to put the money back or I’ll contact the FBI.

    Be aware of such scrupulous methods on the internet. You should be able to edit or delete your online credit/debit account to protect yourself from such criminal behavior and Hackers who have the ability to hack into online Servers and steal bank account numbers. One thing more, Hackers oftentimes work for such companies. This is how they end up with the technical means to break into online Servers.

    Wesley McCants
    Cincinnati Ohio
    The MacBrothers, Inc.

  • Pingback: grassrootsy» Blog Archive » Is here away to track my sales on iTunes?()

  • Martinrosskerr

    people don’t just buy random music they’ve never heard by people they’ve never heard of. If you’re not out performing live you’re not going to sell any music, that is, unless you have awesome recordings and a great online promotional strategy. You can’t just put something on iTunes and expect people to buy it. How would anyone know its there? And even if they did, why would they take notice of it and decide to buy it unless they had previously heard or heard about your music?

  • Denis Fedorov

    Beware of Ditto Music
    I tried 4 times to finish my release on dittomusic. And each time there were unforeseen glitches and errors in the information. Support does not respond to messages 1-2 weeks. Interface for releases and service selection is crooked and not debugged (It is impossible to step back without losing some information.)….
    CdBaby is paradise compared to Ditto Music. Beware of “ditto”.

    Regards,
    Denis Fedorov

  • SonnyPhelson

    We’ve released music both on tunecore and cdbaby. The reality is, like most companies/sites, (ala Myspace.com) they come, have their moment in the sun, then become very corporate and disconnected with musicians. We felt that with both of those companies. We just released a new EP with Mondotunes who came highly recommended. Skeptical at first but these guys have been on point. Largest distribution, no monthly/annual fees, phone support, marketing, and so on. THey’re the next big boys in the biz. I just hope they don’t sell their souls like the rest. Here’s a cool page http://www.mondotunes.com/mondotunes-vs-tunecore-cdbaby

    Good Luck with your tunes

  • bankruptrep

    cdbaby has always treated me right even though sometimes their sales appear a month behind. Its cheap and they reach all major outlets after a one time album fee (no maintenance and renewal fees). Some of our cdbaby stuff:

    http://www.cdbaby.com/duojams
    http://www.cdbaby.com/bankruptrecords
    http://www.cdbaby.com/bankruptrecords2

  • Martin

    Thank you, Simon. Any reasonable person would surely find these tactics questionable if not downright crooked.

  • khan flo mah

    I don’t like the secrecy people give regarding Money. WHY keep secret what a company pays you at work? Let others know that the job pays well or not. WHY keep it secret? that plays into the hands of corporations to pay one man one thing, and another man, something less. I don’t see such a thing as being private. That being said. I have made about $2000 on tunecore. and Zero on CDbaby. I have little promo. Never play out. HOWEVER, cd baby lead to my former band “Brown’s bag”, to be heard in England and elsewhere. Leading to sales, after a mess of self promotion. But me alone? making cover tunes? I’ve made over 2k, in about a year’s time. With ZERO push but youtube videos (only a few hundred hits. Most under 100…but Youtube is no longer anywhere close to truthful regarding hits..and they pander to Corporations, who pay for hits so as to keep common folk off the front page), and facebook (I have like 100 friends who never listen or comment to anything I say). Also, I can call tunecore. And people talk to me, like people…not like some hired person who pushes a time clock. So I gotta say, tunecore. I leared of them from a Youtube video of a young man who makes covers (get the rights from Harryfox), and sells them…and made over 10,000 a year. SHOWED HIS SCREEN SHOT of it. He uses the money for college. Regarding selling new music, the corporate folk are now raping Youtube….and have their own award show there…PUSHING CORPORATE people, not YOU. So…ask yourself…where do your peers, or your demographic find new music? who listens to internet radio? The rest of the world is very pro internet radio and ACTIVELY LOOK for new music. Send your stuff to internet radio stations for free. Spotify your music so people can hear and Identify it, then download it. Just like the young man in the video said…I say to you….I found a way to make music and pay bills, buy equipment.etc…so now I tell you.
    Regarding playing out, that’s a good thing, if you wanna spend a bunch of time and money. Ask yourself how much of that hourly are you really getting back? practicing is time. Hourly, how much did you make? and your live performance? does that make people wanna see how to hear the studio version? that verywell may sound way better? I play r&b. So there is a lot of digital stuff happening. But rocker types? you guys can play and sound just like the record. So have at it. GROWN UP FOLK R&B or smooth jazz aint like that, and there are far less places to play. So if youre marketing to middle age folk and NO kids, like I am, I say tunecore, and Internet radio… via tune core.

  • khan flo mah

    let me add…cdbaby, is great for reaching overseas folk. The dj’s LOOK for stuff thru them. its clear and obvious. Also, the usa radio doesn’t pay for spinning songs. But most the world has to pay mechanical rights, so England would just as soon play YOU along with a big name. due to your low cost. So CDbaby is good for that type of thing. But I prefer Tunecore for what I’m doing.

  • Natalia Talayero

    Beware of Ditto music

    I am a manager of independent artists and as such I have being handling for Eldorado
    and Ana Alcaide their online distribution. So far I have used CDbaby, Tunecore and
    Ditto.

    I think the personal experience of working with the aggregators may also be of use when you get to form an opinion about them.

    With CDbaby and Tunecore, all has worked as expected and when having a question or an issue it was resolved in a timely matter. I started working with Ditto last year. I distributed through them 4 albums of Eldorado (rock band from Spain). I had plenty of problems with Ditto and I think it may be worth sharing them:

    – When starting the distribution: the songs have bad names in some shops, wrong
    gender, some albums appeared duplicated in some shops, the albums appeared in
    shops that were marked as NOT to be distributed (as Grooveshark)
    – Trying to solve these problems: I open different tickets in the customer service of Ditto.
    All were answered very politely saying that they would take care of the problem, but then half of them were not solved, not pursued. There were also inconsistencies in the sales reports and I needed to report that repeatedly to have the real money added (all this according to their unmatching data, I don’t know the real figures).

    – Once I tried to have the album taken down: after months of this situation, I asked them in 2013, July, 23rd to have all the four albums taken down. They informed me that would take from 4-6 weeks to have them off all the shops. Right now, 22 weeks, 5 month after the request, the albums keep being available on most of the shops. I have open 5 tickets since them with Ditto, send them the specific url of the different shops where the albums are on sale yet. I also exchange some email with Matt Parsons who asked me to be patient because they will be solving the issue as fast as they could (that was 6 weeks ago, I have open a new ticket since then).

    During those 5months, the shops keep selling the songs and I guess Ditto keeps receiving the money. Nothing has being reported or given to the band.

    And at the same time, as the albums are not taken down from the shops (not anymore available on itunes, that is true) I cannot start distributing them through another
    aggregator.

    Ditto may be able to distribute to 200+ shops, but they haven’t the process or tool to
    ensure a correct treatment nor of the data, the real money generated, the take down as requested.
    The customer service email is usually responded, but they don’t solve the issues.

    And I am currently trapped there unable so far of getting free of all this mess.

  • Andrea

    ReBeat. Better on most point, IMO.

  • Justin James

    Its simple …If you really sell then use Tunecore. If your music is not selling that much use CD Baby. Reason being: 9% of a lot of downloads is a hell of a lot more then $49.99 a year.