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Ready to release and promote your music? Dope.
Having trouble deciding how to release it? We got you.
In our Tunecore vs Distrokid head-to-head comparison below we’ll talk about who they are, what they each do and what makes each company special.
We’ll help you decide what the best music distribution service is for your next music release.
In one of our featured guides, we showed you exactly how to upload music to Spotify and other streaming platforms, step-by-step.
But in this article, we’re going to help you decide which is better. What’s the best choice for your upcoming music release – you’ll get our complete take on Distrokid vs Tunecore in 2024.
These are the two most popular services for getting your music everywhere but they’ve each got their strengths and weaknesses.
Spoiler Alert – this is our preferred distributor for getting your music to all the platforms/stores/outlets in the market.
Let’s talk about it…
Quick Comparison Chart
|9/10 – Unlimited releases starting at $14.99
|8/10 – Unlimited releases starting at $19.99
|9/10 – 150+ store reach, high-value-added opportunities for artists
|9/10 – 150+ store reach, decent “bells and whistles” extras
|7/10 – Mostly a ONE TIME fee (YT Ad Rev, Pub Admin), not a lot of addons available
|7/10 – Lots of paid add-ons that can get expensive fast (paid PER RELEASE)
|Payouts to Artists
|10/10 – Artist gets 100% of STORE payouts
|7/10 – Middleman takes cut of store payouts
What are Tunecore or Distrokid All About?
Both of these distribution companies offer independent artists the ability to sell and stream their music through all of the major online platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and many more.
Make no mistake, both companies are a solid choice to distribute your music with, but in our opinion Tunecore is the better option.
Not only have they represented some of the biggest artists in the world, like Russ, the Brooklyn, NY-based company was started back in 2005 while their competitor DK arrived on the scene in 2013.
Originally, though, they were just an “add-on” service to the music social network Fandalism and became it’s own company in 2015. So these guys have about 10 more years of experience, relationships and track record than Distrokid.
They also have offices all over the world and direct partnerships with the digital stores where your music will live. Distrokid is a smaller (and newer) outfit, but recently they started an initiative with record labels to help discover new talent (for a “finders fee,” of course).
Tunecore vs Distrokid – The Differences
Both companies offer the same sort of music distribution services in general. But when comparing, you should know each company has a few “extras” that may sway you in one direction or another.
The other main points of difference between the two competitors are their pricing structures and artist payout details.
Before the summer of 2022, TuneCore used to be a much more expensive option, charging you PER RELEASE as oppsed to DistroKid’s “unlimited releases” model.
So these guys used to be the much cheaper option.
But NOW, TuneCore is actually the MOST affordable option and they offer the same “unlimited releases” model that DistroKid pioneered.
They also offer a FREE tier membership, but you only get to release music to social networks – no Spotify/Apple Music/Tidal. To get your music on streaming services, their memberships start at $14.99 and go up to $49.99 (per year) depending on how many advanced features you want or artists you plan to release music for.
DK allows for an unlimited number of releases also with 3 main options – Musician ($19.99 per year), Musician Plus ($35.99 per year) and Label ($79.99 per year). The lower account allows you to release music for 1 artist, the Musician Plus plan allows for up to 2 artists and the label plan allows for up to 5 artists. If you need to release more than 5 different artists, you’ll be charged more on a scale depending on your needs.
You’re able to distribute an unlimited number of different artists (or an unlimited number of artist names, if you make different types of music), with the highest priced option ($49.99 per year).
Why DistroKid Wasn’t REALLY Cheaper than TuneCore in the Past
It’s also important to note that while a comparison makes it seem like Distrokid is cheap up-front, once you started to add extras (which all cost extra, too) it could start to get kind of pricey. This is stuff like having your music added to new stores as they open up, or having your music recognizable by Siri or Shazam, or even YouTube’s content ID.
For example, to get all the addons your first release would cost $84.86 on the regular “Musician” plan, and each additional single would cost $64.87 while each additional album you release (10 tracks) would cost $112.78.
Got a cover song? That’s another $12. Oh and they also take 20% of your YouTube ad revenue if you get the YouTube Content ID addon.
Now that doesn’t mean TuneCore doesn’t have addons – their Sync Licensing service costs $75. And both companies take a commission on YouTube monetization.
Let’s talk more about the basic service and these addons both companies offer.
The main service of both companies is basically the same – they’ll get your music on all the major music streaming and sale platforms on the internet (150+ platforms). They also both offer analytics/tracking for your sales, etc. Finally, the upload process and options available to you are basically the same for both companies.
The difference in tunecore vs distrokid service comes into focus, however, when you look beyond the “bread-and-butter” functionality.
Flat out, TuneCore has MUCH better customer service and support. They’re a decade older and have so many more offices/employees, so when you have an issue or need questions answered, you can easily get ahold of someone and get things resolved.
The Artist Support Team works 7 days a week. They take this shit seriously and reply within 1 business day. They also answer DM’s on social, and even have phone support if needed.
DistroKid’s support is… less optimal. Sure you can reach out (if you can find their contact method buried in their FAQ), but it’s not the best experience. Response times are slow and not always super helpful (but that’s just speaking from personal experience).
They also have a more helpful blog for aspiring artists and also offers partner discounts on products/services that musicians may find helpful (like product manufacturing, for example).
Added Value Services
Distrokid has some cool additional features they claim, like instantly getting you a “blue check” on Spotify, letting you upload your lyrics to certain platforms and they backup your music in case you lose your master recordings.
But in my opinion, those are kind of “meh” bells and whistles that don’t really mean much but sound cool. The one feature I DO really love that DistroKid offers exclusively is the ability to upload MQA/Master quality audio for Tidal.
DistroKid really is just a budget “get your music on streaming sites and music stores” without a lot else. That’s not a knock – they’re still a great company.
But now they’re not even the cheapest option anymore.
But TuneCore is a bit “above and beyond” when it comes to the value added services.
For example, if you take advantage of their Music Publishing Admin add-on, your music is automatically considered TV/Film/Ad/Game sync opportunities they come across.
What’s more is that they also try and bring on new opportunities for their artists too – like their new Rewards program which lets artists unlock VIP masterclass sessions to help grow their career, get discounts and more. They’re always trying to offer their artists added value through different programs.
There are also some major differences in the add-on services offered by both companies. On first glance, DistroKid kind of wins in this area – they offer some pretty cool bells and whistles. But the trick is that some of the important ones are already included in TuneCore’s pricing, no added cost.
We touched briefly on the “addons” earlier in this post, so let’s flesh that out first.
DistroKid offers the following paid addons for your releases:
- Shazam & Siri Recognition – for $0.99/song/year you can have your song “Shazam-able” or recognizable by Siri on iOS devices.
- Store Maximizer – for $7.95/album/year you can ensure your music will be added to any NEW platforms that emerge
- YouTube Content ID – for $4.95/single or $14.95/album PER YEAR (and an additional 20% cut of any ad revenue) you can ensure you get the credit if any of your music is used in a YouTube video
- Cover Song Licensing – for $12/single/year you can easily license any existing song covers you want to release.
- Tidal Master/MQA – for $8.99/single or $17.99/album, you can make sure an audiophile-quality master recording is uploaded to Tidal
- Leave a Legacy – for $29/single or $49/album you can ensure that even if you don’t renew your membership, your music will remain on all the platforms.
- Social Phone – for $12.99/month you can use the platform for Text Message Marketing to your fanbase.
Tunecore also has some paid addons artists may find useful:
- Music Publishing + Sync Licensing – $75.00 ONE TIME fee and they will make sure you get paid your publishing anytime your music is used/played, even if you don’t know about it. You’ll also be eligible for sync opportunities for your music.
- YouTube Ad Revenue – Now included with paid subscriptions and similar to DistroKid’s Content ID Service (they will also take a 20% cut of any ad revenue from YouTube)
- TuneCore Social – FREE or $10.99 PER MONTH (pro version) gets you access to they company’s own social media management tool where you can edit photos, post to all your socials from one place, use special filters/text/stickers, and get deep insights/analytics on how well you’re marketing your music (including historical reports).
All in all, both companies have some pretty useful addons that serious artists will want to take advantage of. Tunecore beats Distrokid by a little bit – their social tool is better, and they handle publishing administration for artists.
And some of the stuff you need to “add-on” with DistroKid, is already included with your release. But in other ways (like Tidal MQA upload, for example), you’d need to go with Distrokid.
Differences in Payouts to Artists
This is where things get REALLY interesting when comparing Distrokid vs Tunecore.
Both companies pay out all of the royalties and sales they collect to the artists – you get 100% of what they collect.
But that’s not the full story here.
TuneCore, thanks to their dominance in the industry, is able to negotiate directly with music platforms. Most other distribution companies can’t do that. What that means for you as an artist is that you get 100% OF WHAT THE STORE PAYS OUT.
Since companies like DistroKid aren’t able to work directly with stores, they work with middlemen (in DistroKid’s case, they work with a company called Merlin to collect payouts). Unfortunately the middlemen take a cut before sending out the payments to the company.
So yes, DistroKid pays out 100% of the money they receive from Merlin – but they don’t receive 100% of what the stores pay out.
So in essence, TuneCore’s payouts to artists are better. In fact, in their history, they’ve paid out over $2,000,000,000.00 to artists. (Yup, that’s 2 BILLION dollars).
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, there should be no problems doing this, but it is best to stick to one company so you only have one place to worry about managing. You may run into problems making sure all of your music is released under the same “artist profile” if you use more than one company to release your music. This can be fixed, but is a hassle. It can also become confusing when it comes to tracking how your music has performed. Our recommendation is to only use one service to release all of your music, although it isn’t 100% necessary to do so.
Both companies have good offerings and are reliable places to get your music distributed. However, we prefer TuneCore as the better choice for most people since it’s been around longer, has a better payout structure and is now also the most affordable option to get your music out there.
For us, we think TuneCore is the better option because it’s the older company with much better artist support, has more affordable pricing plans and works directly with stores to collect payments for artists.
Bottom Line – Who to Go With
So should you go with Distrokid or Tunecore?
I think it’s safe to say we’re BIG fans of TuneCore for all the reasons above.
But is Tunecore better than Distrokid?
I have personally used DistroKid to release music in the past and it was fine, but I am planning on sticking with TuneCore for certain future releases.
From their customer support, to their higher payouts to artists and the more valuable extras that come with the service, and now with their better pricing – they’re just the best option when choosing between the two. And that’s why they’re our #1 recommended service when it comes to independent music distribution services.
Again, Both are great companies that offers a good service. But TuneCore beats all competitors in the areas that matter to us. If you’re releasing your music soon, go with TuneCore.
Oh, by the way, we’ve partnered with them! So take advantage and get your music out there into the world today!
If you have music that’s ready to be released, I highly recommend you use TuneCore to do it – they’re an affordable way to release unlimited music to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and more!
Thanks for reading our complete head-to-head comparison of Tunecore vs Distrokid. We hope you found it helpful in making your decision.