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DistroKid vs TuneCore: How To Choose A Music Distributor

By Matthew Vultaggio

February 16, 2021

Is TuneCore still the go-to choice for music distribution or has DistroKid stepped up to take the crown as king of the digital music distributors? I’ve researched the topic to help you choose the right music distributor.

DistroKid is better than TuneCore because they offer unlimited song and album uploads for one small annual fee, and they can get your music into streaming services and stores faster.

TuneCore is far too expensive at $9.99 per single or $29.99 per album, every year. This high cost is really emphasized when you compare TuneCore’s pay-per-release pricing to DistroKid’s $19.99 per year for unlimited uploads.

This is really one of the main reasons why I personally use and would easily recommend DistroKid as the right music distributor for you.

However, after looking closer at each music distributor’s features and reputations, is there a chance that TuneCore might be better for you and your music release strategy?

Let’s dive deeper into both companies and find out, my friend. 🙂

TuneCore vs DistroKid 2021: Unlimited vs Pay-Per-Release

In the past, the main argument that was made in the debate between DistroKid and TuneCore was that DistroKid is too new on the scene and TuneCore is better simply because they have been around longer and you can trust them.

However, in 2021, DistroKid has seen dramatic growth and the number of artists having success and positive experiences grows by the day. In fact, a case can be made that DistroKid is on track to become the most popular music distributor in 2021.

The streaming landscape has also shifted, with Spotify being more important than ever before. Established and emerging artists alike live and die by their streaming numbers.

Streaming numbers, and specifically Spotify streaming numbers, are the sign of an artist’s success in 2021.

This is exactly why TuneCore is NOT the way to go.

It all comes down to TuneCore’s dated business model that focuses on an annual fee per single and album. TuneCore’s pricing and business model encourage you to release less music due to how expensive it can be with them.

This is why unlimited uploads are key to an artist’s success in 2021.

Why DistroKid’s unlimited uploads are SO important

TuneCore’s pay-per-release business model is very similar to CD Baby’s (and this is exactly why I don’t recommend CD Baby to the serious artist either).

BTW – you can see more about how DistroKid compares to CD Baby in my article, DistroKid vs CD Baby. 🙂

In that article and service comparison, I mention how Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, really set the internet on fire when he mentioned that it is “not enough” for artists to release music “every three to four years” and that, “artists today that are making it realize that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans“.

Essentially, Spotify is straight-up telling you that you need to release more music and to do it frequently to succeed on Spotify.

This is exactly why unlimited song uploads are SO important. You need to be able to get a lot of music released without spending an arm and a leg.

I’ve proven this myself by using DistroKid’s unlimited upload feature with a music release strategy where I released a new single every month.

This ultimately led to one of my songs getting on over 7 Spotify editorial playlists and racking up well over 300,000 streams on Spotify.

DistroKid: Pros & Cons

DistroKid is a digital music distributor that uploads your music, album art, and metadata to streaming services and stores like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Tidal, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, and more.

Before we dive into the pros and cons of using DistroKid as your music distributor when compared to TuneCore, here are a few notes:

I don’t list the number of stores and streaming services as a pro nor a con (for TuneCore, either), because let’s get real… All that really matters is Spotify and Apple Music.

They also both release to roughly the same amount of streaming services and stores, so neither music distributor has an edge on the other there

P.S. If you do want to learn about every single place that DistroKid can get your music distributed to, learn more in my article: Where Does DistroKid Distribute To? 🙂

Both distributors get your music live quite fast, do not take a percentage of your music’s income, and allow you to get a Spotify verified checkmark with access to the Spotify For Artists dashboard.

Finally, as a con for both of these music distributors, you have to keep paying their annual fee to keep your music up on the streaming services and stores

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the pros and cons of using DistroKid…

Pros

Here are the main benefits of using DistroKid as your music distributor when compared to TuneCore:

  • Widely available DistroKid discount to save on your first year
  • Unlimited song uploads (you don’t have to pay per song or album!)
  • Simple, low-cost annual fee
  • DistroKid has built up a great reputation over the years and they have a great relationship with its users
  • Their customer support is pretty good once you know how to contact DistroKid

In summary, the main benefit I’d call out when comparing DistroKid to TuneCore is the unlimited song uploads and how that one feature alone will save you tons and tons of money.

Cons

Here are the main disadvantages of using DistroKid as your music distributor when compared to TuneCore:

  • You need to upgrade to the Musician Plus plan to be able to set custom release dates
  • Some of the features that TuneCore include in their upfront cost are listed as optional ‘Album Extras’ in DistroKid (I would ignore these extras but still)
  • Currently, there is no DistroKid app available (that is changing though)
  • I honestly think that the dashboard and stats area kinda looks like poop 💩

In summary, the main annoyances I would call out when compared to TuneCore are the push to upgrade to your plan and having to pay extra for the ‘Album Extras’.

TuneCore: Pros & Cons

TuneCore is a music distributor that uploads your music, album art, and metadata to streaming services and stores like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora Radio, and 150+ other streaming services.

TuneCore has been around for quite a while, has built a great reputation over the years, and for a time, was the main way to get your music uploaded to streaming services and stores.

However… is TuneCore’s business model dated or are they still top dawg in the music distribution space?

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of using TuneCore when compared to DistroKid

Pros

Here are the main benefits of using TuneCore as your music distributor when compared to DistroKid:

  • They have one of the best reputations around in the music distribution space
  • A lot of additional features or extras that other music distributors offer are built right in with TuneCore
  • TuneCore is able to take care of music publishing for you (for an additional fee, but still)
  • TuneCore is able to potentially get sync placements for you (for an additional fee, but still)

In summary, the main benefits of using TuneCore are the fact that additional features are built right into the main price and that you could use TuneCore as a “one-stop-shop” in terms of music distribution, music publishing, and handling sync placements.

Cons

Here are the main disadvantages of using TuneCore as your music distributor when compared to DistroKid:

  • You have to pay a fee per song or album, not once but every single year
  • They are very expensive to use. So so so expensive.

In summary, the biggest disadvantage of using TuneCore when compared to DistroKid is that using TuneCore is by far the most expensive way to get your music distributed.

Is TuneCore Better Than DistroKid?

DistroKid is better than TuneCore because they offer unlimited song and album uploads for one small annual fee, and they can get your music into streaming services and stores faster. TuneCore is far too expensive at $9.99 per single or $29.99 per album, every year, versus DistroKid’s $19.99 for unlimited uploads.

Ultimately, if you like TuneCore’s additional features and have lots and lots and lots of cash to throw around, then TuneCore is the way to go.

However, I personally use and would easily recommend DistroKid as the right music distributor for you.

This really boils down to 2 main things: unlimited music uploads and price.

In 2021, TuneCore’s business model is quite simply out-of-date and needs to be changed for the modern artist trying to make it in modern times.

How To Choose A Music Distributor: What Matters

When choosing the right music distributor for you, there are really only 2 things that matter:

  1. Being able to release unlimited songs
  2. Not having to pay a percentage of your music’s income

Being able to release unlimited songs is important because you need to release music frequently and not have to break the bank doing it.

Making sure that you choose a music distributor that does not steal a cut of your music’s revenue is important because you want to have as much of that money go to you when your song’s finally pop off.

These are the 2 main things you should consider when picking a music distributor.

Other things to consider when choosing a distributor

In addition to the 2 main things I mentioned above, there are some other things that you will want to pay attention to when making your choice of music distributor. These are:

  • Reputation: make sure that your music distributor has been around for a while, has a good track-record, and is generally well-liked and praised by the community.
  • Delivery Speed: you should make your best effort to set your releases as far in advance as possible, but it is definitely a major plus if your music distributor can get your music uploaded quick af.
  • Custom Release Dates: you want to be able to set customized and specific release dates so that you can plan marketing your release appropriately.
  • Customer Service: ideally you will never need to hit up customer service but it is always a plus when a company has great customer service. They will be able to help you when you are in trouble AND the quality of a company’s customer support gives you insight into the company’s culture and how they view their customers.

All these things could be considered “nice to have” but they can make the difference between having a good or bad experience with your music distributor in the long run.

Be sure to at least consider these 4 things a bit when choosing the right music distributor for you.

What to avoid when choosing a music distributor

There are a few things that you should avoid getting caught up on or paying too much attention to when choosing a music distributor.

Some of these may actually surprise you tbh.

  • # of streaming services and stores: what’s really important is getting your music on Spotify and Apple Music. Sure, it might be important for some artists to get their music on Abu Dhabi’s premier streaming service, but for most artists you will see most of your streams come from Spotify.
  • Websites / Pre-Saves / Etc: These webpages are always limited and crappy. Don’t believe the hype. Also – no one (and I really mean no one) is going to jump through all those hoops to pre-save your song.
  • Extra promotion: if you want something right you’re going to have to do it yourself. Spinning a wheel to get on a playlist that no one is listening to that has 1,000s of artists that aren’t even the same genre as you will get you no where.

It can be easy to get caught up on these things but they are really just shiny objects that should be avoided. Especially the company is charging you extra for any of these things.

DistroKid pulls some of this crap too, even though they are the top music distributor that I would recommend to any artist.

Stay focused on releasing great music and releasing that great music often. That is what is most important. That is what will grow your music career.

DistroKid Alternatives

Although my top suggestion for a music distributor is definitely DistroKid, I’ve gone ahead and compared DK to other popular services in case you are in the market for a new digital distributor or are simply just curious.

Other popular alternatives to a music distribution service like DistroKid include CdBaby, Ditto, and Amuse.

If you would like to see how DistroKid compares to these services, more closely check out this articles:

Or, if you would like a more detailed look into what DistroKid has to offer, you can check out my big fat DistroKid review. 🙂

P.S. If you also want to learn about music publishing and make sure that you are not leaving any money on the table with your music distribution setup, I’d recommend checking out these 2 articles:

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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