Comparing TuneCore with DistroKid is a much different beast in 2023 now that Tunecore has new pricing and plans available that are much more competitive with DistroKid.
Before these drastic changes, DistroKid was the clear winner since they were the music distributor that offered unlimited uploads for a small annual fee as opposed to an expensive “pay-per-release” pricing model.
However, things are MUCH different in 2023 now that TuneCore offers unlimited song uploads for an annual fee that is actually less than what DistroKid charges.
On top of this: a lot of the things that DistroKid charges you extra upon release that they call “Goodies” (aka DistroKid’s hidden fees) are built into TuneCore’s smaller annual fee.
So does this mean that it is now a no-brainer to go with TuneCore and if you are already using DistroKid does it make sense to switch over?
Maybe. Either way, this is true:
Both DistroKid and TuneCore are amazing music distributors because they both offer unlimited music uploads and the ability to set a release date for a low annual fee.
Let’s take a closer look at comparing these 2 to find out what is best for you as an artist or label.
Is TuneCore Better Than DistroKid In 2023?
Ultimately the answer to this question depends on what you’re needs are as an artist since the differences between these 2 music distributors are not as great as they once were.
Both services allow you to release unlimited music to streaming services while keeping 100% of your royalties. However, Tunecore is better because their annual fee is cheaper and gives you more features for that price (DistroKid charges for these as paid add-ons called “Album Extras”).
So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using each before diving into some specific scenarios like which to choose if you are looking for the cheapest or if you heavily rely on splitting royalties.
Pros & Cons Of Using TuneCore In 2023
The main pros of using TuneCore in 2023 are that they are cheaper and offer better customer support.
The main cons of using TuneCore in 2023 are that they do not yet offer revenue splits and that this new pricing model is new and relatively untested.
|Cheaper annual fee than DistroKid||There may be growing pains with their new pricing model|
|Less upsells or hidden fees||Artist revenue splits aren’t available but are coming soon|
|Better customer support||No integration with Tracklib|
|“Rewards” system to get access to education and opportunities|
Pros & Cons Of Using DistroKid In 2023
The main pros of using DistroKid in 2023 are that they are still very affordable (especially if you skip the “goodies) and that they currently offer royalty splits.
The main cons of using DistroKid in 2023 are that they are more expensive (especially if you purchase their “goodies”) and that their customer support can be hit or miss.
|Still very affordable annual fee||More expensive annual fee than TuneCore|
|Revenue splits are available now and really easy to use||Lots of hidden fees and upsells when you are releasing music|
|Integration with Tracklib||Customer support is very hit or miss|
If you’re looking for the cheapest price:
The TuneCore plan I would recommend is the Rising Artist plan costs $14.99 per year while the DistroKid plan I would recommend is the Musician Plus plan which costs $35.99 per year.
If you ignore all of DistroKid’s “Goodies” (which is what I do and is what I highly recommend you do) then the difference is only $20 a year which isn’t much.
However, if you like to add on DistroKid’s “Goodies” then DistroKid suddenly becomes dramatically more expensive.
Either way: if you are looking for the cheapest price to release music then TuneCore is better than DistroKid.
If you need to contact Customer Support a lot:
I’m not going to lie… I personally use DistroKid to release my music and have not had to contact their customer support too often.
However, although I’ve definitely had good experiences, for the most part, the strategy of their customer support is very much to quickly send you to a FAQ article instead of being of service.
With that said if you plan to hit up support a lot, I’ve only heard good things about TuneCore’s customer support.
So, I think it is safe to say…
If you need to contact customer support often then TuneCore is better than DistroKId.
If you need to split your royalties:
Whether it is if your release is a collab, you worked with a label, or are using something like Tracklib: being able to split your royalties is very, very useful.
Although this feature is coming soon to TuneCore, DistroKid has this feature enabled right now, and, having used it before, I can tell you it is very intuitive and a treat to use.
If you need to split your royalties, DistroKid is better than TuneCore.
Should A New Artist Go With TuneCore Or DistroKid?
Although I currently use DistroKid, enjoy using DistroKid, and would recommend DistroKid to any artist…
I think it’s important for me to provide the best possible advice for any artist that wants my advice.
This is why in spite of DistroKid being my personal distributor of choice, I believe that:
New artists should choose TuneCore as their music distributor because they are more affordable, have no hidden fees, and have quality customer support.
With that said, the differences between TuneCore and DistroKid are really not that great and I genuinely think you’ll be happy releasing music with either. 🙂
Should You Switch From DistroKid To TuneCore?
There’s is no denying that TuneCore’s updated offering is really appealing and can make any DistroKid user question their loyalty and start wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.
I can’t lie: I’m definitely eyeing TuneCore and may consider testing a release or 2 with them in the future.
With that said…
DistroKid users shouldn’t switch to TuneCore if they are currently happy releasing music with DistroKid.
If you ignore DistroKid’s “goodies” and don’t need to reach out to customer support often, the hassle you’d have to go through to move your catalog and get used to a new distributor isn’t worth saving a few bucks.
You should honestly focus on releasing more music instead.
However: if you’re unhappy with DistroKid or tend to spend an arm and a leg by adding on “Goodies” each time you submit a song, it could be worth taking a look at TuneCore.
TuneCore vs DistroKid BEFORE 2022: The Unlimited vs Pay-Per-Release Debate
To really drive home the point of how much TuneCore’s new pricing is a game changer for them, from this point on is the original article I wrote to compare DistroKid to TuneCore:
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.
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?
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, DistroKid has seen dramatic growth and the number of artists having success and positive experiences grows by the day.
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 and beyond.
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.
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…
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.
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 In 2021: 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…
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.
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:
- Being able to release unlimited songs
- 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.
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:
- DistroKid vs CdBaby
- DistroKid vs UnitedMasters
- DistroKid vs Ditto
- DistroKid vs Amuse
- DistroKid vs SoundCloud
- DistroKid vs Landr
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: