TuneCore vs DistroKid (Which Distributor Is Best?)

Last updated:
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
  • Are DistroKid and TuneCore the same thing?
  • Does TuneCore copyright your music?
  • Can I use both DistroKid and TuneCore?

The music industry is a complex beast for independent artists.

First, you have to make your music stand out among the 40,000 new submissions every day, then you have to distribute it to the countless and ever-expanding platforms.

The good news is that there are companies that do the hard work to make distribution simple for you; and in this article, we’ll go over the two major music distribution companies that most independent artists prefer in 2022: TuneCore and DistroKid

DistroKid is a simpler, cheaper option that strips away all the extraneous features, giving you the one service that you need: releasing your songs on all platforms.

TuneCore’s features go far beyond this; which makes DistroKid far cheaper and simpler.

For most musicians, DistroKid is the way to go because of its simplicity and price, but many musicians and labels still prefer TuneCore because of its wider range of features. 

Are DistroKid And TuneCore The Same Thing? 

No, although it’s understandable that people think this given the two are the biggest digital music distributors on the market, and both allow users to collect 100% royalties.

However, DistroKid offers a simple, stripped-down, and far cheaper service while TuneCore offers a more expensive, complex service with more overall features. 

What Is A Digital Music Distributor?

The function of a digital distribution company is to deliver your music to the places where listeners will hear it online.

This includes digital music stores like iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play, as well as music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal,  YouTube, Deezer, and hundreds of others. 

This saves you time, and also acts as a regulatory barrier to make sure that you include your artwork, genre, and generates, because each platform has a different way of accepting music, and distributors make it easier to release music. 

Is A Music Distributor Necessary? 

Yes. The music distributor is totally necessary. The music distributor will take care of all of the hassles of getting your music on music streaming services like Spotify and iTunes while ensuring that you get paid.

Many platforms won’t even deal with individual musicians. 

TuneCore vs DistroKid

TuneCore

Price

The distribution fee for a single track costs $9.99, and for an album with more than two songs, it costs $29.99. TuneCore also charges an annual renewal fee of $49.99 per year per album. $29.99 for the first year. 

Pros 

  • 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 can collect your publishing royalties for you (for an additional fee)
  • TuneCore offers the very slim possibility of sync placements (for an additional fee)
  • Faster payouts 
  • TuneCore Social acts as social media on the site

Cons 

  • You must pay a fee per song or album every single year
  • Very expensive to use
  • Not simple enough / a lot of extraneous features 
  • Have to pay extra to designate multiple songwriters to a track 
  • Charges extra for pre-save feature 

Main Features

TuneCore offers artists something that no other distributor does currently – they can collect your publishing.

For an extra fee, Tunecore can collect the publishing royalties that you would normally need from a performance rights organization such as ASCAP or BMI. 

Extra Features

  • Access to a number of different social media tools
  • Allows you to pre-pay for songs and albums 
  • Access to funds anytime 

DistroKid

Price

DistroKid charges artists $20 a year for their most basic plan, which allows you to upload unlimited songs and albums. 

However, artists will need to upgrade to the $35 per year plan for enhanced features such as scheduling releases, editing, and adding more artists.

No matter the plan you choose, you will always receive 100% of the royalties. You can also join as a label (up to 5 artists) for $80 a year and up to 10 artists for $140 a year. 

Pros

  • Discount to save on your first year
  • Unlimited song and album uploads
  • Low-cost annual fee
  • Easy, simple, intuitive user interface without anything extraneous 
  • Straightforward royalty splits and payouts 
  • Good for independent artists
  • DistroKid hyperfollow allows fans to presave your work and automatically follow you 

Cons 

  • DistroKid charges a $0.99 fee per year per release for your music to show up on Shazam, which is a free addition with TuneCore 
  • The loudness normalization add-on feature is borderline snake-oil (in my opinion)
  • Longer payout period 

Main Features

  • DistroKid allows you to set your features and collaborations easier than TuneCore. You can link the profiles you’d like the releases to land on to avoid any mix-ups. 
  • Custom links for each release to encourage Spotify pre-saves and iTunes pre-orders, plus more. 
  • DistroKid hyperfollow feature allows your fans to pre-save and automatically follow with the press of a button 

Automatic Splits

DistroKid allows users to easily create automatic splits between artists and collaborators. You can easily set up splits between co-writers, producers, or band members, and then DistroKid will automatically pay them out at the agreed-upon percentage.

There’s no additional fee for this, although the other artists will need to pay a $5 service fee to create an account. 

Automatic Payments

Say your song gets 1 million streams (woo!) within a 3-month period, well with DistroKid you have to wait 3 months to get that payout.

So, three months after you hit a million, you’ll receive all of that money (around $4,000 USD from Spotify). 

To read more about how streaming royalties work, check out Streaming Payouts Per Platform & Royalties Calculator.

Extra Features

  • With each song release, DistroKid allows you to checkmark extra features for a small fee, such as adding it to Shazam/Siri, YouTube Content ID, and loudness normalization. 
  • Custom links for each release to encourage Spotify pre-saves and iTunes pre-orders, among more. 

DistroKid Is Simple!

For independent artists who plan on uploading lots of music often, DistroKid’s simplicity and ease of use is a big selling point. To release a song, all you need to do is fill in your name, the song title, any features, the file, the genres, and the cover art. 

Looking for some branding tips for your next release? Make sure to read Music Branding Strategies For The Modern Artist & Musician.

Which One Is Better? 

Price

Winner: DistroKid 

Both services upload your music to streaming services and give you 100% of your earnings, minus banking fees/applicable taxes, but DistroKid’s subscription service is far cheaper and better than TuneCore’s.

You can also add multiple songwriters to one track for free, which TuneCore makes you pay extra for. 

Speed

Winner: TuneCore

When it comes to speed, both of these platforms usually take a business day or two to release your music to platforms, and they compare very closely.

However, it won’t show up on Spotify or Apple Music for another day or two after it reaches these platforms because they also have to verify whether a song is legitimate to use on their platform.

DistroKid wins on the speed of releasing a song in terms of the time it takes to upload, but TuneCore wins this one because their payout windows are faster than DistroKid’s

Customer Service 

Winner: TuneCore 

DistroKid doesn’t have any contact form on its website. When you need support, you’ll be directed towards articles and message board topics that will try to help you solve your problem. 

TuneCore also has this but makes it obvious they’re there to support you with a human being and offer a 1 business day response. TuneCore by far wins this one

DistroKid, however, apparently has decent customer service once you find out how to contact them. Obviously, they can’t be bothered with customer support unless it’s extremely urgent and necessary. To be fair, many tech companies are the same way, and customer service becomes exponentially difficult when your audience is global.

Simplicity/Ease Of Use

Winner: DistroKid 

DistroKid’s platform is clean, simple, and easy to navigate. Rather than feeling like you’re filing taxes when you upload music, the process is intuitive, simple, and straightforward.

For musicians who plan on uploading lots of music to major streaming platforms often, DistroKid’s simplicity and ease of use is a big selling point. All you need to do is fill in metadata such as your name, the song title, any features, the file, and the cover art.

Winner: DistroKid

While most product comparisons we do here have products with no clear-cut winner, and each product is better for a particular type of user, this one is different.

DistroKid is the clear-cut winner here for independent artists and labels alike because of its simplicity and price.

They cut out all of the BS that is extraneous and offer a simple digital distribution service that TuneCore does not. I would argue that the product is better AND far cheaper than TuneCore. Shots fired!

Competitors 

1. CDBaby

Probably DistroKid and Tunecore’s biggest competitor, CDBaby charges artists $9.95 USD per song or $29 USD per album.

After that, your music will be sent to all major streaming platforms forever, unless deleted. However, they also take a commission of 9% from any money you make through them.

2. LANDR

LANDR is an automated mastering service that allows you to distribute your music for free if you are subscribed to their mastering service. 

We pitted LANDR’s AI mastering against a real human mastering engineer. Find out what happens here!

3. ReverbNation 

ReverbNation is quite expensive at 19.95 per month plus but adds A LOT of features on its platform, plus the ability to only release music to six platforms for $1 per single or $9 per album. 

4. Amuse 

Amuse is 100% free to distribute your music and allows you to keep 100% of your profits. They are the only competitor that will allow you to submit music through an app on your phone.

When they see an artist they think is going to be a success, they offer to sign them to their label. This is where Amuse make most of their income. 

5. AWAL

Similar to Amuse, AWOL is tied to a label and doesn’t charge anything for you to distribute your music with them. However, they take a 15% cut of your revenue.

Also, AWAL doesn’t work with every independent artist. Independent artists have to submit their music and be approved in order to distribute with AWAL and gain access to their services.

6. RecordUnion 

RecordUnion does not have a lot of features and has a small list of distribution channels compared to their other distributors, but they have a very helpful support team and the platform is easy to use.

RecordUnion has three plans and charge per single, EP, or album, but they also take 15% of your royalties. 

7. United Masters

United Masters has two pricing tiers – a free option that allows you to collect 90% of your royalties and only distribute to a few platforms, and United Masters Select, a $60 per year service that distributes to all platforms and gives you 100% of your royalties. 

FAQ’s

What Is The P-Line? 

The P Line ℗ identifies that there’s an owner to the rights of a record. Whatever follows the P Line identifies who the owner of those rights is.

It will show up anywhere that music is officially available online and is used on physical copies of music as well if the song was distributed through one of the main companies. 

The P Line is located in the metadata for digital music, which makes it easy to find out where any royalties should go when the song earns money. 

What is the C Line? 

The C Line © is the copyright of the music but not the sound itself. The C Line signifies the copyright owner of the music but not the recordings of it.

So when filling in the C Line you will need to list the original songwriter/songwriters. If you wrote it yourself, then it’s much easier. If it’s a cover or remix then you will need to list the original title.

How To Fill P Line And C line In

To fill in the P and C line, both ℗ and © copyrights should be properly marked with the symbol, followed by the first year of publication and the owner of the respective rights. 

For example…

  • ℗ 2016 Treyportersounds Ltd
  • © 2021 Treyportersounds Ltd

P Lines should correctly list the owner of the rights to the original sound recording at the time it is manufactured. The year listed represents the year when it was first released for commercial sale.

How Much Does TuneCore And DistroKid Pay Per Stream? 

Both streaming platforms pay 100% royalties. The differences in price come down to the music streaming services.

How Much Do Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Pay Per 1 Million Streams?

As of 2022, Spotify pays $4,000 per 1 million streams, Apple music pays $5,000 per stream, and YouTube pays $1,500 per 1 million streams.

The Verdict

Choosing between these two major music distribution companies is fairly obvious in my opinion. The only reason I would go for TuneCore is if money is not a problem for you.

Even still, I might still go with DistroKid if they were the same price. DistroKid is far cheaper because it strips the service down to all of the essentials that most people want out of digital distribution services, and the distribution process is simpler and more intuitive.

However, many people still use TuneCore because they prefer having customer support, as well as the extra features that TuneCore offers on top of just basic distribution.