CDbaby vs. tunecore

by • June 15, 2009 • Entertain UsComments (7)723

How do these two companies compare for online distribution of your digital music?

cdbaby asks for a one-time fee of 35$ for each album and takes a 9% cut of each download. tunecore charges a relatively similar amount and also charges 20$/album/year. However the good thing about tunecore is that they don’t take a percentage of your sales.

If you are an indie band with a small  fan base and minimal tours, you probably don’t sell many tracks in a year. So for each  download  you will take home about 0.60$ out of the 0.99$ that music download sites, including iTunes’s, charge. cdbaby charges you a 9% commission, so you get only $54. Contrast that with tunecore that lets you keep the whole 60$. So tunecore is going to be better for you during the first year.

However, in the second year, you are going to have to pay TuneCore 20$ per album even if they don’t end up selling. As for cdbaby, you are going to fork over 9% of your gross from digital online sales. If the 0.60$ per download is a correct amount, you have to sell 370 downloads to break even:  that means you have to sell over 370 downloads if you want to have a better return with tunecore rather than cdbaby. For big names like Public Enemy or Trent Reznor, both distributing their latest album through TuneCore, that’s a no-brainer. But for all the unsigned bands out there it might not be the best option.

If you’re signed with a label, they’ve probably already covered digital distribution for you so you don’t have to worry about these fine details. But if you are trying to sell your stuff on your own, each of these options is valid, but you really have to weigh your options carefully!

Option #1 CD Baby

Option #1 CD Baby

Option #2 TuneCore

Option #2 TuneCore

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7 Responses to CDbaby vs. tunecore

  1. Thanks for the mention of CD Baby! I’d just like to add that our one time fee covers every singe digital retailer we deliver to (Present and future). We don’t charge a per store delivery fee, so if a new store pops up on the horizon, we’ll get you there free of charge.

    Another important distinction between CD Baby and Tunecore, is that we are a retail destination as well selling thousands of CDs and downloads everyday all around the world. When selling through CD Baby, the artist sets the price for both the physical and digital product, giving them more flexibility and the ability to make more money per download. Next month we’re rolling out a completely new CD Baby that will power single song downloads, so the artist will be free to charge whatever they like which will shine a different light on the percentage argument above.

    Lots of other great features coming as well!

    CD Baby

  2. Tony van Veen says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Both companies are legit, and deliver a valuable service. CD Baby, however, in addition to being the largest digital distributor – delivering more songs to more retailers than anyone else in the industry – is also the largest retail store: artists can sell music on and set their own price. Plus, we carry and sell artists’ CDs on our store plus a network of 2400 retailers through our partnership with Super D, which Tunecore doesn’t do. And we offer other selling tools to artists, including a credit card swiper that allows you to accept plastic at your gigs.

    In short, there are lots of additional benefits to CD Baby in addition to the “pay as you go” model that limits our fees in direct relation to your sales.

    Tony van Veen – CD Baby

  3. Peter Wells says:

    Thanks for the positive mention, BandMark folks! But let me stress that this comparison doesn’t ultimately represent what services like us do. I haven’t space here to really dig in, but I wanted to clarify:

    TuneCore isn’t just about digital distribution. We’re your partner, and we are here to help artists succeed at every stage, to take them as far as they want to go. Sure, digital distribution is part of it, a key part. But there’s also promotion, recognition, using our buying power to provide all the elements folks need to get CDs, posters, video, DVDs, buttons, stickers, much more.

    It’s about having the tools bands need to do more than be in the largest stores–but to thrive in them: educating them about how the systems work, how the law works, how to get heard, above all.

    There’s a lot more, but I just wanted to convey that this means a lot more to us than packing off albums to stores–this is music, peoples’ lives, creations and love. Any distributor who cares is going to open every door they can.

    Thanks again. If you’ve got questions, you and your readers can feel free to write me.


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