CDbaby vs TuneCore?

(1/6) > >>

Edited topic.

Question may sound stupid, but I checked only today the requirements for that and the best way would be going with a third party (cdbaby, tunecore etc.) But would these ~50 dollars a year pay off or not so much? When you think about it, it's not that big amount of money to invest, but to me, even for a year it's quite much, unless it was possible to distribute all my albums for that price, then it would be totally worth a try, even if it didn't pay off. I know it all comes down to a fan base, but still, I saw many obscure artists selling there and was interested to give it a try myself.

Also, how about you guys, who sell on cdbaby, tunecore and elsewhere, any losses, pros and cons?

P.S. only now noticed the difference between cdbaby and tunecore. Former takes commisions, but require only one time payment for an album, the latter do not take commisions but you have to pay every year to keep album live.

I checked on google all the pros and cons, but left undecided.

P.S.S. What CDbaby doesn't tell is that the actuall price is not 49$ for an album, but 49$ + 20$ for stupid bar code. Just found out when tried to register. So I won't be able to sell music even digitally without this bar code? I guess tunecore is more transparent in this regard, they offer it for free, so they don't have hiden charges unlike CDbaby.

If you're selling smaller numbers - CD Baby is the way to go.  They never hid the $20 charge before so maybe it's more hidden now?  I don't know - they've always been very upfront on costs and a lot of options. 

Tunecore has a yearly recurring fee...  you start building your sales over years and multiple releases - with tunecore it costs to keep the older titles up.  With cd baby - they are already there.

Think about how you want to release...

Bandcamp -  probably best deal around for selling files in all formats - they take a percentage of sales.  Only for sale through their site - but widgets allow you to put your album for sale anywhere.  People have to find you.   You do have to sell a small number of albums before they'll allow you to upload really big sized files (so don't make a one track dronescape of 70 minutes be your first bandcamp album - make it your 2nd album... ;-)

CD Baby - upfront setup fee...  but possible to distribute to a ton of digital stores - iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, etc...   No recurring fee.  CD Baby will also stock, sell, ship your physical cd / cdr's.

Tunecore - upfront fee -  tons of digital stores in an "a la carte" fashion (it can add up super fast...) - Recurring yearly charge - no CD.

So here's my recommendation... 

Bandcamp if you only want to sell files directly.  No upfront fee.  Really nice service.  nice widgets.

CD Baby if you want iTunes, etc. and don't expect to sell all that many copies.  Nice widget (not as good as bandcamp)

Tunecore - best if you can really push through the product - and remember to save up for the yearly fees.  I have the least experience with tunecore so take my comments with a grain of salt, please.

With my label, Relaxed Machinery, I chose CD Baby back in late 2009 because when I compared them side by side - CD Baby had the best offering for selling ambient albums that might sell only a few copies a month or per year.   What tends to happen is a 2nd or 3rd album might get some listeners and people go back and buy the first 2 albums.  Kind of that "established" artist thing, finding an audience, etc...   Tunecore would've killed any sales we made.

What I did was create an Excel spreadsheet charting all the fees across multiple years to arrive at the decision - also the option of physical copies didn't hurt - but I haven't used it.

Feel free to ask any more questions.  There are a lot of label owners and artists here!

Thanks for the reply, jkn,

I am on bandcamp for over a year now and I like the service, but I'd also like to be on iTunes and some other places, and the only option is to choose third party distributor, and now have to decide between CDBaby and TuneCore (as it offers 50% discount for first year, that is only 25$).

So I am only concerned about digital releases so CDBaby's physical CDs do not interest me and I highly doubt that in far future I will change my mind. I checked some other distributors too, but so far, I like best what TuneCore and CDBaby has to offer. What I dislike about CDBaby (and bandcamp) though is that they take percentage of the revenue, and this percentage is much higher if an album is bought directly from CDBaby. On top of that, when they promote their service, they mention only 49$ per album in their ads, but they do not mention, that artist will have to pay additional 20$ for barcode, one only discovers it when tries to sign up. So that changed the rules of a game for me.

While TuneCore, even with annual charge of 49$ offers free barcodes, plus lets you keep all your revenue.

I did a math:

Either way, an artist has to sell at least tens of albums (more than 10) in a first year so that they would pay off for him, same with CDBaby, same with TuneCore. So imagine if an artist fails and his music doesn't interest other people: on CDBaby he loses 49+20=69$, while on TuneCore it's 49$ (ignoring the fact that until Aug 22 they offer 50% discount). Only plus, that on CDBaby they stay forever, so it's possible for them to start magically selling after few years...

Furthemore, I disagree with your point that if an artist is selling smaller numbers CDBaby is better, I think it's quite the same with TuneCore. Depending on what number we are talking about, if it is less than 10 albums per year, he practically doesn't earn anything with CDBaby (at least comparing the first year for both distributors). If we remove the 69$ fee for an album (when CDBaby states it's only 49$ which isn't true) and add 9% of commission, the profit can barelly pay off that one time fee. Yes again, album stays on CDBaby and other stores forever, that's a huge plus. But now compare with TuneCore: if an artist sells less than ten albums in a first year, he doesn't lose, but doesn't win either, as the revenue will cover his first years fee only. So in that sense they are very similar distributors. It's easy to lose with either of them.

But the reason I am on a fence is that for now the first album will cost me only 25 dollars, so I think it's worth the risk. If by the end of a first year I will see no progress, I will terminate the contract and they won't take money from me for the second year. I will lose only 25 dollars, but that's unlikely, as some people expressed interest in my music being sold on iTunes (mostly americans).

(feel free to correct me where I am wrong, because I really wanna make an informed decision)

P.S. I would agree, that for a record label CDBaby is better choice though.

P.S.S. so over all, until august 22 (few hours left) I have a pretty good deal for a first album. No commissions plus 25$ or 9 to 25% plus 69$.

But yeah, if I decided to upload my full discography, I would choose CDBaby over TuneCore, but I don't have that much money and if I did it wouldn't pay off even in a second year or third year probably. I would be interested in the experience of the other artists though.

"Only plus, that on CDBaby they stay forever, so it's possible for them to start magically selling after few years..."

I wouldn't underestimate this point.  Having a decent back catalogue can in the long run give you more visibility and street cred (it also shows a commitment to your craft).  In getting started, any of these options involves a relatively small amount of money, but you should also consider the gazillion or so bedroom musicians who are thinking the same thing, if you are concerned about distinguishing yourself from the others.  Having said that, sales were probably the last thing on mind when I started releasing music.


I think you've found your answer.    You have to do what's right for you!

One small minor addition (and it won't affect your decision) is on my label - each artist releases indipendently - so they have their own cd baby accounts.   We "self release... together".  I know from several artists that release consistently over time the earlier albums sell more with each later album... it's a slow building process - gaining a fanbase - gaining people's trust in your work - and eventually selling.  Very hard right out of the gate.

I was going to do a quick check of what tunecore's pricing includes now - but I found it really difficult viewing on my phone to see what it was.  It used to be a couple years ago that you had to pick each service you wanted to be on and pay for each separately - in iTunes case that was at least 5 different versions of iTunes so it added up fast.  But now they've changed the pricing structure so it looks like it might be a 'get it all' type price... again - can't tell...   I think cd baby and tunecore could both get better FAQ's... ;-)

Regardless - I think you've found what fits you best.  Go for it and good luck!


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version