Skip to content

CD Baby vs TuneCore: Money

February 10, 2009

Want to distribute your single, E.P, or album? Want to get it on iTunes and Rhapsody and all of those other nifty digital distribution sites? Where do you go?

For many DIY artists you have 2 choices: CD Baby & Tunecore.

Many musicians take the classic route with CD BABY. With CD Baby you basically get:

  • Your music on a lot of quality sites. iTunes, Rhapsody, etc
  • You pay a Per Album fee of $35 + $20 for a valid barcode. Totaling $55 bones.
  • BUT THEY TAKE 9% on ALL DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION (unclear if it’s 9% after iTunes’ cut or not)

Tune Core is another option. With Tune Core you basically get:

  • Your music on whatever sites YOU choose. iTunes, Amie Street, etc
  • They charge $.99 per track, $.99 per album per store, and $20 annual storage fee.
  • You keep all of the profits from the digital distribution sites after they take their cut (iTunes takes 20%)
  • YOU KEEP 100% but they charge you an ANNUAL upkeep fee of $20 PER ALBUM


If your planning on selling large quantities of downloads then you should probably go with Tune Core.

If your not selling a ton then CD Baby is probably a cheaper road over the long term.

Check out their sites and make an informed decision. Let us know if we’re missing any other good online distribution sites.

Take Control of Your Music,


Bookmark and Share

The New Rockstar Philosophy

Sign Up For The New Rockstar Philosophy RSS Feed

Subscribe to The New Rockstar Philosophy by Email

14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2009 9:31 pm

    You left out ReverbNation which has 310,000 artists and we also offer digital distro. We take $34.95 per release per year. A release can be a song or it can be an album or even a dozens of songs. We take 0% fee so you get back 100% of what the retailer gives you. We also give you a bar code for free if you don’t already have one.

  2. February 10, 2009 10:15 pm

    Good to know Lou. We’ll have to check out ReverbNation again.

  3. Peter permalink
    February 10, 2009 11:01 pm

    CD Baby takes their 9% of digital $$ after iTunes takes their cut. Also, you don’t have to buy a barcode from CD Baby if you already have one.

  4. Sam Weis permalink
    February 16, 2009 8:43 am is the cheapest route by far. With WaTunes, you can sell unlimited songs & albums, earn 100% of your royalties, and they work with you to market your music for just $10 a month.

  5. lou plaia permalink
    February 20, 2009 8:55 pm

    Not to start an argument here but I’m not sure how you could state that “Watunes is the cheapest by far”. Watunes is $120/year versus ReverbNation at $34.95/year.

    Please check out ReverbNation. The Digital Distro we offer is only a tiny bit of what we offer artists. ReverbNation specializes in fan relationship management and is partnered with hundreds of thousands of musicians who use our digital marketing platform to manage their artist-to-fan communications.

    Artists manage all of their songs, videos, photos, show schedules, blogs, on a single account at ReverbNation and syndicate this content across social networks, emails, instant messages and blogs using a proprietary set of technologies.

    Every interaction is measured by us (and you get the data as well), and results in a deep understanding of fan demographics.

    So even though we provide many of the traditional music marketing services including low cost digital distro, email mgmt, street team functionality, our real value is our ability to take the aggregate influence of hundreds of thousands of artists and offer their services to brands that are looking to access the very fan bases of these artists. The ReverbNation platform provides the data needed to support these brand offerings.

  6. Dave Carter permalink
    March 3, 2009 3:03 am

    the two-and-a-half other options not mentioned are

    1) sign with an aggregate – more traditional ‘distribution’ business model = no annual / upfront ‘fees’ but they’ll take a cut of earnings, sometimes with opt in promotional services. Downside is you need to be selling (or have the potential to sell) in enough volume to negotiate this kind of deal.

    2) start your own label and deal with iTunes directly – this can be tricky for individual bands but if you can arrange a collective with enough bands / high profile releases iTunes etc. will come to the party. Downside is this is much more work to get your music onto digital distribution services.

    2 1/2) sell direct – yes it’s not on itunes or rhapsody but maybe a better option for smaller indie bands who may not sell large quantities online is to self-distribute through their website and set up a ‘honour’ / donation / give us your email for album downloads system ala Girl Talk. I wonder if ultimately mailing lists might not be more valuable than iTunes sales for newer bands?

    Obviously there are a range of other pro’s / cons here but it’s not my blog…

  7. March 3, 2009 8:22 am

    Actually Lou,

    WaTunes has now gone absolute. ReverbNation charges customers $34.95 a year, while WaTunes now offers it’s services for free. Also, the customers of WaTunes will still earn 100% of their royalties and sell unlimited songs & albums. By going absolute, this makes WaTunes the cheapest digital distributor in the world!

    Kevin Rivers, CEO

  8. Jenny permalink
    March 9, 2009 4:16 pm

    Has anyone used Ditto Music? ( they have been great for my band and when we looked at CD baby and Tunecore we found that Ditto provide more services and for less. They do the usual get you on itunes but they can get you on up to 700+ sites including HMV and allow your fans to download a track by texting something like ‘Music’ to a number. They don’t take a cut, just a small sign up fee. Would highly recommend them over the rest.


  9. March 10, 2009 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the mention, and I can see some of the comparisons have already been made, including the subtleties. But there’s no substitute for homework! I urge everyone to do their homework: look around the Web, check out the sites and see what people have said. Of course, the longer a service has been around the more customers they’ve helped, the more there will be those unhappy, so think in terms of percentages, so keep that in mind.

    Most important, remember that you have your own idea of success. What is success to you? Do you just want to say, “Hey, I’m on iTunes!” Okay, that’s fine. If you’re looking to sell a lot of music, losing a percentage every time might not be the way to go. Luckily, at these prices, no one’s going to go bankrupt no matter what service they choose. Everyone’s a winner.

    Thanks for the mention, NRP!


  10. Major permalink
    January 14, 2010 2:46 pm

    Which one of you has the best deal with iTunes and what is the percentage…

  11. peterwells2000 permalink
    January 15, 2010 12:34 pm

    TuneCore gets the highest rate possible by any independent. In fact, you can see all the rates on our FAQ:

    And of course, when you get that money, TuneCore takes NOTHING, no percentage of it. It’s all yours. 🙂


  12. January 15, 2010 1:03 pm

    Hi Major,

    The best deal by far for just iTunes IS WaTunes. We’re the only distributor in the world that enables you to sell unlimited songs and albums on the iTunes Store entirely free! This means we don’t ask for any upfront fees + you keep 100% of all royalties generated. For more information, check us out at: If you have any questions regarding WaTunes and the music industry, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

    Kevin Rivers

  13. tom schepp permalink
    January 26, 2010 8:16 am

    Do any of these sites have a feature where the shopper can choose either an entire album, or create their own album from choosing songs, and have the host site create (burn ) a CD, label it and ship it out (one -at- time) custom made cd’s, rather than stockpiling?


  1. Digital Distribution: New Choices « The New Rockstar Philosophy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: