Music distribution platforms are crucial in getting an artist’s songs onto significant streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Rather than uploading directly, artists rely on distributors like Tunecore and DistroKid to publish music across 100+ digital stores and ensure proper payment of streaming royalties afterwards.

Choosing the right distribution partner is important in an artist’s career. Tunecore and DistroKid stand as the two leading options. So, comparing their capabilities around factors like pricing, royalties, features, and ease of use is key to determining what fits each musician’s needs and budget. This expert review will analyse their differences to help inform that decision.

Overview of Tunecore and DistroKid

Tunecore emerged in the late 2000s as an alternative to early distribution platforms like CD Baby. They initially operated on a pay-per-release model, charging high recurring fees.

DistroKid arrived later with a game-changing $19.99 annual unlimited release model. This quickly made them an industry leader and forced Tunecore to adapt.

overview of tunecore vs distrokid

In 2022, Tunecore introduced a dramatically reduced $14.99 annual plan to compete with DistroKid’s pricing. However, DistroKid still retains advantages around factors like:

  • Faster publishing times
  • Broader feature set
  • Brand Momentum

Both facilitate distribution to all major DSPs like Spotify, Apple Music, and TikTok and provide total royalty payments directly to artists. But their pricing structures, tools, support resources and rates of innovation still differ.

Also Read: Is DistroKid Legit? (Expert Review & Analysis)

Pricing Models Compared

PlatformLowest Tier PricingKey Plan Details
Tunecore$14.99 per yearUnlimited singles & albums
DistroKid$19.99 per yearUnlimited singles & albums

pricing

Tunecore maintains a cheaper cost of $5 per year at the base tier. However, DistroKid offers three tiers:

Musician
($19.99)

Unlimited distribution
One artist’s name

Musician Plus ($35.99)

Unlimited distribution
Five artist names

Label ($79.99)

Unlimited artists & distribution
Label portal for managing catalogue

So, while Tunecore only has one main plan, DistroKid suits solo acts who later grow into bands or labels by allowing catalogue separation.

Distribution and Reach

Both DistroKid and Tunecore deliver music to over 150+ stores and streaming services, including:

  • Spotify
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon Music
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Deezer
  • Pandora

reaches and distribution

They also facilitate premium account verification on Spotify for Artists and YouTube. However, DistroKid publishes to stores faster – averaging a 2-5 day turnaround compared to Tunecore’s 1+ week times. This speed difference could impact promotions for artists on tight deadlines or eager fans.

Regarding niche international stores, DistroKid claims to automate additions, but Tunecore offers manual selection during upload. This caters more control to Tunecore users. Overall, both deliver on core mainstream stores with minor differences in niche reach and publishing speed.

Ease of Use and Interface

Tunecore and DistroKid invested heavily in smooth digital interfaces as pioneers in the user-friendly social media era.

Uploading a release involves:

  • Registering artist name & metadata
  • Uploading audio files & cover art
  • Selecting stores
  • Providing payout details
  • Releasing

Both guide users through an intuitive step-by-step process requiring little specialised music industry expertise. DistroKid’s experience feels more visually polished – cleaner menus, bolder graphics, and seamless interactions. Their colourful mascot, “Dripbot”, further modernizes branding.

Tunecore’s functionality matches DistroKid’s with only slightly more dated aesthetics: less flash but solid navigability. Each also provides progress bars showing store publishing status and historical sales & streaming analytics to inform future releases. Tunecore has recently introduced innovative “Trend Reports” as well.

Where DistroKid pulls ahead is speed – averaging a 2-5 days global release turnaround compared to Tunecore’s 1+ week times. This pace difference could impact promotions for artists on tight deadlines or eager fans.

Royalties and Earnings

A major appeal of Tunecore and DistroKid is that neither takes any cut of your royalties. That means whichever stores your music reaches, 100% of your earnings go directly to you.

Other free distributors recoup costs by taking anywhere from 5 to 15% commissions on royalties.

Payout Timeframes

Payouts accumulate until hitting monthly thresholds:

PlatformPayout ThresholdPayout Frequency
Tunecore$10+Monthly
DistroKid$20+Monthly

So Tunecore issues more frequent payments, while DistroKid only pays out larger accrued amounts monthly. Both facilitate international payments via PayPal. Tunecore also introduced earlier Stripe debit card payout integration.

Reporting & Transparency

Royalty reporting includes detailed per-stream & sales data on every platform. This allows an understanding of exactly where artist earnings come from.

DistroKid also introduced “Royalty Splits”, allowing collaborators to automatically divvy earnings based on shares – no manual math required.

split up royalty

Both provide full transparency on music consumption and distribution to artists.

Additional Features and Services

Beyond distribution, added capabilities differ across the platforms:

FeatureTunecoreDistroKid
YouTube Content IDIncluded$4.95/song add-on
Shazam IntegrationManual$0.99/song add-on
Lyric DistributionYesYes
VEVO Video DistributionNo$99.99/year add-on
MasteringPartner DiscountsBuilt-In
Marketing ToolsPromo SchedulingHyperfollow, Video Generator
Publishing Administration15% commissionNo

Key differentiators lie in video, discovery and recording quality services. Tunecore facilitates music publishing administration for synch and performance royalties, while DistroKid pushes marketing tools. For most, core unlimited distribution makes these extras unnecessary. But they provide growth avenues.

Also Read: How To Use Autotune In GarageBand (Step-By-Step Guide)

Customer Support and Artist Resources

An area where Tunecore shines over DistroKid is customer support and added resources:

  • Support Response Time – Tunecore guarantees a sub-3-day response, while DistroKid lacks formal pledges.
  • Education & Growth – Tunecore provides guides, workflow advice, conferences and even 1-on-1 coaching for users wanting to learn.

Between the two, Tunecore delivers better direct artist guidance for amateurs navigating the release process for the first time. Their blog also offers tips for planning releases, while DistroKid pushes barebones how-to’s.

For later-stage artists, the absence of hand-holding from DistroKid may suit more self-directed teams fine. But support response lags.

Pros and Cons Summary

TUNECORE:

Pros

  • Lower the $14.99 base unlimited plan cost.
  • Faster monthly royalty payouts from $10+.
  • Strong customer support with guaranteed response times.
  • Educational resources and conferences for learning.

Cons

  • Slower 1+ week distribution speed.
  • There are fewer auxiliary features compared to add-on pricing.
  • Legacy’s pay-per-release model still echoes.
  • Limited niche store selection control.

DISTROKID:

Pros

  • Broader capabilities like built-in mastering and marketing tools.
  • Quick 2-5 day content publishing to stores .
  • Sleek and engaging user interface.
  • Workflow automation will ease release management at scale.

Cons

  • Slower customer support response times.
  • À la carte add-on pricing can nickel and dime users.
  • Lower educational content for amateur artists.
  • Innovation focused exclusively on product capabilities over user nurturing.

In summary, Tunecore shines through affordability, faster payouts, and nurturing developing artists via educational pricing, releases, resources and learning conferences. Meanwhile, DistroKid appeals more to self-directed acts, wanting speed to market and seamless flexibility in managing releases at scale.

As pioneers, both facilitate excellent baseline distribution but diverge when it comes to ethos – Tunecore on fostering artists, DistroKid on enabling autonomy.

Final Verdict

TuneCore delivers the best overall value for most artists – combining affordable distribution, responsible royalty handling, and nurturing resources. DistroKid offers great technology, but nickel-and-diming, along with lax support, equates to a transactional experience. Tunecore feels like a true partner, guiding musicians professionally while pocketing zero earnings. Consider niche needs around supplemental services, but when it comes to core publishing capabilities, TuneCore satisfies artists who want transparency and mentorship on their journey.

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