If you want to distribute your music online, there are three places people generally go to do this. In no particular order:
While there are other online music distributors, these are three of the main ones. But which one is cheapest? This is what we aim to find out today.
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Just a quick note to let you know that this guide is only here to help you find out which of these three services is the cheapest. It doesn't show which is the best, as all of them have different features unique to them. As well as using this guide to find out which is the cheapest, you should also do your own research into each of them to find out which has the features you want. One may be cheaper, but if the more expensive one better helps you with what you want to achieve, you may instead want to go with that. This also doesn't look at making sales on iTunes as that's been covered.
With that out of the way, let's get into it. 🙂
How Music Do Tunecore, CD Baby, And Songcast Cover Over A 2 Year Period?
The above graphs were made by Audrey Williams over on her website. In them, she breaks down how much each service would cost a person over a two year period. She makes note of this based on both uploading and selling a single, and uploading and selling an album.
So let's look at what these figures mean, and which option will be cheaper for you in different situations.
The Cheapest Option For Releasing A Single
As you can see, the results vary based on what it is you want to achieve. Overall though, your cheapest options is to go with TuneCore, as they charge a flat fee of $9.99 per year, no matter how many units you sell.
The only time this will be cheaper is in the second year of you going with CD Baby, but that's only if you sell a very low amount of units (around 10 per year or less). Considering you'll be aiming to sell as many units as possible though, TuneCore will still probably be the cheaper option.
Songcast is the most expensive option if you're releasing a single, as they charge a monthly fee of $5.99 on top of a $9.99 fee for each single you upload with them.
CD Baby charge $12.95 for each single uploaded, plus an optional extra $5 if you want to include a barcode with that. They also take a 9% cut of any sales you make. So if you make no sales, you'll pay $12.95 in the first year. If you make sales, that price will go up.
Winner For Cheapest Single Release Cost: Over a two year period, for single sales, TuneCore is the cheapest option if you're aiming to make sales.
The Cheapest Online Distributor For Releasing An Album
When it comes to releasing an album, TuneCore charges $29.99 for the first year, and $49.99 for each year after that. There are no additional fees.
CD Baby has a flat sign up fee of $49 per album (or $99 per album if you go with their ‘Pro' option which includes added benefits), but they additionally take a cut of 9% for every unit you sell through them. Assuming you sell each digital download album at $10, if you sell 100 units their cut is $90 on top of the initial fee.
Songcast actually have the lowest album sign up fee at $19.99, but again the monthly $5.99 fee comes into play. If you have a lot of albums to release, Songcast could be the cheapest option, as you'll be getting away with the lowest upload cost of all three companies. If you're only releasing one album however, it's more expensive.
Winner For Cheapest Single Release Cost: If you're releasing a one off album, TuneCore is the cheapest option over a two year period, assuming you're making sales. If you're not making sales, CD Baby will be cheapest over two years, although you'll want to look at your marketing strategy to get your sales moving. If however you have a lot of albums to release (let's say you own a record label), Songcast with it's low album sign up fee could be the cheapest option for you, depending on how many albums you need released.
Remember Though, It's Not All About Money
Ok, so while some options are cheaper than others, that's not all you need to look at when deciding which digital distribution company to go with. Other things you will need to think about include:
- The features they provide. Each of these distributors have deals with different places, so not all of them will deliver your songs to the same shop. If you want to have your songs in a particular shop, have a look at each to make sure they distribute there.
- The ease of use. All of these sites are different, and some you will find easier to navigate than others. You should try them all to see which one you take a liking to.
- Their customer service. How quick do they reply to emails? How helpful are they? From my experience, all three companies do a good job here. That said, feel free to email them all before you make a decision, and see how each one does.
It's not all about the cost of the company, but also the overall experience. You may feel that one of these distributors provides a better service than the rest, and want to go with them regardless of price. So have a look and see for yourself.
So which do you use, TuneCore, CD Baby or Songcast? Let us know in the comments, along with why you choose them.