Choosing your music distributor is a key milestone in your journey as an independent music artist.
Two of the most popular platforms are Tunecore and DistroKid, but which one is better?
In this article, I'll break down how each company compares across all of the features and elements that are most important to independent music artists.
Distrokid wins on price in the higher tiers, but TuneCore wins in the lower tiers. TuneCore's Rising Artist offers the same as Distrokid's Musician Plus plan, for $15 a year less, but comes with a slower support response, less promotion opportunities, and you get 1 less artist, with the option to add more for $14.99.
I'd say Tunecore and DistroKid are pretty similar when it comes to price.
You can forget about the "Free" tier that Tunecore offers, as it only puts your music on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram free, so none of the actual streaming platforms or digital stores.
If you are beginner and only releasing music under one artist name, then the Tunecore Rising Artist plan beats out DistroKid's cheapest plan, and it's also $5 less.
This is because you can actually set your own release date.
You don't have as many marketing tools, and you can't release music under any other artist name, but if that's not important to you, then Tunecore wins here.
Tunecore has 4 pricing tiers, including a very limited free option that lets you release music to social media platforms, but not streaming platforms or digital stores.
Yes, a free plan is great because, hey, it's free! But I'm not really sure why anyone would want to use this.
Sure, it allows your music to be available on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, but you can't actually listen to your music on streaming platforms.
Even YouTube requires a 20% fee.
Rising Arist Plan: $14.99/Year
Enter your text here...
Rising Arist Plan: $14.99/Year
DistroKid has 3 main plans that you can choose from, and these are:
- Musician - $19.99/yr
- Musician Plus - $35.99/yr (Save 10%)
- Label plans - $79.99/yr (Save up to 40%)
However, you can actually get DistroKid for less by clicking here and using my discount link (OrpheusAudioAcademy.com/DistroKid)
This will give you 7% off your first year.
Here is a table breaking down DistroKid's plans for artists and labels. This data can be found on DistroKid's website here.
Price Per Year
For an in-depth breakdown of DistroKid's pricing, including pricing for all of their extra features, check out my article here.
If you just look at pure price, Tunecore is cheaper, as they offer their first tier at $14.99, whereas DistroKid's is $19.99. Plus, Tunecore does have a free plan as well (limited though it may be).
Tunecore is the cheaper option.
However, if you're looking at cost based on available features and services, then I'd say DistroKid is the winner.
DistroKid offers a pricing plan at $35.99 which covers all of the features you could want for someone looking to build an indie artist career.
In order to get these same features with Tunecore, you'd need to pay $49.99.
So in my opinion, Tunecore is attempting to invite beginners in with their cheaper pricing tiers, hoping that you'll upgrade to their more expensive plan once you're serious.
However, if you already know you're a serious artist, then DistroKid gives you the same features at a lower cost.
Technical Winner: Tunecore
Real Winner: DistroKid
If you're looking for the best bang for your buck, then DistroKid is the one for you!
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Both DistroKid and Tunecore allow you to keep 100% of your earnings, so they are tied in this department.
That said, Tunecore offers a music publishing service which works to collect additional publishing royalties along with mechanical royalties, which DistroKid doesn't have.
But, this isn't really a bonus for Tunecore in my book, because you have to pay $75 to sign up for this service, and Tunecore takes 15% of your royalties.
You could just use DistroKid and then sign up for a Performance Rights Organization like ASCAP, which is only $50, and it only takes a 10% cut.
I think you're much better off just signing up for ASCAP on your own.
There is also an area here in which DistroKid is superior.
Both DistroKid and TuneCore offer payment splitting. This is a big deal if you are collaborating with others on your music, and want to be able to split the royalties.
Payment splitting allows you automatically split earnings from any song or album with any people you collaborated with on the project.
This way, you don't even have to think about or mess with splitting royalties on your own.
Payment Splitting Winner... Tie
When it comes to digital distribution, which distributor is better?
Well, it turns out both are pretty even, as they each will distribute your music to 150+ outlets.
On top of that, both distributors will also distribute your music to Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
Digital Distribution Winner... Tie
DistroKid does not offer physical distribution, whereas TuneCore does. You can use TuneCore's disc duplication service to manufacture CDs, DVDs, and Posters. With DistroKid, you'd have to use third party tools for these services.
You can see TuneCore's physical distribution options here.
If you want physical distribution with DistroKid, you'd have to use a third party service.
If you're looking to manufacture physical copies of your music in bulk, then Discmakers is a great company which I've used myself.
Or, if you're looking for a print-on-demand service, then Artglider is a great tool you can use which overs both CD and Vinyl printing.
Digital Distribution Winner... TuneCore
DistroKid and Tunecore are pretty even when it comes to marketing and promotional tools. Both have pre-saves, video generators, and social tools, with great analytics. However, Distrokid slightly edges out TuneCore in terms of sheer number of available promotional tools.
Tunecore and DistroKid are very similar when it comes to the tools they give you for promoting your new.
Here is a more detailed look at the services each platform offers:
DistroKid Promotional Tools
DistroKid automatically generates a HyperFollow page for each release you create.
HyperFollow is a single webpage that you can customize with your music, videos, social media links, and more.
HyperFollow allows your fans to pre-save your song on Spotify, and even sign up for your email list. This is a great tool for promoting your song before it releases.
DistroKid Spotlight is a really cool feature where you can actually submit your song to get on one of DistroKid's large Spotify Playlists.
Your song will get matched up against other songs, and people can then vote for which song they'd like to be featured on one of DistroKid's playlists which have tens of thousands of followers!
And if your song isn't selected, you can always submit again! There's no limit to the number of times you can submit your song to Spotlight.
Wheel Of Playlist
This might not actually generate you much in the way of streams, but it is a way to automatically get a playlist placement on one of DistroKid's playlists.
You spin the wheel and you'll be randomly placed somewhere on the playlist until someone else spins that same number, and then you can spin again.
You might not get a ton of streams, but you do get a playlist add which is helpful in the eyes of the Spotify algorithm.
DistroKid has a mini video generator that allow you to create small snippets of your songs to post on social media.
DistroKid also offers many free, and quickly customizable promotional images that you can use to rapidly generate a bunch of social media content.
With DistroKid, you can add your lyrics to your songs which will then be displayed on streaming platforms and search engines.
You can even add time synced lyrics to your music so that listeners on Instagram, Spotify, and Apple music can see your lyrics displayed in time with the music.
Spotify Canvas Video Generator
DistroKid also has a built in Spotify canvas video generate which allows you to create Spotify canvas videos in seconds.
Upstream - Connect With Record Labels
Upstream is DistroKid's free service for artists who are interested in record label opportunities.
If you join and a label loves you, they'll contact you directly. There's no obligation to sign a record deal. Opting into Upstream does not take any rights, royalties or percentages from artists—and you can leave any time.
Tunecore Promotional Tools
TuneCore also has some great promotional tools.
TuneCore grants you access to TuneCore social when you're a user, which is similar to DistroKid's HyperFollow.
This allows you to set up pre-save Spotify links and collect emails.
Where it differs from DistroKid is that this tools allows you to post directly to your socials from TuneCore.
You can post music visualizer videos to all of your social media profiles, and even find hashtags that are relevant for your music.
Furthermore, TuneCore offers a vast blog section that provides tutorials to help you with music promotion.
Cover Art Design Tool
TuneCore also has their own built-in cover art design tool. It's basic, but if you can't afford to hire a designer, and know nothing about designing cover art yourself, then this will get the job done.
Marketing Services Winner... DistroKid
DistroKid is really doing some cool things for music artists that allow them to spread and promote their music online much more affordably, and with less hassle. It's a close winner over TuneCore for this category.
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Both distributors are very similar when it comes to paying out your royalties.
When you request a withdrawal, your money will be sent within 1-14 days of the request.
As far as payment methods, minimum thresholds, and withdrawal fees go, here is how they breakdown for DistroKid.
Minimum Payout Threshold
ACH / Bank Transfer
$1 per payment
$1.50 per payment
$5.00 per payment
$3 per check
Wire Transfer (U.S.)
$15 per payment
Wire Transfer (International In Local Currency)
$20 per payment
Wire Transfer (International In USD)
$26 per payment
PayPal (Non-US resident)
USD 1.00 + 2% Up to USD 21.00
PayPal (US resident)
USD 1.00 + 2% Up to USD 2.00
I use DistroKid myself, and make over $100 a month, so I use the first option in the table (ACH/Direct Deposit) and have the money delivered right into my bank account, as that has the lowest fees.
TuneCore states that they do their best to "review all withdrawal requests within 3 business days", but sometimes it can take longer.
As far as payment methods, minimum thresholds, and withdrawal fees go, here is how they breakdown for TuneCore.
Minimum Payout Threshold
$0.25 USD per Transaction (US only)
ACH / Bank Transfer
Varies by Country
$1, $3, $5, varies by Country
$5 USD per Transaction
$1 per Transaction
If you juxtapose the two closely, you'll see that they are very similar, but I think DistroKid edges out TuneCore.
This is because there are higher fees and minimum payment thresholds for most of the payment options for TuneCore versus DistroKid.
The differences are small, but could add up over time.
Payouts Winner... DistroKid
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Both platforms have good reporting; however, TuneCore provides a more comprehensive set of data.
Reporting is key because it allows artists to see where their music is doing best, and make marketing decisions based on that data.
DistroKid certainly provides you all the data you need. For example, I'm seeing that I'm actually earning a lot of my song income from YouTube (Red).
However, DistroKid doesn't display the data in the best way possible.
Reports Winner... TuneCore
TuneCore provides very nice-looking and easy to read reports, whereas DistroKid's reporting isn't the most pleasing to the eye.
Creating cover songs are a great way to grow your exposure, but this can also be tricky given copyright laws.
How easy does TuneCore and DistroKid make distributing (and actually profiting from) cover songs?
Cover Songs and DistroKid
DistroKid makes handling cover songs super easy. Rather than having to figure out how to acquire the proper rights yourself, and continue to keep up with paying what you owe for those rights, DistroKid will handle this for you.
DistroKid charges a fee of $12 per year, renewed annually, to manage each cover song for you. They will:
DistroKid will obtain the required compulsory mechanical license for you.
Not only that, but they'll actually automatically deduct the legally-mandated fee (9.1 cents or 1.75 cents per minute of playing time or fraction thereof, whichever is larger) from your earnings and pay it to the original songwriter.
You'll get 100% of the rest. You don't have to do anything else!
Cover Songs and TuneCore
TuneCore offers two different pricing options for cover songs, based on how many units you intend to sell.
These are one-time fees, which makes TuneCore much better at cover song licensing than DistroKid in my opinion.
If you choose the limited license, you do need to re-license or convert to the more expensive standard license if you sell more than 500 units.
I'm not sure how streams factor into this though, as in general, 150 video or song streams equates to 1 track sale, but I'm not sure if this applies in this case to cover songs.
So this could be a little tedious if you are uploading a lot of cover songs and trying manage all of these licenses.
You simply "set-it-and-forget-it" with DistroKid, but at $12 a year per song, that can really add up, especially if you aren't earning back that money from the streams.
Cover Songs Winner... TuneCore
DistroKid and TuneCore both offer great customer service. Both have fast response times, however you have to pay more for customer service from TuneCore.
DistroKid offers high quality customer service to all of their members, but TuneCore has different tiers of customer service.
TuneCore customer service tiers:
With the free tier they have a response time of 5 business days, with ‘Rising Artist’ it’s 72 hours, with ‘Breakout Artist’ it’s 48 hours, and with ‘Professional’ it’s 24 hours.
Free Tier Response Time
Rising Artist Response Time
Breakout Artist Response Time
5 business days
This small difference, as well as the slightly higher reviews for DistroKid make it the slight winner in this category as well.
Customer Service Winner... DistroKid
What The Community Says
When you look at the reviews concerning these two companies, DistroKid edges out TuneCore by quite a large margin.
On Trustpilot, not only does DistroKid have a higher rating (4.7 to 4.2) but it also has a much higher percentage of 5 star reviews to TuneCore.
Community Rating Winner... DistroKid
What The Experts Say
Some of DistroKid's biggest fans are actually the founders of rival companies!
TuneCore, founder Jeff Price had this to say about DistroKid:
"As the founder of TuneCore I hate to say it, but DistroKid is the single best music distribution company in the world. Light years ahead of CD Baby and TuneCore and far less expensive.
"[DistroKid is] light years ahead of CD Baby and TuneCore and far less expensive."
Music Artists Agree...
But it's not just company executives that think DistroKid is the best. Many artists agree.
DistroKid is the future.
I've tried a bunch of digital distributors and DistroKid is, by far, the easiest and quickest way to get music out to the masses.
I like DistroKid because it's straight-forward to use, gives detailed data for accounting purposes, and gets my music into stores faster than any other service I've ever used. DistroKid has been a godsend for those last-minute distribution needs—when you get the masters back 48-hours before you go live on iTunes.
And The Overall Winner Is...
The final score between these two companies is:
DistroKid: 5 TuneCore 3 (with 2 ties)
I believe the clear winner here is DistroKid!
TuneCore and DistroKid are very similar, but I think DistroKid slightly edges out TuneCore. I'd say DistroKid's only real inferiority is the cover song licensing fee, which is $12 a year for each song, whereas TuneCore has a one time fee, which may become multiple fees, based on how many sales you generate.
In terms of pricing, payouts, and how much money you get to keep, DistroKid is slightly better than TuneCore, which I think overall makes DistroKid the better option, but you really can't go wrong either way.
If you're still not sure about which distributor to go with, you can check out my other reviews below:
If you're ready to get started with DistroKid, the first step is to decide which pricing plan you should go with.
It will help you decide on which plan is the best for you.
I hope you found this article on, TuneCore vs. DistroKid, helpful!
Feel free to share if you got value, and let me know in the comments...