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Music Distribution: TuneCore Review – The Honest Truth

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Our TuneCore review gives you an inside look at the platform and how they are helping independent musicians.

TuneCore has been around for a while and is another staple in music distribution. 

With a growing number of artists turning to the company, we help you to determine if this feature packed platform is right for you.

Music Distribution: TuneCore Review

Starts at $9.99/Single Release & $29.99/Album Release

Music With Flavor Readers – Get 20% off TuneCore

Distribution is the name of the game and on the surface, it seems fairly straightforward… right?

All you have to do as a musician is get your music into the right hands and it will be smooth sailing from there.

But you and I both know this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I mean the thought of you having to individually pitch your next release to the likes of Apple and Spotify execs is enough to make your heart jump out of your chest.

Luckily for you, your heart can stay right where it is.

Music Distribution Companies like TuneCore have been around for over a decade now and are helping the underdog take major strides in the music distribution game.

Did you know that those feelings of overwhelming and fear that your next release won’t go as planned can now turn in to feelings of confidence and poise?

Not only that,

You can have your music available to the masses in a matter of minutes and at a price that won’t cost you your first born!

TuneCore is one of the strongest music distribution companies that I have had the pleasure of using and have relied on the service to release my music for some time now. I can count on them to make my music available to my fans across 100s of different platforms.

In this review, I am going to show you how a company like TuneCore is helping countless musicians like yourself promote their music at a high level.

[bctt tweet="Pro Tip: TuneCore offers opportunities for their clients to submit new music for playlisting as well. Make sure you are taking advantage of this and all the other amazing services that TuneCore has to offer!"]

TuneCore Review - What You'll Learn

Who Is TuneCore For?

As you will see TuneCore has a lot of features that will benefit you as an artist. One thing you will need to be aware of are the fees associated with releasing your music as then can add up on you quickly. If keeping cost very low is your goal then TuneCore may not be your best option. 

With that said, you may find that their features are worth the higher fees especially when you consider the fact that they do not take a commission on your music.

We know how you feel, there are enough hands in your pockets as it is. You’re trying to keep as much money as possible here, which you have the right to!

With these services, the fact is, there are charges involved. You will need to be able to maintain the costs & fees associated because if you don’t your music will be pulled from stores. It is important to review your distribution strategy and consider how much music you plan to be releasing and if you are making enough from your releases that would make TuneCore a reasonable option.

Another key feature of TuneCore is the strength of the analytics that they provide you with. Want access to solid and up to date reporting? Arguably the best in the industry?

Then TuneCore has exactly what you need!

Also, If you are really focused on monetizing your YouTube videos then TuneCore has a number of features to help you do just that.

Fees & Commissions

TuneCore is similar to the majority of other distribution sites in the fact that it is free to join and there is no fee to Sign up. For starters they charge a distribution fee upfront to upload your music which is as follows:

Distribution Fee: single= $9.99 Album (2+songs) =$29.99

Now depending on who you are or where you’re at in your career, the next part is what some people really dislike about TuneCore. They charge an annual fee on every single or album that you upload which will run you the following prices:

Annual Fees: Single= $9.99 Album =$29.99 in year one $49.99 in year 2 and beyond

This is where other companies like CD Baby, who don’t charge an annual fee, try to make their offering look superior to TuneCore. The case here is that if you as a musician aren’t making any money from your music then why should TuneCore be profiting?

This argument isn’t exactly foolproof considering TuneCore is providing you with a service and as you see shortly, companies charging a commission are essentially taking a gamble on you now in hopes of a bigger payout down the road.

TuneCore does not take a commission meaning you get to keep 100% of what you earn from your music.

CD Baby on the other hand, doesn’t charge you those “Pesky” annual fees. Instead…

They take a healthy 9% commission from everything you make. Now, on the surface, this may seem better, but this isn’t exactly the case. What it truly comes down to is how much you are making from your music and where you are in your music career.

If you are making very little money from your music, small enough to not cover the annual TuneCore fees, then yes CD Baby might be the better option.

However, If you’re making a ton of money from your music or you will be eventually, then CD Baby’s 9% cut isn’t so glamorous anymore. Especially when you could just pay the “Fixed” annual TuneCore fee and be done with it. The fact that the fee is fixed also means you can plan for it rather than CD Baby getting more money the more your sales grow.

For some the decision is difficult but you also need to take into consideration the other benefits and features being provided to you by each platform and go with what fits your needs the best!

Tunecore Review

Fee For Adding New Stores

In this section of the site, you are able to expand the distribution of your songs to stores you are not currently utilizing via the TuneCore Store Expander.

These are typically stores you missed or excluded from your list when you were choosing which stores to distribute to.

Here, you are able to add them free of charge if you change your mind and feel the need to.

Tunecore Review

There is another feature called the Store Automator. You never know when the next Spotify or Apple music may spawn out of thin air.

Regardless, this TuneCore feature allows you to take advantage of stores you may have missed when you originally uploaded your music because they did not exist at the time.

You have the option to take advantage of automatically distributing your music to new stores that TuneCore partners with for distribution.

Tunecore Review

It costs a one-time flat rate fee of $12 for each release and is a feature they heavily try to upsell you on when submitting your releases.

*Caution* be careful when making adjustments to your release before check out as the checkbox for this feature will opt you in even if you don’t want the service. Be sure that it is unchecked before submitting any payment.

Tunecore Review

Take Down Costs

A concern some musicians have is that they don’t want to be hit with penalties for removing their music from platforms. Afterall, things happen. Maybe you aren’t too happy with a song or it’s become outdated and you don’t want it accessible to the public.

Whatever the case may be, you can find comfort in the fact that TuneCore will not charge you a fee to take down any music you have uploaded. You simply just need to submit a request to take down your music and they will help you through the process.

Outlets & Release Options

TuneCore allows you to send your releases to over 150 stores for distribution. Beyond that, you get to pick and chose which stores you want to be distributed to or not just by checking a box.

Tunecore Review

Speed To Stores

TuneCore is pretty good at getting your music live on iTunes and Spotify. iTunes is very quick and they typically go live within 24-48 hours. Spotify on the other hand typically takes 5 business days. All other stores range between 1-3 weeks depending on the store. You can see TuneCore’s full breakdown of publishing times here.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that these are suggested times under best-case scenarios. Don’t rely on the posted timeframes because each case is unique. Be mindful of this when planning your releases.

Release Dates

Another important component is your digital release date. You’ve spent countless hours crushing it in the studio and a ton of money to create your best album yet. Now with the help of TuneCore, you are able to select a release date that aligns with your marketing plans. 

Pre-Order

The added benefit of being prepared is that you can incorporate a Pre-Release campaign into your marketing strategy. TuneCore allows you to do this and will make your album or single available for sale on iTunes before your official release date.

Unfortunately, TuneCore only allows you to do this with iTunes and no other store. They suggest that you provide 3-4 weeks to execute this properly.

Tunecore Review

General Features

Publishing Administration

TuneCore provides a feature called Music Publishing Administration. What is Publishing Administration? The idea behind this is that there is tons of money out there that artists are leaving on the table after they distribute their music.

Tunecore Review

The goal of this program is to help you find and collect royalties that you have earned when your music is downloaded or streamed worldwide.

TuneCore works with rights collection agencies from around the world to make sure that no matter where your original music is being played, you receive your royalties for it.

Sync & Master Licensing

Through this service, TuneCore also boasts that they will go to bat for you and pitch your music to film, TV, Commercials, video games and more.

Doesn’t hurt to have someone fighting in your corner for once!

Tunecore Review

TuneCore works alongside Performing Rights Organizations to help collect the royalties listed below.  Pricing is listed as a $75 one time setup fee and this allows you to submit as many compositions as you like. This would be pretty good if it weren’t for the commission fees.

Tunecore Review

Sync & Publishing Commissions

With any royalties you make from publishing, TuneCore takes a cut of the profits. This used to be 10% but has since increased to 15% as of July 1st, 2018. With regards to any Sync licensing that you are able to obtain, they keep 20% of all the revenue you generate.

Tunecore Review

Note: This is not to be confused with music revenue as TuneCore does not touch that.

YouTube Sound Recording Revenue

As previously mentioned, TuneCore provides you with opportunities to monetize your music through YouTube videos. This is a service TuneCore Provides to help you track down and collect revenue when your sound recordings are used anywhere on YouTube.

You get to decide which of your tracks you want to collect money on and monetize. Once these tracks are submitted to YouTube, they have a content ID system that identifies where your music is being used on the YouTube platform and determine any revenue owed to you.

Artists pay a one-time setup fee of $12 for the service and TuneCore takes 20% of any revenue made. The setup fee covers all current and future releases.

Tunecore Review

TuneCore Social

Essentially this is a feature similar to other social media management tools on the market like HootSuite or Buffer. The service provides you with social media analytics and Allows you to streamline your posting through post scheduling, saving you time.

Tunecore Review

There is also an app that you can use to monitor and post everything, from your phone, called TuneCore Social Pro. They offer a free option and a Pro option for $10.99 a month or $118.99 a year (10% savings)

This can provide you with convenience depending on your needs. However, there are other tools on the market that are far superior to this and I would recommend them instead.

Tunecore Review

Pro Master Instant Mastering (After Master Audio Labs)

TuneCore offers a service where you can get your tracks mastered relatively quickly. They have two options which are Instant mastering (much cheaper) and Custom Engineering (More expensive).

Instant mastering provides you with a technology approach to mastering that takes anyone’s music and spits it out based on certain standards and criteria. They boast top quality, lossless masters available in seconds.

Tunecore Review

They also provide options that you can choose between such as Powerful, radio ready, bass enhanced or vocal enhanced mastering options. You get to preview the mastered songs before purchase and the price starts at $9.95 per track.

Custom engineering, on the other hand, will start at $75 and is said to be more of a hands-on approach. Your tracks will be mastered and quality checked by some of the best sound engineers in the industry and the turnaround time is typically 3 business days.

Tunecore Review

TuneCore Fan Reviews

This is an interesting service that allows you to pay for people to give you feedback on your music.

They have three different packages which provide you with real reviews, analytic comments, and pointers on your music. 

Tunecore Review

Distribution Credits

This feature allows you to pre-buy distribution for your future releases.

This could be an option for someone who knows that they will be releasing a lot of music through the platform or even a label managing multiple artists.

For those that want to save on the single or album fee that TuneCore charges, this is a way to do it by purchasing in bulk and getting a discount.

This option doesn’t make sense for everyone and the cost upfront is a lot higher but over time you would be saving money.

Tunecore Review
Tunecore Review

Payouts

Now let’s jump into the fun stuff…Getting Paid!

You can withdraw your money from your TuneCore account at any time and do not need to worry about a threshold that some platforms impose on you.

TuneCore also provides you with three flexible options to withdraw your money from their platform:

Tunecore Review

To learn more about TuneCore’s withdrawal process and any processing fees associated with the options mentioned above click here.

One feature that bands are usually interested in is automated payment splitting. TuneCore has a manual version of this. However, you may need to pull out your calculator. TuneCore claims that they do provide payment splitting but in order to do so you would have to manually send specific payments to each individual party.

Not exactly efficient.

Before we move on, there is one more feature that may be of interest to you which is TuneCore’s Direct Advance program. Which allows you to access money that you haven’t made yet (from your music) in the form of an advance.

You’re probably asking, “Well, where can I sign up!?”

Ahh, Not so fast…The program is for select TuneCore artists only.The selection criteria for artists is based on previous sales history and future forecasted sales. Essentially you will have to prove that you have a solid track record of sales to be eligible.

Analytics & Reporting

The reports and analytics provided by TuneCore are one of the best and most comprehensive in the industry. If you are not taking advantage of all the analytical data being provided to you by the likes of Spotify, your distribution platform, Social Media, etc…

Then you are doing yourself a huge disservice. This is the secret sauce! 

The information that should be driving your music career and guiding your business decisions.

TuneCore provides you with data on your releases, songs/albums, the stores you’re in and much more as can be seen below.

Tunecore Review

TuneCore also provides you with information regarding the performance of your YouTube videos which can’t be said by all platforms.

Tunecore Review

TuneCore allows you to see how your music is performing on streaming sites as well as the data behind the downloads of your music. This should be used in combination with the streaming data provided to you by the streaming platforms directly.

Spotify for example has an amazing platform that shows you a ton of useful data. This information can be used to determine where you go on your next tour, what songs are popular and so much more.

Tunecore Review

Customer Support

So when shit hits the fan, how well is TuneCore at coming to the rescue? Pretty good to be honest. Now we’ve all been there and experienced unanswered emails, rude customer service associates and simply just a lack of care for your concerns. 

However, I must admit my recent encounters with TuneCore’s customer service team has been very positive.

Tunecore Review

I recently filed a dispute as I was trying to get one of my singles approved. There was an issue with my artwork that I did not agree with and they went out of there way to make sure it was resolved.

The support team will usually get back to you within a day and are open Monday through Friday 10 am – 6 pm (EST). You are best to reach out via email first and begin the conversation that way.

Tunecore Review

Final Verdict

When it comes to TuneCore, I have used the platform and think it’s solid for distributing your music. They excel in some areas and are not amazing in others.

However, on an overall basis, they get the job done. Pricing is often said to be too high and there tends to be a concern with the annual fee. but I believe they make up for this by not charging you a commission, not to mention the other solid features that they provide. 

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