Digital Distribution Headaches?

March 18, 2010 8:15 AM

Does anyone have experience using a digital distribution service like say Tunecore, CD baby, etc, if so could you share your experiences. Secondly has anyone ever seen a comparison table of all the different services: there are so many with differnt deals and fixed / percentage prices. I'm a bit overwhelmed.

I've just been thinking about doing it and Im a bit over whelmed by all the providers.

- Believe Digital

- Zimbalan

- Tunecore

- CDBaby

- Band Camp

posted by mary8nne (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I've got irons in the fire at CDBaby, Tunecore and Routenote. I have no experience with the others you've listed but here goes...

I started off with CDBaby and liked the offering but got slightly annoyed with their approach to singles and the reliance on physical media. It struck me as anachronistic in an age when, if you're looking for digital distribution, you don't necessarily want to manufacture a bunch of coasters just to make them happy. This may have changed, but I haven't checked recently.

I started selling stuff off of Tunecore for precisely this reason. However, they don't do physical media at all (which is fine for me). They do have an annual fee with a cost pro-rated depending on the type of release (single or album) and the number of online stores you sell through. Their distribution reach is quite substantial, but I find that about 97% of my sales come through iTunes and 2% through Amazon and the rest through sundry streaming services.

Routenote is digital only, but doesn't have a flat fee but instead skims 10% off the top of what you sell. They're also growing their partnerships but the main ones are generally the top percentile of sellers anyway (iTunes, Amazon). They've got Spotify on board too but I've yet to see my material come out the other end of the ingestion chain. I do find that Tunecore's financial reporting seems to be a bit more responsive than Routenote's.

There's also a cost-benefit crossover with Routenote vs. Tunecore as you'd imagine with a percentage vs. flat-fee arrangement, but I don't sell nearly enough to worry about that.

CDBaby's been around forever and as far as I can tell is quite reliable. I've never heard any complaints about them. Tunecore has been around many years and I've had friends who've had a few issues (but then a VP stepped in...a little late in the game, but rectified the problem x10). Personally, I've had no problems. Routenote is a newcomer, and they've had some issues with various ingestion processes with Amazon and Spotify more recently. They're support is really friendly and they're a small company, which makes me want to root for the underdog. I suspect that may cloud my judgement. I probably wouldn't be so easy on CDBaby or Tunecore if I'd had some of the issues I've had with Routenote. On the other hand, there's something to be said for having somebody actually write back to you when you have a problem.

Hope that helps somewhat...
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2010

We use Band Camp, and thus far, it's been a great experience. The interface is elegant and extremely easy to use, on both our end and the listener/buyer's end. It does basically everything you could want to do with online distribution (most importantly, without getting in the way at all), and, apart from the Paypal transaction fees, you keep 100% of the money made from purchases. I'm not terribly familiar with the other services you mentioned, but I don't know anyone who's been even a little unhappy with their Band Camp experience.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2010

CD Baby's been good to me. I have no complaints and recommend them regularly.

I think about switching to Tunecore occasionally as I'd make a bit more money, but I've had such a good experience with CD Baby I'm afraid to mess with it. Also on Tunecore I think you have to opt in and pay for new services but with CD Baby my stuff is just magically in them. Good for habitually lazy and cheap people like myself.
posted by frenetic at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2010

If you're looking to get on iTunes/Rhapsody/etc., then Bandcamp isn't really going to help - it's more for the artist who wants to distribute directly.

In doing that, though, it's awesome. You can either choose a set price or "name your own" price (including free) for your downloads. The whole site is really well done, and now they're doing some interesting things with physical media as well.

CDBaby has also been a good experience for me, for the same reasons frenetic mentions above.
posted by anthom at 7:13 AM on March 19, 2010

I have music on BandCamp but they don't get onto any of the other sites. which is really waht I'm after. It woudl be nice to be on iTunes and Spotify in particular as that is where a lot of people go lookign for music.

Thanks for the tips. Sorry I haven't been back into the thread for a bit.
posted by mary8nne at 7:23 AM on March 30, 2010

frenetic, Jon-A-Thon and anthom: with respect to CDBaby, do you sell a significant amount of physical CDs or is it mostly digital?
I've been wanting to get some wider distribution for a while. But I've always approached my recordings from a song-by-song standpoint, sort of uploading them whenever and wherever. While I'd like to get my stuff on iTunes et al, the idea of going back and mastering 60+ songs or whatever into cohesive, "real" albums is horrifying to me. I've just been selling my homemade, ghetto, lo-fi CDs from my website whenever people email me, basically.
So I guess I feel sort of paralyzed as to what approach to take.
Thanks for letting me piggyback on your thread, mary8nne.
posted by chococat at 4:05 PM on April 8, 2010

5 years ago, CDBaby was moving physical CDs for me but that seems to have pretty much exclusively converted into MP3 sales on iTunes. The majority of CDs I sell now are off-stage. It might be different if I were signed and had some promotional cash pushing sales...
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 11:11 AM on April 9, 2010

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