If you’re considering a choice between Landr, Distrokid, and Tunecore you’re probably looking to pay a one-time fee, get unlimited distribution, and keep 100% of your royalties. With a couple of these distributors having multiple tiers to choose from, it can’t be an exact apples-to-apples comparison. What I’ve done is I’ve chosen the lowest-priced tiers of each distributor that are most comparable. You can find individual Buyer Guides for each music distribution service here: Landr Buyer’s Guide, Distrokid Buyer’s Guide, Tunecore Buyer’s Guide. These guides cover all details of each distributor, from a complete analysis of all their offers to their Terms of Agreement.
|Price||$23 Annually | Musician||$15 Annually | Rising Artist||$23 Annually | Basic|
|Percentage||Keep 100%||Keep 100%||Keep 100%|
|New Stores||+Store Maximizer: $8 per release annually||+Store Automator: Free but has to be added manually||Unspecified|
|Transaction Fees||2.9% |
$1 Cap per withdrawal
25¢ Cap per withdrawal
|2.9% per $1 Cap per withdrawal|
|Content ID||$5 Per single|
$14 Per album
|Split Pay||Requires a $10 annual Subscription for collaborators||Requires an $8 annual subscription for collaborators||Free|
|UPC||Free, can’t bring your own||Free, can’t bring your own||Free, can’t bring your own|
|ISRC||Free, Bring your own||Free, Bring your own||Free, Bring your own|
|Cancel||Removed from stores||Removed from stores||Removed from stores|
|Taxes||30% Tax Treaty||30% Tax Treaty||30% Tax Treaty|
|Custom Label Name||No||No||No|
Each of these distributors has different pricing tiers but these are the most comparable and affordable. You can check individual distributor breakdowns to learn more about each. Landr, notably, bundles many services on their higher tiers. You can get unlimited audio mastering, free samples, and free plugins along with distribution if you’re willing to pay more for Landr. Tunecore has the cheapest offering out of the three options at $15 annually. The winner? Tunecore.
Distrokid distributes to what it considers to be the most important stores, but far from all. It excludes audio recognition services like Shazam and Gracenotes. In the case of Shazam, you can pay an additional $1 per song, per year for distribution, but you’re out of luck for everywhere else. Both Landr and Tunecore distribute your music to an unlimited number of stores.
There are always new stores being added to services. TikTok might be the most recent significant store addition. Nobody wants to keep up with this stuff where they have to track which new stores have been added and manually add those stores to each release. Tunecore allows your music to be automatically added to new stores for free, they just go about it differently. For Tunecore, going by the release I recently set up, at this tier you have to manually add Store Automator to your release. So, for every Tunecore release, you have to make sure you have the box for Store Automator checked.
Landr doesn’t declare whether it distributes your releases to new stores automatically. My thoughts on that is, if it’s not in writing, it’s not included. Distrokid charges an annual fee of $8 per release, per year which is a lot. We’re talking $8 for every song you distribute, charged every year, per song where 3 songs would have you paying an additional $24 per year just for Store Maximizer. It’s like you’re paying for two unlimited accounts. The winner? Tunecore.
Distrokid is the only distributor on this list that restricts you from having a release date at this tier. Depending on the type of artist and release, release dates can be critical. They allow you to rally support and build momentum to make a big splash when your project drops. Ideally, you want a release date. Tunecore and Landr give you one while Distrokid doesn’t. The winner? Everybody but Distrokid.
Both Landr and Tunecore restrict you to a single artist on their lower tier while Distrokid restricts you to two. If you need to distribute for more than one artist you’re likely operating as a label or collective. I don’t know how much more distribution for two artists as opposed to one will matter if you’re a label with a full roster.
As far as flexibility goes, adding artists is an option for all distributors but they don’t all handle it the same.
Distrokid charges $89.99 annually for distribution for up to 100 artists.
Landr restricts you to only a single artist at this tier but up to 5 artists on their Pro tier. They don’t provide any information on how much you have to pay to add additional artists if you’re working with more than the maximum amount.
Tunecore requires you to have their $49.99 Professional plan and pay $14.99 per additional artist on top of the annual fee. For what Distrokid charges to distribute music for 100 artists, you pay Tunecore for 6. The winner? Distrokid.
Take a look at your revenue if you’re moving from another distributor and if not, what are your expectations? Youtube can be your primary source of revenue or an afterthought. Doing music videos for your songs or uploading Art tracks to your Youtube channel and focusing on directing traffic there means it’s going to be your primary source of activity. Without the Partner program, you’ll need Content ID to monetize. If this is where you’re making most of your money, do you want to keep more of it or less of it? Probably more. Landr would allow you to do that because you can keep 100% of your Content ID revenue with Landr.
Distrokid is the most expensive option on the list when it comes to Content ID because it charges a fee per release annually plus a percentage for the service. You’re charged $5 per single or $14 per album annually plus 20% of your revenue for Content ID with Distrokid. If you add the cost of Content ID to the cost of Store Maximizer, it’s a total cost of $66 annually for 3 releases. This $66 fee would be in addition to their $23 annual fee for distribution.
Tunecore charges no upfront fees but takes 20% of revenue which makes out better than Distrokid but not as good as Landr. The winner? Landr.
Being in the Youtube Partner Program means you’re going to make more collecting revenue directly than through Content ID. Youtube values first-party content more than third-party content so higher-paying ads run on first-party content than third-party content. Using Content ID, distributors claim your videos as third-party content which means you get lower-paying ads. In addition to lower-paying ads, you also have to split that lower rate with your distributor, earning you even less.
You don’t want Content ID claiming videos from your channel if you’re in the Partner Program. Whitelisting allows you to restrict your channel from the program. All distributors that offer Content ID can Whitelist but some make it easier than others.
Landr doesn’t address Whitelisting at all for Youtube. It only addresses it for Facebook/Instagram. It’s likely you’ll have to manually request a video be Whitelisted if it’s something they’re willing to do.
With Distrokid’s Whitelisting system, you can request individual videos be Whitelisted. The issue here is that you have to manually request each video and can’t just Whitelist your channel. It’s not the end of the world but it increases your workload.
Tunecore allows you to Whitelist your entire channel where you can rest easy and not have to take any further action. The winner? Tunecore.
Sharing royalties with collaborators is something that’s important to a lot of artists out there and what’s equally important is how collaborators claim their share. Distrokid requires collaborators to have a Distrokid subscription paying a reduced rate of $10 annually to claim their share. Tunecore requires collaborators to have a Tunecore subscription paying a reduced rate of $8 annually to claim their share. Only Landr allows collaborators to claim their share for free. The winner? Landr.
UPC codes track sales activity for albums. Let’s say you have a 30-song album and each song gets 50 million on-demand streams. Your total for the collection of songs would be 1.5 billion streams, that’s a platinum album. No matter how long it takes, once you’ve got a platinum plaque everything changes. When people mention your name they have to add the prefix “platinum-selling”. As Fat Joe says “Yesterday’s price, is not today’s price” Your rates go up. It matters.
ISRC codes track sales activity for singles so if you only tracked activity for ISRC codes, you’d just have 30 singles each with 50 million streams. That number of streams wouldn’t earn you anything in the sense of RIAA recognition.
At this tier, none of these distributors allow you to bring your own UPC code and for some, it’s not permitted at all. If you’re moving releases from another distributor, you can only keep sales for the singles intact, but not the albums so the clock restarts on the count to platinum status.
Distrokid doesn’t allow you to bring your own UPC code on any tier, nor does Landr. It simply is not permitted. Tunecore only allows you to bring your own UPC code if you’re on their Professional tier for $49.99 annually, but at least it’s a possibility. The winner? Tunecore.
Distributors have to negotiate deals with digital service providers like Spotify. Things like their percentage of revenue, access tools, and features are all a part of that negotiation. When it comes to influence over digital service providers, it’s not about having a catalog that drives a lot of streams. Understand that for digital service providers, streams are an expense. They pay for streams, streams don’t earn them money. They make their money from subscribers.
What it comes down to is whether a distributor has a catalog of music, that if removed from these services, would cause their users to use another service. With big names like Papoose and Russ, Tunecore is the clear winner when it comes to influence. Distrokid has quantity but not clout and Landr has neither. The winner? Tunecore.
Who wants to get evicted in the dead of the coldest winter? If a distributor shuts down or randomly changes its pricing to something you can’t afford, that’s an eviction. You’re forced to pick up all your music and find another home which can be a really big problem. Particularly if you’ve taken full advantage of the unlimited model and went berserk with releases. You don’t want to be a guinea pig where a distributor is trying to figure things out by testing on you. It also isn’t wise to use a distributor with a poor model where it isn’t likely to be able to sustain itself and will eventually go out of business.
Distrokid has been around a really long time and is incredibly stable. The same can be said about Tunecore. Neither distributor has had a history of changing their pricing much over the years. Landr, has changed their pricing multiple times as they’ve looked to figure out a more profitable system. If security is a major concern for you, your choice is between either Distrokid or Tunecore.
Landr doesn’t specify what will happen if you cancel your subscription or if your card can’t be charged. It’s likely your releases will be removed because there isn’t a free tier. Distrokid will also remove your music. Tunecore will remove your music as well, but you have the option of having your distribution fees pulled from your royalties. That’s an important option and I’ll explain why.
Other distributors will cancel if they cannot charge the card on file. You could have $100 in royalties and no money on your card. I spoke to an artist who found himself in a coma for months. His distributor couldn’t charge his card so it cancel his service despite the fact that he had money on his balance with them.
Additionally, what you see you’re owed by your distributor is in your distributor’s bank account until you request to be paid. This means it’s contributing to a balance that is accumulating revenue in the form of interest for the distributor. Some distributors, namely the ones with payment thresholds, explicitly state in their terms that you are not entitled to that interest. Charging your balance wouldn’t bring in any new money so that’s likely the reason most distributors don’t do it. Fortunately, Tunecore does.
Payment processors like Paypal charge a fee per transaction to facilitate the service. Some distributors eliminate the fee or limit it, while others leave artists to pay the full amount. The transaction fee is usually about 2.9% which gets more punitive as your revenue grows. It’s something you’d like to avoid or minimize if you can. Tunecore caps transaction fees at 25¢, while Distrokid and Landr cap them at $1. The winner? Tunecore.
If you reside in a country without a tax treaty with the United States you’ll be subject to up to a 30% tax withholding when using distributors based in the US. Distrokid, Tunecore, and Landr will withhold the funds from your balance. No winner.
This is the core job of a digital distributor so the number of places your music is added to matters a lot. Not all stores are really stores. Some of the places distributors get your music into are providers that supply music to businesses like restaurants and retail stores. The bottom line, you want your music everywhere so you want a distributor that can get your music everywhere. We’ve listed all the stores each of these distributors has listed along with who distributes where, and a breakdown of the stores you may not recognize.
Examining the list of stores, Tunecore and Distrokid get you into more stores than Landr, but Tunecore gets you into the most. The winner? Tunecore.
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List of Stores
|Youtube Content ID||✅||✅||✅|
|Soundtrack by Twitch||✅||✅||✅|
|7Digital / Triller||✅||✅||✅|
|Kuack Media Group||✅||❌||✅|
|Listen on Music Time||❌||❌||✅|
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