Thursday, December 7, 2023

Tunecore Review: Buyer’s Guide

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Tunecore Music Distribution Service Buyer's Guide

About Tunecore Music Distribution

Visit Tunecore: https://bit.ly/42zzf8X – 20% Off

Tunecore is owned by the global corporation Believe Digital which raised €300 million in a Paris Initial Public Offering. Yes, Tunecore is owned by a publicly traded company with stock shares and investors. Along with CD Baby, it is one of the oldest digital distributors on the market with strong staying power.

One thing nobody talks about with music distribution is direct deals. Most music distribution companies use companies like Fuga and Revealator. These companies charge fees in exchange for providing them with music distribution services and these distributors pass those fees on to you. When they say keep 100%, it doesn’t really mean keeping 100%. It means you get to keep 100% of what’s left over after they pay Fuga or Revelator. Tunecore has direct deals so when they say keep 100%, it means keeping 100%.

Deals with digital service providers like Spotify are negotiated and distributors that go through 3rd parties are subject to whatever their providers agree to so they don’t hold their own weight. When it comes to negotiating the terms of licensing agreements with digital service providers, Tunecore has the ability to negotiate directly and the leverage to argue for better deals. They’re often one of the first, if not the first, distributors to gain access to features like Youtube Shorts where artists could earn from having their music used and, the short-lived, Tidal Direct Artist Payouts.

Facebook made the decision to pay artists for the use of their music through licensing deals back in 2018 and Tunecore was the first company I got a notice from. At that the time Facebook launched its licensing deals, it wasn’t tracking music on its platform so it didn’t pay distributors based on actual usage. Distributors got paid a lump sum to be dispersed amongst artists however they saw fit. Many distributors simply pocketed the money because it wasn’t directly aimed at any particular artist. Distrokid even has a clause in their terms that grants them the ability to keep such financial disbursements. These companies weren’t obligated to share the money nor notify artists that it existed. Most didn’t, Tunecore did.

Believe Digital, Tunecore’s parent company, also owns the publishing administration company Sentric and bundles the service with sync licensing for artists using Tunecore. It is a separate service but connected service. Tunecore releases are automatically registered for publishing royalty collection. Additionally, the better your release performs, the more likely it is to be pitched for sync placements.

Artist Advance is another feature that sets Tunecore apart. A lot of other distributors offer advances but there’s no clear path to qualifying. They treat it like a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of thing where you’re left to sit and hope you qualify at some point. Tunecore has direct and clear requirements:

  • Trusted artists – you must have 12 months of continuous earnings totaling at least $870
  • Based on past earnings – you’ll never be asked to pay back more than you can afford
  • If you see the button to your left, you’ll know that you pre-qualify for an advance
  • Qualification for an advance is based on sales history and projected sales from your digital distribution through TuneCore which may change daily. Request an advance to find out if you qualify.

Tunecore Music Distribution Service Details

New artistRising ArtistBreakout ArtistProfessional 
PriceFree$14.99$29.99$49.99
StoresLimited 
Restricted to Social media platforms like Facebook/Instagram/TikTok,etc. and Youtube Content ID
UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited 
Content ID & Social No upfront fee
20% of revenue 
No upfront fee
20% of revenue
No upfront fee
20% of revenue
No upfront fee
20% of revenue
Schedule a Release dateNoYesYesYes
PercentageKeep 80%Keep 100%Keep 100%Keep  100%
Split PayYes
Payee without a paid subscription must pay an annual fee of $8 to receive their share.
Yes
Payee without a paid subscription must pay an annual fee of $8 to receive their share.
Yes
Payee without a paid subscription must pay an annual fee of $8 to receive their share.
Yes
Payee without a paid subscription must pay an annual fee of $8 to receive their share.
Customer Service Response Time5 Business Days72 Hours48 Hours24 Hours
New StoresNo  NoYesYes 
UPC codeYes
Cannot bring your own UPC codes
Yes
Cannot bring your own UPC codes
Yes
Cannot bring your own UPC codes
Yes
Bring your own UPC codes
Exclusive Partnerships NoNoNoYes
Store Awareness – Tool used to pitch music to Digital Service Providers like Spotify and Apple Music for featured placement.
Brand Ambassador – Effectively, an Affiliate program where you can earn revenue every time someone you recommended uses Tunecore.
Twitch – Access to exclusive partnerships
Promotional OpportunitiesNo  NoNoYes
Pro panel & Expert advice sessionsNoNoNoYes
With Tunecore Pro panels and Advice sessions they don’t display any kind of calendar so who knows if or when any events take place.
Custom Label NameNoNoNoYes
Transaction Fees25¢ Cap25¢ Cap25¢ Cap25¢ Cap
WhitelistChannel – Prevent Content ID from claiming any video you upload to your own channel. Channel – Prevent Content ID from claiming any video you upload to your own channel. Channel – Prevent Content ID from claiming any video you upload to your own channel. Channel – Prevent Content ID from claiming any video you upload to your own channel.
Pre OrdersDoesn’t ApplyYes
Instant gratification + special pre-order pricing. Charge less for the Pre-order than the actual release
Yes
Instant gratification + special pre-order pricing. Charge less for the Pre-order than the actual release
Yes
Instant gratification + special pre-order pricing. Charge less for the Pre-order than the actual release
TaxesSubject to Tax Treaties Subject to Tax Treaties Subject to Tax Treaties Subject to Tax Treaties 
Artists111Unlimited
$14.99 Per Additional Artist
Red FlagsNoneNoneNoneNone

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