Allow us to provide a starting point…
(1) With CDBaby, the sign-up cost is $12.95 per song and $49 per album with no annual fee. There is a 15% commission for collecting publishing royalties, with a self-renewing contract term (as long as neither composer or CDBaby terminates) for songwriters & composers (there is a 1-year contract for publishers). In contrast, TuneCore offers free membership, but services trigger fees after affiliation. For example, album distribution costs $29.99 the first year and 49.99 each following year; single distribution costs $9.99 the first year and each following year; ringtone distribution costs $19.99 the first year and each following year; and collection of publishing royalties costs a one-time setup fee of $75.00 plus a 10% commission on earnings.
(2) Even though both CDBaby and TuneCore offer a similar range of services — music distribution for albums, singles, and ringtones; music publishing royalty collection, among others. — they do have marked differences regarding royalty collection, commissions on sales, UPC Bar codes, etc.
It’s always helpful to visualize, though. So let’s make a chart!
|Fee for Collecting Songwriter Royalties||15% commission.||$75 flat fee + 10% commission|
|Commission on Digital Sales (after store percentage)||9%||0%|
|Commission on Physical Sales||$4||N/A|
|Number of Digital Retail Partners||95+||74+|
|CD and Vinyl Distribution||Yes||NO|
|Sell music on Facebook||Yes||NO|
|Including CDs and Vinyl|
|UPC bar code||$20 for an album, $5 for a single||Free|
|Sync Licensing||Up to 40% Commission||10% or 20% Commission*|
|Outsourced||In-house Creative Team|
|US-based artists only||Open to songwriters and publishers worldwide|
|Exclusive Sync & Licensing Database|
|*20% commission if it secures licenses through its Creative Team’s efforts|
So What’s The Bottom Line?
Like anything else, it depends on your needs. Taking no cut from digital sales, TuneCore may be the better choice for artists with smaller catalogues or those who set out to do volume. Why? Because annual fees would be more manageable for few as opposed to many works, and those same fees would be more easily recouped for an artist anticipating high sales immediately. A larger body of work, however, can result in annual fees that start piling up (especially if unit sales remain modest). In that case, CD Baby’s one-time fees may seem more accommodating. On the other hand, CD Baby’s perpetual commission may offer less profit over the long-term and could potentially exceed the value of recurring fees many times over! If physical product is a controlling consideration for you, CD Baby offers the services you need. However, this advantage declines over time as the profitability of hard copies continues to dwindle across the majority of markets. Finally, customer service and aggregator-sponsored artist websites can also influence affiliation. Here, CD Baby triumphs with the more accessible staff and more polished design. So the choice of affiliation remains with the artist in light of his/her objectives. Do not be overwhelmed or confused. Simply gather all of the facts and charges you’ll incur, and balance pros and cons as we have.
Good luck on your musical journeys!ChaseLawyers, with offices in Miami and New York City, is a “boutique” entertainment law firm with clients in Europe, Latin America and the United States. Our three attorneys are not only versed in the law, but have also participated personally in the music, film, TV and sports industries, thus giving us the practical knowledge to deal with any issue in entertainment and sports. The firm’s approach is warm personal service coupled with very disciplined, but creative, legal support. Connect with them via Twitter, Facebook and their official website.