PLEASE READ:  Because you demanded it, ALL pricing, UPC/ISRC, and Digital Distribution info below is now up to date as of 3/2/2012!


Any musician seriously considering digital distribution is thinking about getting their music on iTunes.

iTunes controls between 60-80% of digital music sales, depending on who you ask.  Fortunately, the once impossible task is now possible through several services catering to bands and songwriters.  However, the different pricing models make the decision less than obvious.

With my own first EP release approaching (at a crawl), I scouted out the various options currently available, and am posting them here for your convenience.  Check ‘em out, see what you think.  (If I’m missing an option/service, let me know.)

Before Uploading Your Music to iTunes

Just a couple things to think about:

  1. Have your Music Mastered. Mastering is the process of optimizing the dynamics, EQ, and volume of a recording.  Whether you do it yourself, or have it done professionally, it’s the last tweak step to make sure your stuff is as close to commercial standards as possible.
  2. Obtain a UPC Code. To sell your music, you will need a UPC code assigned to your release.  All of the services listed below can do this for you if you haven’t already; some charge a fee, some don’t.  (I include that info below.)  You will also need an ISRC, but that’s even easier — all the services below will create one for you for free.
  3. Choose a pricing model. Different combinations of setup fees, flat fees, and commission fees are offered.  If your music is less widely recognized, a commission fee structure may make more sense; if you expect to sell a lot, a flat fee structure with 0% commission may make more sense for you.
  4. Choose a service that meets your needs. Some of the services below may offer other tools and perks you’re looking for.  For the sake of convenience, pick a service that gives you the most for your money.

7 Music Services That Can Get Your Music on iTunes

Here are 7 music services, in alphabetical order (lest you think I have a favorite), that offer bands a way to get their music on iTunes.  The pricing models and packages are all different, as are the variety of core and ancillary services that each company offers.  In this post, I am only comparing pricing options; you’ll want to do deeper research on your own (and I may write a follow-up post with a deeper dive). Hopefully, this list will help you make your decision.

CD Baby and iTunes

CD Baby

Pricing:

  • Whole Album
    • Setup fee: $35 $49 to process a CD for CD Baby’s services
    • Digital distribution setup is included
    • Commission Fee:  9% royalties from iTunes sales
  • Single Track
    • $9.95 per single
    • Commission Fee:  9% royalties from iTunes sales

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC is $20 for album, $5 for single
  • ISRC is free

Digital Distribution Included:

  • iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Amazon MP3, Napster, Verizon V-Cast, Google Music, MySpace Music, Spotify, Simfy, Nokia, Last.FM, Zune, MediaNet (MusicNet), Tradebit, GreatIndieMusic, 24-7, 7 Digital, Myxer, MOG, Heart Radio, Deezer, Liquid Digital Media, PayPlay, AudioLunchbox, GroupieTunes, Ruckus,

Ditto Music

Pricing:

  • Whole Album
    • iTunes distribution is free
    • No commission fees; artist gets 100% royalties
    • $35 per album per year (for selection of “key” stores)
    • Alternatively:  “55c per track per store…and yearly subscription of $8 for a single and $22 for an album” (I don’t quite get that either…)
  • Single Track
    • iTunes distribution is free
    • No commission fees; artist gets 100% royalties
    • $9.00 per single (for selection of key stores)

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC is free
  • ISRC is free

Digital Distribution Included:

iTunes, Google Music, Amazon On Demand, AmazonMp3, Rhapsody, Myspace Music, Medianet, 7Digital, Tunetribe, Tuneplay, Spotify, Rdio, Muve Music, We7, iHeartRadio, Sony Qriocity, Simfy, Grooveshark, Deezer, mFlow, Zvooq, AT&T, WiMP, Nokia, Eircom, eMusic, Beatport, Tuneplay, Amalgam Digital, Juno, Track It Down, Audio Jelly, Dance Tunes, FargoTube, Basepiont Media, 121 Music, Beezik

Musicadium and iTunes

Musicadium (Acquired by ValleyArm.com)

Pricing:

  • For each “release” (single, EP or album):
    • Distribution fee to one outlet  $39 AUD (~$25 US)
    • Distribution fee to two outlets  $69 AUD (~$44 US)
    • Distribution fee to three outlets  $79 AUD (~$51 US)
    • Annual renewal fee  $20 AUD (~$13 US)
  • Commission fee: None, artist gets 100% royalties

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC is $39 AUD (~$25 US)
  • ISRC is free

Digital Distribution Included:

  • iTunes, eMusic, Amazon

Nimbit and iTunes

Nimbit

Pricing:

  • For NimbitFree (Nimbit’s free service):
    • $15/album setup fee
    • 20% commission fee
  • For Paid Nimbit Members ($9.95 $12.95/month):
    • No commission fees; artist gets 100% royalties.
    • Whole album or single track

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC and ISRC are both free

Digital Distribution:

  • iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, AmazonMP3 CDFreedom, LiveWire, Groupie Tunes,

ReverbNation and iTunes

ReverbNation

Pricing:

  • Setup fee: $34.95 (Essentials Plan)
  • Setup fee: $59.95 (Pro Plan)
  • No commission fees; artist gets 100% royalties
  • A single track release is priced as an “album”

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC and ISRC are both free

Digital Distribution:

  • iTunes, AmazonMP3, eMusic, Napster, Rhapsody, Google Music, Spotify, Last.fm, Zune (Musiwave), Myspace Music, Medianet (Tesco, La Curacao, Synacor, WaTunes, plalist.com, MOG, Myxer, Secure Media), 24-7 Entertainment, 7 Digital, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Mega, Deezer, Simfy, Thumbplay OTA, Guvera, Aspiro, Nielson Soundscan, We7, Puretracks, Nokia, Rdio

SongCast and iTunes

Songcast

Pricing:

  • Setup Fee: $19.99 $19.00 per album; $9.99 per single
  • Monthly Subscription Fee: $5.99 per month
  • No commission fees; artist gets 100% royalties

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC and ISRC are both free

Digital Distribution Included:

  • iTunes, Rhapsody, AmazonMP3, Emusic, Google Music, Spotify, MediaNet

Tunecore and iTunes

TuneCore

Pricing:

  • Single Track:
    • $9.99 per year
    • $9.99 for ONE song (one time charge)
    • $9.99 per single maintenance and storage (per year)
  • Whole Album:
    • $49 per year
    • $0.99 per song (one time charge)
    • $0.99 per store per album (one time charge)
    • $19.98 per album maintenance and storage (per year)

UPC & ISRC Codes:

  • UPC and ISRC are both free

Digital Distribution:

  • iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, MediaNet (x-MusicNet), eMusic, AmazonMP3, Amazon On Demand, Google Music, Nokia, Spotify, MySpace Music, iHeartRadio, Zune, Nokia, Vervelife, Sony Connect, GroupieTunes, Lala, ShockHound, Amie Street

the orchard itunes

The Orchard

Pricing information not included on website.  Service geared towards labels, and not DIY musicians/bands.  I’d stick with one of the services above, unless you’re a label-ite.

Other Ways to Distribute Music Digitally?

This post focused on iTunes distribution and pricing only. There’s also the matter of other retailers, merchandise, selling music from your own site, etc. What music service(s) or widget(s) do you use to distribute your music digitally? What do you think is important in a digital music distribution service?