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« Make Your Merchandise Personal: Make More Money | Main | An Open Letter to My Senator, Ron Wyden, Regarding the Internet Radio Fairness Act »
Friday
Nov302012

MondoTunes, CDBaby, TuneCore, and ReverbNation: How They Measure Up

 

If you wanted to sell music around the world twenty years ago, you needed to get picked up by a major label. That meant demo tapes, postal services, and constant performing on tours. That was all a ton of fun, but extremely hard work and very expensive, besides. That’s where music distribution online comes in.

 

Music distribution has changed in two decades. Today’s music distribution is digital music distribution. This is a good thing for modern musicians. It takes much less work to sell music online than it does to sell albums off a merch table, and you don’t even need to leave your house. In fact, today’s artists don’t even need a complete album.

 

If you want to know how to sell music in the modern market, the first thing you need is a music promotion company selling your songs, and handling your digital music distribution online. Distribution of music and selling songs requires a vast, ingrained network of business partners worldwide, which is why corporations like Virgin, EMI, and Capitol Records were able to control the industry for so long, but today’s music distribution companies are smaller, friendlier and more honest than the giants of yesteryear.

 

Today there are four major companies that handle digital music distribution, each having its ups and downs. These are MondoTunes, CDBaby, TuneCore, and ReverbNation. The following graph shows how their prices measure up (click to enlarge if it’s too small).

 

MondoTunes is the least expensive of the group, which would make sense if they were offering fewer products and services for the price, but in fact they offer much, much more. This can only mean that Mondo is trying to snatch customers from their competitors, naturally, and there’s no telling when the other companies will start offering more/charging less, but as of now (late August 2012) MondoTunes doesn’t show any sign of raising their low flat rates, and their service is probably going to stay superior for the following reasons:

 

They offer free UPC and ISRC codes, which is extremely unusual in all kinds of publishing (music, books, whatever). They offer the ability to create your own music label, too, as well as live representative assistance (think actual phone calls, also unheard of). Perhaps most of all, however, their distribution network is the exact same one utilized by Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, U2, One Republic, Rihanna, and countless other artists signed to Universal Music, which means Mondo boasts the largest music distribution in the world today. Finally – and this may be most important of all for many artists – Mondo’s still run by the same small crew of people that started it, all of whom have been musicians in the scene, themselves. That can be extremely comforting.

 

Selling songs online can seem daunting, but it’s far easier than one might expect, and far, far easier than the traditional method of music promotion. Selling your songs is now as simple as – well, the click of a button. If you can compare prices (as above) then you no longer need to understand the distribution of music or how to sell songs. You don’t have to know an A&R rep to sell albums, anymore, and while the old-school music fan in you may feel nostalgic for the old ways, the truth is, music all around the world is much better off without them. As long as honest, inexpensive companies like Mondo are around, absolutely anyone can sell music online.

Reader Comments (31)

Thanks for your article. For the record, CD Baby does NOT charge any additional fees for distribution to our always growing list of partners. Here is a representative list of our partner companies: http://members.cdbaby.com/digital-distribution-partners.aspx We deliver your music to all these providers and more – at no extra cost.

Thanks,
Molly K
CD Baby
http://members.cdbaby.com

November 30 | Unregistered CommenterMolly K

Hey Molly,

thanks for chiming in here. I have to say CD baby is by far better than tunecore and ditto. We just distributed a few new songs with Mondo tunes and feel they have the best value available today. We were turned on by them at Sxsw and have had a great experience so far. They don't do monthly and yearly fees but they also do not have UPC and ISRC code fees. I did a project with you guys a few years ago, you still have those costs?
the game changer for us was sending the same email to the main distributors and Mondo tunes responded MUCH faster than everyone else and did not provide a generic template email. tunecore took forever and Ditto didn't even respond (those guys customer service is atrocious).
anyway, just thought I'd share our experience in hopes of everyone bettering their services.

December 4 | Unregistered CommenterMike Johnson

Just adding my two cents of experience. I found ditto also didn't respond to a few of my mails which was odd as I was trying to use them at first (was 90% finished with my subscription but they didn't answer so I didn't complete as it worried me for the future) . Cd baby seems expensive to me though they seem to offer a good service and check a lot of boxes.

December 5 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I have been with CDBaby for years. I sent them an email asking why they raised their rate like 40% in a matter of just a few years. No response.

The exorbitant fee raising, coupled with their lack of response turns me off.

They lost me... and most likely they will lose many others.

December 13 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Any company that say the worlds largest and in fact is not the worlds largest reads signs of run the other way

December 27 | Unregistered CommenterAlex .G

Hey Alex,

that's a good point and I was hesitant at first to sign up with Mondo tunes but then I found out that they distribute through their relationship with Interscope Records. That made much more sense. Our experience with them has been pretty solid so far. The only feature I'm hoping to get hopefully soon is real time sales stats.

December 29 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Pratt

How good does Mondo represent country music artist any suggestions? This is my first venture into the digial music world, but I'm representing a tremendous female artist and want to give her the best chance I possible can of moving forward.

January 28 | Unregistered CommenterFred

mondotunes are using the InGrooves platform for delivering their assets to digital retailers.
This is why they claim to be using the same distribution channels as UMG.

January 29 | Unregistered CommenterLostInDigital

Hey LostlnDigital,

thanks for your comment/feedback. Actually we distribute via our relationship with Interscope Records/UMG and that's how we reach the largest digital distribution channel, globally. Just wanted to make sure it is accurately explained.

Fred,

Yes, we absolutely can cater to country artists. In fact we have a tremendous roster of country artists/projects distributed globally. Feel free to shoot us an email with any additonal questions info@mondotunes.com

January 30 | Unregistered CommenterMondoTunes

I am continually perplexed that more people don't know about RouteNote.

You can release for free including UPC and ISRC codes (no up front costs, they take 15%) - or you can pay $30 for an album ($9.99 annual after initial year) and keep 100%

They distribute to iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, Spotify, rdio, and a couple others.

I'm not affiliated with RouteNote, just a satisfied customer.

February 19 | Unregistered CommenterChoochus

so who would be the best cdbaby tunecore or mondotunes?

March 7 | Unregistered CommenterPLEX

The Math of Radio & Music - Part 2

Music genres are diverse. Songs and radio programs are so prolific that it's common for companies to offer thousands of stations, or millions of songs. Pandora and Clear Channel may be the online and over-the-air gorillas, but there are hundreds of others in each camp. Cumulatively, these "hundreds" overtake the audiences reached by either P or CC.

YouTube has become a source for promoting indie artists; and bands by the gazillions have Facebook, MySpace, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, and CDBaby accounts. The line above about others cumulatively overtaking the gorillas is also accurate in this sector of music distribution.

If caution is to be thrown to an indie artist or group, beware of any company claiming "direct links to producers and radio station programmers." Also, place a little advertising math behind your expectations; it will give you examples of what to expect, relative to response.

You produce a product. Music. You are in competition with others in getting exposure for your product, and in deeper competition in getting fans to purchase or come hear you play.

Turn the term "promoting yourself" into "advertising your product" and it's easier to digest the following. These are not arbitrarily assigned numbers. They come from my own analysis of ad campaign successes and failures over the years. That said, focus on the decimal 0.4%, as it is an average response rate when tracking response to ad campaigns. Simply stated, it means 4 persons respond to your message for every 1,000 persons reached. Notice the keyword here is "respond," not buy. That is a much smaller decimal.

My target response rate hovers around 1%. Anything below that gets more attention to improve response. Anything above 1% is considered to be providing adequate response (which you may call icing on the cake).

When you see an ad for one of the above described companies claiming to offer your song to "thousands of stations, record and film producers," take a breath and consider how many of those reached are actually listening to your song. 0.4% is where I'd start, and that's if you use a company with relationships to its mailing list recipients. Take special notice here; it's not always advantageous to reach for a larger number of contacts.

I once took over an ad campaign boasting 14 million impressions each month. It delivered 25,500 in response (0.18%). 20 sales resulted, which gave this campaign a 0.08% rate on convertering response to sales.

By adjusting where ads were running (akin to an artist paying close attention on who it is they are promoting to), I raised the response rate to 1.16%. The "purchase rate" also rose to 0.62%. Both of these occurred despite impressions being lowered to 1.5 million per month.

I realize these response and purchase percentages appear small. But they represent an increase of 544.4% in response and a 675% increase in sales. Ponder that just for a moment. This is real world advertising math - and what you (as a musician) are up against when advertising yourself.

There is no magic bullet in promotion. There is no easy way onto a radio station's playlist. And there is certainly no company that will get you widespread attention and response. The worlds of advertising and promotion just don't work that way.

If your target is to play on a slew of Clear Channel stations, or to be heard by millions of Pandora listeners, work the math downward dramatically. It's much harder to get either of these two company's attention.

Avoid promoters that promise widespread distribution, too. Many of their "contacts" will end up unopened in the recipient's trash. Read James Moores' "'Has Your Music Been Featured In The New York Times?' An Exposé on Beatwire.com" at Music Think Tank for a very good commentary on this aspect of music distribution.

What you don't want to do is quit. What you do want to do is adjust expectations. Keep them in-line with reality. That's where we live.

Expecting too much sets yourself up for disappointment.

Yet, here are some final words: Please, keep dreaming. There's always the exception.

March 8 | Unregistered CommenterKen Dardis

I don't know about MondoTunes yet, but CD Baby straight-up sucks now. They once were great, but now are greedy to the core and without quality to support. Hopefully MondoTunes can hold a balance and keep their soul too, guess we'll see.

April 25 | Unregistered CommenterM. Stewart

I have been dealing CD BABY for some years, well when they was kind of getting started sure their price was lower and yes they have raise their prices. But understand they are now a going company and bigger things are happening for them. To me they have always given me good customer service and paid me when I sold some products. So I trust CD BABY and the partners they choose. There are lots of company out there, but CD BABY was the first in digital music. If you find a good company stay with that company and I am staying with CD BABY. I hope Molly K. stay with the company for a long time. DOUBLE R RECORDS.

May 21 | Unregistered CommenterMIKEL HOOKS

Do not use MONDOTUNES! I have had problem after problem. Errors in the name of the artist, duplications and more.

If you have a mondotunes release, make sure you check there haven't been any errors...

Also, it takes a month to get your songs on I-Tunes. I just tried out Tunecore and my song was available on I-Tunes within 24 hours. Big difference!! And no errors

They may be cheaper but I feel they have problems with their uploading software for there to be two errors in two different releases.

May 23 | Unregistered CommenterEmjay

Mondotunes is great but remember to consider the fact that mondotunes is digital only, no physical cd's. This is a very important factor if you are planning on selling physical cd's, you have to look somewhere else.

May 25 | Unregistered Commentersisternebo

funny, my experience is a complete contrast to the user above me. I was with Tunecore and changed to Mondo Tunes and couldn't be happier.

I guess it's all relative what's important to the artist. I was previously a rep with major labels and the first rule is 'never release a project too soon'. It takes months to promote music so releasing in over 24 hours wasn't a priority for me.

Another feature I like with Mondo is that you get to select a release date you want. I couldn't do that with Tunecore.
Also, i left Tunecore because they only had iTunes in a few places where Mondo Tunes has itunes in i think over a hundred countries and last i checked the update their list every time a new region adds iTunes. I Dj in alot of western European regions and this was very important for me. each region has their own iTunes and Tunecore didn't have that.

Of course the value is important for me. It's not just the price because Mondo is only a few dollars cheaper however they reach more regions and do not have yearly fees like tunecore. I was automatically charged every year for a project and they make it VERY difficult to remove once you sign up with them.

May 28 | Unregistered CommenterDj EJ F

Has anyone used Mondo's marketing services?? I'm considering them, but don't want to waste my dime, especially keeping in mind the post about the math of music and radio.

June 17 | Unregistered Commentersevans10598

Yo, Not sure about the others, but AVOID CD BABY at all costs. They are horrible. Their customer service leadership is rude and deceptive to the core. The company was once great, but has been sold, repeatedly repackaged and has completely sold out. Now it's all corporate poo. There technical ability is terribly lacking. CD Baby sucks now. I never thought I'd say that. I've was with them for over 10 years, but was forced to leave. Go there and you'll be sorry. Thanks, Walnutt

June 26 | Unregistered CommenterMic Walnutt

Regarding MondoTunes - there are a few important things to consider. I had an experience with them, which is generally positive, however with a few important remarks.

The most important point is that you don't get 100% of the store remitted value. Technically MondoTunes doesn't charge, but their upstream distribution charges 10%. Thus one ends up paying approximately the same percentage as CD Baby. Mr.Steve Norris of MondoTunes told me, that one will be paid $0.63 per song sold on iTunes.

The web site is less convenient and polished (my subjective experience) than that of CD Baby or TuneCore, and it's technically not well polished/tested:

- I was charged twice (though promptly refunded);
- non-English characters in the artist name were published as question marks on the release: “???? ?????? – Song Title”;
- partial album submission is lost, unless completed in one web browser session;
- albums cannot be released immediately, there is always a 1-month delay, independently of individual store policies.

Human communication works well. They emphasize on individual support and encourage people to contact them. They are responsive, polite and try to address the problems as fast as they can (though not always successfully).

I used MondoTunes for distributing my friend's single. I didn't get any reports so far to judge whether it works well or not.

I used MondoTunes marketing service, where my specific request was to write a biography/summary without the requirement to distribute it. The first draft came in a grandiose marketing speech, quote: "An impetuous and endlessly evocative musician, George Y. continues to prove himself one of the most remarkable and naturally talented artists today".

I was looking for a professionally written description without the marketing-speak bias, and the marketing writer promptly corrected it to a more toned down version, also suggesting that he will continue working on it until satisfaction is reached. I was satisfied in being given enough structure to be able to tweak it myself, and decided not to bother the writer any further.

The size of the created material was 1 page A4 at 12pt font, containing 5 originally written paragraphs, extended with a few more paragraphs of quotes from my web sites. The writer in charge was Mr.Sean McCauley, the same person who wrote the article above on this page.

My general experience is that MondoTunes people are indeed trying to be helpful. They are approachable and flexible, which is important. I paid them a couple of hundred dollars for consulting - to have a phone conversation with one of the executives regarding PRO organizations and general situation in music business, and also to have the marketing bio/description written. They didn't have these things listed in their services, but they allowed me to have it.

However I feel that they like to advertise themselves very much and are not always giving objective information. For example, there is no mentioning anywhere on the web site (at least, not that I found), that their distribution chain actually charges 10%, and it's not really true 100%, like e.g. TuneCore, as much as the final royalties are concerned. And I get a slightly sticky/syrupy impression, which - together with a few technical glitches - would probably make me choose TuneCore or CDBaby to distribute to iTunes, Amazon and Google.

I can actually afford to distribute with all 3 services, giving the priority to TuneCore, using CDBaby for their built-in store and possibly going with MondoTunes for all other stores that are not covered by the two above. However I'm still waiting to see how the system works in the longer term with my friend's single which I submitted for distribution, and it's impossible to get an immediate understanding of what the service is about, because there is always a 1 month submission delay, and 1 month reporting delay (and I didn't receive any reports so far).

Thanks,
George.

September 9 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Y.

Hey George,

That is a very informative outlook of your experience! much appreciated. I've also had a similar experience with the Mondo guys. They seem to have a fairly small team but all genuinely interested in helping. Their distribution range is bar none above the rest but my main concern initially was their reporting.

I learned that almost all retailers actually submit reports quarterly therefore it takes up to 3 months before artists receive their first report (except for iTunes and I think may be a few others). After that you do receive monthly reports so you should be ok there. Mondo's reporting is very comprehensive and detailed. I find it to be pretty on point and exactly what I wanted to see. My other minor concern was their user interface but after discussing it with one of their reps, I was told they're launching their new interface and a few other services in just a few weeks.

I've tried Cdbaby and Tunecore with previous projects and think all distributors have their strengths/weaknesses. My choice would be the Mondo guys because of their range, no annual fees and second to none customer service. Tunecore just does not like to email or call back!

September 21 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Dawson

CD Baby is now just another evil corporate entity with greed as their primary goal.
Every time I get a payment from these criminals, it's 0.00 How can you pay someone 0.00??
Go in and look and it's .00032 cents. HOW is that even possible except when it comes to screwing artists.
If you are an artist thinking of putting your music up, stay away from them.
Stay away from all these companies that tell you they will pay, you help you , etc. They are liars, lawyers, crooks, sharks and corporate f**cks left over from the record companies.
YouLicense and Jango (radio ariplay) and whatever else they deceptively call themselves nowadays are all to be avoided.
The FBI does nothing, our incompetent government does nothing, the music industry does nothing, the BBB does nothing, BMI, ASCAP and Soundexchange do nothing, so the crimes continue.

September 23 | Unregistered CommenterTired of it

I used MondoTunes marketing service and I'm not happy. In fact, I was shocked. The press release they wrote was well written, but that was the only good thing about it. I did not get any opportunity to review it before it was spread all over the internet, even after several requests by email.

Also, as I run a label representing several artists, it is important for me to market the label too, so I paid for the Register Your Own Label option. I can confirm that the label was indeed correctly registered at the various online outlets.

However, to my shock and dismay, the press release did not even have a single mention of my label! Instead, MondoTunes was mentioned all over the place with contact email address, link to website, promo text, etc. etc. as if they were the releasing label!

Effectively, not only have I partly paid them to promote themselves, they are also damaging my label by ommision and giving the impression that they themselves are the releasing label.

I have no problem at all with them being listed as the distributor as in, eg. "Distributed by MondoTunes.", but what they have done is nothing less than outrageous from a PR perspective.

To be fair, the distribution service in itself works fine and I'm happy with that, but I'm certainly not going to use their blatantly self-promoting "Marketing Service" again, unless they get their act together.

September 27 | Unregistered CommenterManInLondon

We used MondoTunes marketing as well and we initially had the same concern. Looks like we have a pretty similar set up as you guys. We requested to make sure we had a chance to review the material before it was submitted and for us, it was. They sent it over with an email stating that this will not be displayed anywhere online until we give them the final approval. Sorry to hear about your experience.

We were also promoting our label name and they did include our information. In fact a little too detailed because we asked them to remove certain contact information.
I think most blogs and forums require some form of contact therefore if Mondo Tunes doesn't have the green light to use an artist or a labels, they include their general email in case the website needs to get in touch about the content. I would recommend contacting their team and asking them to include your company information. We requested to have some changes made after the fact and they did. They seem to be pretty genuine and want to be helpful

We're happy with the distribution as well. Our main concern was regarding their royalties since they used to provide only quarterly reports but they have changed that now to monthly.
They were just a breath of fresh air for us after dealing with Tunecore. That was a nightmare!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterEric Ryder

Does anyone have a number to call Mondotunes? I have recently purchased a single & marketing package but must get in contact with them to cancel the single package because my group and myself have an opportunity to release the songs under a label. And they have not responded to my emails yet. If anyone has a number i cant seem to find one online to talk to someone there in person

October 14 | Unregistered CommenterTori

Hello,

I am very interested in joining MundoTunes but just wanted to know what guarantee do we have that the songs are actually uploaded to over 750 online stores and not just a few dozen? How are yall able to upload so many people's music and typically how long does it take to upload to all of the online stores? Thank you for your time and looking forward to your reply.

November 13 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Hey, I distributed my band's album through MondoTunes and am very happy with the service. Their telephone number is on their website: www.mondotunes.com/contact-us The number is (888)-856-5080. You can upload music and usually it takes about a month to get into their stores because they go through Universal Music Group's Distribution Channels to get the music in channels all over the world. We asked how long it would take to get our music to their partners and they told us we could pay an extra fee to expedite our music faster into stores. I think it was $25 and it would take 2 weeks.

This is an update. We left CD Baby and tried Mondotunes. CD Baby now sucks, bottom of the barrel. Mondotunes talked a good talk, but are worse in a technical sense than CD Baby unfortunately and suffer many of the same issues for lack of vision and ability to be consistent. Tunecore is an obvious no-no. Bandcamp is limited in scope and for all their talk of quality, they stream crap and admit it. Bandcamp says they don't want to be a streaming service. If Bandcamp is all about quality...and full-preview...then a person needs to hear full res to decide. So Bandcamp is kinda isolated and in denial. Amadea Music is our new partner. They've been fast, efficient, quick to respond, fair on deal and that's saying bunuches. It's also FREE to set-up, as it should be. We supply their goods, we should NEVER pay set-up bs. One last comment, changing distributors may seem daunting, but like transplanting a plant, good things come from every transplantation, for one thing they get the stuff out more completely than CD Baby ever dreamed of. Amadeamusic.com , so far, leads the pack as of March 2014, in our opinion. Ironically, they remind us of what CD Baby was before the corporate soul suckers killed it. So, for digital there are other and better options. For physical CDs, there are new paths too. Anyway, thanks and hope this helps some folks not get burned so badly.

March 28 | Unregistered CommenterTed Admitted

Hello All . . . Hey, I am an old man (65 years old this summer) who was a professional musician for about 22 years. I am now in the process of releasing a bunch [I've written about 150 songs} of tunes to just share . . . you know. I admittedly am very ignorant of most things "computer," but I am learning a lot by reading all your posts. But, there is diversified comments made---good and bad---about every music distributing option. I guess it depends on where you are in the process; ME? I'm at the very beginning , , though I have mastered and prepared a number of songs ready for release. There is so much to learn about what to do next . . . how to build a sales website, where to find the help on a social security budget. I want to thank everyone who has made comments; each one of them helps me. I guess one just has to pick one and try, yes? We live in a generation where "from the mouths of babes [youth]" comes techy wisdom...wisdom us old folks have to read and learn and try and keep up. Thanks All for your wisdom!!

July 21 | Unregistered CommenterRISH

Beware of Mondotunes their royalties section constantly shows the wrong value, it's not a true reflection of what you've sold.
I won't be using them again!

October 16 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus

I am a neo soul / Jazz gospel, I am not your traditional gospel artist how well does mondotunes work with gospel artist? Do you have an outlet for gospel artist such as me?

December 4 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

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