Well, some short time back, I decided to re-release a Lee Thomas Band album — 40 Miles of Bad Road. This seems like an easy project to use to learn how the process works.

Once I started down the road, I discovered a number of obstacles. The current bump in the road is choosing a service to be the interface between me and iTunes, Yahoo, Amazon, etc.

As I started this process, the only one I was aware of was TuneCore. Since then, I have run across BandCamp and ReverbNation. I’m sure if I looked, there’d be several others.

I’ve started projects on each of these sites, though I have not taken any of them to completion. This has allowed me to start looking at the various features each provides. I’ll keep this blog post updated with what I learn as I evaluate each company’s offerings.


It appears that the ones that aggregate your interaction with the major online retailers essentially amount to:

  • TuneCore – the ‘big 5’x about 2, plus Amazon disc-on-demand, Lala (important due to Google) – analytics perhaps more comprehensive than RN – though updated monthly
  • ReverbNation – the ‘big 5’ retailers, analytics per period, per retailer, per album, track, and stream. Geographic upcoming
  • CD Baby – all TuneCore’s important outlets. More $ up front, less for ‘long tail’ – rumors of current problems



Currently absolutely free. They’ll figure out how to monetize it later.

No extended funcitonalty a la RN – they plan on adding it later.

One upload in WAV (or other lossless), they transcode to most popular.

Per transaction pricing (new PayPal micropayment account suggested).

They host a site. It can have a custom domain (e.g. bc.LeeThomasBand.com)

Can give out download codes that allow others to download your tunes.

Run by the guy that developed then sold Yahoo mail to Yahoo. (Oddpost)

Apparently no relationship with digital music distributors.



$34.95 per album per year

HEY! will other services integrate into RN widgets and such?

Amazon $0.70/Track & $6.50/Album
eMusic 60% of net
iTunes US & CDN: Single Track – $0.70; Album – $7.00; iPhone Ring Tone Service (US only) – $1/ring tone
iTunes AUSSIE & NZ Single Track – $0.99 AUD & $1.17 NZD; Single Video – $1.98 AUD & $2.33 NZD; Album – $9.99 AUD & $11.75 NZD
iTunes EU (S.a.r.l.) Single Track – GBP ₤.47 & Euro €.68; Album – GBP ₤4.60 & Euro €6.70
iTunes Japan Single Track – Int’l & Standard Domestic – ¥89 & Premium Domestic – ¥118; Album – ¥890 (IS) &¥1186 (PD)
Napster, LLC US – $0.70/track; $7.00/album; UK – ₤0.48/track; ₤4.80/album; Canada – C$0.65/track; C$6.50/album; Germany & other EU countries – €0.65/track; €6.50/album; Japan – Permanent Downloads: 60% of retail (net of taxes). $0.01 for “Premium” streams; $0.02 for “To Go” streams (payment in other currencies will be similar based on current conversion rates)
Rhapsody (Real) US – $0.70 for singles; $0.70 x # of tracks or $7.00 (whichever is less) for albums; $0.01 for streams; outside US subtract mechanicals for all permanent downloads.
  1. Rhapsody – US Only
  2. eMusic – United States, Canada, Europe
  3. Amazon – US Only (announced plans in Jan 2008 for Canada, UK, Germany, Austria, France, China, and Japan. No ETA available)
  4. Napster – United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Union
  5. iTunes Worldwide – Austrailia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States

Can I upload liner notes?
No, many of the retailers do not support this feature anyhow.

How do I list other performers on particular tracks?
Check the song options on that particular track to note other contributors.

What can I put in for my album art?
Album art must be JPEG, GIF, or PNG format. Recommended size is 1000px X 1000px. Resolution less than that may be rejected by some retailers. The absolute minimum is 600px X 600px. Please note that the aspect ratio of any file you upload will be altered so the picture is square and resized to 1000px X 1000px.

What is a UPC and ISRC number?
A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a number (from 12 to 14 characters long) exclusively associated with your release. If you are like most of the Artists on ReverbNation, this is your first time publishing this music, which means you probably won’t have a UPC. That’s okay, we’ll generate one for you for free.  Retailers use the UPC as a unique identifier for your release and track and report all sales according to the UPC.  Most published CDs have the UPC printed, along with the bar code form, on the back cover. An International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) will be assigned to each of your songs. This is for accounting and tracking purposes. Each ISRC is 12 characters long, and is a combination of letters and numbers. If you already have an ISRC number for your song, use it. If not, ReverbNation will assign one for you. When typing your ISRC, do not include any dashes.

Is this distribution digital only or for physical CDs as well?
Digital only.

Now that my release is on a retailer, how do I promote it?
You can promote your release through many of the tools and services provided to you by ReverbNation. Make sure to include all relevant links to your releases in the STORELINK section of your artist profile’s Admin/Tools section. This will allow fans to also get linked to your music through ReverbNation widgets. Also alert your fans in your General Tab that you have music for sale on these retailers.

Can I use Street Teams to generate sales?
Of course! Announce a mission to help spread your TuneWidget, which includes the STORE tab. This tab links anyone interested in purchasing your music to the appropriate places. We will attempt to populate your STORE tab with links to the retailers as soon as we can determine the proper links.

plus audiolife – free



$39.98/album/year (special temporary pricing)

A La Carte placement

Amazon $0.63/Track & $4.90/Album
eMusic 60% of net
iTunes US & CDN: Single Track – $0.70; Album – $7.00; iPhone Ring Tone Service (US only) – $1/ring tone
iTunes AUSSIE & NZ Single Track – $0.99 AUD & $1.17 NZD; Single Video – $1.98 AUD & $2.33 NZD; Album – $9.99 AUD & $11.75 NZD
iTunes EU (S.a.r.l.) Single Track – GBP ₤.47 & Euro €.68; Album – GBP ₤4.60 & Euro €6.70
iTunes Japan Single Track – Int’l & Standard Domestic – ¥89 & Premium Domestic – ¥118; Album – ¥890 (IS) &¥1186 (PD)
Napster, LLC US – $0.65/track; C$6.50/album; UK – ₤0.48/track; ₤4.80/album; Canada – C$0.65/track; C$6.50/album; Germany & other EU countries – €0.65/track; €6.50/album; Japan – Permanent Downloads: 60% of retail (net of taxes). $0.01 for “Premium” streams; $0.02 for “To Go” streams (payment in other currencies will be similar based on current conversion rates)
Rhapsody (Real) US – $0.70 for singles; $0.70 x # of tracks or $7.00 (whichever is less) for albums; $0.01 for streams; outside US subtract mechanicals for all permanent downloads.
Lala $0.70 singles/ $7 album for frontline. See http://www.lala.com/frontend/action/help
Disc On Demand through Amazon $4.39/album
IMVU / GroupieTunes /SonicTap $0.70 – but see below for streaming licensing revenues from SoundExchange
ShockHound $0.70 singles/ $7 album
Amie Street increases with each purchase from $0.15 @ 1, up to $0.98 @ 82. Albums to $5.00.
LimeWire ?
Nokia ?

What format must my artwork be in, in order to upload to TuneCore?

Artwork can be in one of the following file formats: JPG, GIF or PNG. The image must be a perfect square and at least 1600×1600. All artwork must be in best-quality RGB Color mode (including black and white images) and must have a resolution of at least 72 dpi. You may not include: email addresses, URLs, any other contact information or any pricing information. You must include both the artist name and album title on the artwork and remove any stickers or other items from your artwork in case you are scanning it in from a physical CD.

  • You do not yet have a UPC/Barcode. No problem, we will make one for you. At the moment, we are offering this service free of charge.

If we assign you a UPC/Barcode, your UPC will appear on your My Discography page very shortly after you complete your payment has been received. You are free to use it for your physical CDs as well at no extra charge. You can continue using it even if you are no longer a TuneCore customer. TuneCore will never re-use your UPC/Barcode number. If you want it, it’s yours forever.

To receive a barcode (currently offered free of charge), please contact barcode@tunecore.com with your UPC number and ID Number and we will email you back a barcode. You can find your UPC number and ID Number on your My Discography page next to your album, EP or single. Remember, if you don’t have a UPC, TuneCore will auto-generate one for you when you use the TuneCore service, currently at no extra charge. Also if you want any CDs replicated or duplicated, please click here for details click here.

IMPORTANT: UPCs and barcodes issued by TuneCore are for you to use, now and forever. But they are just for you. Please don’t resell them! There are penalties for reselling to discourage this: you’ll have to pay a $25.00 (U.S. dollars) fee plus all the revenue you received from the sale of the UPC or barcode or both, and TuneCore can take this money from the proceeds of music sales. Please keep the UPC and barcode what they are meant to be: a free and convenient part of the TuneCore experience for you, the TuneCore client.

For tracking and accounting purposes, each of your songs needs its own unique ISRC number. An ISRC (“International Standard Recording Code”) is assigned to each song. This allows easy tracking of each song, such as keeping track of how many copies of it sold. Each ISRC is associated with only one song.

Each ISRC number is a total of twelve characters in a combination of letters and numbers. For example: US SB5 0501001.

Your songs need unique ISRC numbers. With TuneCore, there are two options:

  • You already have your own ISRC codes for each song and want to use them. No problem, just enter each song’s ISRC and they will be used.
  • You do not yet have ISRC codes. No problem, we will make them for you free of charge.

If we assign your songs ISRC numbers, you are free to use them any way you like for anything else you like at no extra charge. You can continue using them even if you are no longer a TuneCore customer. TuneCore will never re-use your ISRC numbers. If you want them, they’re yours forever.

Both your UPC/Barcode and ISRC numbers will be used on your “My Account” page in calculating and displaying how many songs and albums, EPs or singles sold.

IMPORTANT: A single requires both an ISRC (for the song) and a UPC (for the “album”): as far as stores are concerned, a single is merely an album with one song.

Complete iTunes trending report @ 2.98 each

Monthly iTunes accounting report free

One-Time Fees:

  • $0.99 per song per album/EP delivery charge.
  • $0.99 per store/service per album/EP delivery fee.

Annual Fees

  • $19.98 per album/EP maintenance and service fee (all song(s) must be associated with an album).
  • $9.99 per single (see definition here).

GroupieTunes / IMVU / SonicTap

GroupieTunes is a company that “powers” other companies, such as IMVU and the soon to be launched SonicTap. When you choose to have your music in IMVU, you agree to have it in ALL the places GroupieTunes sends music or may send music.

GroupieTunes Powered Stores

As of September 2008, GroupieTunes no longer runs its own store, instead it now only delivers to IMVU and SonicTap.


IMVU (imvu.com) is not a traditional music retailer, but a social site where people can, in the course of their social interaction, listen to and purchase music, as streams and/or downloads. Digital download sales, which will be DRM-free MP3s at 256 kbps, will be track-by-track, obey the above rules of pricing for GroupieTules, and will yield $0.70 each time one downloads. These download sales work normally, with the money coming back into TuneCore 45 days after the end of the month and accounted for like any other store.

But imvu in particular has a new wrinkle worth considering. People go to IMVU, create an avatar (a graphical representation of you on the internet) and wander, interact, socialize, buy virtual items and buy music for download. But an avatar can also put together a “radio playlist” of songs and let other avatars listen to them, just like a radio station puts together a playlist of songs and lets listeners hear them. As this is the internet, in the United States, when a “radio station” plays songs on the Internet, U.S. law requires you get paid. The money that is owed to you is paid to a collection agency called Sound ExchangeSound Exchange. Sound Exchange’s job is to collect the money owed to you from streams in the U.S. and then give it to you, once you register with them (registration with Sound Exchange is free). International streaming sales are handled through another compandy called PPL.

So money earned by your music from streams at imvu will NOT flow through TuneCore: it will be waiting for you at Sound Exchange, and you need to be signed up with Sound Exchange to retrieve it. Streaming is purchased at a flat rate, regardless of how much people listen to, even a fraction of a second!


SonicTap is a forthcoming (due in late 2009) digital download store owned by DMX. It will be selling DRM-free MP3s at 256 kbps. A beta is expected in early 2009, which will run by invitation only. Your content will be live already, if you opted in to imvu or, in the past, GroupieTunes. SonicTap will not work on a per-album model, so only tracks will sell. All the rules of pricing for GroupieTules (above) apply, which will be per-track only, and you’ll get $0.70 each time one downloads. We’ll have much more detailed information as launch date approaches.



Physical manufacturing and order fulfillment.

No upfront costs.

CDs, merch, ringtones

Creates a ‘store’ in the form of a widget, with ready integration with the most prominent social networking sites.

Relationship with RN.

Apparently no link to digital music retailers.


How Does Broadjam Help Musicians?

Broadjam helps its tens of thousands of musicians and bands promote their music online. Musicians use Broadjam to:

  • Sell music downloads (Sell for $.99, Keep $.80!)
  • Submit music to film & TV supervisors, radio stations, and pro reviewers
  • Build a fan base of Broadjam listeners
  • Enter contests to win prizes and exposure
  • Get a musician’s website
  • Much more!


Widget based store for downloaded tunes.

Most in their gallery had outages 20091026

CD Baby

HEY! Lots of people very unhappy with CD Baby since DiskMakers relaunched the website. This may return to being a great option, but I am currently wary.

From our humble beginnings more than a decade ago as a small, one-man operation in a garage, to our current standing as the world’s largest online distributor of indie music, CD Baby has always been a company run BY musicians FOR musicians. Inside the fortified walls of our warehouse (a virtual Wonka-world of music) in rainy Portland, Oregon, we listen to every single album we carry before it is posted for sale so that we can help you find other new artists you’ll love, too. No distributors. No major labels. We only sell music that musicians send us directly. We ship CDs from our warehouse. We sell downloads from our site. And we also deliver our artists’ music to other download retailers, as well (iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, and many more.) We sell you the music and then we pay the artist right away. Cool thing: in a regular record deal or distribution deal, musicians only make $1-$2 per album, if they’re ever lucky enough to get paid by their label at all. When selling through CD Baby, musicians make $6-$12 per album and get paid weekly.

Current Numbers

278,510 albums being sold on CD Baby
5,339,025 CDs sold online to customers
$107,769,092 paid directly to the artists

Fulfillment – you ship CD Baby 5 CDs, they ship them to those that order.

Partners with digital retailers.

Costs $35/album plus $20/album UPC

They get $4/unit CD, 25% sales of cdbaby.com digtal downloads, 9% of partners, 12.8% of credit card sales

  • iTunes worldwide!
    See iTunes World Wide Distribution Here.

    iTunes is the premier destination for digital downloads. They offer high quality DRM-free MP3s and command over 80% of the download marketplace revenue. Our one delivery to iTunes includes all of their stores worldwide, and your music will be available for download in full and also as a ringtone!
  • Amazon MP3Amazon MP3
    Seattle-based Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. Their MP3 store sells DRM-free MP3s to the largest audience anywhere. Amazon MP3 is the muscle behind MySpace Music, so if your MP3s are for sale on Amazon, then they will soon be for sale in the MySpace Music store.
  • eMusiceMusic
    eMusic boasts the largest catalog of independent music and is the #2 digital music retailer. eMusic offers high-quality DRM-free MP3s to an ever-growing number of subscribers, with a stronghold on the 25 and older demographic.
  • RhapsodyRhapsody
    Rhapsody has been making major waves with their subscription-based model. Through key partnerships with Verizon, Yahoo! Unlimited, and iLike, to name a few, the reach of their service is unparalleled. Rhapsody has entered the permanent download market to complement their wildly successful streaming service.
  • NapsterNapster
    Los Angeles-based Napster is a perennial figure when it comes to MP3 downloads and online streaming, and was recently acquired by Best Buy. In addition to their standard subscription access, Napster has also launched a DRM-free store where anyone can purchase high quality MP3s as a permanent download.
  • SpotifySpotify
    European-based Spotify is becoming one of the most popular streaming services available. Currently only available in limited territories, their store is set for expansion to the US. Customers are able to stream their favorite artists using a free ad-supported version, or by paying a modest monthly fee for their premium option.
  • Liquid DigitalLiquid Digital
    Liquid Digital is the exclusive provider for Walmart’s PC-based digital download store. Liquid offers high quality, unprotected DRM-free MP3s to the retail giant’s vast customer base. With competitive pricing and enormous brand recognition, Walmart has quickly become one of the powerhouse digital retailers.
  • Verizon V CastVerizon V-Cast
    Verizon’s V-Cast store puts your music in the hands of one of the largest mobile networks in the nation. Through V-Cast, fans are able to purchase your music instantly from their mobile phone with a variety of delivery methods, including direct to phone, PC, or both!
  • LalaLala
    Lala provides music lovers an ad-free experience where they can listen to full-length tracks, and purchase high quality DRM-free MP3s. With a catalog that includes both independent and major label artists, Lala has rapidly been gaining popularity for their innovative pricing structure and incredible accessibility.
  • ShockhoundShockhound
    Shockhound is the brand new online music store from retail giant Hot Topic. Shockhound goes beyond offering high quality DRM-free MP3 downloads, letting their customers to create member pages, rate and review new and classic albums, and discover what other members are listening to in real time.
  • iTunesNokia
    The mobile reach of Nokia includes an extensive catalog of great music and a variety of online retailers worldwide. Artists will be available in all Nokia storefronts, including the wildly popular “Comes with Music” program.
  • Amie StreetAmie Street
    Amie Street has been turning heads with their exciting and fresh approach to the digital music landscape. Their store begins as a hybrid of music discovery and downloads, with song pricing that’s driven by demand. Most tracks on Amie Street start out free for the first 5 downloads, and as the song catches on the price begins to ascend until it reaches the 98¢ cap.
  • Last FMLast.fm
    Last.fm is one of the most prominent on-demand streaming and online radio services in the world. Through full-length previews and tailored-to-taste radio stations, Last.fm empowers their audience to discover new music they’ll love. Artists delivered by CD Baby are paid royalties for each and every full-length listen!
  • ZuneZune
    Zune Marketplace carries nearly 3 million tracks from independent and major label artists. Whether fans access music with an unlimited download membership, or an a la carte MP3 purchase, Zune Marketplace reaches a massive audience that solidifies its standing as a major digital retailer.
  • MediaNetMediaNet (formerly MusicNet)
    MediaNet is one of the biggest providers of digital music, and calls upon a heavy-hitting list of retailers for their distribution network. With domestic & international outlets including FYE’s digital download store, Samsung (Europe), HMV (UK) and more, MediaNet puts your music front and center on a global scale.
  • DidiomDidiom
    Didiom is a brand new PC-based store that offers DRM-free songs for permanent download to your desktop, participating mobile phone, or both! This award-winning mobile media service provider provides users with the ability to browse and purchase new music, or even stream their personal music library from their mobile phone.
  • TradebitTradebit
    With a presence in both Germany & the United States, Tradebit is a versatile online store that specializes in digital downloads. They offer high quality DRM-free MP3s to an international customer-base, along with detailed artist information.
  • InProdiconInProdicon
    InProdicon, a major player in the Nordic region, provides music to over 50 digital retailers, including regional MTV stores. InProdicon’s reach includes: Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Music is sold as high quality DRM-free MP3s.
  • GreatIndieMusicGreatIndieMusic
    One of our earliest partnerships, GreatIndieMusic remains committed to the music they are named for. With a large catalog of independent artists, customers have a great choice of DRM-free MP3s, which are compatible on any desktop or portable device.
  • Lime WireLime Wire
    The LimeWire Store, launched in the spring of 2008 by the makers of the popular p2p software, sells 256kbps, DRM-free MP3s. When we send your music to the LimeWire Store, it is ONLY made available for paid downloads by their customers and subscription service members.


Host songs, share on social media sites, track stats.

Looks a lot like BandCamp.

International flavor.


Apparently general social networking site, with tailored profiles for musicians (and others).

Revisit after exhausting Facebook?


Means of sharing tastes with others.


Another taste-sharing site – with Twitter integration?


Tiered – 9.95/mo for plan that works w/ online retailers.


$25 lifetime per album signup + $20 UPC, >= 91-95% of payout to artist

More comprehensive listing of retailers


No upfront, Free UPC, 90% payout, limited distro

eMusic, iTunes, SnoCap, imeem, last.fm, amazon, DMS, spotify


Just *looks* Mickey Mouse.


Better keep an eye on these. Derek Sivers created CDBaby, sold it in 09 to DiscMakers, who by all accouts have f’ed it up badly. Derek is now startging MuckWork – “MuckWork helps you make a living with your music, by doing your uncreative dirty work for you, so you can focus on playing, writing, and improving.” Dark now, but will go live some day.



Affiliated with Sam Ash, who screwed me back in the late ’70’s. Fuck ’em.


Evidently UK based, though looks quite comprehensive



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