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.