Which digital-distribution service is cheapest?

RouteNote, an up-and-coming competitor for digital distribution for artists, does the math on its blog and acknowledges that it won't always win. A refreshing change.

Last week, I blogged about digital distributor RouteNote and did a brief comparison with CD Baby and Tunecore, two better-known services that help independent artists place their songs in online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Now RouteNote has one-upped me on its own blog and run a detailed--and very helpful--mathematical comparison of itself versus CD Baby, Tunecore, The Orchard, and Musicadium.

You can check out a direct comparison of up-front charges and ongoing revenue splits, as well as a chart showing how much money the artist will earn after selling specific numbers of songs.

RouteNote acknowledges when its service might not be the best deal--basically, when you get up to about 5,000 track sales, TuneCore and Musicadium offer more money to the artist, and at 30,000, CD Baby begins to show a slight advantage.

I found this to be a pleasant change from the usual marketingese that populates corporate blogs, in which competitors are rarely acknowledged except to be criticized. Of course, RouteNote can't resist tooting its own horn a little bit, noting that its small size makes it more invested in the success of its artists.

In the interest of fairness, I'd add one caveat: while The Orchard looks like a crummy deal for artists on a straight dollars-to-dollars comparison, it's more like a full digital record label. It handles digital distribution, as well as marketing and licensing (like getting your song on a TV show), and it works with video as well as audio.

About the author

    Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.


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