So, after a lengthy process of deliberation and uploading, I’ve finally got my album ready to go for digital distribution through TuneCore, compiling original songs from my first two physical albums. So I click onwards to complete the deal, ready to pay them 50 USD to distribute my album digitally to various online outlets, when I see this message under my purchase in the shopping cart checkout:
Your album will be live for one year. Renews annually for $49.99.
I haven’t seen any mention anywhere on their site about an annual renewal fee. I saw it briefly mentioned on a forum by a couple of guys, but never really got it confirmed, and TuneCore’s FAQ didn’t say anything about it. So I figured it was just the one time fee after all, and that maybe they’d changed their policy or that these guys had gotten things mixed up. 50 USD is a lot of money, and I’m not sure if I feel comfortable having to pay that amount annually as I doubt I’d make it back again through sales. And it makes me curious, what happens when someone doesn’t pay the renewal fee? Will those who’ve bought the album no longer be able to download / access it through whatever retailer they bought it from? If not, that would be pretty rotten for the paying customers.
So I’m considering if maybe I should go with CD Baby for digital distribution instead. But might be they have an “annual renewal fee” as well, and they don’t distribute to iTunes, which is the leading all-digital music store. Maybe it’s because of iTunes that TuneCore have to make their fee an annual one? Regardless, it’s something they should mention upfront, in big bold letters, rather than on the last page of the album uploading process. That’s just rude. In fact, you might say it’s a bit evil. But probably good for business.
UPDATE: Turns out CD Baby actually does distribute to iTunes. Very weird, as I remember browsing their websites and being surprised at not finding iTunes listed among the stores they distribute to. I guess I must have just missed it, perhaps due to having no idea what the iTunes logo looks like.