Hands-On Review:Sell your music, not your soul


Sell your music, not your soul

By Holly Chatelain



Making money as an artist in the music industry has always been tough. Even successful musicians get only a humble percentage of record sales and those waiting to hit the big time know the expression "starving artist" all too well. But does it still have to be that way?


TuneCore's founder, spinART record label owner Jeff Price, saw that although the music industry had moved into the digital age, the business model had remained the same. He didn't think it was fair to collect royalties for simply delivering an album to a digital music store, so he decided to do something about it.


In the traditional business model, a music distribution company manufactured CDs and shipped them out to stores on consignment. The record stores could return anything at any time for a full refund, so it took some time to figure out what had actually sold in order to give the artists their (measly) share. Since the stores relied on these distributors to deliver the product, artists were forced to go through a record label to get their music on the shelves, signing contracts that gave the labels the lion's share of the profits.


With the advent of digital music stores like iTunes, there was suddenly unlimited shelf space, but those stores didn't want to deal directly with artists either (probably because it would be an administrative nightmare). As a result, aggregators popped up to play middleman between artists and digital music stores. However, their terms were basically the same as the traditional model, which required artists to sign a contract giving up exclusive rights for a set period of time along with 15-30% of the sales.


Aggregators also followed the traditional model of paying an artist every three months or even every six months. Previously this was necessary because of the time it took to figure out what sold versus what shipped. However, in the digital age, when a song is sold it's sold. But the aggregators still sit on the money for three months, earning interest.


Enter TuneCore


TuneCore is the first and only flat-fee music delivery and distribution service that gets your originals, covers, and record label releases up for sale on iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, Sony Connect, MusicNet, and Napster (with more stores being added all the time), without taking any money from the sale or use of your music.


Musicians and labels using TuneCore get 100% of what all the stores and services pay, keep all rights and ownership of their music and master recordings, and sign no contracts. With TuneCore, you retain all the rights in a non-exclusive agreement that can be canceled at any time. Musicians and labels are never locked in to any terms. In addition, all TuneCore customers can log in and collect their money 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are no artificial accounting periods, so no one earns interest by holding on to your money. TuneCore also provides plenty of information and tutorials geared to help you market your music to a wider Internet audience.


Enlisting in TuneCore is really easy. All you have to do is create a free account, then enter your band name and album name, upload your art and songs, and choose which digital stores you want to sell your music in. You will pay a one-time charge of $0.99 per song and $0.99 per store per album, and an annual fee of $19.98 per album for maintenance and storage. That's it! Even a garage band can afford it.



Success stories


With TuneCore, unknown artists are launching their careers before they have managers, publicists, or record labels, while gaining global fame as well as more revenue than they could via the old music industry model. TuneCore has also caught on with many established musicians in diverse genres including Frank Black (of the Pixies), Ziggy Marley, Roger O'Donnell (of The Cure), the Frank Zappa estate, and many more.


Read what "unsigned" artist Jennifer Deejay has to say about her success with TuneCore: "With the help of TuneCore my new album Love Everlasting is currently number one in my state. TuneCore's services are unsurpassed; I plan to continue working with you guys for a very long time." Even noted artists such as Izzy Stradlin of Guns N' Roses are enlisting in TuneCore. Says Stradlin, "With G n' R I would be onstage in front of 20,000 or 30,000 people playing our songs, but at the same time I would have this piece of work that I'm just dying to get out. This is a way for me to get the music out there—there are zero people between me, my music, and the fans."


Artist Testimonials


"I've been promoting TuneCore to every musician and band I meet, the hardest part of the sell is that people think it's too good to be true, well it's not, it's true and it's good!"
—Roger O'Donnell, of The Cure


"TuneCore is without a doubt the best way to distribute music online."
—David Klein, Birdmonster


"TuneCore is an incredible service that is indispensable for any independent musician. Their terms and services are unmatched. It is truly a watershed event to be able to have self-released music distributed throughout the world by major online music stores. And it is all made possible by TuneCore . . . with an easy-to-use web site and with terms that are fair."
—Scott Hunter, of Inside The Black