Leet Music passes $20k in Tunecore sales

tunecorestats

I’m very proud to announce that I’ve officially reached $20,000 in lifetime music sales through TuneCore. Overall I’ve been happy with their service and they’ve improved over the years leading up to this milestone, though I do have some criticisms to nitpick from my experiences. First here are the reasons they’ve been a good business partner:

1. Fast turn-around time
It currently takes approximately 3-4 business days between queuing a release and when it actually goes live on iTunes. This has improved considerably from the beginning when the upload process would take a ridiculous 3 months just to get on iTunes.

2. Low cost
$30 to upload and album and $10 to upload a single is an attractive price point (with no back-end royalty split). It used to cost $50 to upload an album until some other stores offered lower rates and then Tunecore matched it. Currently I think their prices for iTunes uploads are reasonable and low risk. There are some other distributors that offer lower rates but also take a cut of earnings. In my experiences (working with another distributor) the back end royalty split deals amounted to less money overall.

3. Easy user interface
Uploading songs to iTunes and other digital stores is easy. I’ve never had a technical problem with my releases. Small issues I’ve experienced were resolved quickly by contacting them through their website. I’ve heard from colleagues using other services that the distributors sometimes screw up their releases by spelling the name of the artist / title wrong. There is absolutely no excuse for this and fortunately I’ve never had this problem.

4. Monthly pay periods
With flow of bills to pay being what it is, having access to money when you need it is crucial. Tunecore pays out earnings from stores on a monthly basis (collecting from different stores every week) so that payment is steady and prompt. I’ve worked with other distributors that only paid quarterly and found this to be more frustrating.

5. Daily sales metrics
Years ago Tunecore was charging $3 for weekly “trending reports” and I felt this to be a ripoff and never paid for it. But they’ve made some outstanding advances in terms of sharing daily sales data from iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Being able to see which songs are selling is invaluable when investing in a substantial promotion like a music video.

Though Tunecore does many things well, I do have some issues that I hope that they work on:

1. Music video upload costs
$300 to upload a music video on iTunes. Why the heck is this so expensive?? I have some popular music videos that I’m sure my fans would love to see on iTunes, but this price point is prohibitively high risk. This needs to come down significantly or it’s impractical.

2. low Spotify royalties
There is a lot of controversy about whether or not Spotify royalties are fair. Spotify pays major record labels licensing fees in order to access their music, where as independent artists receive miniscule royalty payments. In my case, the music videos (which I pay money for) are the discovery tool. Not Spotify. If the music industry shifts entirely away from a sales-based model to a streaming based model then it will be impossible for anybody to pay for their costs, much less earn a living from streaming music royalties. It is too low. The music industry (Tunecore included) seems to be digging their heels on this issue, but the bottom line is that “promotion” isn’t enough, and the money needs to be there.

3. weak YouTube integration
When I watch a YouTube video with music from a major label artist, I see the link to purchase the song on iTunes on the bottom right below the video. However I am unable to do this. Why should it be more difficult to link to the music store compared to a major label artist? Not fair. Additionally, Tunecore’s music publishing service one time claimed that they would be able to collect money from YouTube, but no longer makes this promise. This is problematic because it means that independent artists are unable to monetize unauthorized YouTube videos with their music the way a record label does. Also not fair. Though recently I’ve heard that Audiam is offering this feature.

4. “Discovery stores”
Recently I’ve seen some new store offerings like Shazam which promise “discovery” but don’t actually pay the artists money. As with Spotify, I question the value of the so-called “promotion” they offer and don’t see why I should be giving away my songs totally for free through their service. Let alone paying money ($2 bucks) for said opportunity.

5. Renewal fees are more expensive than upload fees
$50 dollars to renew vs $30 dollars to upload. Why not just take down the album after a year and upload again rather than renew, and save $20 dollars that way? Seems a little silly.

If anyone is looking to sell music on iTunes and has questions about Tunecore or what to expect feel free to ask me!

6 Comments

  1. Brian Hazard says:

    Great overview Matt!

    I’m still with CD Baby, but Tunecore has some advantages, especially short-term. Long term, I don’t like the idea of paying to keep a release on iTunes year after year, or pulling it because it doesn’t generate enough in sales to justify the expense.

    I wouldn’t blame Tunecore for Spotify’s payouts, YouTube integration, or having the option of getting your music to non-paying sources. And yes, Audiam will track down videos using your music, slap on ads, and get that buy button working!

  2. Matt says:

    Tunecore’s blog recently published an article on Spotify urging users to “Stop worrying” about the low pay. The promotion makes it good. This of course is nonsense.

    YouTube – They could be doing more, especially with their big user base to leverage. If major labels can do it and Audiam can do it then they could do it.

    Non-paying stores – I haven’t used them but this seems dubious. Again the false promise of “discovery” and “promotion.” Too much of Tunecore’s marketing is aimed at artists who want to feel “independent.” But of course if you aren’t making money than independence isn’t worth anything.

  3. Quang says:

    I actually wrote about Tunecore and other distribution models in this article. The reason why you don’t want to have to do #5 is because reuploading your album will give it a new UPC code and completely new iTunes link. You’ll lose all the previous comments, recommendations, and discovery engine ranking.

    http://www.deltadreams.com/tunecore-vs-cdbaby-vs-android-market/

  4. Matt says:

    Quang – Just read your article. Do you find that paying $50 at once leads to more than 9% on the back end? My digital sales are in the thousands of dollars every year so the royalty deal turns out to be a worse deal. Releases that perform poorly after year 1 just get removed. One time Tunecore automatically renewed a release I didn’t want renewed, and they changed it and reimbursed me.

    Thanks for sharing your article here!

  5. Quang says:

    Hi Matt – The purpose of my article wasn’t meant to be a cost/benefit calculator. Obviously that is a pretty simple calculation based on the artist’s sales. My point was to identify the ethics behind TuneCore’s practice. TuneCore can simply raise the price without any grandfathered clause and hold your release hostage unless you pay. In theory, they can simply have a scaled price tier based on your income. For example, if you generate over $20,000 sales, they can increase the “maintence” fee to $500. However, in reality, the songs have already been digitally distributed to another store that they do not own. If you do not pay, they are literally putting in a request to have it taken down.

    I like Google Play’s model where you distribute directly to the store without a distributor/aggregator. Actually, there’s a way to upload directly to iTunes as well.

    • admin says:

      How do you upload directly t iTunes?

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