Tuncecore CEO Jeff Price Responds: “When Artists Become The Product”
Last week, Hypebot published a guest post, "D.I.Y. Music – When Artists Become The Product" by William Gruger which questioned the value of the growing "online industry dedicated to earning money and exposure". Today, Tunecore CEO Jeff Price responds.
JEFF PRICE: The challenge with articles like this is they imply some sort of "magic wand" which, if waved, allows musicians to have instant fame and success. This is just not the case.
The secret to success for a musician is in the art itself. If a snake oil salesman comes asking for money, promising, "Kid, I’m gonna make you a star"–it's most likely utter bull. A case in point: 98% of what the major labels released and promoted failed. They spent billions of dollars over the years pushing music they hoped would cause reaction, and 98% of the time they failed and the artists still had to give up their rights ending up worse than when they started.
Music needs to cause reaction. In other words, the thing that propelled Nirvana to superstardom was Nirvana's music. If people didn't react to the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it wouldn't have mattered how often they heard the song or seen the video: it was the song itself that caused the fame.
The author of this article appears to forget that truth, and implies there is a magic bullet solution. There is not. However there have been two recent, fundamental changes to the industry that allow musicians the possibility of having their art heard in hopes of it causing that reaction. First, all music by all artists can now be placed on the “shelves” of the stores around the world, where people go to hear it and buy it. To get this distribution, artists no longer need give up rights or revenue from the sale of their music. Second, artists have direct access to media and marketing outlets which allow them to market directly to their fans and be discovered by the masses.
These are good things: all artists should have access to distribution without having to give up rights or revenue.
This article claims sites like ReverbNation are praying on artists: some do, particularly those that sell the possibility of "fame", but entities like ReverbNation are not. They do what they say they will do they way they say they will do it. They, like TuneCore, promise not a road to riches, but tools and services that do exactly as described. And that’s just what artists should look for: sites that offer a tangible and valuable service and do what they claim in exactly they way they state. A site like TuneCore states it will place your music in the shelves iTunes, Amazon and other music stores around the world, and when your music sells, you get all the money and keep all your rights–and that’s exactly what it does. Although TuneCore does market and promote TuneCore Artists to the stores for feature placement, we do not mention this service on the homepage or within the site because it feels disingenuous to dangle a "possibility" as a reason to use the service.
One could claim that services that do take advantage of artists with false claims and promises are the same as someone writing and publishing a factually incorrect article to propel their prominence, or drive web traffic; the very thing artists should be aware of.