Blogger Criticizes Artists for Making Money; TuneCore CEO Jeff Price Responds - hypebot

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gaetano

As someone who was involved in the original posts/discussions on the Tunecore Blog, I suggest people also check them out to see what prompted Jeff to even post these numbers in the first place.

http://blog.tunecore.com/2011/11/soundcheck-are-there-still-gatekeepers.html

http://blog.tunecore.com/2011/11/why-everyone-but-the-artist-and-the-music-fan-is-doomed.html

As someone who frequents DMN, I know Paul can get a bit crafty in his headlines, but this kind of blew me away in regards to how ill intentioned his post and use of that info was.

It's textbook yellow journalism, and a real bummer.

Kudos to Jeff for his thoughtful response, and great work at Tunecore.

Scott Wilson

I would rather know the truth than be fooled by a cheerleader who is making inordinate amounts of money on the backs of music makers. Even before Tunecore raised their rates they were charging too much money for their services which is why I dropped them as a supplier of music to iTunes. CdBaby makes much more sense monetarily to submit to iTunes over time, unless you are making good money on digital sales, which is unfortunately true, below minimum wage at most levels.

The whole industry is designed to manipulate the hopes of musicians and fans, from the musical instrument stores to the highest echelons of the music industry, so don't be fooled, music is a tough life, especially if you get sick with no health insurance, or if anything major monetarily happens to you in your pursuit of a dream.

In many cases, musicians like Robert Johnson and others were only recognized after their deaths, and even those who succeed are rewarded in some cases with phone hacking, privacy invasion, criminal paparazzi, and all sorts of addictions and mental health issues. This is not a career choice for the weak, and it should not be a choice for the deluded, but anyone who sees the first two weeks of American Idol should know that is not the case.

One of the greatest lessons of the music industry is that it is filled to the brim with opportunists and shysters, so look before you leap, and if you're not doing it for the love of the art then you will almost always be sorely disappointed.

akimbo

Unfortunately, I think Resnikoff knows who his readers are and tells them what they want to hear. If you read the comments on his site, they seem to overwhelmingly be from old school music biz types who want nothing more than to go back to pre-internet days. They love hearing stories about how digital music will fail and how artists were better off under the old system. So Paul gives them what they want, truth be damned.

Suzanne Lainson

Things are changing for the better for artists, any way you slice it.

Not necessarily true. The group of artists who were popular but unsigned and who were selling tapes and then CDs directly to fans have taken a big hit to their income as fewer fans buy recorded music. Also many of the clubs that used to have live bands every week switched to DJs or karaoke, so there are fewer live gigs now than there used to be. And clubs that would book one band for the night now book four, so the split per band is less. And bands that could get good money from corporate gigs and city summer concert series have seen those gigs dry up with the economy. And bands that used to play weddings have been replaced by DJs.

Ricky

I've don't agree with Jeff and TuneCore on every issue or policy, but there's one thing I've never doubted: Jeff Price's passion for artists.

I may make less than minimum wage, but at least I never sold out and became a blogger!

Taurean Casey

If the economy is not good then everyone across the board takes a hit, but artists are definitely in a better position today and its growing. Sure some of yesterday's models aren't as successful as they once were, but the increase of new models far outweigh the losses from them.

Kudos to Jeff Price

Suzanne Lainson

but artists are definitely in a better position today and its growing.

Again, that isn't the case for everyone. There were artists who used to sell 10,000 - 20,000 CDs per year at shows, grossing $150,000 - $300,000. Those sales are gone now. They weren't giving a cut to any middlemen. That was money directly into their pockets. The margins on CDs for artists who owned the rights were fantastic. There is nothing comparable now.

I've talked to longtime gigging musicians and what they get paid now per show is the same as what they were getting in 1970.

What has changed is that technology allows far more people to make and record music. That is good, but it does split up the pie a lot. That why out of 600,000 bands using TuneCore, only 6000 make $100 a month or more. The real revolution is that now anyone with a smartphone has the technology to make music, record it, and share it. That's not a living, but it is creative.

@Geraldbrusaschi

Quite amazing! After what you say in the first para, you then push the 'eyeballs' from your blog to 'hypebot.'

This iz a biz agument not a music one!

evolvor

I've been known to stir the pot on my own blog, and can see why Paul made the comments he did. He IS catering to disgruntled musicians who poo poo on all the companies and services out there who make a buck off of musicians who are chasing a dream.

If Paul really gave a shit though, he'd be publishing stuff that actually helped these musicians rather then just sucking them off to keep them reading, to keep them in a negative mindset. I stopped reading that blog years ago.

Also note that one of his sponosrs is ReverbNation, who probably has similar numbers to Jeff as they offer a similar service (distribution to digital retailors) - is he saying the same about them?

Finally, it's stupid musicians that are to blame for all of this. Any act that pays for Tunecore's service and just magically expects to make money selling music in a sea of MILLIONS of acts, without any marketing or business model, is an idiot and deserves to be broke and disgruntled. It's not that this industry is full of snake oil or hucksters that give the industry a bad image, it's the megalomanic musicians that think they're art is worth something, that they deserve to make a living off their music just based on the recordings alone. Don't blame Jeff or myself or anyone else who offers you a service and you can't see the value in it. You only have yourself to blame.

Nina

The revolution will not be blogged about on DMN... TuneCore changed the music game and has leveled the playing field giving artists and songwriters the tools needed to be independent and control their careers. It's no surprise that Jeff Price and his company are being attacked with negative write ups on DMN. Paul Resnikoff is probably a puppet of the old guard music industry or a frustrated musician who never made it. Come to think of it, probably both. I for one am no longer going to that site.

Stayfresh

I find it hilarious that Tunecore takes credit for everything iTunes did.
They charge too much, are greedy and the above poster "nina" is most likely Jeff

Edward Greene

Guys! The BEST distribution service around is Venzo Digital. Get your music on iTunes for FREE - http://music.venzodigital.com

Arnold Stolting - Stolting Media Group

Paul Resnikoff's original article states that the larger percentage of Tunecore artists earn less than minimum wage. This appears to be a fact.

However, Tunecore's artists are not promised promotion of their act, but mainly distribution. Promotion and marketing that results in income then becomes the artists job.

This is similar to an artist getting a CD distributed to the record stores by a conventional distributor in the old days, but the CD ending up collecting dust in the bin simply because the act had no radio or TV play thus no one heard of them in order to even be aware of their existence.

Would it then be right for the artist to call up the distributor and blame them for their records not selling? Of course not.

Tunecore artists are placed similarly in itunes and other outlets, therefore I don't see the point of highlighting that Tunecore artists are not earning money.

To Paul Resnikoff, unless artists actually start taking the business of promoting and marketing themselves seriously, as opposed to spamming every possible Facebook page, blog, and blindly emailing people asking them to check out their hot new track or youtube video, or tunecore / itunes link...

Artists are then going to be relying on Justin Bieber type of odds in order to reach the full time income level on Tunecore, or through any other flavor of the year artist service for that matter.

To Jeff Price: Ok, so Paul Resnikoff's article steps on your toes as Tunecore is your baby, but why the childish counter attack on Paul Resnikoff's article, and his business model of advertising, and other put downs? Does Tunecore not have people leaving and complaining about your business model?

You know the harder they come the harder they fall, (mo money mo problems) So you might as well get used to people sharing their opinions, whether they have a point or not.

jeff

@Arnold

The issue for me is not about attacking me or TuneCore, the issue is attacking artists.

I will fight tooth and nail on behalf of the artist. As the article points out, Paul puts artists down and says they don't matter. he degrades them and it makes me sick

And thats what I will argue back against.

jeff

jeff

@ Stayfresh

Your misinformed comments is as silly as DMN's article.

Artists should be treated with dignity and respect - let them keep their rights, provide them information, be transparent and allow them the opportunity to pick and choose what services and team work best for them.

Jeff

Scott Wilson

Do you think it's possible for a musician or band to make $1000 in t-shirts and $.10 on downloads in the same month? If you want to help artists, tell them the truth, don't spin the facts.

@QuangLy

I stopped following Digital Music News years ago because of this. Statistics don't lie. But people lie with statistics. Digital Music News always had a negative slant on the state of the music industry. What's the point of pointing out the negative without constructive criticisms to make things better?

gaetano

I think you missed the point of that example...

That said, Jeff isn't spinning anything. His numbers show that people are making money, some more than others, but the top of that excel sheet shows a portion of the people moving units that are comparable to heavily backed label artists.

What Jeff is saying that you can see that revenue without signing to one of those deals, that the gatekeepers are being removed. He's providing a service, what Paul chose to do was spin a set of numbers that were put forth to show something completely different. Why he did that? Probably to garner some eyeballs.

$.02

jason

I just looked at the article on digital music news. The data is completely correct and the stat is totally backed up, I checked it twice. sorry that the numbers suck, that's reality.

gaetano

I never said that the data isn't correct, and I think whether the numbers "suck" is subjective, and really besides the point. If you were to look at the numbers of every label in the world right now they would also "suck".

I'm aware of reality, I've been a professional musician for the past 10 years, working with majors, indie completely DIY artists. Another reality is that while Jeff has provided a service that has benefitted musicians, I'm not really sure the same can be said about DMN.

I'm also not even sure you read what I wrote in the previous post...as I didn't even refer to the DMN post, I was referring to the Tunecore Blog post that put forth the data that Paul decided to appropriate for his article. Jeff released those numbers for a very specific purpose, and a if you were to read any of those you'd see he's providing a great amount of feedback and transparency that you rarely see from a provider of a similar service.

Raymond Monner

The key thing(imo) that top-earning artists have is a team of people who are pushing them to the top; networking experts who create viral campaigns, social network pushers who know how to use social tools, a team of people - which increases the chances of somebody "being at the right place at the right time" and getting an exclusive opportunity.

Solo artists, bands with no management and no backers rarely get a chance to be heard (even if they are on Itunes,etc).
I would argue that these artists would benefit from an online deal-making platform that would allow them to do more of the things that the successful artists do; build a team of passionate people who do more than just make good music.

TuneRIGHTS is a new music service that allows bands to trade revenue shares with music industry people, promoters, bloggers, celebrities, fans, friends and even djs and radio hosts. Up to 100,000 people can own one song. Shareholders receive a portion of sales, generated by services like TuneCore.

Is TuneCore a good service - of course! Jeff obviously cares about the indie artist and the music industry revolution.

TuneCore, on its own is rarely going to break a band out of the basement. But, if enough people are behind a band, working to get the word out, good talent may actually get the audience it deserves.

Aaron Gibson

Granted, I am not making much money on music....yet! That "yet" is still enough to fish for (and hook) hopeful musicians. You can blame a myriad of companies for feeding off artists, but there are bottom feeders in every industry imaginable. Yet, for the "Less than minimum wage artist", reasons for continuing are more important than money. Some of us love music, and don't care about the music industry monster. I read a lot of industry blogs and news, and because of all of the stats I have chosen to withdrawal my music from Tunecore, Sonicbids, etc. I want my next album release (January 2012) to be focused, and I do want to make money, but in the old music industry there were not opportunities to do it if you were not among the chosen few. The Data encourages me to find new ways of doing things in stead of throwing down my hands and saying "that sucks". I am not rich and famous, but everyone who sees me perform say's that I am the best bassist they have ever seen, and a lot of them like my songs too. I'll have to be happy with that for now.

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Good to read this useful post, thanks for sharing.

Maxwellian

Exactly. Jeff Price and Tunecore are basically scamming artists because very few make the cost of the fees - they LOSE money on Tunecore. ANd actually they just raised the rates, so that's artist friendly?

Maxwellian

Jeff,

Honestly I'm not sure why you are attacking this person, it makes you seem very defensive and yes very childish. I read the article, and it isn't attacking artists at all rather it is presenting a very sobering statistic (which should be read by all artists for their benefit).

I like you Jeff, but this makes you seem like a kid on a playground.

::MW

David Sherbow @MusicBiz Guy

Jeff Price and Tunecore present all artists the opportunity to have their music distributed everywhere for what amounts to be a relatively small fee. He is running a business and has an overhead he must cover every month. The same is true for Paul Resnikoff and DMN. That fact that most artists don't make their Tunecore fee back says far more about the lack of quality of their music and/or their ability to market and promote it to the masses than it does about Tunecore's excellent alternative to the traditional methods and costs of music distribution. If Paul riled up the musician public by pointing out that most of them make little or no money, then it would be my hope that hordes of horrible artists would vacate the internet and leave it to the artists who really make the great music. It certainly would make life a lot easier for the listening public to find and discover much better music. Additionally, the artists which make this much better music would be much more likely to make a survivable income. Sounds to me like both of these guys are helping to create a win/win situation for us all.

exit11

Jeff is essentially lying to artists to make a huge profit. He plays off their emotions and tries to sell them a dream when in reality they are going to make $20 a year on their site even though they are trying and promoting and putting up a good fight. It's sleazy at best and corrupt and when anyone tries to challenge that they get branded as 'hating aritsts' by Jeff and shouted down by this 8 year old bully. I switched to Cd Baby thanks.

SantonioBD

Okay Jeff Price - uh, I mean, "Nina"

jamie

its always easy to be negative, but without a constructive solution its all just a bunch more noise we don't need out here, as the people looking to you all the sources of information.

Paul Resnikoff

Hi everyone. I wrote the article on Digital Music News, and I hope you'll consider my perspective. The article itself is actually just about a statistic that we calculated, and the rather depressing problem that it highlights. It says nothing about whether artists should be making money, it just offers data on how difficult it has been to make this money so far.

We backed up our calculations, but check our math. I hope you'll read it with a clear mind and form your own conclusions.

http://digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2011/111123tunecore

On another note, I feel that Jeff may have over-reacted here. I mostly admire Jeff Price's passion and the problems he's solved for the music industry and artists. But that doesn't mean I have to agree with all of his decisions and opinions. I just wish I had more solutions to offer.

Anyway, I'm going back to hang out with my family and eat leftovers ;)

jammerwocky

can't really think of anything intelligent to contribute to this as presented

Eye Vee

Tunecore has emerged as one of the new music industry gatekeepers. They are the middle-man between you and digital retailers like iTunes, Amazon, etc. They exist to make a profit & the profit they make is off of you - the musician.

That being said, they don't claim anything different so I see no reason to be upset with them. If you don't like Tunecore that's great - find another distributor or even better - sell the music yourself! If you are upset with the prices I'm not sure what to tell you. If you can't scrape together 50 bucks annually then you are probably in the wrong business or not yet ready to be on iTunes. Sell your music on Bandcamp until then (another music industry gatekeeper btw) if you have to.

I've used Tunecore a number of times in the past & find it to be a great experience, timely payments, good customer service, etc. They will not, however, convince people to buy your album - THAT'S YOUR JOB. If you are making less than minimum wage from music you need to a) improve the quality of your music & b) get out there & promote yourself. No product will sell without advertisement. You think people would drink Coke if they didn't know it existed?

All that being said I no longer use Tunecore because I think the annual fee is a huge turn-off. CDbaby takes a small percentage from each sale, but the distribution fee is only a one-time payment. For me, it makes more sense to do things that way. However, it all depends on your situation & how many units you plan to sell.

I make less than minimum wage from digital album sales, but I don't blame Tunecore. It's almost 2012 - people can download everything they want for free. I can only expect them to pay for my music if I make it a unique experience that they couldn't otherwise get via download.

Also, if you are a new independent artist who is looking to make a living from album sales alone, you probably aren't going to get very far. Music licensing, touring, contracted work, teaching lessons, workshops, seminars, etc. are all great ways to increase your music-related income. Think about it - hustle 99 cent songs to people who can get them for free or get paid hundreds to thousands of dollars PER song to have the music you love to create used in films, tv, etc.

Just my 2 (or 3) cents.

snfubar

Jeff has to sell his service, and each day that gets harder as more people realize they are not going to make their money back, that they pay Tunecore.

Sorry Jeff, that's just the truth.

snfubar

Exactly!

Suzanne Lainson

Here's why I have a tough time with any discussions that say it is a great time to be a musician. What usually gets said after that is that if you aren't making a living at this:

(1) You're not talented enough.
(2) You're not doing enough marketing.
(3) You're not passionate enough.
and/or
(4) You're not connecting enough with your fans.

In other words, the system is great now and if it doesn't work for you, then it's YOUR problem.

I take issue with that. There are musicians who are talented, are promoting, are doing everything they are supposed to do, but they aren't getting much financial return. There are a lot of reasons:

(1) There is a glut of music.
(2) People who used to be audiences can now make their own music.
(3) The economy is bad.
(4) There's a lot of competition for the entertainment dollar. Music is essentially free, so you can use what you once spent on music to buy other stuff and other experiences.

I think the statistics that show how few people make money on music are necessary to put some reality into musicians' expectations. Music is a great creative activity for self-expression and to share with friends. As a way to make a living, not so much.

Bruce Houghton

Thanks for sharing, Suzanne. I know you come from a place of experience. Would you not agree, however, that there is a greater opportunity than ever before to find your musical niche and fan base, and to then to monetize it? It's still very hard and perhaps requires some degree of luck, but my belief is that the "odds" are better than ever.

Do you - and others reading this - agree or disagree?

gaetano

Suzanne, I appreciate your argument. As someone who has been in the grind for about 10 years now I see all your points. However, one of the greatest lessons I've learned in my career (because music, whether I'm making it, teaching it writing about it or selling it) is that much of one's happiness and success is related to expectations, and how one manages their expectations.

Old school managers did this one way, new school systems will spin it another way. There is no one way, and as your art and career change, with time so does this world and industry.

I'm just as sick and tired of people telling me "that's the way it is". First it was managers and labels, now it's press, blogs, and the consumer.

For better or for worse, that's one of many realities.

How you deal with it is a decision only you can make. We can be optimistic, pragmatic, idealist, or fatalist. I believe it's important to temper every one of these, but at the end of the day your reality is yours alone. I saw you talking about prominence Dj's and the lack of bands earlier, that's nothing new, it happened in the 70's when the economy tanked and there were gas rations etc. It bounced back, in fact, there was a backlash. As disco was all the rage at studio 54, Hip hop was blooming in the south bronx, and CBGB and the Mudd Club were housing and enabling a new wave of music and artists.

I think we can all say that we're seeing "managed decline" in this industry. In the end, in my opinion that's a lot better than "apocalyptic failure" as we've been seeing in others.

I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors, as I'm trying do to something similar myself. How that's all gonna add up and pay rent or sustain a future, that may be a continuous work in progress.

Suzanne Lainson

There are more opportunities for people to share music, so they feel like they are "real" musicians, but I have seen full-time unsigned working musicians take a financial hit with the end of the tape/CD business. They could spend maybe $20,000 in studio time to put out a CD, and then sell thousands of those directly to fans at $15. After recouping expenses with the first 1000 CDs, they were making a great margin. $1.50 to press a CD, and then selling it for $15. Musicians with a loyal fanbase could make enough money that way to pay everyone in the band a living, plus cover touring expenses.

The idea that the Internet has replaced labels overlooks the idea that many musicians were never signed to a label in the first place and the ways they used to make a living have changed.

What I am excited about is the rise of the music app. It's an entirely different world now. Everyone can make music. I think as a society it is changing the way we view music consumption. The most similar comparison is the history of photography. Once it required skill and money to take photos. Now everyone with cameras on their phones can take professional quality photos. And places that only used to use professional photographers are now using photos taken by "amateur" photographers.

This article is out in today's New York Times and talks about Smule and that concept of helping the non-musician become musical. Read the whole thing because near the end it talks about how music is reverting back to a time when everyone did it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/magazine/smule.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Brian Thompson

Here's what get's me...

Just because you write a song and "release" it doesn't mean you deserve to get paid for it.

Where is all of this sense of entitlement coming from?

gaetano

Hey Bruce,

So, to be honest I don't agree or disagree, mostly because I don't think that the "odds" are really quantifiable at this point in time (or if they ever were in any finite sense). That said, I also don't know how healthy it is to think in these terms mostly because of how subjective the nature of everything is, especially now. Again, I think this also comes down to a question of expectation. The above article in question (the DMN one) kind of assumes what "success" is, and I think every artist's baseline for that is different.

Are some artists totally green, naive, and deluded? Sure. Are some more upset that something that they made once was worth something is no longer? Yup. But for each one of these examples there's an exception to the rule, and I think that everyone has to take that into consideration.

Every now and then some kid on garageband makes a hit, and some older artist from the old model figures out a new technology, demographic and revenue stream.

Is there more money on the road? Not if your live act isn't together, or if the music just doesn't translate off of the record, but then again maybe people are just happy to buy a ticket and show up. Maybe you're a great band that could sell some more merch if the merch or designs themselves were a bit different...

We could go on forever.

I would say that your chances aren't better, but that they're different. Your odds of being discovered are potentially greater, while your chances of monetizing you recorded media are less. However, through that ease of discovery, maybe a music supervisor hears your music, and you make 10k off of one synch...

We're in the midst of a paradigm shift, it's not fun for everyone. I'd say the first thing to do is find a palpable realistic goal (sometimes the hardest part) and then take it from there. I think the best thing you can do is try to qualify your odds by seeing what will work best (or in some cases what has worked best for others) within your specific market, and demographic. This is a personal and specific thing and while most artists would rather not have to think about it or work on it, it's becoming part of the gig.

Suzanne Lainson

The artists who are making a living at this are doing something that is commercial. In other words, they are doing something that someone (a fan, a business person, and investor) is willing to pay for. What they are providing in exchange for money may actually have nothing to do with the music they are associated with. Someone who is a mediocre musician, but who is fantastic at social media, may be able to make money selling clothing or doing public appearances. Just as reality TV celebrities make a lot of money not necessarily doing anything other than appearing on TV and then capitalizing on it, there are "musicians" or "performers" who don't necessarily create or perform quality music, but they associate themselves with something to encourages a transfer of money to them.

We need to be straight on the difference between selling musical skills and simply selling "something," whatever it may be.

gaetano

Hey Suzanne,

I see where you're coming from, which is a place that is essentially qualifying an artist's worth by defining their musical "skills". I will have to ask you how that is applicable across the boards in regards to music, because well, skill is again something subjective both by artist and genre, and by listener. It's not just as black and white as good or bad or right or wrong. While we're at it, let's be real, the music industry has never completely been a meritocracy.

I take issue with your previous comment regarding "real" musicians or "real" photographers. I understand people's unhappiness with the decommodification of their craft, or wares, but it has become apparent that none of this is relevant anymore...we can talk about it till we're dead, I don't see it changing, bummer? Sure. I'm one of those who worked hard to get good at what they loved.

Some people feel robbed, others that they've been sold a bill of goods. That's fine, it's still their responsibility to figure out how to monetize their content, product, skill or what have you. It appears that you have a specific criteria for what this is. Conversely, so does the next person and the next.

Every person has their own personal form of merit, and at this point due to the nature of the recorded medium, they many times have the decision to pay for what they deem valuable or not...This trickles down to almost every aspect of an artist's revenue, life, and potentially their art.

As of late, I've seen two cycles of thought. Cycles of victimization and blame, and cycles of responsibility and empowerment. The former seeks company, where the latter seeks opportunity.

Overall, I think that as an artist defining (and in turn limiting) your own, or any one's value to the realm of "musical skills" is not only short sighted overall, it's potentially fatal for your career in the present market.

I try my best to observe what's happening across the board, give credit to all of it where it's due (regardless of my own personal taste), and try to learn from it.

Suzanne Lainson

I put "real" in quotation marks to indicate how some people think, not how I think. I know many talented musicians who have non-music day jobs. Some might say they aren't "real" musicians because they aren't making their living primarily from music.

I say we embrace the other direction. Let's enable everyone to make music. Let's eliminate the distinction between "amateur" and professional. That's what is happening in photography and it is happening more and more in music. When everyone makes their own music, it may become harder for people to charge for it, but those trends are already happening anyway.

I would rather see people make music because they want to make music than to jump through lots of hoops to connect their music to money-making activities. If you want to sell t-shirts, sell t-shirts. You don't need to tie those t-shirts to music. They can be separate entities. Or they can blur into an artistic "thing" where the music and the non-music are inseparable. Music is everywhere anyway, so it exists whether or not there's a business model for it.

Joseph Lindholm

I have never read anything by Jeff Price before, but, man, having read Paul Resnickoff's original posting, and then having read the insults, lies, and distortions that Price has put forth in his post here, I have Price marked down as a dishonest and unpleasant creep, who is concerned that his scam is threatened.

Suzanne Lainson

I caught a typo in my comment which might have made it unclear.

What I meant to say is: "In other words, they are doing something that someone (a fan, a business person, an investor) is willing to pay for."

My point is that the musician who makes money is selling something. Not necessarily great music. All that has to happen is that the person on the other end wants to give the musician money for some reason. These days what the musician receives money for may not have much to do with the music itself. If we understand this, we can focus on what really motivates the transaction. It can be all sorts of things.

Benjamin Reed

That's just ridiculous. I write my own music as a hobby and am well aware how unlikely it is that I will sell a ton of albums. I went into TuneCore pretty sure that I would likely not get my "money's worth" out of it, but hey when I got that vanity license plate, I wasn't expecting to turn a profit on it either.

To assume all those folks in the long tail are being mislead just because they didn't make thousands of dollars is just silly. TuneCore's pricing is pretty damn obvious. X number of dollars to get on iTunes, no gimmicks. What you do with that exposure is up to you.

Scott Wilson

One thing that I'm struck by in your comments and others by the music industry people on this article is your utter contempt for musicians and artists. Maybe you should consider the following article and lend a hand towards saving your sinking industry before it's too late for you.

http://blog.midem.com/2011/11/emily-gonneau-its-time-artists-took-centre-stage-of-the-music-business-again/

Scott Feldman

Truth be told, I don't particularly like Jeff Price. And I'm pretty sure he's not a fan of me either. But the guy runs a company that provides a very specific service: digital music distribution. There's a LOT of other fluff that goes around all that, but the core offering (pun intended) is to place your music for sale in a variety of established digital storefronts.

All the rest of his/yours/theirs/everyone's tirade is regurgitated whining about the plight of the independant musician. While it's possible to make a career out of being a musician, nobody's magic pill or platform is going to do it for you. And yes, you might need a day job while you're getting started. Oh, the horror. Oh, the agony.

As for lying and misleading statistics: sure, they're there. It's very easy to average sales of my dog's Ooompah band (Pippy and the Poopsicles!) alongside those of Justin Bieber and show a HUGE discrepancy. And in doing so, you could then say that 50% of musicians are either a) not signed to a label, b) living on dog food, or c) AVERAGING millions in sales. Take your pick - all would be accurate.

If Paul Resnikoff wants to write sensationlist headlines with (occasionally) witty articles, and pick passive-aggressive fights with industry figures, guess what, he can do that! But you don't have to read it .... or sensationlize it further by re-reporting it elsewhere.

Brian Thompson

Actually Scott, I have no contempt towards artists whatsoever. Far from it. I've actually dedicated my life to helping artists find their way, on their own. I have two websites, a daily newsletter and two podcasts dedicated to this. My work speaks for itself.

My comment was simply a wake-up call to artists.. work needs to be done to create an audience around your music and to monetize your songs, simply "creating" isn't enough.

Rich Huxley

Interesting post this, and the responses are just as interesting. (Suzanne, lovely stuff as usual).

The initial provocation presumes however that Tunecore artists:
a) make the majority of their money from tunecore
b) that musicians make music because they want to make money from it (it's not why I became a musician, or the prime reason for continuing to do so - I'm not in the minority on this either I would suggest)

As Jeff says, it misses a great deal of the other income streams available to musicians, and ignores that for the vast majority of even very "succeful" acts, making money from music sales alone isn't a reliable source of income:
"people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn't make any money out of records because record companies wouldn't pay you! They didn't pay anyone!Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone." Mick Jagger: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8681410.stm

As an enthusiast and optimist (rein me in here Jeff if you like), I do believe that the opportunities to share your music now are far greater than 20, 10 or even 5 years ago...

That said, even if you took all the money out of the equation, you'd still find me making music.

Also, the response from Jeff suggests that

Scott Wilson

I read a lot about marketing as a means to monetize artists' songs in these comments but even at the top tier of the music industry the success rate is no more than 10%.

"According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), approximately 90% of the records that are released by major recording labels fail to make a profit."

http://www.music-business-producer.com/record-companies-money.html

If even the highest echelons of the music industry can only manage a 10% success rate then what are the chances that a local musician piloting their own ship, financing their own independent "empowered" career hope to achieve? This "marketing" argument is a myth, and if anyone outside the U.S. government had a record this poor they would have found their ass on the sidewalk long ago, and the truth if it were told is that many already have.

I see the problem with the music industry as asking the wrong questions.

The question should be:

Is it good?

rather than:

Is it marketable?

or in Jeff's case:

Do you have the money?

If the music industry were marketing first class musicians instead of strippers who happen to sing then they would not be in this mess in the first place. The lyrical quality and musical innovation of the record industry is piss poor. It's not that the musicians themselves that are playing on albums are not talented, it's that what is being put out to the masses are basically lullabies meant for children, not anything with any substance or meaning. And whenever they do get a real artist it isn't long before these people self destruct, unable to hold the contradictions of the "music business" model.

If you don't want the music business to go completely down in flames then the movers and shakers of this world would do themselves and everyone else a favor and focus on quality and maybe you will win some of your consumers back.

But the truth is that the revolution has already begun, and it's only a matter of time until this system is a shell of what it once was, and that will be a good thing for all of us.

Bad Faith = believing your own B.S.

Don't belittle the artist for not being a marketing genius when the marketing geniuses can only manage a 10% success rate. That's just insulting, ridiculous, and ultimately, completely false.

neverstan

going from being an artist who has taken blows from the industry then later being a blogger is selling out? What kind of crack are you smoking?

Joey

I'm sorry, but I feel like a lot of people have completely lost their mind here. How does it make sense to criticize a digital distribution company for the fact that an artist can't sell their own music? They get your music in the stores, they don't tell your fans about it. You can pay for the service if you want, or you can take the time to distribute it yourself. But TuneCore doesn't make you money, and you have to be an idiot to think it does. TuneCore gives you the opportunity to make money.

So all of you complaining about the rising fees, and dropping the service because you don't make your money back: it's probably time to either find some fans or figure out how the internet actually works, because you obviously have no idea how people find music online.

Services like TuneCore are great, and help musicians who actually want to work for the chance to make it. But services like that don't tend to work for people who won't work for it themselves.

Alex Andrews

I sell through TuneCore. I'll tell you right now the most validating feeling is having made back the money you invested in your project. Time is an often ignored part of our view of progress and success these days. Just because one doesn't make allot from one stream doesn't mean they don't make enough, OR that they are a failure.

Basically success is the ability to make a living at what you do. If one only makes $1.5k to $2k per-month, that's enough to live on. Maybe not with all the luxuries, and opulence marketers tell us we are entitled to; but one can make a decent respectable living at in nonetheless.

To me if I make back the money it takes to post in the iTMS for that year, it's worth posting for another. Like Steve Jobs said, analysts and consultants don't know anything. So I don't need a whole label full of them taking MY money just to tell me how to do MY work. I am grateful for TuneCore.

And how is this for numbers. Even if you only make $500 a month on your tune/art, if you only put PART-TIME or less work into that, then you are making great money at it. You are a success! It's all about the return on the investment, and for what I invested, my return has been spectacular.

Mus

The bottom line here is both Tunecore and Digital Music News provide a service. One deals with digital aggregation to retailers and the other with news. There is nothing wrong with debates just as long as they are constructive and paint a picture that is fair and representative.

One can not claim that because you are on Tunecore or CD Baby, or the Orchard, or IODA or Ingrooves or Reverbnation etc that you will be a success story and earn a living through digital downloads. That is the bottom line. That is not how business works. 95% of businesses fail with 5 years. 50% fail within one year. Artists are no different and the odds are stacked up against the,, especially when they are not full-time businesses.

Being one-dimensional does not translate into profits. Sustainability and differentiation does. What is your competitive advantage? Bottom line there is no sustainable, competitive advantage being on Tunecore that would propel you to stardom or making a living.

I do not think Jeff even has to reply to Digital Music News because it is a given that his service is geared at providing aggregation services and not to guarantee success. Jeff's focus is providing a great service to artists. The same applies to the other digital aggregators that compete against each other.

The mathematics are obvious. The amount of artists has grown faster than the total pie of music download consumption. The ease of recording and technology has helped increase the number of music releases. When you actually look at how the 1% of artists are successful and can earn a living you will figure out it has more to do about their leadership, marketing strategy and product as opposed to the digital services they use.

Talking about a ROI on the payment to any digital aggregator is a moot point. If people do not know about you and you have done nothing to create your brand and push your product then you are to blame. Jeff is not to blame and Paul is not to blame. They are just doing their job. They both have their supporters and critics. However, they are not the gatekeepers to music success since distribution and a global audience is available to any artist to access. The artist is the ultimate gatekeeper and is responsible.

This is the competitive nature of music today. Everyone is competing for attention and the only way to win is through differentiation that goes beyond setting up a twitter/facebook account or getting a website or putting your music on iTunes. Everyone can do that.

Constantine Roussos
.MUSIC Domain Name
http://music.us

gaetano

I agree that commodification is becoming a very sprawling and diverse concept within music, it's kind of interesting though, because in some ways it always has been.

Music has been available for free (via terrestrial radio) or you can pay for it. We're seeing that on a different scale now, and it's a very interesting (and frustrating) time to figure out what works for who and how.

Who knows, maybe technology will "figure it out" in the next decade and we'll have some type of file or method of retaining value to music. Perhaps this will be a time we look back on and say "remember when music was free?".

We may never know.

In the meantime I feel like it's just as important to attempt to inform the consumer (as nicely as possible) about how this industry actually functions, the differences between how a major label artist sees revenue vs an indie or DIY.

I feel like to the average consumer, it's all music, it's all the same. Like food, you're going to pay a fraction of the cost for a giant subsidized factory farmed piece of produce compared to a organic, locally farmed piece of the same type.

Some people care about the difference, and go the extra mile to support the farmer and care about how it's made, others could care less. I think at the very least people should have the option to know if they want, without having to scour through blogs, or god forbid, the RIAA website.

Frank Woodworth

If the above referenced number of 600,000 users is true, the data released by tunecore only proves that 1% of tunecore users made 100 dollars or more in July. In occupy wall street parlance, that isn't a lot to protest about for the other 99%

The question to me is how many artists make back the money they spend on tunecore for digital sales. An artist would need to average a little over 4 dollars a month to break even on their distribution fee. How many artists make that threshold vs. how many don't is the question to determine whether Tunecore is a worthwhile investment vs. distribution services that charge a percentage for independent artists.

All things being equal, there are a host of other things to take into account such as ease of interface, customer service and payment reliability and frequency. But if an artist is making a purely monetary decision, the question is again (although rephrased ) What is the percentage of tune core artists that make their money back since only 1% ( again assuming 600,000 users is true) make more than 100 dollars?

The High Cell

I agree completely, Joey. As an artist using Tunecore for distribution, it would be unrealistic for me to assume that using Tunecore would MAKE me money. No rational artist would expect that. Tunecore (or any of the other similar digital distribution-for hire outlets) simply make it possible, for a fee, to get your product distributed in mediums which is much more difficult to do on your own.

While I can see Paul R's (fairly pessimistic) point in that there are a ton of artists using Tunecore that make just slightly more than dick, the counter-point for this would be; there are a ton of artists who wouldn't have even tried to make dick in the first place without services like CDBaby, Tunecore, ReverbNation and several others. The majority of the artists using only such services are not in a position to make more than minimum wage solely from their digital distribution, and I think the stats reflect that on their own without being skewed to look worse OR better.

My own honest view on it is this:
Would I have an album on iTunes, Amazon, etc, without this type of service? Probably not.
Am I making a ton of money just because of it? No.
Did I expect to? No.
Would I be making the same music either way? Absolutely.
And is it worth it for me to, at the very least, be able to share it with others through such mediums in the most efficient ways that I can (whether i get rich or not)? Unequivocally, yes.

- Mike
The High Cell

Foster Hagey

Tunecore offers a service. For $50/year they will make an album available in iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, etc. You pay tunecore. They provide the service. How is that a scam?

Tunecore doesn't guarantee sales, nor does it remove albums that don't sell more than the break-even point.

Is Fender scamming everyone who buys a guitar but doesn't make enough enough money with that guitar to cover the cost of it? Of course not.

"The whole industry is designed to manipulate the hopes of musicians and fans, from the musical instrument stores to the highest echelons of the music industry..."

So let me get this straight. Guitar Center is now supposed to not sell a guitar to someone based on the likelihood of that person becoming an economical success.

It sounds like a lot of "artists" are unrealistic about the economic viability of their product.

The truth is we would never know that to be true without someone like Jeff Price building TuneCore.

Kimball

Well said. I'm amazed at how many musicians think all they have to do is put the music online and magically it will sell. Do the work. 50.00 to get your music into some 30 digital "stores" is a bargain. If you can't drive people to those sites to buy your music, you only have yourself to blame, not tunecore.

kas61999@msn.com

WRONG !!
I consistantly make back my yearly fee in sales -- though not as much as I would if I actually promoted my release actively. You must have been burned at some point, or suck even worse than me at promotion.

K

Kevin Wood

I agree with Jeff. I'm one of those independent artists making around $1200 a month from digital downloads. I have 3 albums and worked hard for years and invested my day job money making it all happen. Since only a handful of hours a month nowadays are directly associated with marketing for those digital sales, then my earnings per hour are over $400 an hour, so put that in your pipe and smoke it DMN.

And like Jeff said, we also make money from BMI, Sound Exchange, CD sales retail, CD sales wholesale, occasional licensing deals, etc.

Furthermore, after learning the industry, we leveraged our knowledge and experience and began promoting other artists via radio and started releasing digital compilations.

Today, I make a very good living doing what I love -- quit my day job several years ago. Indeed, for the first 5 or so years doing this part time, I spent more than I made, but like any successful business, it takes some time to turn profits. And we did it. Thank God I didn't listen to naysayers when I started this journey, or I'd likely be one of those pathetic naysayers myself.

And finally, I am not alone. Most of the independent artists we promote are either doing well, or are well on their way. Remember this -- naysayers really don't want you to succeed, because it goes against their world view.

itsteaman@yahoo.com

I believe it is all on the artist and his work as we take that responseiblity! we either produce a product or we dont,as a artist,we know the risk,and tunne core provides the casino to gamble at,and lets face it ,its all about gamble,but its exciteing,i say thank you for provideing this casino!itsteaman!

Jack Barakitis

This is such a complex issue from every perspective!

Anyone who chooses the path of the Music industry from Service provider to Songwriter has chosen one of the most challenging industries to be involved in that holds no quarter for the faint of heart.

This is an industry that proves without a doubt what you put into it, is what you get out of it.

Study successful musicians and you will see that it takes much more that just being a good songwriter, composer, producer etc...

For me it is about the journey of personal integrity in what you craft. The moment you rationalize, compromise or "make deals with the Devil", you become the victim of your own choices. The "sad" stories of what happened to this artist or that producer.

I was born into music, played in bands in Boston for years, showcased in NYC in front of major record labels. Had a successful partnership of a recording studio North of Boston for three years blah blah blah. All had their highs and lows, joy and pain. For what?

I love Music in all its glorious aspects until the day I die. I love jamming with musicians, performing in front of the fans, the drama that surrounds it all. Waking up the next day going to the rehearsal space where our gear smells like stale beer and cigarettes, gladly setting up again and writing new songs. Complaining how heavy the frickin bass players 8 10 inch Ampeg cab weighed loading it into the gig van, the days we made money and the days we owed money.

I applaud all of you for being involved in the craft of Music. It is an evolving industry since its inception. Technology has made the ability for my creative process to be heard and I am grateful for it.

Money is important, musicians rights are important, transparency is the goal. For now just pick up that guitar and play that riff you told me about!

MusicMike

....and what other method of distribution "Pays" you to post with them. It's a SERVICE people not a hand-out. YOU have to put in the work to make it happen. If you expect someone else to do the promo work and spend their money to make your career happen, then you need to find an investor and a publicist and a manager to "push" your career and they will ALL expect to be PAID for their services. Do the numbers and you'll see what that's going to cost you. (Mang 15-20,promo 1000-2500 month, investor recoup plus percentage). Tunecore gives you the control to get your music distributed, the rest is up to you. BTW I've been with a LARGE MAJOR record company and it's still hard as hell to make it to the top....you have Noooo idea.

MusicMike

Sorry to inform you but this is not a new problem. Disc took out the bands of the 70's and DJ's took out the rest from the 70's-present time.You can (and we do it all the time) sell CD's at your live shows as people want to hear you again and again if you're good.And all the other gigs are at the affect of the economy....just plain and simple cost effectiveness (looking for a deal or bargain). Oh and BTW...I feel for you as I am in the same profession...we just have to stick it out "cause I LOVE what I do.

MusicMike

I meant to write "disco" took out.....

MusicMike

@exit11....
So are you making money at CD Baby? If so, is it more than you would have made through Tunecore? Did they promote your CD? Just curious as to what makes them better?

MusicMike

Thank you for your voice of both experience and REASON. Too many of these cry baby's are responsible for the flood of music that no one wants to buy for one reason or another. Get over it, If you're not selling it's because you either are not viable (talent) or you're not putting in the work.

Kata

If Tech N9ne can do it, why can't I? (unsigned independent artist that made it onto billboard charts with NO air play, major company backing, or famous features.) Look, that there is a man who busted his ass to make a name for himself. Show after show, he put his work in. And regardless if we make less than minimum wage or not, we follow our passion till we return to the dirt.

I read this entire post, (every link as well.) and I say this about the matter. SHAAATT UP! If you make music and don't make a dime, SO WHAT! Follow your dream until YOU find the success that YOU want. If tunecore works for you, then use it. If it don't then don't. There are many paths to your success. Take it, stay humble, and get to where you need to be in YOUR LIFE!

As for the original blog post, opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one, and some people like to call attention to theirs. Look, I love music. I do it not to get paid, but to create something that means something to me. If I get paid because someone bought my music, and felt what I create, then that's a bonus. That is my success, to reach people with what I do. I have met my goal. And I don't need a blog to tell me that I ain't making money.

And to Jeff Price. (TO BE READ WITH SARCASM.) Most C.E.O.'s don't respond to blog's homie. You need to be more like the label executives and not say anything on behalf of their artist's. You ain't got to stand up to anyone about what, or who, your company represents. Your never suppose to show passion for what any artist does. Your a C.E.O. in the music field. I don't see Ditty, Hov, Rush, or Andre on this page. All I see are people who either gave up on their passion, don't pursue it with all they have, or want to lead other people away from it because it's not profitable. If you don't make money breathing, you should stop doing it. (if your offended by this paragraph, refer to the second sentence in ().)

Peace!

itsteaman@yahoo.com

man things get all crazy,im not CRITIZIEING TUNE CORE ARE YOU KIDDING THATS BULLSHIT,I KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO STRUGGLE TUNE CORE HELPS BY GETTING A ARTISTS WORK OUT THERE,PEOPLE TAKE THINGS WRONG! TUNE CORE SHOULD OF BEEN AROUND 10 YEARS AGO,WHEN TRYING TO GET YOUR MUSIC HEARD WAS IMPOSSIBLE,i`M tOTALLY FOR TUNE CORE!!!!!!
ITSTEAMAN!

Steve

I dont care if I never made a dime from my music. Throwing in the towel would still not be an option. Anyone who makes ANY money from their music should be grateful for having done so and anyone that puts a monetary stipulation on the success of an artist is a fool.

VeMan

I'm not really into this for the money, since its a crapshoot no matter how you slice it. I do want to make and perform the best music I can in the time I have to do it, and then get that music out to the world. However, if something I write becomes popular then I do want to see as much from that as I can get.

Much like a label, whenever I just focus on trying to make the money, the music generally comes out sucking, and no money gets made anyway. If I just focus on making the best music I can without being concerned as to whether it earns anything, its still unlikely I get any money, but I feel way better about the music, as do most of the people who hear it.

And ultimately, the money will come from people who appreciate the music enough to buy it, as well as possibly some other merch, as well as hip their friends to it and maybe bring themselves to a show.

Really don't see the point of the first article - its tough to 'make it' in the music business - big frickin news!

Rhythmhub

I like the way you expressed it. It's the way I look at it. I believe in the 80/20 rule and it applies here. I think it is unrealistic to think that technology will even the playing field. Music is subjective in nature and far too often it gets us fired up in all kinds of ways. I think the point of it all is that it can be better for all artist who really wish to create and share. To make money...?way harder now..! To many options, no real filters...

Joseph Lindholm

@ Hack Barakitis

"This is an industry that proves without a doubt what you put into it, is what you get out of it."

And sometimes much, much less. Like, for example, the vast majority of people using TuneCore, whose annual fees will exceed the income that they will ever see from whatever it is that they record.


"For me it is about the journey of personal integrity in what you craft."

Very florid pomposity. Maybe therapy will help you overcome it.


"The moment you rationalize, compromise or "make deals with the Devil", you become the victim of your own choices."

This is demonstrably false. There are plenty of successful musicians and songwriters who are completely mercenary, and who have no desire to do anything except what they think will sell - and they have no regrets about it at all. And there are plenty of musicians and songwriters heavily freighted with artistic integrity, but whose obscurity and lack of recognition could not be, and will never be, anything other than complete and total. Your view of the matter is childish in the extreme.


(Here follows some of your personal, nostalgic reminiscences about which no one gives a fart.)


"I applaud all of you for being involved in the craft of Music."

Does anyone here really care what YOU think? What is your applause worth? People would like to earn some money and it is getting more difficult all the time. Your applause is NOT an acceptable substitute.


"For now just pick up that guitar and play that riff you told me about!"

So you can steal it? Sod off.

I've been making music for 45 years. You, on the other hand, have nothing interesting to say. So shut up.

Matt

My perspective in this uneducated and perhaps a bit naive but here goes:

The blogger Paul wanted to find dirt, disappointment and failure. The writer found exactly what he was looking for.

Alternatively, Jeff's looking for solutions and ways to improve the situation.

If I made $5 dollars from all of the music I made in my lifetime, it could be labeled as a "financial failure". But if I poured my heart into what I made, then no one can label it as a failure.

I feel privileged to have access to musical instruments, music to listen to, and a computer to record it on.

TheHighCell

So let me get this straight..
I shouldn't give a rat's ass about what he says when he's spewing rainbows and sunshine. I can understand that, depending on the perspective.
But is there any better reason that I should pay more attention to the fact that you seem to want to break wind into the veritable cloud that you hope will later rain upon anyone who uses Tunecore to release their music?

For some, it's a business. For others, it's just a form of artistic expression. Then there are those who (like me) would be happy with both, but would settle for one or the other.

I'll make music either way. Because it's what I enjoy doing. If you hear it and like it, that's great. If you hear it and don't like it, that's okay too.. (although you obviously didn't listen to enough songs if you didn't like SOMETHING on the album.. :)

Honestly, if what it takes for me to even give you the opportunity to preview clips and either ignore it or buy it on iTunes is the equivalent of a night out at the Olive Garden, it's well worth it.


Ant

Mike: CD Baby charge a 'one-off' fee (no yearly sub) $39 for an album; that covers the cost f submitting your music to literally dozens of online retailers. Depending on exchange rate factors (being in the UK) that's approx £5 sterling investment from each of us (# 5) in the band. So, equivalent to a large glass of wine - each - then. Um, not bad. We're pulling in some income (and CD Baby holds the 'money' for us until we want to claim it) but not a huge amount - yet! Still down to artists to intelligently and imaginatively promote themselves, which means utilising both 'old school' and new school models. Dependence upon each in isolation will limit potential income, but, I think we know that

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