In a letter sent to all of the artists that use their services, Tunecore said…
“2012 was the year that TuneCore Artists blasted past all records with 1.8 billion downloads and streams. (It’s hard to wrap our heads around a number that big.) Congratulations on this awesome accomplishment. But wait, there’s more. As a group, you’ve earned over $250 million dollars. And all that money was yours to keep, we didn’t take a penny from the back-end. For us at TuneCore, this is what it’s all about: giving all artists–those distributing their first release, full-time and part-time musicians, top-named talent–the same opportunity to sell their music anywhere in the world. We’ve just entered our 7th year in business, and our commitment to you has only grown stronger. Thanks for coming along for the ride, and here’s to an even bigger and better 2013.”
Since it’s inception, TuneCore has revolutionized the game and made it possible for independent artists take control of their own careers. After success in the world of distribution, TuneCore Publishing Administration, launched in November of 2011, provides an integrated service that not only allows TuneCore Artists to collect the revenue from their music downloads and streams, but also opens the door for the composers of these compositions to receive their songwriter/publisher royalties from hundreds of societies, digital stores, and other sources, through one entity which acts as their Worldwide Publishing Administrator.
With all their current success, we decided to pose 10 questions to Jamie Purpora, President of TuneCore Music Publishing Administration. and Chris Mooney, Director of Artist Promotions at TuneCore regarding publishing, licensing, and a few other things every music artist should know. Chris answered questions, 3, 7, and 8 and Jamie handled the rest. Let’s see what they had to say.
1. Explain the various revenue streams artists miss out on due to not understanding their rights as a publisher?
The most obvious revenue they miss are the mechanicals due for downloads outside of the US and streams worldwide. They don’t realize that these are missing revenue streams. Most songwriters affiliate with BMI/ASCAP & SESAC which is very important and very necessary but they are only performing rights organizations and they do not collect these mechanicals. Also when it comes to licensing you need representation in order to be sure you negotiate licenses properly. A lack of knowledge in the area can be the difference between a $500 and a $5,000 license. Because we also do distribution we use the customers sales data to make sure they are receiving accurate accounting for your mechanicals due from downloads and streams.
2. How has TuneCore evened the playing field for today’s independent artists?
Absolutely! You can distribute and have your songwriter/publishing rights administered all in one place and all online. Until now only the elite few could have their songwriter/publishing rights represented by an administrator. To have these both in one place also allows for auditing each against the other to make sure all accountings are accurate. (click NEXT for next part of interview)
3. Tell us a great success story in regard to how TuneCore helped propel an artist’s career?
There are so many great success stories happening in the TuneCore community happening every week. Artists like Boyce Avenue, The Civil Wars, and more who have sold hundreds of thousands of tracks through TuneCore and these artists keep 100% of the sales revenue allowing them to invest in touring, marketing, PR, and other areas to build their career. Ed Sheeran used TuneCore for years before signing his major label deal. Part of our service is detailed sales and accounting which a number of artists have used to secure deals, tours, etc”¦ And right behind my desk is a RIAA certified gold record from the artist J. Dash who sent us an award as a thank you for our efforts on his behalf with iTunes and other stores.
4. What is the benefit of using TuneCore versus going directly to iTunes, Amazon, etc?
With TuneCore you can pick and choose the digital stores you want to release your songs on all in one place. To go directly to each store would be very time consuming and difficult to line up.
5. Does signing a publishing agreement through TuneCore affect an artist ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC relationship?
No we work with them on your behalf as a songwriter. We register your compositions with them and make sure they have the correct data on file. Your publisher royalties will flow through to us first for auditing and administrative purposes but they are passed on to the songwriter/publisher quarterly. The songwriter share still flows through to the songwriter directly. In order to register the compositions with the other societies around the world and the digital stores we need to be the administrator of record at BMI, ASCAP & SESAC so the publisher statements need be reported to TuneCore first and we then pass them on to the publisher/songwriter.
6. Does signing a publishing agreement through TuneCore affect an artist’s ability to license music via other publishing houses?
No our agreement allows you to use 3rd parties to pitch possible synch uses. Our agreement is also yearly so if you wish to opt out you have a window to do so every year. (click NEXT for final part of interview)
7. What is your opinion on cloud storage for music? Do you think local storage of music will go away in favor of cloud storage? Will our devices just become music streaming devices?
I don’t think local storage is about to go extinct, but with the desire for users to be as portable as possible on mobile and on multiple devices, the cloud provides a fluid avenue of access for content. Streaming is obviously growing at a rapid pace, and is the standard for a large portion of the younger generation and is being adopted by an older demographic as well.
8. How does an artist trying to build an online following rise above all the noise on the social web?
There is not magic formula or everyone would make use of it. Honesty, consistency (not spamming), and quality are the areas that I think every artist should try and provide in their music and relationship with their fans. I say try everything, but focus on the online tools that seem to work for you and your fan base. Numbers are great, but finding the fans wanting to engage is the key. I also always remind bands that you need to create opportunities to interact with fans offline, ideally through performances, to solidify the relationship.
9. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received that you like to pass on to others?
Keep the rights to your compositions and keep the rights to your masters! They can be the gift that keeps on giving.
10. What is the biggest misconception or the biggest mistake you see artists make in regard to music publishing?
A lack of understanding that these rights earn and will continue to earn as time goes on. Also that you need representation in order to collect the royalties due to you and to properly license those rights. Again being affiliated with a performing rights agency like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC does not allow you to collect mechanicals and license/collect synchronization fees. You need both Performing Rights Organization affiliation (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, PRS etc) and a Publishing Administrator in order to be fully represented.