The New Music Thieves: Stealing from Artists

There's a lot of new fraud out there hurting artists, and it’s our job to let you know about it.

We're lucky. Back in 2005, we built something game-changing, turning the music industry on its head by removing all gatekeepers and allowing every artist to have access to distribution while keeping their rights and getting all the money form the sale of their music.

But when you change the game, you encounter new kinds of scam artists and cheaters: with new technology and new business models come new thieves and new kinds of fraud. These are people who'd do anything to make at buck, no matter who or what they might damage. So here's a heads-up:

Stealing Someone Else's Song

From time to time, someone will knowingly steal someone else’s song and try sell it and pass it off as their own. I do mean stealing: if you want to give away your music, that’s fine, you have the right to do anything you want with music you control. But you should have the choice, and no one should be able to make that choice for you, either ahead of time or after the fact. 

For example, we had a customer steal someone else’s song, sell it on iTunes and not pay the person who wrote it. iTunes then got a legal notice from the songwriter, they in turn sent TuneCore a legal notice claiming copyright infringement (under the law, TuneCore can now be fined up to $150,000 per willful infringement).

Once this happened, we had to hire our lawyer at hundreds of dollars an hour to respond. This person paid TuneCore $9.99 and then stole another person's song, used it and did not pay them, but told TuneCore he did. We did call him to let him know what someone else was accusing him of and to defend him if necessary. He stated he knew he stole the song and demanded that TuneCore send him money or he would write articles and blog postings attacking TuneCore’s credibility (making it more insane was the fact that we did not have this money to give him, it had already gone to the actual songwriter whose work he stole). To top all this off, it became possible for TuneCore to get sued. 

In addition to these legal problems, threats and costs, there is also the damage done by this person with iTunes. We had to call up Apple and try to repair things, as this one person's actions might have screwed everything up for all other TuneCore customers.

True to his word (at least he is honest about one thing), this person began posting articles on the Internet accusing TuneCore of anything he could think of.

Frankly, it’s our job to deal with this kind of ridiculousness, but his actions also put iTunes, TuneCore and every TuneCore artist and label in jeopardy. 

Here’s what’s troubling: it’s not about a new-age techno-bully’s attempts to shakedown TuneCore. It’s about the damage being done to other artists whose work is being stolen. Songwriters and artists work hard, and yet they have to contend with RIAA board members calling their music “crap” and claiming they should not be allowed to have distribution. The last thing they should have to worry about is others stealing their song to make a quick buck.

To anyone stealing, we ask, why cheat the artist? Don’t they have it hard enough out there? If you thought their work was good enough and important enough to use, why steal?

There’s nothing wrong with using other peoples’ work, there’s dozens of ways to use it fairly. Wouldn’t you want someone to pay you for your work, if they used it? Artists are not the enemy. They’re trying to look out for themselves in a very complicated industry, they need help from their fellow artists and from their digital distributor.

The idea is to arm everyone with the knowledge that enables artists to make informed decisions, control their rights, make money and pursue their passions on their own terms. That’s why we created so many free guides, or our Ustream video broadcasts:  and our most recent Free .PDF, How Not To Get Screwed – The Six Legal Rights That Drive The Music Industry. These are free for anyone, even those who decide not to use TuneCore.

If someone stole your music, you bet we’d be there to make sure you got your money. And if it ever happened to you, we’d be there for you. If someone reaches out to TuneCore artist and accuses one of our artists of stealing, we’re going to notify you, fast. We’re going to help you reach out to this other party and find out what’s going on. This is the kind of honesty and protection artists deserve.

If It’s Too Good to be True, It Is!

Sometimes scammers use fraudulent credit cards to buy gift cards, and then they try to sell those cards to unsuspecting artists. Please, be careful!

If someone is trying to sell you an iTunes, AmazonMP3 or any other store’s gift cards or gift certificates of any kind below cost, it might be a scam, watch out. Even if you legitimately buy a gift card, Apple may see the purchases as fraudulent and not pay out any money from these sales. Things to look for: asking for cash, super low prices (like, five cents on the dollar), and using semi-anonymous selling venues (Craigslist and its clones)

So to fraudsters, scammers, thieves and others like them, if they want to reach out to TuneCore or our artists and make good, they can write us, we here, and we've always been here.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us, we’re here and can get you pointed in the right direction or provide information.

It pains us when people stick their heads in the sand, lash out at TuneCore because they don’t want to face the consequences of their actions. They’re hurting artists, making it even harder for us to keep helping, keep opening doors, and keep changing this industry for the good.

In the meantime, here’s a great list of free resources:


U.S. Based Performance Rights Organizations





Where To Register To Collect Digital Transmission Money



Where To Register Your Copyrights

United States Copyright Office, Library of Congress:


Where To Get More Information

ArtistHouse Music:

Future Of Music:

Other TuneCore Music Industry Survival Guides:


Find Us Online

TuneCore’s Twitter account:

TuneCore on Facebook:

TuneCore's YouTube Channel:


–Peter & Jeff


Reach us at:



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