TuneCore Artists’ Music Sales – July 2011

Many blog posters have been suggesting that artists not signed to major labels do not sell music or make money.  Below is a small swatch of sales information for TuneCore Artists only.  It shows what they sold and what they made in July 2011, that ONE MONTH.  I have removed the artists’ names and release info out of respect for their privacy.

Over 99% of these artists are not “signed.”  Also note, these are sales from July, 2011, one of the slower music sales months of the year.

As you would expect, there are a small number of artists making hundreds of thousands of dollars each month and more artists earn less as you move down the list.  But for all those that may comment suggesting most are making less, my response is, you’ve got to be kidding me.

These artists, all of them, are outside of the traditional system.  Some are earning hundreds of thousands and some are earning $20.

And this is bad because…?

With the music industry democratized more artists are making more money than ever before.  All of this money you are seeing is going directly into these artists’ pockets; this is money they would have never ever seen before.

Now add the songwriter money on top of this money.

Someone needs to explain to me why an artist earning something vs. nothing is a bad thing, as I truly cannot understand that logic.  As far as TuneCore, as I have stated over and over, it’s your music that causes it to sell.  It’s up to you to decide if the services and fees TuneCore charges work for you.

No gimmicks, no games, transparency in the way we work.  Arm the artists with info and let them make their own decisions.

Here’s a sample of the data (click the link below to download the full doc):

VIEW FULL SALES REPORT

Why Everyone But The Artist And The Music Fan Is Doomed

By Jeff Price

(Updated Nov. 22nd – Please see the bottom of this article for sales information from TuneCore Artists in July 2011)

Every business built on gatekeepers eventually fails.  At some point some technology comes around, making the entire old school industry obsolete.

It’s a shortsighted model based on greed, ego and false perception of invulnerability.

Take the old school music industry: it was a ticking time bomb of self-destruction waiting to go off.  It began with the birth of recorded music. The “artist gatekeepers” with the infrastructure and access to place music on retail shelves decided they would not just charge a fee for the service, but would also require a transference of copyright from the creator to the gatekeeper.

For the “consumer gatekeepers,” they could have chosen to allow more music to be exposed, but they went down the same path as the artist gatekeepers.

It did not need to be this way; the artists could have been allowed to keep their copyrights, and music fans could have had access to discover more music.  Try as these two sets of gatekeepers might, their control would be broken. Their over-the-top, greedy mistakes were always on a path of tearing themselves down; it was not a matter of if, it was a matter of when.

Along the way there were lies, theft, piles of money traded, and unnecessary filtering, but the artist and music fan would win.  It’s evolution.

The fall came hard and fast.  It used to be that as a musician, you had to go to the “artist gatekeeper,” the label, and be one of the anointed few that got the privilege of transferring ownership of what you created to the label so your CDs could end up on store shelves.

In order to get heard, and then hopefully have your music cause a reaction, you had to be one of the even luckier few chosen by the “consumer gatekeepers” to have your music played on commercial radio or MTV, or get written about in Rolling Stone.

Did they think, even a moment, that this control would ever be taken from them?

When eMusic, the first on-line digital store, launched in 1998, the boulder began to careen down the mountain.  Within ten years, the entire 80-year-old traditional gatekeeper model had been destroyed.

No longer did you need an A&R person deciding an artist was of “commercial value” to be let into the system.

No longer did you have a retail store buyer subjectively deciding which CDs had enough value to be placed on their shelves.

No longer did MTV have a lock on deciding which music videos got seen.

No longer did commercial radio limit what we all heard to the 15 to 20 songs that they decided to play.

No longer was the general population limited to reading what the editors of Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Spin and others decided to write about.

In the digital world, all artists can be on infinite digital shelves with infinite inventory waiting to be discovered, heard, shared and bought.  The general population of the world can decide what does and does not have value, and can share thoughts and preferences in scales never before thought imaginable, networking to one another globally, via social outlets like Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, and YouTube.

Digital radio stations now have millions of songs available to be programmed based on the listener’s preferences, likes and dislikes.

This entire old school system was based not on serving the artist, but on gatekeepers exploiting artists to let them in.  And when you are a gatekeeper, when you think you are the only one with the keys to the kingdom (and only you will ever have them), you do stupid things, immoral things, and create a business where you’re simply a necessary evil.

This mentality extended beyond labels, distributors, retailers, radio stations, MTV and print magazines.  It reached into every nook and cranny of the old industry, into entities like ASCAP: the gatekeepers for songwriters to get their money.

Just as it was in the old school industry, there was a time when these gatekeepers reigned supreme in what they did; they, and only they, had systems to track and collect money owed to songwriters for public performances. But then hubris crept in leading to their taking their songwriter members’ money to not only do the job they were hired to do, but also to pay the heads of these organizations exorbitant six and seven figure salaries, spend their members’ money on fleets of cars, expensive dinners, first class airplane tickets, luxury hotels, over the top decadent office space in the most expensive cities in the world (as well as many other travel and expense perks).

They were gatekeepers blocking songwriters from getting their money.  Just like the major labels, they were the only ones with the infrastructure to provide the service; if you wanted your songwriter money, you had to go to them.  They made their priority maintaining control, not serving.  Had they kept this focus, they would now not be in trouble, they would have adapted.

The digital age has made the digital part of what ASCAP and others do a thing of the past.  These organizations are not needed to track sales in iTunes or video streams in YouTube, and yet they are fighting and litigating to try to keep songwriters’ money going to themselves to stick in their pockets.  They do not really give a damn that 98% of the world’s songwriters don’t get their cut of the money owed to them. There are other entities out in the world now, like TuneCore, that can get songwriters more money, more quickly, with transparency and an audit trail, and yet they fight against this efficiency.

It’s foolish, dumb and wrong.

As a member of ASCAP, we called and asked them for a list of entities that ASCAP licenses to, as well as the rates we should expect to get paid.

They called us up with two lawyers on the phone­–lawyers that ASCAP is able to pay from the money it collects from songwriters – and said they could not tell us the rates or whom they were in deals with as it would “violate anti-trust laws”.  What I can’t understand is how they can state this while simultaneously issuing a press release about how they entered into a licensing agreement with Netflix.

Further, how can the people that hired them not get told what rates have been negotiated on their behalf?  How would anyone know if they were doing their job?

It’s frustrating, but I keep this in mind, the end is inevitable; technology has rendered these entities moot, a thing of the past.  The only thing keeping them propped up is that there are artists who do not understand how much money they are owed and where it is.  As this information gets out, these organizations will  use songwriters’ money in an attempt to sue, legislate and litigate, to stop these same songwriters from getting more of what they earned.

There should be no gatekeepers for musicians, or for anything.  It all comes down to serving the musician. This is as it should be. Then entities like TuneCore must create products or services that are of true value to artists or get the hell out of the way. ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

UPDATE – November 22, 2011

(We apologize for the length of this article, but we wanted to provide more data. You can make comments down below.)

Many blog posters have been suggesting that artists not signed to major labels do not sell music or make money.  Below is a small swatch of sales information for TuneCore Artists only.  It shows what they sold and what they made in July 2011, just that ONE MONTH.  I have removed the artists’ names and release info out of respect for their privacy.

Over 99% of these artists are not “signed.”  Also note, these are sales from July, 2011, one of the slower music sales months of the year.

As you would expect, there are a small number of artists making hundreds of thousands of dollars each month and more artists earn less as you move down the list.  But for all those that may comment suggesting most are making less, my response is, you’ve got to be kidding me.

These artists, all of them, are outside of the traditional system.  Some are earning hundreds of thousands and some are earning $20.

And this is bad because…?

With the music industry democratized more artists are making more money than ever before.  All of this money you are seeing is going directly into these artists’ pockets; this is money they would have never ever seen before.

Now add the songwriter money on top of this money.

Someone needs to explain to me why an artist earning something vs. nothing is a bad thing, as I truly cannot understand that logic.  As far as TuneCore, as I have stated over and over, it’s your music that causes it to sell.  It’s up to you to decide if the services and fees TuneCore charges work for you.

No gimmicks, no games, transparency in the way we work.  Arm the artists with info and let them make their own decisions.

Here’s a sample of the data (click the link below to download the full doc):

VIEW FULL SALES REPORT

TuneCore Artists Featured In Digital Stores – November 2011

November is a great month because of Thanksgiving.  But it is ALSO a great month because there were tons of TuneCore Artists featured in digital stores.  Have a look as you get ready to bake that pumpkin pie…

Love – iTunes U.S. Sci-Fi & Fantasy Movie Page 11/1

David Choi- iTunes U.S. Singer/Songwriter Page 11/1


Angels & Airwaves – iTunes U.S. Home Page 11/1

Girl In A Coma – Amazon Newsletter 11/1

Trapt – Spotify 11/2


Pat McGee – iTunes Singer/Songwriter Page 11/8

Montgomery Gentry & The Civil Wars – Amazon CMA 2011 Nominees (for Vocal Duo of the Year)

For the full roundup of TuneCore Artists featured in November, check out our slideshow below…

(To view larger images, click on them and head to our Flickr page.)

11 Acorn Lane On Their Holiday Album: “Happy Holy Days”

There’s no stopping Thomas Feurer and Neal Pawley, the talented duo behind the group 11 Acorn Lane.  They’ve composed and recorded a full blown marching band piece, they play enough instruments between the two of them to call themselves “the smallest big band ever,” and they’re no strangers to exploring new styles of music, and even more instruments. Read on to learn how their 2010 holiday album “Happy Holy Days” has helped further their career, and whether or not they would consider making another…

Without using the words “world,” “jazz,” or “pop,” describe your sound.
Quirky and fun.

Let’s jump right into the album.  What inspired 11 Acorn Lane’s 2010 holiday release, Happy Holy Days?
One day we started playing around with Jingle Bells. We can’t remember why. Thomas thinks it was because it was snowing outside. He loves snow. He’s from Switzerland. Anyway, we got really into it and had a lot of fun with it. We were so happy with it, we felt like doing a few more.

Because it’s very common for bands/artists to make holiday records, did you feel any increased pressure creating this album than you do your original albums?

Actually, we didn’t. And come to think of it, we never really feel any pressure because we don’t compare ourselves to other bands. There’s a very fruitful creative dynamic between the two of us that allows us to explore anything we want as long as we’re feeling it. The results can be very unexpected and eclectic. We love that freedom. And we hope people who like our music enjoy the surprises.

There are so many great holiday songs you had to choose from! How did you decide what to arrange/include on Happy Holy Days?
Happy Holy Days is a very personal album. We chose songs that we love and grew up with back in England and Switzerland when we celebrated Christmas with our families. And we wanted it to not only be a Christmas album, but to also represent music that is dear to us from other “holy” days.

For instance, we wrote and recorded a marching band piece. Something you would hear at a parade or other festivities. Part of our early teenage musical experience was playing in marching bands back in Europe. Arranging and recording a full blown marching band piece was one of our most involved endeavors to date. But everything came back to us real easy and we had a blast. Literally. Just check out the low brass solo in the middle.

And we allowed ourselves to include one of our favorite celebratory pieces of music of all time – the “Mazinka”. We couldn’t help but create two completely different arrangements of it and are getting great responses from people on both of them. One of them is a free download on Amazon if readers would like to get a taste.

Let’s talk about the making of your album.  How did you approach arranging the tracks?
Each one was different. We would throw back and forth ideas, grooves and reharmonizations to find out gradually where we wanted to take a particular song. Or where a song wanted to take us. As always we let things flow and ended up with a multitude of influences from our own musical pasts  and current sounds and production techniques that we are very much into.

Between the two of us we play quite a few instruments which gives us the luxury to immediately record ideas and see how they work. And we do it mostly by ear. So it’s a fun, playful and intuitive process.

We gave ourselves a lot of time. We recorded Happy Holy Days over the course of three years. Often, our arrangements tend to get quite involved and there is no quick and easy way to do them. So we gave ourselves enough time to get all the details exactly to where we wanted them to be.

Have you done many live performances of the holiday tracks? Do you feel limited in your performance of the music from the album since it’s so season-specific?
Actually, it’s not so much the season-specificness that stands in the way. Most of the arrangements on the record would be almost impossible, or at least prohibitively expensive, to be put on stage. And it’s really all about the arrangements here, since the songs themselves are mostly not originals. Never say never, but it looks like we’ll be holding off on that until we can afford to hire a 30 piece augmented big band.

Has the holiday album helped generate fan interest in your other records?

Yes, definitely. When it comes to holiday music, both listeners and DJs are more open to venture into new territories and discover new artists. For instance, many great christmas radio shows are one big genre-crossing melting pot of cool music. We feel the holiday record allowed us to connect with more new DJs and listeners than maybe a regular release would.

Would you consider making another holiday album? Or is one enough?!
We loved it so much, we’re hooked. We’ve already started working on a new one. But it’ll be a few years.

And what about future projects in general. Got anything in the works?
We released our album Swing Thing a week ago. It’s a high-energy collection of fun and quirky songs. We are very excited about this one. The track “Swing Thing” – another free download on Amazon  just got added to a program on SiriusFM and our song “Le Sexe Au Telephone (Do Me Do Mix)” was played on KCRW. We’re thrilled. Or to say it with one of our own favorite songs, we’re “Happy As Can Be.”

Download Happy Holy Days from iTunes

Become a fan of 11 Acorn Lane on Facebook

Check out their official site

Gadgets We Like: Retro Boombox Music Player App

Are you someone who is upset that the carry-a-boombox-with-you-no-matter-where-you-go craze isn’t as common as it once was?  Well The Retro Boombox Music Player for iPad is bringing that back, and their classic design is light enough to increase the number of places to which you can carry your boombox.

The Retro Boombox can play any music in your iTunes library, tracks you’ve recorded through the boombox, and AM/FM radio (U.S., UK, Australia) stations.  Its design is detailed and clean.  All dials and switches are interactive, and there’s even a movable antenna and handle.  Additional features include: custom preset bass equalizer, unique LCD screen display, auto organization of albums, artists, and genres, ability to swipe clockwise and counter-clockwise through AM/FM frequencies.

This app is so realistic, John Cusack had better look out…

Download the app from iTunes

Learn more about the Retro Boombox Music Player