#TCVideoFridays – May 25th 2012

Did you know that you can now distribute videos to iTunes via TuneCore? For more information click here or contact video@tunecore.com.

Today we wanted to highlight a few music videos distributed by TuneCore.  Check them out in iTunes!

j.viewz, “rivers and homes.”

Clay Aiken By Penn Jillette

J. Dash & Flo Rida, “WOP”

And now here are a few more videos for #TCVideoFridays from TuneCore Artists, collected below for your viewing pleasure…

Gaz Coombes, “Hot Fruit”

The Parlotones, “Louder Than Bombs”

Cassie Steele, “I Want You” (acoustic)

Super Black Market, “I Won’t Forget You”

Precious Paris, “Everything OK (feat. 50 Cent)”

Akil Ammar, “Debajo de Mi Piel”

The Washington Projects, “Justus”

Paul Van Dyk, “Eternity (feat. Adam Young)”

Ab-Soul, “Terrorist Threats (feat. Danny Brown & Jhene Aiko)”

Finally, Publishing Administration for the World’s Songwriters

By Jeff Price & Jamie Purpora

This is insane.

Before TuneCore launched its songwriter publishing administration service, over 99% of the world’s songwriters had no way to get all the royalties they earned from the use of their songs.

It sounds bizarre, absurd and impossible.  After all, what sort of screwed up industry creates a structure that generates musicians hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties, but denies them a way to collect them?

The fact is: every single time a song is streamed, downloaded or publicly performed (i.e. TV, AM/FM radio, a retail store, venue, etc.) the songwriter is—by law— required to be paid.  The money is being generated, it exists, it’s being accounted for in business plans, it’s going somewhere, but just not to the people who earned it.  Until TuneCore built and launched this thing , there was no pipeline for the masses to get their money.

Look at the TuneCore Artist community. Over the past few years, TuneCore artists globally sold over 600 million copies of their recordings, and, in so doing, earned over 300 million dollars.  As these artists also wrote the songs that were sold, they earned another 60+ million dollars in songwriter royalties, but did not get this money!  There was no un-gated scalable mechanism to do it.  The only option that existed was the old school model: the artist/songwriter would have to bang on the doors of the traditional industry in the hope that the gatekeeper would pick them from the millions and millions of songwriters to get “signed” to a global publishing deal that would get them some small percent of their money.

And if by some crazy twist of fate they did get a music publisher to respond to them, they would get a 30 page form agreement loaded with more twists, hooks and hidden surprises than the plot to Lost.

So the world’s songwriter money just sits in different countries around the world remaining undistributed until it is eventually given away to other people, or, worse, used by music services without the proper licenses.

Think of it this way.  You can’t have Peter living in Berlin, Germany tell a music service that he represents Joe Smith from Boise, ID when he is not in a deal with Joe Smith.  And you absolutely can’t have the music service pay Peter on behalf of Joe, have Peter take a piece of Joe’s money, and then give the rest away to other people.  But that’s more or less what was happening, until fate introduced me to Jamie Purpora, then SVP of Bug Music Publishing Administration—the world’s largest independent music publishing company.

Jamie’s job at Bug was to set up the pipelines to go and get the money from around the world for over 300,000 songs Bug represented; songs from Johnny Cash, Kings Of Leon, Willy Dixon, and lots more.

And Jamie schooled me big time.  My God, the secrets that man knows about this side of the industry are astounding.  The nooks, crannies and crevices this industry uses to filter, hide, confuse and obfuscate were created by an evil genius.  In 2010, there was over $11 billion dollars funneling through this antiquated, outdated, opaque songwriter pipeline with only a handful of the world’s population understanding why and how it works.

I asked Jamie to come work for TuneCore. And after 17 years of working at Bug Music, he left to change the world for songwriters.

No more gatekeepers, no more hooks, no more secrets or hidden surprises that were known to only the “elite” few who knew how to enter and navigate the labyrinth.  All could now come in and get their money more quickly and with more transparency than has ever existed before.

The results to date over the last five months:

We are now working for over 3,500 songwriters that have written over 60,000 songs.

From these first 3,500 songwriters, we have identified $1 million dollars in songwriter publishing royalties these songwrtiters have earned, but did not receive— we are putting that money into their hands.

From October – December, 2011 we collected and administered back over $3,500 in songwriter royalties.

From January – March, 2012, we collected and administered back an additional $27,000 in songwriter royalties.

From March – May, 2012 we will collect and administer back another $75,000.

I asked Jamie why and how he did this.  Below is his answer:

For 17 years at Bug Music I administered over 300,000 copyrights and paid 3,000 clients every quarter (resulting in 500,000 sheets of paper and 12,000 checks per year).  Because the agreements, schedules and outgoing royalties were all printed on paper it required a large staff and made it a huge task to manage on a day-to-day (or quarter-to-quarter) basis.

(pictures below taken around March 2011)

The music publishing business was still, for the most part (and still is), operating as it did in the 1990s.  With the exception of registering songs electronically (after you entered them by hand into a separate system, of course) and using an interface to match incoming royalty data (from most sources, not all), the entire business still relied on pushing paper and heavy data entry.  I wanted to create a model where you do your agreement, submit your songs, tax information and a letter of direction, and also receive your accountings and payments all online.

Then I met Jeff Price.  He introduced me to TuneCore. I saw the perfect place to make my vision of bringing publishing administration into the digital world.  Because TuneCore distributed the songs (most of which were not represented by anyone for the songwriter or publisher, which meant they were all missing out on millions in songwriter revenue) the information was already in the TuneCore database.

That same data, with just a few added pieces of information, could be used to register the songs with the societies and digital stores worldwide.  All the writer/artist had to do was claim the songs they wrote and what percentage of the song they wrote.  Change the paper agreement to a terms and conditions agreement online, add a digital W-9, and a mouse-signature letter of direction, and the sign up process— one that used to required a business and legal department with several assistants—is now done entirely online without any involvement by our staff.

Because the schedule was created online using pre-existing data (with a few added fields) it could just be loaded into the publishing database instead of hand-entered.  The songs are then registered weekly with over 100 societies and digital stores worldwide (as opposed to the once a month time period of the old model). The same thing could also be done with the client’s information (writer name, publishing entity, tax information etc).  Because the customer already receives payments for their distribution royalties, the royalty details and payments for them as a songwriter, can also be posted on their TuneCore dashboard.

For the first time, you have administration of distribution and publishing all in one place, and all online with the added benefit of auditing each against the other.

With the skill and help of the Tech team at TuneCore we made this a reality.  Since launch, we now represent over 3,500 songwriters and over 60,000 songs.  We are working for between 500 and 800 new songwriters a month and growing.  Had we done this in the 1990’s publishing world I described above we could only work for around 15 new customers a month.

DIY publishing administration is now a dream come true.

The doors of publishing administration are now open to the world’s songwriters.


Artists and Managers: Deathtraps and How to Avoid Them

By George Howard
(Follow George on Twitter)

As the music business moves inexorably from a label-centric industry to an artist/manager-centric one, it’s increasingly important to not only understand the current role of the manager, but also to have a firm grasp on the important enduring elements of the artist/manager relationship.

This, and subsequent articles look at issues that artists and managers must confront in order to raise the odds of a mutually successful long-term relationship.

As I’ve written before, the role of the manager has changed. Historically, the manager would attempt to identify an artist they believed had the potential for success, nurture the artist, get them signed, and then act as a liaison between the label and the artist.  For those who engaged (or are currently engaged) in this activity, it’s a tough, tough gig.

Happily, given the technological advances that have allowed artists to de-tether from labels, the role of the manager has changed from managing the artist’s relationship with the label to managing the artist’s relationship with the fan.  More specifically, managers must now engage in business development and attraction/retention of fans for their artists by constantly looking for ways to get the artist in front of an ever-growing number of people whom the manager/artist have identified as good potential customers. It continues with developing strategy to shift the burden of the promotion from the artist/manager to the fans themselves.  That is, at a certain point, the artist’s career will only really grow once the fans of the artist began turning their friends into fans as well; the role of the manager is to foster and accelerate this dynamic.

In order for the above to work, there must be two very specific points of intersection between the artist and manager: 1. Value Alignment; 2. Expectation Alignment.

Value alignment can be a little tricky to understand.  One way to think of it is to view it as what defines your character. Importantly, you must view this through actions not words.  Everyone says that they’re a hard worker, and finish what they start, etc., but we all know that many people are lazy and (at best) finish 80% of a job. The point is that if you as an artist are a Type A type personality, then you certainly don’t want someone who takes a more casual approach to life/business as a partner.  Again, this alignment begins with both the artist and manager determining what their values are individually, and then examining the actions of their potential partner in order to determine if there is alignment.

Expectation Alignment, while easier to explain, is no easier to discern.  Again, in the honeymoon stage just prior to, or at the beginning of, an artist/manager relationship, both parties always say they have the same expectations, but, in truth, it’s never as simple as just saying it.  Let me give you an example. When someone tells me they’re interested in becoming an artist manager, I make them repeat the following phrase: “I will not manage an artist who doesn’t tour.”  While I know these incipient managers will not heed this edict, it’s still worth a shot.  The reality is that if you’re managing an artist who doesn’t tour (and you can define that as you will, but it should involve the artist performing—whether that’s playing in a band, rapping, DJing, etc.—outside of their hometown with some frequency) you, as manager, will quickly hit a wall in terms of what you can do for that artist.  In any case, actions are, as always, more important than words.  All artists will say that they can tour.  Few, however, exhibit the actions that give this statement any credence.  This type of observation—is the band either currently touring, or making active progress to be doing so—is a great signifier of expectation.  It shows that the band wants more than a hobby for their music.  Thus, the manager must want the same.  The artist expects the manager to have the same goals as they do.  It goes deeper, of course.  Many, many artists, notwithstanding the opening paragraph of this article about the shift in the business, still desire to get a record deal.  If the manager, on the other hand, feels strongly that they should focus their efforts on attraction and retention of fans, rather than trying to get a record deal, there is a lack of expectation alignment between the manager and the artist, and the relationship will falter.

Aside from looking to actions rather than words there are some other methods that an artist and manager can employ to see if there is value/expectation alignment.  Before an artist and manager enter into a management contract (which I’ll discuss in more detail in future articles), they should go through some pre-contract conversations.  These should largely be creative in nature, and focus on what each party will be doing to move from their current state to a more desired state.  However, at a certain point, these conversations must confront the “hard stuff.”  These are the things that artists and managers (particularly at the early stages of their careers) do not want to talk about: money and time.

As is the case with most things that are hard to talk about, these topics tend to be wildly revealing with respect to values and expectation.  It’s all unicorns and rainbows when the artist and manager are talking about all the great things they’re going to do together, and how much they love each other.  However, things get “real” when topics like money come up.  This is what you want: reality.  One party must eventually bring up how the money is going to be divided.  As noted, I’ll discuss in more detail specifics of an artist/manager agreement in future articles, but typically, a manager receives a “commission” of 15% of the artist’s revenue.  In reality, this is a vast oversimplification.  For example, what if the artist has released music prior to working with the manager.  Should the manager receive 15% of the income from these works?  What about revenue from publishing?  Is the manager representing the entire band? If so, does the entire band write the songs, and thus stand to share revenue from things like the songs being played on the radio or used in movies?  Or, as is the far-more-frequent case, is there one writer and a bunch of non-writers in the band? If so, does the manager receive 15% of the money the songwriter receives?  Does this mean the manager is representing the songwriter separately from the band?  Tough questions.  That’s what you want.  There may not be easy answers to these questions, but they need to be asked, and they need to be discussed.  Eventually, a lawyer should get involved, but in these pre-contract conversations, it’s essential to use these tough topics as a way to glean information regarding value and expectation alignment.

For instance, in these conversations some discussion of post-term commission (often referred to as a “Sunset Clause”) should be discussed.  In a nutshell, these clauses protect the manager from a band parting ways with the manager, after a period of work, just before a payday, and thereby depriving the manager of compensation.  This happens all the time; we used to call it “fattening frogs for snakes” at the indie label I ran—we’d nurture the artist, and get them to a certain level, only to have a major label swoop in and woo them away from us (wisely, we had elements in our agreements that tended to make this not a bad thing for us when it occurred).  If the artist bristles when confronted with post-term discussions, or payment discussions, generally, that’s a strong indicator that there may not be the necessary value and/or expectation alignment necessary for a long-term successful relationship.

It’s crucial to have these tough conversations between artist and manager prior to entering into an agreement.  Frankly, doing so will not only improve your odds of a successful long-term partnership, but it will also save you legal fees.  More importantly, it shows a level of professionalism and decorum that tends to be consistent with success.  You mustn’t shy away from these types of conversations because you fear the other party will be offended, and not want to work with you.  If that happens, it’s the very thing you want to occur at this point—prior to wasting time and money in a relationship that is doomed—before you get too far down the road, and figure out you lack value and expectation alignment when it’s too late.


George Howard is the Executive Vice President of Wolfgang’s Vault. Wolfgang’s Vault is the parent company of Concert Vault, Paste Magazine, and Daytrotter. Mr. Howard is an Associate Professor of Management at Berklee College of Music

TuneCore Artists Featured In Digital Stores – May 2012

April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring May artist features!  Check out all of the talented TuneCore artists featured in the digital stores over the past month.

Lara Landon – iTunes US Christian & Gospel Page 5/1

Butterfly Boucher – iTunes AU Singer/Songwriter Page 5/1

Hoodie Allen – Google Play New Releases 5/1

The Dictator – iTunes Soundtrack 5/8

David Banner – iTunes Hip Hop/Rap 5/8

The Neighbourhood – iTunes Indie Spotlight 5/15

Katie Costello – iTunes Singer/Songwriter Page 5/15

Gaz Coombes – iTunes Alternative Page 5/22

Ab-Soul – iTunes Japan Hip Hop/Rap Page 5/22