#TCVideoFridays – June 29th 2012

June’s coming to close and we’re wishing it farewell with a new set of music videos for #TCVideoFridays

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

Check out the video below that TuneCore delivered to iTunes!

Chris Wallace, “Remember When (Push Rewind)”

And here are a few more great videos from TuneCore Artists…

Pentatonix, “Starships”

Brandon & Leah, “Vaseline”

Portia Conn, “Runaway”

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, “Live Forever”

Brett Younker, “Every Miracle”

Your Favorite Martian, “Love The Way You Lie”

Alex Day, “Good Morning Sunshine”

La Santa Cecilia, “Tainted Love”

Jared Evan, “4th Chapter”

#TCVideoFridays – June 22nd 2012

Time to wrap up another week with #TCVideoFridays!  We’ve got a whole bunch of videos from TuneCore Artists for your viewing pleasure.

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

And now, onto the videos…

Sumo Cyco, “Who Do You Want To Be?”

Little Foot Long Foot, “Sell Out While You Can”

Scar3croW,”Dream of Sleep”

Sundy Best, “Home”

Rhett and Link, “I Am A Thoughtful Guy”

Mad Ones, “Out Of Love”

Gavin Slate, “Life As A Salesman”

Honheehonhee, “A. Is For Animal”

Alanna Gurr, “So Hard”

Ambisonic, “Invasion”

The Intern, The Artist & The Internet

By Jeff Price

There was recently a blog posting by an NPR intern stating  that she does not buy music.

What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices. With this new universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded, and performance royalties would be distributed based on play counts (hopefully with more money going back to the artist than the present model). All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?”

In other words, she loves music but values the convenience of having access to it more than the music itself.

This in turn caused David Lowery, founder of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, to respond, suggesting the intern had lost her moral compass and did not properly understand the value of music nor properly support the artists that made it:

“Ultimately there are three “inconvenient” things that MUST happen for any legal service:

1.Create an account and provide a payment method (once)

2.Enter your password.

3. Pay for music

So what you are really saying is that you won’t do these three things. This is too inconvenient.  And I would guess that the most inconvenient part is….step 3.

That’s fine. But then you must live with the moral and ethical choice that you are making to not pay artists. And artists won’t be paid. And it won’t be the fault of some far away evil corporation. You “and your peers” ultimately bear this responsibility.”

This back and forth took off on the net with thousands of comments across a multitude of sites, a NY Times on-line article and discussion in the Bob Lefsetz newsletter,  some taking the side of the intern, others taking the side of David Lowery.

I agree with both the intern and David.

First the intern.

Whether artists or labels like it or not, the industry has to cater to the whims of the consumer. If consumers don’t like how they have to get music, they aren’t going to get it.  For the music consumer, at a certain point, convenience trumps the value of art. As an example, look at what happened to cassette sales when Sony introduced the Walkman.  This low sound quality piece of tape, with tiny album cover art and limited liner notes, went from 4% of the market to over 45% of recorded music sales within 18 months, because music consumers liked the convenience and features (in this case a hardware device that made music portable) more than sound quality and big album cover art.

Fortunately, this dovetailed perfectly into the existing music industry so they could monetize it the same way they monetized vinyl, and in the future, CD sales—physical things being sold on physical shelves.

This major music industry control of the distribution pipeline broke down with the advent of the Net and digital music, however, the fact that the industry must provide music to the masses via the delivery vehicle the masses prefer remains true. Want more proof?  Go buy a mini disc.

Now onto David Lowery.

I completely agree with David Lowery as well.  Artists should be properly compensated for the value of what they create.   What is “proper” is the debate and where the tension lies.

However, my issue with David’s article is not his overriding message (artists should be paid), it’s that he uses factually incorrect statements in his article that ultimately work to discredit the true overall point.  He also suggests that the traditional industry was better for artists than the new industry.

Well here’s some truth about the old industry that David somehow misses.

Previously, artists were not rolling in money. Most were not allowed into the system by the gatekeepers. Of those that were allowed on the major labels, over 98% of them failed. Yes, 98%

Of the 2% that succeeded, less than a half percent of those ever got paid a band royalty from the sale of recorded music.

How in the world is an artist making at least something, no matter how small, worse than 99% of the worlds’ unsigned artists making nothing and of the 1% signed, less than a half a percent of them ever making a single band royalty ever?

Finally, as much as I hate to say it, being an artist does not entitle the artist to get money. They have to earn it. And not everyone can.

Here are some specifics from David’s posting where he just gets it wrong.

David states:

“But most record contracts specify royalties and advances to artists. Advances are important to understand-a prepayment of unearned royalties. Not a debt, more like a bet. The artist only has to “repay” (or “recoup”) the advance from record sales. If there are no or insufficient record sales, the advance is written off by the record company. So it’s false to say that record companies don’t pay artists. Most of the time they not only pay artists, but they make bets on artists.  And it should go without saying that the bets will get smaller and fewer the more unrecouped advances are paid by labels.”

This is not correct.  Advances are paid to artists.  The artist uses the advance to record the masters and then assigns ownership or control to the label.  The artist does not “own” the thing he/she created.  If they do recoup, they still do not own the masters.

In addition, the majority of the advance goes into recordings, not into the artists’ pockets (with rare, rare exception).  Managers, and in some cases, lawyers, also take a % of the advance as a “fee.”

Now add to this that labels include marketing, video and tour expenses as part of an advance that needs to be recouped.

Now add to this the dubious accounting…

David States:

“Secondly, by law the record label must pay songwriters (who may also be artists) something called a “mechanical royalty” for sales of CDs or downloads of the song. This is paid regardless of whether a record is recouped or not. The rate is predetermined, and the license is compulsory.“

Not completely true.  First of all, there is a provision in record label agreements that allows mechanicals not to be paid on free goods and promotional copies.

Second, there is a reduced rate and a song cap in the agreements.

Third, many times there are multiple songwriters on one song, meaning the royalty he is describing gets split between multiple people.

Finally, there is an assumption that these royalties are actually being paid in a timely and accurate fashion (they are not).

David States:

“Also, you must consider the fact that the vast majority of artists are releasing albums independently and there is not a “real” record company.”

Someone better tell The Civil Wars that they are not a “real” record company, even with over 3 million units sold.

David States:

“The idea was the artists would make up the loss through recorded music sales.”

This line is just flat out false.  In the words of Monty Python, “it’s a dead parrot.” It was the exact opposite. Artists did not expect to make money off of the sales of their recording but via all the other income streams (gigs, merch, endorsements, etc.).

David States:

“Over the last 12 years I’ve watched revenue flowing to artists collapse.”

This is empirically false. Revenue to labels has collapsed.  Revenue to artists has gone up with more artists making more money now than at any time in history, off of the sale of pre-recorded music.

Taken a step further, a $17.98 list price CD earned a band $1.40 as a band royalty that they only got if they were recouped (over 99% of bands never recouped).

If an artist sells just two songs for $0.99 on iTunes via TuneCore, they gross $1.40.

If they sell an album for $9.99 on iTunes via TuneCore, they gross $7.00.

This is an INCREASE of over 700% in revenue to artists for recorded music sales.

David States:

“Recorded music revenue is down 64% since 1999.”

And volume is up over 10,000%

“Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!”

Yes, this appears to be true. In 1973,VCRs, DVDs and video games weren’t competing for the same dollars (remember the RIAA campaign in the 80s – ‘Music More Value For Your Money?’).

David States:

“Of the 75,000 albums released in 2010 only 2,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.”

This statistic reveals that people shifted how they consume and buy music from albums to singles (or streams). People don’t buy 8-tracks anymore, either.

David States:

“Without going into details, 10,000 albums is about the point where independent artists begin to go into the black on professional album production, marketing and promotion.”

Not true.

David States:

“And believe it or not this is where the problem with Spotify starts. The internet is full of stories from artists detailing just how little they receive from Spotify.”

Let’s go back to the heyday David is talking about. How many of those artists would have made anything?


I could keep going, but it’s enough.

I agree with the point that music has value, but David needs the right ammo to fight the battle.

Critics of David’s overall point that artists should be properly compensated are able to pick apart his supporting underlying incorrect points to create a smokescreen that causes most to bypass the issue of  an artist’s compensation.

This got George Howard and me thinking about comparing how it used to be for artists with how it is today.

Take a look, let us know your thoughts.  Which is better? Or does it net out to the same with some of the levers changing?

Then vs. Now: The Path to Success for Artists

By George Howard & Jeff Price
(follow George on Twitter)

(Intro by George Howard)

We hear a lot about how it was “better back in the day.”  Gauzy nostalgia aside, I assume the “day” being referred to is some analog world (or, at least pre-file sharing world) where people purchased physical goods, and artists—ostensibly, at least—got paid a portion of the transaction associated with these purchases.  The refrain seems to go something along the lines of: pre-file sharing there was a system in place in which labels signed artists, promoted them, and then, when their records sold, paid them.  Sometimes stated overtly, and sometimes implied, in this line of reasoning is that, by dint of the fact that labels could only sign so many artists, they selected the more meritorious artists to release, and therefore the customer had fewer (and, following this line of reasoning, better) choices.  As opposed to today, where anyone who wants to release a record can, and, in so doing, “clutters” the market, which makes it more difficult for deserving artists to gain attention.  In other words, there are artists (and many industry types) who long for a return to these “simpler” times when an artist could make some demos, get signed, release a more-difficult-to-share record, and get paid.

I’m here to tell you that as is almost always the case with backwards-looking reminiscences, the memory is far more appealing than what was the actual reality.  I know this because I lived/worked through “those days,” and continue to work/live through “these days.”

But, you shouldn’t trust my or anyone’s recollection without some support, and so let me detail what “those days” was actually like for an artist.  Alongside that, my colleague, Jeff Price, has detailed what “these days” are like, and what “those days” were like.

As you look at the comparisons, some things should jump out at you.  You should be seeing that a tremendous amount of time, energy, money, and hope was spent (and, typically, wasted) in the old days on trying to attract the attention of so-called gatekeepers.  Another important thing to remember is that, even if you were able to have the gatekeepers anoint you, and you got a deal, your cost of failure was massive. In other words, you usually had one shot and you were out.

But enough of our editorializing. Take a look below, and let us know if you think now is better than then, or vice versa.


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

Austin Mahone On His New Single, Growing A YouTube Fan Base & More

Austin Mahone started posting videos on YouTube with his friend Alex Constancio, and the views started coming quickly.  Mahone now has 2 singles in stores, the new one “Say Somethin” newly released for the summer, and his fame (and his YouTube views) continues to rise. Read on as the up-and-coming pop artist discusses the intent behind his new single, how he has let social media work for him, his “Mahomies,” and what we can look forward to next.

Without using any “conventional” genre words, describe your sound.
My sound is fun.  I enjoy music that is upbeat and you can have a good time listening to.  So that’s what I try to make.

You just came out with a new single, Say Somethin. What was the inspiration for this track?
I wrote it with Bei Maejor and Mike Posner.  It kind of just came together in the studio.  It’s about a girl that I like who is shy. I’m asking her to just come out of her shell and Say Somethin to me, to let me know she’s interested.  It’s a great song for the summer!

Did you market and promote the single before its release? 
Yes, I visited a bunch of radio stations, which was a lot of fun.  I also used Twitter and Facebook to make sure my Mahomies knew it was coming.  They are amazing and always help me support my music by spreading the word.  I also released a really cool lyric video which actually had clips of me appearing in it.

Any differences in how you rolled out this release from your debut single, 11:11?
Well fortunately I have a lot more fans now than I did with 11:11 so I think the Mahomies spread the word a lot quicker.  I’ve been performing at a bunch of radio shows and stopping by the radio stations to say hello.

Your twitter followers and youtube views indicate that you’re really letting social media work for you!  What did you do in the early stages to result in this kind of growth?
I started out posting videos on YouTube of me and my best friend Alex Constancio.  We would just hang out and be ourselves and we started getting a lot of views.  We had our own YouTube channel.  Then I got my own Youtube channel and would post videos of me singing and again just being myself.  And I was very active on Twitter, interacting with anyone who followed me.

What’s your team like (i.e. management, publicity, marketing…)?
In addition to my mother, who is always there for me, I now have a great management team.  I also have a publicist, choreographer, vocal coach, dancers and a DJ.  The team has grown.  We are like one big family.  We work hard, but we always have a lot of fun doing it.

I saw on facebook that you let your fans vote  on where your concerts should be.  Great idea!  What are some other ways you engage with your fans?
I wanted to let the fans be more involved with what I’m doing.  And what better way than to let them select where I’m going to perform?  We got such a great response from my Mahomies and we will definitely do it again.  I also interact with them on Twitter.  I’ll retweet and respond to their comments.  I’ll personally thank them for gifts they may send me.  I also sing to them on Ustream and respond to their comments on my YouTube videos.

You often upload videos of cover songs on your YouTube page.  What kind of results have you seen from this?
It’s been amazing.  I just love making music and covers are a fun way to do that.

So what can we look forward to next?
I want to work with everyone possible in the music industry.  There are so many talented people that I look up to, and I want to work with them all.  I want to go into the studio and record my first album.  And follow it up with a tour so I can go see and say hello to all my Mahomies!  By the way, my Mahomies are the best and most loyal fans in the world and have always been there for me since the beginning.  I’m going to continue to love and be there for them.

Download “Say Somethin” on iTunes

Follow Austin on Twitter

Become a Fan on Facebook

View Austin Mahone Videos