Category Archives: Artist Services

TuneCore Artists Earn $44 Million in Q2 2016

TuneCore is excited to share that in Q2 of 2016, our collective base of independent artists earned $44 million – a 24% increase from the second quarter of 2015. That means that since TuneCore launched in 2006, TuneCore Artists have earned $733 million from 36.5 billion downloads and streams.

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Once a contentious point of consideration for artists distributing new music, streaming has proven to be a choice method of consumption for fans, prompting artists to cast a wide net and make their music available on these platforms. In fact, we’re looking at an 82% increase in streaming growth, with top contributors including TIDAL (+157%), Amazon Music (+112%) and Spotify (+89%). Streaming has proven to be on the upswing around the world as well, specifically in Australia (+124%), UK (+97%), Germany (+108%) and India (+112%).

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The more fans’ access to music increases, the more music TuneCore Artists desire to create! We’re psyched to see that TuneCore Artists continue to distribute at a record pace all over the globe. Some of the fastest growing territories include India, Africa, Asia and South America:

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On the music publishing administration side of things, TuneCore Artists saw a 31% growth in gross revenue year over year. In addition, YouTube continues to be a lucrative platform for independent artists with gross revenue from YouTube Sound Recording experiencing a 110% increase and YouTube Art Tracks seeing a 384% increase in gross revenue growth.

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TuneCore’s fastest growing genre is K-Pop, which has increased by 147% since the second quarter of 2015 and is popular in markets including US, Canada and Australia. Additional fastest growing genres and their respective popular markets include:

  • R&B/Soul (+85%) in Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, Netherlands & Sweden
  • J-Pop (+81%) in Japan, UK & France
  • Hip Hop/Rap (49%) in Netherlands, Mexico and Chile
  • Children’s Music (+42%) in Norway & Canada

You can head over to our awesome interactive infographic to explore which genres are doing well in every country in the world! 

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As we’ve launched new sites internationally, we’re also excited to announce that TuneCore’s local offerings in these markets are experiencing steady increases in customer growth: Germany (+221%), UK (72%) and Australia (+13%).

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Here’s to another successful quarter for the members of our TuneCore Artist community!  For more information, don’t forget to check out our interactive infographic.

 

Music Sampling: Breaking Down the Basics

[Editors NoteThis is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research.]

With advancing technology and the development of new digital musical techniques, it has become even easier for an artist to “sample” and integrate another’s finished recording or sound bite into a new, altered and derivate work created by a new artist.

In today’s evolving marketplace, commercial DJs such as Girl Talk and many of today’s top hip hop, dance and pop music producers are all mixing and weaving together different “samples” (a portion of another’s recording) into their new “music.”  With this practice becoming even more prevalent, a proper understanding of what sampling is and how to obtain proper clearance to legally utilize the sample becomes an essential factor in a song’s potential profitability as well as marketability.

“Sampling” is best described as reusing a specific portion of another’s sound recording. The amount used varies; from as little as merely integrating another’s unique drum combinations or guitar rift into a song, to utilizing the entire chorus or a complete verse from a song.  This action, in simplest terms, can be viewed as merely “copying” and “pasting” a portion of another’s existing sound recording into your new work.

Unlicensed instances of this practice can subject a creator to potential liability for copyright infringement; however, there are ways to avoid potential liability and obtain proper permission to utilize a “sample” of another’s work.

In order to properly and legally “sample” another musician’s work in an artist’s track, the sampling artist must obtain a “sample clearance” from the appropriate owner(s) of the original recording.  Since there are two copyrights in every song — the sound recording (typically administered by a record label, e.g., Interscope Records) and the underlying musical composition (typically administered by a publishing company, e.g., Sony/ATV) — a party must obtain permission from both copyright owners and enter into a licensing agreement with each owner in order to legitimately utilize a “sample.”

There may be situations where a use is determined to be “de minimis” and too small to require licensing; but, that is a complicated situation which requires serious analysis.

Generally, in order to ascertain who the proper owners of each respective copyright are, you can start by accessing and searching through the U.S. performing rights society databases (i.e. ASCAP or BMI).  These databases generally list all the relevant writers, producers and appropriate publisher information for a particular track.  Typically, there is also direct contact information listed in the database; and if not, it is advisable to look for a department that handles “licensing” or “sample” and/or “clearance” at the specific company as those are the individuals who generally handle third-party licensing of the finished recordings.

Once you determine the appropriate licensor contacts, an individual should request a “sampling” license.  This licensee request should generally include:

  • How long the sample is (minutes? seconds?),
  • What part of the song you are planning to use the sample (i.e., the whole chorus, a drum loop, etc.),
  • How you are planning to use the sample (solely replacing a chorus, distorted in the background, continuously looped, etc.), the number of units you plan to create or distribute,
  • What types of media you will use (CD, ringtones, streaming, etc.).

Some licensors may also require you to provide an actual copy of the new recording for the licensors to listen to prior to granting any license.

A typical sample license may include an up-front license fee as well as a royalty on each recording sold and/or may include an actual ownership interest in the new recording for the original artist, especially when a substantial portion of the original track is utilized or when the artist is extremely well-known.

Sometimes deals are made on a “flat-fee” buy-out basis.  There are a variety of factors that may determine a licensing fee, including the success of the original song, the success and notoriety of the original artist, the success and notoriety of the sampling artist, the length of the sample, how it will be distributed and how the sample will be used in the new recording.

Generally, the more famous the original track is and the longer the sample used is, the larger the license fee may be. Thus, each artist’s bargaining power comes into play because the alternative (not licensing the “sample”) could end up in litigation with more significant costs, especially if the sampled song ends up being a commercial success.  Sometimes, they will even request an ownership interest in publishing on the new composition.

Alternatively, since a copyright infringement claim is based on substantial similarity and access, an artist can attempt to independently create a desired recording and utilize this new recording for its own track.  Since the artist is not technically “sampling” the exact existing sound recording, the subsequent similar track might not subject the sampling artist to any liability for copyright infringement of the sound recording.

The policy behind this is that if an individual creates his own recording, even if it sounds identical to the untrained ear, there will still inherently be enough variation that this subsequent recording should not be considered an infringement. Thus, the sampling artist would then only need to obtain permission from the publisher who owns the underlying musical composition.  There, no permission from the record label who owns the sound recording would be needed.

However, there is always potential for a lawsuit, as a long-time British colleague once said, “where there’s a hit, there’s a writ (lawsuit).”


This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted.

5 Tips To Avoid Ruining Your Mix With Muddy Sound

[Editors Note: This article was written by Scott Parsons and was originally featured on the LANDR Blog, of which he is the editor of! Make to check out LANDR Instant Mastering for an afford way to polish your new tunes.]

Just like Moms say: ‘leave the mud outside.’

A muddy mix sounds bad. If there’s mud then frequencies are fighting, nothing is popping, and it’s difficult to hear each part.

It used to happen to me all the time. My mixes would blur together into a giant ball of meh.

Everything sounded fine soloed, but my mixes lacked clarity and punch.

My tracks needed de-mudding.

It’s time to start leaving the mud out of your mix for good. Don’t waste time going back to clean it later. Use these tips to get better at mixing music.

Here’s everything you need to know to keep the mud where it belongs.

IT’S AN EQ THING

Fixing a muddy mix comes down to EQing.

EQing is adjustments you make to highs, mid-range, and lows of your sound.

Typically, a snare or a cymbal will register in the mid to high range. A kick drum or bass pad will show up in the lower mids or all the way in the lows.

The tricky part is that all sounds can register in the high, mid, and low frequencies.

For example, a snare or a vocal will tend to have some low frequencies that get cluttered up with all the other lows.

If you’re not sure what frequency is all about Google’s amazing new Spectrogram tool is a great way to visualize sounds. I recommend comparing the flute to the trombone.

CAN’T THE LOWS ALL JUST GET ALONG?

Low end instruments also end up fighting to stand out on the same frequencies. This causes some major mudding.

The cluttering of frequencies is what causes a muddy mix.

Fixing these elements will make your mix clearer, crisper and punchier.

Follow these simple steps to de-mud all your mixes.

1. CUT THE MUD FROM THE START

The easiest way to avoid a muddy mix is to ensure that you’re working with the cleanest possible samples and recordings.

If your tracks are crisp and polished from the beginning there will be less unwanted noise floating around.

Plus, the cleaner your tracks are, the more responsive they are to certain processes. It will make the cleaning process much easier later on.

If you start with Grade-A sound, it’s easier to get a Grade-A mix.

2. PANNING AGAINST THE MUD

When you’re getting a first rough mix together panning is crucial to set you up for success later. Plus it’s a good way to get a bit of the mud out of the mix early on.

Good panning will give each instrument its own space in the stereo image so it’s not fighting other instruments.

If you have lead vocals start by leaving them in the centre. Same thing goes for bass. Once you have those centred you can pan everything else around them.

Panning is a creative process, so your pans are up to you and your ear.

But try to keep instruments that sound similar on opposite sides from one another. Don’t hard pan all the way to the left or right unless it fits, just find a good medium.

You should also make sure that your mix isn’t left or right heavy. Poor panning can make your mix lopsided. So check for balance often.

Hot Tip: use headphones and monitors to get a full sense of what your pans are doing. Using only headphones gives you an overly exaggerated sense of your stereo image.

3. LISTEN TO EVERY TRACK SOLOED

You’ve probably already listened to your overall mix. That’s how you know if it’s muddy or not.

Now it’s time to solo each track and pinpoint where the biggest bad boominess problems are.

Start by soloing your lowest tracks. These will typically be a bass drum, or bass guitar. It’s best to start with your drums and go from there.

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Listen for any unwanted boominess (don’t try and fix it yet, just listen so you know what needs work).

Slowly unsolo each track and listen for which frequencies are fighting each other in that all-important mid-low frequency area.

To get a better sense of what’s clashing, I like to use a multi-channel frequency analyzer like Voxnego’s SPAN.

It’s one of many helpful free VST plugins. It will help you visually see where frequencies are clashing.

This will give you a good idea of what needs to be fixed during corrective EQing.

4. PARDON ME, BUT COULD YOU PLEASE PASS THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS?

Your best friend for corrective EQing is the high and low pass filter. You’ll notice a difference immediately.

When applied, a high pass filter allows only frequencies above a certain frequency to pass.

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They’re perfect for getting rid of unwanted low end on tracks that register mainly in the higher frequencies—like vocals or a lead synth. Which means less mud.

Most DAW software has a simple EQ for all your high and low pass needs. I used EQ Eight in Bitwig.

A low pass is filter is the opposite of the high pass. It only let’s through the lows below the frequency you set.

Use it to roll off some of the highs that might be sneaking through into areas where you don’t need them.

Feel free to use the high and low pass filters to free up your best possible sound. They’re a perfect starting point for correcting EQ across your entire mix.

5. CARVING EQ

The most common part of a mix that gets muddy is the 200-500Hz area.

Fixing it is as easy as carving out a bit of space in these frequencies.

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Go back to your EQ insert on the tracks that are still sounding a bit muffled. Select the frequency range that you’d like to target and tweak it until it’s sounding better.

Each audio track needs specific frequency settings and unique gain cuts.

So go through each track and carve out whatever sounds best for that track. But be careful. Removing too much can lead to a mix that’s too thin.

In this step you may have to sacrifice some good frequencies on a track in order to benefit your whole mix.

DIG DEEPER TO CUT YOUR MUD

Like all audio production, It’s important to start with the basics.

These tips will get you started with corrective EQ. But dig deeper into your mix and make changes on a micro level.

There are no overall best practices for EQing of this type.

Your music is unique. The only way to find your best sound is to tweak these concepts to your tracks.

That means listening to your mix on a deep level and applying corrective EQ that suits your track’s specific needs.

Free your sound from that nasty mud. Your mix will sound punchier, clearer and overall better.

Which is what everyone wants at the end of the day: better sound.

Why Cover Songs Are Great for Indie Artists – When Done Right!

The term ‘cover song’ evokes various feelings from music fans and creators alike. Say you head out to a bar or restaurant with friends only to find the night’s entertainment is a cover band of some sort – while the snobbier music fans may roll their eyes, for a majority of patrons it means one thing: fun! They already know the words, they can sing along, the songs are familiar and they might even bring out fond memories.

The same goes for recorded versions of cover songs: whether they’re on iTunes or Spotify or being performed and streamed over YouTube, as an artist, you’ve likely already won over a large audience of fans who already happen to love the original.

TuneCore is psyched to be introducing our newest service, CoverSong Licensing. We’ve partnered with Royalty Solutions, to allow independent artists to quickly acquire the necessary licenses to share and distribute their recorded cover songs with the world – without having to worry about whether they’ve taken all the correct legal steps, because we’ll have taken them for you. You never know how your cover song might take off, so it’s best that you have your ducks in a row legally so that you can play nice with the rest of the music community if your cover starts to gain some attention.

What’s particularly cool about cover songs are the various strategic benefits to sharing them with fans. Maybe you’re readying new stuff in the studio – why not offer a piece of content to those who are patiently waiting for new music? In between releases entirely? Gift your fans with some new music without having to rush to complete a single. Or perhaps it’s just been awhile since you posted a new YouTube video – cover songs are the perfect way to show that you, like your fans, are a fan of others’ music, too.

Not to mention the opportunities we’ve seen TuneCore Artists take advantage of when it comes to covering popular songs. During Taylor Swift’s controversial late 2014 removal from Spotify, punk group I Prevail seized the opportunity to release their own version of “Blank Space” – the result? Over 22 million views on YouTube to this day. I Prevail was also able to introduce their sound to tons of new ears by covering a song that is almost the polar opposite of their style.

Similarly, TuneCore Artist Karen Rodriguez has created big waves on the iTunes Charts with her Spanish language covers of massively popular hits like Adele’s “Hello“, Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself“.

Now with TuneCore’s CoverSong Licensing, you can take that would-be one-off cover and distribute it on iTunes, Spotify and beyond – legally.

UK singer/songwriter Hannah Trigwell (who knows a thing or two about managing a YouTube Channel) has seen the benefits of covering other artists’ tunes, too: “Recording cover songs certainly helped to draw in an audience,” says Trigwell. “Playing covers was a way to initial introduce my sound and say, ‘Hey, look – this is what I do‘ before dropping my original material.”

When it comes to building a following, too, Hannah weighed in, “If there is a song that an indie artist feels passionate about and can get creative with, putting their own spin on it, I think it’s really beneficial. It becomes possible to reach the audience of the artist or band that you are ‘covering’ – and then if they like your sound or can even just connect with what you are doing then you are winning.”

Have we got you thinking about recording that next cover song yet? If you’re planning on trying to make some money with it on iTunes and Spotify, be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s withTuneCore’s  CoverSong Licensing.

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Wednesday Video Diversion: March 23, 2016

It’s Wednesday again, and the dust from SXSW 2016 has settled. But guess what? That doesn’t mean you need to ‘settle’ with being bored in the middle of the afternoon. Wherever you are, turn up the volume and enjoy this eclectic round-up of TuneCore Artist videos:


Jessi Teich, “Wildfire”


Bugsy, “Hometown”


Gersey, “It Means Nothing”


Sarah Monique, “Te Quiero Solo a Ti”


George Ducas, “Party With Your Boots On”


Adore Delano, “Dynamite”


JoJo The Deity, “Don’t Lie”


Dylan Jakobsen, “Working Man”


Glass Gang, “Believe”


HOST, “All Night Every Night”