TuneCore Partners With Vinyl Replication Service QRATES

You don’t have to be up on every single current music trend to notice the soar and continued popularity of vinyl among fans and artists alike. Whether it’s a limited-run 7” or an attractive multi-colored 12” LP, independent artists have taken to pressing vinyl for new releases to sell to their fans – new and old – at shows and on their preferred digital channels. The global vinyl market is poised to hit $1 billion by the end of 2017.

While TuneCore is a digital distributor, we’ve made sure to offer resources for artists who are in need of a physical version of their releases via our third party CD Duplication Service. But today, we’re excited to announce an expansion of that offering: TuneCore has partnered with the vinyl replication service QRATES (pronounced “crates)!

As we’ve covered and as most indie artists will tell you, pressing up vinyl versions of a new release can be an expensive endeavor, and often times requires a minimum order of copies that don’t fit into artists’ business plans. QRATES lets artists commit to orders of 100 copies, where 300 or 500 might be the minimum elsewhere.

Using QRATES’ interactive design and vinyl-building platform, artists and labels can control the presentation of their records while keeping an eye on additional costs associated with specialization in real time.

While normally pressing vinyl copies of a new release can be time consuming and require a multitude of different steps and vendors getting involved, QRATES takes the hassle out of this process by handling all levels of production and offering an average 6-8 week turnaround.

On top of a smooth, trustworthy process,QRATES also offers artists the following services:

Distribution – Need a help with distributing? With QRATES you can try to sell your vinyl directly to record stores using our Store Delivery service. Store Delivery allows our international network of record store partners to purchase your records from ‘Press & Pre-Order, ‘Funding’, and ‘Sell Catalog’ projects at a wholesale price.

Mastering – Don’t know what to do with mastering for vinyl? For your greater sound experience, QRATES has secured a partnership with Color Sound Studio in Paris to offer an exclusive “STEREO COLOR” mastering service to our customers.

Crowdfunding – Using the “Funding Project”, your vinyl can be pressed with the exact amount of orders. To start the project, just build and customize your artist page, design your vinyl, and enter the necessary information to launch your project page. There is no sign up fee! Alongside our unique vinyl simulation tool, you can promote your vinyl with digital streaming, download and more to boost your orders.

Ready to learn more about getting your next project out on wax? TuneCore Artists can enjoy a 5% discount using QRATES (using promo code TUNECORE05) as a part of our partnership. Head over to QRATES’ site today to get started.

April Industry Wrap-Up

Facebook Launches ‘Chat Extensions’ That Encourage Music Sharing

As both streaming music and social media use has evolved over the years, it became pretty obvious pretty quickly that people love to share whatever new music they’re digging with their networks. Spotify was an early player in this arena by connecting social profiles to their platform so that users can see in a feed what the folks they follow are listening to at any given time of day. On top of this feature, users have always been able to send music directly to one another via a built-in messaging app.

As the social media giant Facebook looks to appeal to more and more businesses that use the platform for leads and engagement with customers, they’ve announced the introduction of ‘Chat Extensions’ within their messenger platform. The primary function of this launch is to offer the ability to perform actions within Facebook Messenger without switching apps.

For Spotify, this means the launching a new ‘bot’ that includes search, recommendations, and the ability to share 30-second song clips as well as launch Spotify from the app to hear full songs. Friends now have more options for sharing and discovering music within their chat windows. Facebook has revealed that a similar launch to support Apple Music integration is on the way, too.

As Facebook continues to beef up its music department in general and looks to innovative streaming platforms for partnerships, indie artists of all genres can feel good about new ways for fans to be sharing their tunes with friends.

A Month of Updates From Spotify

It’s hard to get through one of our ‘Monthly Industry Wrap-Ups’ without breaking recent news related to streaming giant and our friendly partner Spotify! This month, Spotify re-structured its multi-year license agreement with global music rights agency Merlin – which represents independent music companies like Beggars Group, Secretly Group, Domino, Sub Pop, and others.

The big story from this signing is that the updated agreement allows these labels to ‘window’ releases for Spotify Premium users only – a tactic used by major label groups to limit access to a release for usually up to two weeks. The significance of windowing is that it allows releases to only be made available to users that contribute higher streaming rates, (when you’re a ‘freemium’ Spotify user, you are using an account that gets served ads and each time you play a song, it pays out less than that of Premium subscribers’ streams who pay a monthly fee).

Spotify and other streaming platforms are required to sign licensing agreements with both independent and major label groups. But what’s new here is the apparent bargaining scraps indie labels have when it comes to keeping up with the majors. As a distributor that sees its artists getting signed to indie labels on a regular basis, it’s encouraging to see that they’re able to take advantage of opportunities offered by streaming platforms like Spotify.

Additionally this month, Spotify rebranded their “Fan Insights” – data about who is listening to artists, from numbers of monthly listeners to cities they’re being streamed in most – as “Spotify For Artists”. It’s available to all artists and managers, and is designed to be a ‘one-stop shop’ that allows you to track growth, update creative profile assets, and feature particular songs and playlists. Here at TuneCore, we’re always excited to see more data and insights being offered to artists to help them make business and branding decisions. If you haven’t already, head over to Spotify’s site to take advantage of these updates.

Google Play Music Gets Cozy With Newest Samsung Galaxy Model

As competition for subscribers and listeners continues to heat up among music streaming platforms, so too does competition among mobile device manufacturers. Nowhere is that more obvious than between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. As each company strives to attract brand loyalty to their respective operating systems, Samsung announced that its latest model, the Galaxy S8, has made Google Play Music its preferred music player.

That means those who pick up the newest Galaxy S8 will get the opportunity to use Google Play Music with enhancements just for them. One of these is an increase in cloud locker storage, with Samsung users being able to upload up to 100,000 tracks that can be streamed from anywhere (up from 50,000 for other users). Also, Samsung promises that it’s choice music player will support Samsung’s smartphone assistant, Bixby, “once support for voice commands is actually ready to roll out.”

It remains to be seen how many Galaxy S8 users will adopt Google Play Music over a preferred service, but it’s no doubt that Samsung will do what they can in collaboration to make it more attractive. For independent artists, it’s just another push for a platform that is carrying your releases already (unless, of course, you still need to add your music to Google Play!), and it may in turn end up being a great excuse for you to be promoting your Google Play links, as well.

March Industry Wrap-Up

Pandora Premium Takes on the On-Demand Streaming Game


While household names like Spotify and Apple Music boast a combined 120+ million users streaming music each month, Pandora has enjoyed the success of their proprietary “Music Genome Project” algorithm and their ability to draw users in with perfectly curated and personalized radio stations. Last year, Pandora announced it’s “Pandora Plus” service, offering listeners more replays and skips, as well as the ability to listen to offline radio stations. Now, after much anticipation, the biggest name in digital radio has announced “Pandora Premium”, their brand new on-demand streaming service.

Pandora Premium will function much like other monthly subscription streaming services, offering a similar catalog of over 30 million tracks for listeners to browse and discover. With its current user-base of 80 million, Pandora sees its transition into on-demand streaming as an opportunity for further growth. While it remains to be seen, there may be an advantage to joining the game late – for instance, Pandora won’t be focusing on ‘exclusives’ for big name releases, and instead hopes to utilize its personalization proficiencies to stand out in the crowd of streaming services when it comes to recommending songs to users based on their listening habits as a means of music discovery.

“We have very grand ambitions for what this can be,” Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said. “If we look around at the space right now, we just don’t think that there’s a product that’s done it right. No one has solved the ease of use and personalization part of the on-demand world. I don’t think there’s really a true premium product out there yet… we think we’re bringing something really different here.”

This development is great news for indie artists who hope to tap into Pandora’s user-base by making their releases available on-demand.

Ticketmaster Uses Software to Combat Bots More Effectively


Whether you’re a fan who paid out the nose for a ticket or lost out to what would have to be the fastest ticket-buying hands known to man, or you’re an artist who has had to deal with the backlash of bots buying up all their tickets, there’s a general consensus in the live music industry that these bots aren’t really doing consumers or artists any good. In fact, you could say most people feel that bots – which derive from software that immediately purchases tickets when they go on sale in bulk, only to re-sell at a higher cost to fans – are completely ripping people off!

Enter Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” program. Ticket scalping (re-selling tickets at higher costs), as it’s known, has become such a problem on the company’s platform that they’ve introduced new efforts to combat it by using customer data and new systems. For example, identifying fans’ purchasing history has been tested with lower-level tours to cut down on automated ticket buying systems and bot purchases. The program requires fans to register to buy tickets in advance (typically 48 hours before they go on sale); shortly after, Ticketmaster collects emails and scrubs out any believed to be connected to scalpers. Verified Fan is being used for pre-sales at the moment, but could be expanded for general sales in the future.

This is a meaningful attempt to make sure that artists – both major label and independent alike – are able to continue to offer tickets to their tour dates through this platform without worrying that their fans are getting ripped off.

Early Reports Suggest a Potential $16.1 Billion Year For Recorded Music During 2016


Each year, the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) announces official music industry figures to show how much was earned over four quarters. In March, Midia Research offered its own 2016 estimates ahead of the annual IFPI announcement – suggesting a 7% ($1.1. billion) year-over-year increase in the realm of recorded music at $16.1 billion.

Since the music industry entered into a major paradigm shift in the early days of Napster, and as illegal downloading took off across other platforms, this is considered a major uptick in annual growth. As Midia puts it, “Underpinning the growth was streaming which grew by 57% in 2016 to reach $5.4 billion, up $3.5 billion in 2015.”

While streaming music platforms were initially introduced as not only a way for fans to have legally licensed music at their fingertips but also to curb the trend in music piracy, there’s little doubt that artists and industry professionals alike have reaped the benefits of its popularity in the past couple of years. The report credits Spotify’s role in the growth, “accounting for 43% of the 106.3 million subscribers at the end of 2016.” But don’t sleep on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer, who have been considered “strong contributors” to streaming growth last year.

Breaking revenue down by record label, we see that Universal, Sony and Warner Music made up a combined $11 billion in revenue, with independent labels generating $5.1 billion, or 31.3% of the global market share! As 2017 looks to offer increased figures, independent artists can rest assured that overall, recorded music can still be a viable revenue stream as more fans subscribe, listen, and discover.

iHeartRadio Expands Services For Users

Hot on the heels of announcing 100 million registered users, iHeartRadio recently released their newest services, iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access (powered by Napster) and we’re excited to announce that these services are now available for TuneCore Artists to distribute their music to!

iHeartRadio already offers listeners access to over 750 live streams of radio stations across the U.S., as well as the ability to build a playlist or ‘user-generated’ radio station based on an artist of their choosing. Here’s a look at how the new services stand to impact users and artists:

  • With iHeartRadio Plus, users will have access to offline listening, unlimited skips and replays, and customized radio stations for $4.99/month;
  • With iHeartRadio All Access, users get a traditional on-demand streaming platform complete with a catalog millions of songs (via Napster) for $9.99/month.
  • For TuneCore Artists, both of these new services open up the opportunity for discovery and democratic listening among iHeartRadio subscribers!

What does that mean for TuneCore Artists who have already distributed to iHeartRadio and Napster?

Since your music is already on iHeartRadio and Napster (fka Rhapsody), you’re good! You do not need to take any action to make your current active releases available on iHeartRadio Plus or iHeartRadio All Access. Any fans who search for your release(s) on iHeartRadio should be able to find them on both of these services.

For information about getting your music on iHeartRadio, learn more here.

To add your current active releases to iHeartRadio and/or Napster, head over to your Store Manager.

TuneCore Artists know they can always look to us to offer them a plethora of stores and streaming services to send their new releases to. We know that independent music is something that fans seek globally, and we strive to make sure that artists can take advantage of all available outlets in order to build their fan base.

This is a big step for iHeartRadio and their listeners, and we’re excited about what this means for our artists moving forward.

The Music Industry Belongs to the Hypercreators

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Ryan Kairalla, an entertainment lawyer based in Miami, FL. He recently published Break the Business: Declaring Your Independence and Achieving True Success in the Music Industry and also hosts the Break The Business Podcast.]

 

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.”
– Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was giving a talk at the NAMM Conference in Anaheim, California. After it was over, a musician approached me and asked me what was the most important thing he should be doing to be more successful in his music career.

I succinctly responded: “Make music. Make lots of music. All the time.”

I could tell that this young creative was more than a little unsatisfied with my answer. Perhaps he thought I would give a lengthy discussion on the value of effective social media. Or maybe he was expecting that, as an attorney, I would talk to him about the importance of having good legal structures in place.

Granted, those things are important. But if you’re going to be in the business of making music, there is nothing more important than making as much music as you can. Today’s musicians need to be “hyper creators.”

Let’s lay down some essential truths about the current state of the industry:

  1. It has never been easier or cheaper to create quality music thanks to advancements in low-cost home recording hardware and software.
  2. It has never been easier or cheaper to distribute your music thanks to the digitalization of music and the emergence of low-cost distribution platforms.
  3. It has never been easier or cheaper to promote your music with the advent of social media.
  4. It has never been easier or cheaper to fund your music projects with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms.

Modern technology has removed nearly all of the barriers preventing artists from creating music constantly and sharing that music with a worldwide audience. Being able to make more music means that artists can have more opportunities to connect with their fans. It also means that artists can have a larger catalog of material to sell or license.

The musicians that will succeed in this world will be the ones who are best able to take advantage of these developments. This means creating lots of music—far more than the musicians of previous generations did.

The prevailing music creation model of recording and releasing an album’s worth of songs every two or three years is making less and less sense in the New Music Industry. It is a product of a bygone era where the creation, distribution, and promotion of music was an expensive endeavor, and thus bunching together the release of a small number of tracks was the way things had to be done.

Today, it is a better strategy to (1) make more music and (2) spread out the releases of your music throughout the year so that your fans never have a chance to forget about you. You can still make and release traditional albums if you so choose, but don’t do it at the expense of depriving your fans of a steady stream of new material.

Many musicians have effectively embraced the hypercreation model. Ireland-based indie acoustic artist J.P. Kallio has garnered some impressive success by releasing new original songs every week. Colorado-based Danielle Ate The Sandwich gained considerable fanfare for writing, recording, and producing an album’s worth of songs in just 24 hours (and she’s done this twice).

And then there’s New Jersey’s own Jonathan Mann. Mann has written and recorded a new original song every day for the past eight years—and counting. Mann and his catalog of nearly 3,000 songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and HuffPost Live.

If hypercreation seems too daunting to you, remember this: Creativity is a muscle. The more you create, the more prolific you will become. Conversely, the less you create, the more that muscle atrophies. Make creation a constant in your music career, as each song you produce gives you one more opportunity for success.

A final word of warning:

As you embrace hypercreation in your own career, you should be wary of business relationships that are not conducive to you being prolific with your art. You cannot hypercreate unless you have complete authority over when, how, and with whom you make music. As a result, you should look upon exclusive recording agreements with great skepticism.

These contracts essentially give someone else (such as a record label or producer) full control over your recording projects. Under such a deal, you would not be able to make music without that someone’s permission, and they almost assuredly will not approve of you creating new music on a weekly basis. Rather, they will favor the old release model: Make an album, wait 2-3 years, and make another album (assuming that the label/producer still wants to record with you).

In the New Music Industry – one in which the creation, distribution, and promotion of music is so conducive to hypercreation — artists should give some serious thought to the significant value in being able to create on their own terms.

TuneCore Heads to SXSW 2017!

Another year, another journey to one of the largest music conferences in the world.

In the past couple of years, TuneCore has had the honor of getting involved with SXSW in a multitude of ways; from sponsoring day parties with cool brands and blogs, to boasting four days of showcases packed with both well-known and emerging TuneCore talent.

As a digital distributor that has helped so many artists that show up in Austin to play and network each year, we’re always excited to hang out, catch awesome live sets, and connect with and make ourselves available to artists who use TuneCore!

SXSW-Announces-Select-Speakers-and-Expanded-Access-for-All-Badge-Types-for-2017

This year, TuneCore will be camped out in the SXSW Artist Lounge from Wednesday, March 15th through Saturday, March 18th – each day from 11am-6pm. There, we’ll be mixing it up with artists who’ll be showcasing all week, giving away awesome stuff, and meeting with artists interested in open consultation on topics like music distribution, publishing administration, and social media management.

At night, you can find the TuneCore crew up and down 6th Street checking out showcases and sets all over Austin in an effort to support as many of our talented TuneCore Artists as possible! Make sure to say hello if you see us out there!

Additionally, several members of the TuneCore family will be making us proud at some exclusive panels and discussions aimed at helping artists further their careers in the music industry:

  • Chris Mooney, TuneCore’s Sr. Director of Artist Relations, will be sitting on the “Transforming Online Popularity to Offline Success” panel; featuring artist manager Adina Friedman, Back 40 Entertainment’s Geniveive Thompson, and TuneCore Artist Ron Pope. March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm 
  • Amy Lombardi, TuneCore’s Director of Entertainment Relations, is heading up the “Creating For a Cause: Making Music for Action and Awareness” discussion; featuring Broadway Records’ Van Dean, SIMMS Foundation Heather Alden, and TuneCore Artist Chaka Mpeanaji (Riders Against the Storm). March 15th 3:30pm-4:30pm

Speaking of awesome educational panels that are sure to help shape indie artists’ career strategies, we also asked our talented Music Publishing Administration team to pick out a couple of suggested discussions to sit-in on:

March 15th

New Nashville: The Evolution of Music Publishing

Invested Development: We Do What Labels Don’t

Music Publishing Meet Up

March 16th

Compulsory License Today, Direct License Tomorrow?

Creative and Financial Aspects of Sampling

March 17th

The Song and Sound Recording Performance Right

March 18th

Developments in Music Publishing: Lemons Or Lemonade?


Heading down to SXSW 2017? Give us a shout in the comments! See you down there, artists.