Category Archives: Music Distribution

September News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

Streaming isn’t going away anytime soon, and it seems like all of our store partners have been stepping up their game to better accommodate the rapidly-evolving music streaming industry:

  • Spotify shatters previous streaming records with 40 million active subscribers.
  • Apple Music gets a makeover in the wake of the iPhone 7 and iOS 10 launches.
  • Pop stars come in droves to perform at iHeartRadio’s Music Festival in Las Vegas.

Spotify celebrates the end of their third quarter with a massive 40 million subscribers.


Spotify broke both a personal and global record earlier this month by racking up an active subscriber count of 40 million users.

spotifyOn September 14th, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted a cool, “40 is the new 30. Million. (smiley face emoji)” to announce the good news officially. The “30” he’s referring to is the 30 million active subscribers they announced back in March of this year, meaning they’ve increased their listenership by a whopping 25% in six months.

These seriously impressive numbers can be attributed to a number of factors. While Spotify may not have the leg-up on exclusive content that Apple Music and TIDAL have, Spotify’s Discovery algorithm has become the bread-and-butter of their streaming service since they launched it in summer 2015. Acknowledging their immediate popularity, Spotify’s next move was to increase the accessibility for new music recommendations, and now users can add similar tracks to an existing playlist, or even immediately create a similar version of a complete playlist.

Competitors have been jumping on the bandwagon, each offering their own brand of new music discovery. But the numbers make it obvious that, for now, users prefer Spotify’s experience to some of their other competitors. Apple Music is currently boasting a listenership of 17 million, with TIDAL far behind at 3 million active listeners as of March 2016.

A huge congratulations to Spotify!

Apple Music gets some major touch-ups on iOS 10, including competitive algorithms for new music recommendations.


Tech gurus, developers, and especially owners of the 1 billion active Apple products worldwide have come to expect a big show every September at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Since the launch of the iMac in 1998, Apple has treated the WWDC like a tech-savvy Christmas, rolling out the newest versions of their products, and convincing the world that we all need the latest and greatest products that Apple has to offer. So it should come as no surprise that this year’s WWDC brought some major changes to the future of the iPhone and Apple Music listener experience.

Apple introduced a total external overhaul of the iPhone, with the apple-musiciPhone 7 devoid of a headphone jack (welcome to a future of losing Airpods!). In addition to giving users an excuse to finally buy the bluetooth Beats headphones they’ve been eyeing, Apple Music got a makeover to improve user experience.

Jumping on the success of Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists, Apple Music for iOS 10 includes a My New Music playlist that will update with fresh recommendations every week. Unlike Spotify, which updates every Monday, Apple Music’s My New Music will update on Fridays to coincide with New Music Friday. Where Spotify has Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists, My New Music should kill two birds with one stone and offer users a playlist packed with new music.

Apple Music will also offer a My Favorites Mix, updated every Wednesday, complete with a blend of the user’s most-streamed songs, side-by-side with new music similar to the aforementioned tracks. My Favorites Mix was designed as a gentler way to ease into new music, versus digesting a playlist comprised entirely of unfamiliar songs.

It’s too early to see if this update will bring more users into the Apple Music camp, but it’s certainly a cool update for existing Apple Music subscribers.

iHeartRadio packs their La Vegas Music Festival with some of the top music acts, including Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.


Las Vegas was abound with pop stars last weekend for the iHeartRadio Music Festival, a two-day festival bringing together some of the most popular musicians in the US for a power-packed weekend.

iheartradio90’s nostalgic millennials were in heaven with performances from both Backstreet Boys, who who used the festival to announce their Las Vegas residency, and a blowout set by Britney Spears. Both groups performed a combination of throwback favorites, as well as some newer music. Usher, Lil Jon, and Ludacris also came out for a performance of “Yeah” that left the crowd wanting more of their favorite early 2000’s goodness.

The lineup didn’t stop there, as sets from Miley Cyrus, Drake, Sia, and Ariana Grande filled the two-day event at the T-Mobile Arena. Performing alongside Billy Idol, Miley told the audience, “It’s f**king good to be back.”

Christina Grimmie, who was shot and killed at her own concert earlier this year, was remembered in a memorial on the second night of the festival.

With the service’s recent five year anniversary, their reaching 90 millions registered users, and a potential Spotify-rival in the works, 2016 has turned out to be an excellent year for iHeartRadio, and the music festival seems like the perfect way to celebrate their success this year.

SOUND BYTES

Recap: The Inaugural Mondo.NYC 2016

A week and a half back, music industry professionals, artists, fans and students got together for the first-ever Mondo.NYC Festival at the Kimmel Center on the legendary NYU campus in lower Manhattan. Panels, keynote speeches, presentations and performances from artists dominated the five-day event, allowing members from different sectors of the industry to exchange ideas, strategies and thoughts on the future.

TuneCore was honored to be one of the sponsors at the inaugural Mondo.NYC 2016 festival, with indie artists across all genres performing throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan each night. In fact, we’re proud to mention that almost 50% of Mondo’s featured artists have used TuneCore to distribute their music at some point!

Bob Boilen, creator of NPR’s “All Songs Considered” and the Tiny Desk Concert Series acted as moderator throughout Mondo.NYC, offering decades of experience and overall music-nerdery to conversations with everyone from label owners and strategy folks to publicists and journalists.

There was a LOT to cover – not to mention TuneCore’s very own “Under the Hood” presentation on Friday morning – but below are pictures and quotes from some of the notable panels and discussions we were fortunate enough to make it to.

"Making Streaming Work for the Music Industry with Michael Nash & Robert Levine
“Making Streaming Work for the Music Industry” with Michael Nash & Robert Levine

During the “Making Streaming Work for the Music Industry” discussion, UMG’s Michael Nash explored the importance of major labels accepting and expanding the role of music streaming. With physical product dominating almost 70% of the market share in territories like Japan and Germany, there’s an important future to look at.

“How fast is change coming? It’s coming like a freight train,” Nash went on to say, noting “one of the most positive developments” being the growth in the space between Spotify, Apple Music and now Pandora. He believes that int the next 3-5 years we’ll see a few major players rise in the digital distribution space, as well.

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Daniel Glass, owner of Glassnote Records, making a keynote address with Bob Boilen

Another inspiring moment during Mondo was the Keynote Address with none other than Daniel Glass of Glassnote Records. A man with a storied career in music, his imprint has been responsible for a new wave of independent artists looking for a friendlier label model. Glass explained while major labels can give artists the push they need, labels like his help left-of-center artists find their way in the world.

It was a bit of a trip down Memory Lane as Daniel and Bob reminisced and re-emphasized the importance of CMJ and college radio during the 80s and 90s. Plenty of laughter and note taking went down, and they transitioned into how Sirius XM stations are actually a refuge for would-be college radio fans.

Before wrapping up, Glass also reiterated the importance of a live experience in 2016, saying of Glassnote’s Aurora, “If I had $100K to develop her, I’d spend $97K getting people to see her live.”

"Press & PR: How To Rise Above the Din"
“Press & PR: How To Rise Above the Din”

Press and PR can be a pain-point for many indie artists just getting started down the DIY road. Rolling Stone contributor Christopher Weingarten, Audible Treats PR founder Michelle McDevitt, Big Hassle PR founder Ken Weinstein, and Bond Moroch PR founder Skipper Bond all provided what they  considered to be a ‘good day’ at their respective jobs.

Explaining the nuances of how to catch a writer’s eye and how to target your pitches, the attendees – mostly independent musicians – diligently jotted down bits of information. Bob Boilen kept things light and encouraged those in attendance to ask questions and get the most out of this very helpful panel.

It was refreshing to watch members of both sides of this complicated machine exchange thoughts, laughs and questions for each other behind the mics.

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On Friday, TuneCore’s very own Senior Director of Entertainment Relations Chris Mooney and Director of Marketing Mitch Wenger presented and moderated “Under The Hood: Get Your Music Heard and Get Paid for Doing It”.  TuneCore Artists Devvon Terrell, Opus Orange, Kathryn Gallagher and The Republic of Wolves all sat in to discuss the state of digital distribution for independent artists in 2016.

While we couldn’t make all of those awesome panels and discussions, below are a few of our favorite helpful quotes heard from the Kimmel Center. Be sure to browse through some more photos, too, and share any great advice or stories YOU heard during Mondo.NYC this year in our comment section!

“That direct connection with your fans at shows is huge. When you’re sending them links to your music, send it to them at two points of contact.” – Benji Rogers, CEO, PledgeMusic

“If you’re doing pre sale ticketing on a tour, just make sure you have a period for fans associated with email sign ups to keep control of your data.” – Justin Spindler, Director, Music Glue

“Having ownership of your data is really important. People want to know if you’re worth their time and if you’ll make them money. It’s all about metrics.” – Matt DuFour, VP of Artist Development, ReverbNation

“Content is key. Audiences don’t mind being marketed to, but you have to do it well. There needs to be a balance between the brand, the audience and the artist.” – Jennifer Stilson, VP Music, MTV/VH1

“When it’s real is when the brand identifies with the type of music it is. By having something that the brand stood for, that became synonymous with the sound of the brand.” – Nick Parmar, Director, W Hotels

“Find your authentic lane when it comes to working with brands.” – Joi Brown, SVP Marketing, Atlantic Records

“Figure out who your fan amplifiers are and serve them. That’s what grows your fan base.” – Cortney Harding, Founder, Cortney Harding Consulting

TuneCore Heads to Mondo.NYC 2016!

New York City has long been a hub of creative talent and technological innovation here in the States. Between the thousands of artists and bands, the amazing music venues, and headquarters of music industry brands, it only makes sense that organizers have chosen Manhattan and Brooklyn as the landscape for Mondo.NYC 2016!

Mondo.NYC is kicking off it’s inaugural business summit, festival and digital platform from September 14-18, 2016, and TuneCore is honored to be a part of the action as a sponsor and contributor. We’re of course honored that almost 50% of the artists scheduled to perform use or have used TuneCore as their digital distribution partner!

A multi-day event filled with panels, showcases and performances, Mondo.NYC is a celebration of music, technology and the entertainment industry among fans, artists, and tech/music professionals. If you haven’t grabbed a ticket, we worked with the staff at Mondo.NYC to make sure we could offer TuneCore Artists 20% off their purchases. All you’ll need to do is enter promo code TUNECORE2016 when you purchase online.

By day, New York University will serve as the setting for discussion, networking and education. By night, live music across Brooklyn and Manhattan hot spots will be raging.

Join us on Friday, September 16th from 10:00-10:50am in room 914 the Kimmel Center at NYU for “Under the Hood: Get Your Music Heard and Get Paid for Doing It” – a panel about distribution for independent artists.

In this  featured panel discussion, Scott Ackerman, CEO of TuneCore, will discuss TuneCore’s digital distribution platform and how we help thousands of artists of every size and genre get their music heard around the world, get paid for doing so, and keep 100% of their rights and earnings.  Scott will help artists better understand the process and value of independent distribution.  In addition to his valuable insights, there will be a panel of successful TuneCore artists to give first hand accounts of how they have leveraged the digital distribution platform to enable and enhance their careers.

As psyched as we are to talk about the value of digital distribution, it’s not all about us! Panel discussions topics will range from the roles of music management and the use data to track/manage audiences, to synch licensing and public policy around music – and everything in between. Learn more about the extensive list of panels here.

If you’re an indie artist, a music entrepreneur or music fan looking to learn more about the industry, grab your tickets today – and don’t forget to nab that 20% discount code using promo code TUNECORE2016.

As with any event TuneCore’s staff is hanging at, we always encourage artists to come up and introduce themselves. You can find members of our team taking notes by day and rocking out at night – we hope to see you out in person!

August News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

August was an especially busy month for our stores and streaming services, with even some of our more niche partners making big news:

  • iHeartRadio’s listener rate is skyrocketing, surpassing 10 million new registered users within the last seven months.
  • Shazam is soon to become a household name with the new Fox game show Beat Shazam.
  • After its recent acquisition, eMusic is taking another crack at their audiobook subscription service, eStories.
  • Spotify targets a fresh new audience with their Kids & Family genre channel.


iHeartRadio is celebrating its five year anniversary with 90 million registered users.


Since their launch in 2011, iHeartRadio has quickly become the
largest radio outlet in the United States. This month, they got to celebrate even more as they reached 80 million registered users; 10 million of which were earned in just the last eight months.

iHeartRadio’s catalogue features over 30 million songs from moreiheartradio than one million artists worldwide. As iHeartRadio continues to grow, they are putting more focus on customizable and curated content similar to Spotify’s Discover Weekly or Apple Music’s For You playlists.

“Radio continues to evolve — and so does iHeartRadio. We know our users want to listen to our broad range of content on the device of their choice — and we also know they want to enjoy amazing stories that have emerged from the recent podcast boom or hear their hometown DJ wherever they travel,” said iHeartRadio President Darren Davis. “For those reasons and more, people continue to embrace iHeartRadio, and it’s reflected in the continued rapid growth of our registered user base.”

Congratulations to iHeartRadio, and wish them even greater success in the future!

Fox has greenlit a new game show that could make Shazam a household name.


shazam928After seventeen years and countless advancements in cell phone technology, Shazam is already a widely-known brand. Some may even say it’s taking on the likes of Kleenex and Post-It, with its brand being almost universally synonymous with the action of song recognition. However, this fall might make the brand even more popular, after the new game show Beat Shazam premieres on Fox.

In the wake of American Idol’s final season ending, Fox has been in the market for new unscripted content. Keeping in line with Idol’s musical competition style, Beat Shazam will be the Jeopardy of musical game shows. Shazam already has “Beat Shazam” quizzes on their site, but Beat Shazam will involve a round where contestants compete against each other. The last person standing competes in the final round to beat the app itself.

Fox has not yet announced when Beat Shazam will premiere, or where it is set to fit into their programming schedule, but we’ll be looking forward to testing our own skills alongside those competing on TV.

eMusic is revamping its service by reintroducing its audiobook subscription service, eStories.


After being acquired by Triplay last autumn, eMusic has been on theeMusic fast-track to rebranding and retooling their service. One of the many improvements CEO Tamir Koch has been working on is the re-launch of their audiobook subscription service under the new name eStories.

With rating systems, features reviews, and author bios, eMusic’s chief mission is to expose listeners to new books, almost like the audiobook version of the literary site Goodreads.

“We’ve wanted to get into the booming audiobook business for many years,” said Koch. “It is a great companion to our other services and perfectly suited to our technology, digital media experience and ability to offer the same unlimited cloud storage our users have enjoyed for years.”

Boasting a catalogue of over 80,000 titles, eStories is priced at $11.99 per month ($3 a month cheaper than Audible). With apps available for both Android and iOS devices, the revamped audiobook service may bring more attention to eMusic as a whole.

Spotify expands its reach, offering a relaunch of a Kids & Family category to its browse feature.


spotifySpotify is attempting to create a new generation of listeners by re-launching the Kids & Family section of their browse feature. The section now features an array of “Let’s Sing Together” playlists, from “Going on a Drive,” to “Folk for Kids,” to even “Para Dormir” for Spanish-speaking listeners.

The playlists are focused on providing learning and language opportunities for listeners, as well as an opportunity for parents to engage with their children. Sound bites from celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Busy Phillips, and Sarah Michelle Gellar are interspersed between songs to provide games and conversation topics for parents and kids.

The songs on the playlists themselves cover a lot of ground, as well. From tried-and-true classics like The Wiggles, to songs from E.R.A.’s RnB Nursery Rhymes, the playlists are a diverse blend of songs that kids and parents can both enjoy.

The Kids & Family category is part of Spotify’s “social good” initiative in an effort to provide more readily-available educational musical content. Spotify works with the Family Independence Initiative to gain feedback from listeners in their network and award funding to artists who host musical activities for children and families.

As one of TuneCore’s most successful genres, we hope to see our artists featured on these playlists in the future.

SOUND BYTES

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.

celebrating_10_yearstotal_artist_earnings_q2-2

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%).

streaming_growth

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:

fastest_growing_territories

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! 

Trending_Genres_HipHop_Worldwide

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%).

TuneCore_Website_Growth_Local

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.