Tag Archives: independent

TuneCore Artists Earn over $134 Million in 2014 from 7.5 Billion in Downloads and Streams

TuneCore Growth Fueled by Creative Expansion, New Artist Services and Innovation

New York, NY – January 27, 2015 – 2014 was a landmark year for TuneCore. Building upon its outstanding growth, the company today announced over $134 million dollars in 2014 artist earnings, up 11% from 2013 and totaling $504 million since 2006. Additionally, artist downloads and streams were up 120% year over year, with more than 7.5 billion in 2014, and more than 12.4 billion since 2006.

 Key Growth & Expansion

With more than 150 store partners available across the world, TuneCore added new ways for artists to share their music in key emerging markets including with Claromusica in South America & Latin America, KKBox in Asia and Spinlet in Africa. TuneCore provides artists with partners covering over 200 countries and territories.

TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration also continues to grow and now actively manages over 275,000 compositions, collecting songwriters’ royalties in over 60 countries, and negotiating Film and TV music licensing agreements.

In 2014, TuneCore broadened opportunities for and connections with the artist community. Music industry veteran Joe Cuello joined the TuneCore executive team to spearhead the music publishing administration business as well as new brand partnerships and special events that will provide growth opportunities for musicians and songwriters. TuneCore also opened a Nashville office in support of that vibrant songwriter and performer community. The Nashville efforts are being led by music industry veteran Shelby Kennedy, Vice President of Entertainment Relations. 

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Artist Highlights

The heart of TuneCore is the independent artist, and 2014 marked another remarkable year for the TuneCore Artist community. The artists continue to be heard across the world in all creative mediums – from the big screen, with music featured on the Academy Award Nominated Birdman soundtrack, to the small screen, as the original score of one of the most talked-about podcasts, Serial.  Additionally, twenty-three TuneCore Artists were selected for teams on the hit show, The Voice with 2 winners in seasons 6 & 7.

In 2014 TuneCore Artists graced the stages of local venues and nationally acclaimed festivals with a high percentage of the performers having distributed their music with TuneCore:

  • 30% of artists performing at SXSW
  • 40% of artists performing at CMJ
  • And 50% of artists performing at the A3C Hip-Hop Festival

Expanding Artist Services

Recognizing that independent artists are looking for new ways to hone their craft, create music and share it with more people around the world, in 2014 TuneCore launched Artist Services, a suite of tools and services that enable artists to promote their work and connect with fans while remaining independent. TuneCore has built-out this suite of tools to include new products such as YouTube Sound Recording Collection Service, enabling artists to collect additional YouTube revenues, TuneCore Track Smarts, providing artists with fan reviews and actionable song element analysis, and TuneCore MerchLink, giving artists access to attractive, affordable fan merchandise.

In 2014, TuneCore also undertook a significant initiative to better understand musicians’ thoughts and expectations for the future of the music industry. An online survey of TuneCore Artists revealed that independent artists are optimistic about their future and encouraged by innovations in the industry, including the growth of distribution platforms like iTunes, Spotify and YouTube and the availability of social networks like Facebook and Twitter to facilitate deeper connections with fans around the world. The TuneCore Survey also confirmed that artists strongly believe that streaming makes it easier for new fans to find their music and anticipate streaming will be a driver of the business’ future.


Echoing the sentiments expressed in the 2014 TuneCore Artist Survey, TuneCore continues to look for innovative partnerships and new services to add value for musicians. Realizing the importance of connecting artists with fans, TuneCore acquired DropKloud. The DropKloud app, launching in Spring 2015, offers digital enhancement to street team promotion, allowing artists to drop digital content – exclusive access to a song, an invite to a pop-up showcase or behind the scenes photos – into ‘Klouds’ available to fans in specific physical locations. DropKloud co-founders joined TuneCore’s team and will head a new TuneCore Innovation Lab in Boston, which will support TuneCore’s commitment to product development and expanded services for artists.

Looking to 2015

In 2015, TuneCore has exciting plans to build on the successes of this past year, leveraging the new Innovation Lab to provide artists with added services to help amplify their craft, and expanding artist revenue opportunities through strategic partnerships and special artist-centric events. The year has kicked off with a strong start with the announcement of TuneCore’s newest Artist Service, the LANDR Instant Mastering tool which provides all artists with quick, affordable access to mastering. TuneCore will continue to strengthen its core offerings, always with an eye towards new store partners to increase artists’ opportunities to have their music heard by audiences across the globe.

An infographic with year-to-date milestones can be found here.

Ron Pope: How I Made $250K From Streaming

[Editors Note: This blog is written by TuneCore artist Ron Pope, and was originally featured in Billboard’s Op-Ed section on November 25th. Ron Pope continues our ongoing discussion on streaming music, but we love hearing your thoughts! We encourage discussion about how YOU feel about music streaming in our comments section.]

I’d like to start by saying this: I am an honest-to-goodness Taylor Swift fan. I’ve purchased each of her albums, I’ve seen her live, I cheer when she succeeds and find myself, almost inexplicably, personally insulted when people are unkind to her in the media. I wanted to be clear that I’m not bashing this artist whom I admire a great deal. She and I are interested in the same ends. I believe that I have a unique perspective on streaming and it’s role in the contemporary music industry, so I thought I’d take a moment to participate in this discussion while there seems to be so much interest in it.

Simply put, I believe that Taylor Swift and Scott Borchetta (president of her label, Big Machine Records) are misinformed about what streaming services are doing for emerging artists. Additionally, I feel that they are off-base in terms of what these sites mean for the future of our industry as a whole. The value of services like Spotify and Pandora within the music industry of today, and tomorrow, simply cannot be overstated. Also, it is of the utmost necessity for the continued growth of digital revenue generation that established artists participate in the building of audiences for services that pay out money for streams. For me, the explosion of streaming has proven to be yet another brick in the path towards a more democratic recording industry. I do agree that per stream royalty rates across the board are absurdly low. However, established acts removing their music from individual streaming services is not helping this fact. The media coverage on this issue has presented many of the facts regarding streaming in convoluted, confusing ways; I’m going to do my best to break down the streaming argument and explain how the music industry works for those readers who aren’t involved in the business.

Obviously, I’m not getting access to radio in the way that major label artists are. For instance, Jason Aldean (who pulled his new album Old Boots, New Dirt from Spotify) recently had a radio audience of 36.9 million listeners via 5,764 spins on US radio in one week. I haven’t had 5,000 spins on radio worldwide over the course of my entire twelve year, ten album career. Why? I’m not working with any of the large corporations, who have the power to help an artist make a real impact at radio. Over the past twelve months, I’ve had 44,560,048 spins on Spotify. In addition to allowing millions of people all over the world to access my music, those streams generated $250,867.86 (if you’re keeping score at home, that’s $0.0056 per spin). Promoting music on a global scale is overwhelmingly expensive; I’ve poured every cent of that money back into trying to share my music with new fans the world over. Since I do not have access to radio, it’s important for me to be able to reach new listeners via these more democratic channels of music consumption. Here’s an example of how this works for me; Megan likes my song “One Grain Of Sand” and says to her friend James, “Check this song out on Spotify!” There’s very little barrier to entry; James doesn’t have to pay for a download or for a subscription in order to hear my song. He clicks a button and boom, my entire catalog is available at his fingertips. If he listens to “One Grain Of Sand” and enjoys it, he can then listen to any and all of my albums. Now, instead of becoming a fan of a song, James is on his way to becoming a fan of me as an artist. While he’s doing this, he’s generating revenue (Spotify pays for every spin, even streams by users of the free, ad-supported service). For artists like myself, who lack access to traditional avenues of promotion such as radio, situations like the one I just described are an absolute boon. I’ve built a worldwide network of ravenous, devoted fans through these more grassroots channels.

In my mind, this is not an argument about Spotify, or even about the impact of streaming as a whole; it’s about the “old music industry” versus the “new music industry.” If an artist wants the worldwide promotional strength of a major label and a big time publisher, those super powerful companies are going to take a great big cut of your pie, as they always have. It’s expensive to promote a huge album on a global scale, so it’s understandable that a label wants to be compensated for making that investment. Universal (the label who distributes Swift’s music) most likely takes a cut from her streaming revenue. Her publisher also probably gets a cut. In a conventional record deal, an artist makes between 12 and 18 percent of profits. As an independent artist, I own 100% of my masters — the recordings of my songs — and 100% of my publishing — the rights to the songs themselves. When I finish a new album, I give it to TuneCore (my distributor) and they send it out to Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and many other digital marketplaces. TuneCore distributes each of my albums for $29.99 up front, with a $49.99 yearly renewal charge. Since they don’t take a single cent on the back end, when Spotify, iTunes, or any other store owes me a dollar, I get the whole dollar. There isn’t a label or a publisher between the retailers and I. The upside of this sort of business model is obvious; I keep all the money I generate, and can use it to continue creating and promoting my music. The downside is that I simply do not have access to major, mainstream media. If Swift and Borchetta are concerned that they aren’t receiving a large enough piece of the streaming revenue that her catalog is generating, I think the first discussion that needs to be had is with her label and publisher. In a tweet earlier this year, Bette Midler said that she received $114.11 for 4,175,149 plays on Pandora. Based on what I’ve seen in my own SoundExchange reports, one million spins on Pandora generate over $1,000 for the rights holders. This means that somewhere between Pandora paying out over $4,000 and Bette Midler getting a check for $114.11, someone took a pretty sizable chunk of that money. Recording and publishing deals need to evolve with the times. I’d love to hear exactly what percentage of the two million dollars that Spotify has paid out to Swift’s team over the past twelve months actually made it’s way into Taylor’s hands.


I also want to point out that we need to be comparing apples to apples. Borchetta told Time that Big Machine received $494,044 for domestic Spotify streams of Taylor Swift’s catalog in the last 12 months. Spotify countered by saying that they have paid out over $2,000,000 to Swift’s label and publisher over the past twelve months worldwide. We have no way of knowing who took what piece along the way, because Borchetta is talking about domestic numbers and Spotify is talking about worldwide numbers.

71 million people “like” Taylor Swift on Facebook. So far, her new album, 1989, has sold around two million copies. I’d imagine that more than three percent of those people who liked her on Facebook are listening to her new record. Some people who love her have purchased the album, of course (I’m one of them). So what about those other 69 million people? Fans are illegally downloading, they’re streaming on YouTube and they’re listening on radio. These are places that generate little to no revenue. My digital sales have declined in the past twelve months much as everyone else’s have across the industry, but my overall revenue is growing, because I’m making more via Spotify and SoundExchange (my SoundExchange royalties grow as Pandora’s user base does; I’m generating 15 million streams per month through their service). Borchetta told Time that taking Swift’s music off of Spotify was meant to make a larger point. He stated that the “music industry was better off before Spotify.” He’s right in saying that the music industry was better off in 2007; I’d counter by saying that seven years before that, in 2000, the music industry was incredible! Just like we can’t go back to the year 2000, when the tenth-best-selling album of the year (the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which moved 7.9 million records, according to Nielsen SoundScan) sold more than the number-one-selling album of 2013 (Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, at 2.5 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan).

We can’t go back to 2007. We have to deal with the music industry that we work in today. Fans under 25 have grown up in a world where music has always been completely free. I’d much rather my fans consume music via a service that will pay me, like Spotify, as opposed to downloading it illegally or streaming it somewhere that pays me nothing. Yes, modifying people’s behavior is challenging — but I’m excited that a large percentage of the current paid subscriber base of Spotify began as free users. That means Spotify is, in fact, modifying the behavior of their users. Their service is taking people who are used to paying nothing for music and getting them to change their minds and spend money on art. That’s exciting news in my book.

Taylor Swift told Time that she believes her music should only be available via the “paid” portion of streaming sites, an option that Spotify doesn’t offer. I honestly believe that Spotify’s “freemium” model — where users are offered a free service and then allowed to upgrade to a “premium” paid service — has been working. This model is getting some people, who weren’t paying for music to, eventually, pay $120 a year for music via Spotify Premium’s $10 per month fee. Spotify also generates revenue for artists, through ads, from listeners who aren’t spending any of their own money on music. Spotify co-founder and CEO stated in a blog post that 80% of their premium users started using the service via it’s free option. These new subscribers are essentially being recruited from the base of music fans that didn’t want to pay for music. Why would any Taylor Swift fan want to sign up for that free service in the first place if they can’t access her music? By limiting access to your music to those fans who use the paid portion of a streaming service, you’re virtually guaranteeing that none of your listeners will sign up for the free service, thus negating the possibility that any of those fans might one day upgrade to a paid service. Why do I care if fans are paying for the service versus using the free option? The per stream royalty rate is higher for paid users versus ad-supported, free users. It’s in everyone’s best interest to grow the paid subscriber base of a service like Spotify.

I am honestly worried about the future of the music industry; as a result, I want nothing more than for my fans, many of whom are not accustomed to paying for music, to listen to my music in a place that may help them modify their behavior so that one day, they might pay for music. In my mind, on some small level, that’s a contribution I’m making to the future of the music business. I’m watching Spotify grow; I’ve had nearly 100 million overall plays since I put my music on their site in 2010 and nearly forty-five percent of those have come in the past twelve months.

I believe this is an important discussion and I’m excited that it is being had on the national stage. I’d love to have people who are in positions of power at Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, iTunes and all the other digital retailers sit down with artists and have an open, honest dialogue about what we all want and how we can get there together. I also hope that labels and publishers can be open and honest with their artists about just how much revenue is being generated via streaming. Many artists seem to be in the dark about how much money their music is creating in the digital marketplace, and just whose pockets that money is ending up in. That is a tale as old as recorded music, and it is my prayer that one day we might get past the “us versus them” ethos of the old school label-artist relationship.

Do I think that every artist should do what I’ve done and stay completely independent in an attempt to run their entire career on their own? Of course not. We’ve never seen an artist promote their own career without the assistance of a major label and/or publisher and still become a Super Bowl halftime headliner. If you want to climb that mountain, you need assistance. I am, however, extremely proud that my team and I have been proving each and every day that success is no longer an impossibility for people who are game for the challenges of true independence. The future of the music industry is being shaped as we speak; I think artists should step up and make their voices heard.

#TCVideoFriday: November 21, 2014

T.G.I.TCVideoFriday! Warm up to this week’s selection of TuneCore Artist videos.

Antix, “Smile (ft. Nomakhosi Nkosi)”

David Justin, “Supernova”

Kissing Miss Lizzy, “3rd Degree Love Burn”

Devyn Rose, “Falling 4 U”

Lenny Cooper, “Duramax (ft. Young Gunner)”

Drew Baldridge, “She’s Taken”

Emeka Ibe, “OVADOZ”

Aquilo, “You There”

JMSN, “Ends (Money)”

I Fight Dragons, “Pretend”

ARRA, “I’m So Trill”

New Music Tuesday: Oct. 28, 2014

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

More Cowbell
Asher Roth
Hip Hop/ Rap

nick kandler
Victims of Love
Nick Kandler
Rock, Pop

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul

minor characters
Voir Dire
Minor Characters
Rock, Pop

Line & Circle EP
Line & Circle

Rajiv Dhall
Pop, Country

rodney c
Laughter’s Good
Rodney Carrington
Comedy, Country

annaW copy
Anna Wilson
Jazz, Singer/Songwriter

Hip Hop/Rap

Do You (feat. General DV [Alias Kryst])
Dox Boogie
Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul

Wade Bowen
Wade Bowen
Country, Singer/Songwriter

#TCVideoFridays October 24, 2014 – CMJ Edition

Hope you’re enjoying CMJ 2014! (We sure are.) Even if you’re unable to make it this year, enjoy our round-up of videos from TuneCore Artists in attendance, gigging their hearts out around New York City all week! Most of these artists can also be found at the TuneCore-sponsored event, The Wild Honey Pie’s “Beehive” on October 25th.

Zella Day, “Compass (Buzzsession)”

Little Daylight, “Overdose (Buzzsession)”

Modern Rivals, “The Dead Leaves (Buzzsession)”

Yellerkin, “Dixie Rain (Welcome Campers)”

Fort Lean, “High Definition”

The Echo Friendly, “Same Mistakes (Honey I’m Home Session)”

Neighbors, “Hooligans”

Twin Wave, “Relapse”

Turf War, “Where I Belong”

The Kickback, “Sting’s Teacher Years”

#TCVideoFridays: October 17th, 2014

As if you needed another reason to be happy that it’s Friday, enjoy the weekly round-up of TuneCore Artist videos this afternoon!

Bethany Mota, “Need You Right Now”

Judah & the Lion, “Rich Kids”

Sheera, “SLIDE”

Stephen Babcock, “Someday”

Ben Owen, “Dirty Little Secret”

No Clue, “Cali Girl”

Dee Day, “Instastar”

Daniel Mark Baird, “The Eagle Still Flies”

JJ Heller, “Who You Are”