Yesterday, Tommy Silverman stated that:

“…80 percent of all records released are just noise — hobbyists. Some companies like TuneCore are betting on the long tail because they get the same $10 whether you sell one copy or 10,000,” he says. “Those are the people who are using TuneCore and iTunes to clutter the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before.”

He further, claims that “79,000 releases sold less than 100 copies last year.”

I think Tommy had a cameo in Hot Tub Time Machine as he sure sounds like its 1985 again.  It’s almost sounds like the old mean neighbor from next store telling those darn kids to get off his lawn!

Yes Tommy, 79,000 releases sold less than 100 copies last year, and to make matters worse, not one of them sold a copy of their release on 8-Track. This proves, ummm, well I guess it proves it’s not 1985 anymore. Not sure how else to say it, PEOPLE BUY MUSIC FOR DOWNLOAD BY THE TRACK ACROSS CATALOG”. So of course less “albums” are selling.

Anyway, there is a long previous blog posting about how Tommy has a lack of understanding on what is selling etc located here – so that answers that part of his statement.

In regards to his hey-you-kids-stay-out-of-my-industry statement that TuneCore Artists are “… clutter(ing) the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before” – we all owe Tommy a collective apology.

Apparently the fact that people are buying music from TuneCore Artists is stopping people from buying music that Tommy likes.  If Tommy could only control what music you get exposed to you would be more inclined to buy his music. It’s actually a brilliant strategy.  Limit choice, force the releases you want to sell down people’s throats, control what music is exposed by the media outlets (like Radio and MTV) and then take all the money from the sales that come in.  Oh wait, my mistake, that’s the way it was in the old music industry and 98% of what the majors labels released failed. I guess limiting choice does not make music sell.

Well then, lets attack this from a different angle – Tommy distributes his band “Flock Of You Gotta be Kidding Me” into iTunes and it does not sell.  OK, let’s take 79,000 releases out of iTunes, poof, gone.

Now let’s sit back and count the money that starts rolling in…wait, it’s still not selling?!  How is that possible, we took 79,000 releases out of iTunes.  Hmmm..

And with all due respect, we are talking about digital stores here.  OK, in the physical world he might have had a point in that if a CD was not on the shelf, it could not sell.  But in the digital world, how in the world does a song on hard drive stop someone from buying a song from “Flock Of You Gotta be Kidding Me.” It’s not like the person is walking down a physical isle and the album is not in the bin.  My release sitting on the iTunes server is not stopping nor blocking anyone from finding or buying FOYGBKM (going with the acronym now) – well, I guess it might if they hear my song, only have $0.99 and use their money to buy my song.

But philosophically, I disagree with the concept that one person, i.e. Tommy, gets to make the decisions for the rest of us – the world can decide what does/does not have value, not one person on my behalf.

What’s more ironic, this is the same person that runs/owns New Music Seminar.

I find it a bit odd that Tommy thinks 80% of the people he is trying to get money from by selling them a ticket to his conference make music that he thinks is “crap.” If this is the case, why take their money. Why not have attendees send you music so you can determine what is not “crap” and then charge them to attend the conference? After all, you would not want to take advantage of someone?  Why in the world would you want to empower these evil bastard musicians with information that let them get music out to the world and god forbid allow someone to hear it?

Even more odd, well over 95% of the releases on Tommy’s label TommyBoy records failed. So does just being “signed” make you good?  I would rather make that decision myself.

But ultimately, I take issue with someone attacking and delegitimizing artists around the world.

There is more music being created and recorded today then ever before in the history of humanity. Although the sheer volume of music creation does not make it good, the fact that more people are creating it certainly increases the odds. Hell, just having access to affordable gear and recording equipment (like your Mac) allows more music to come to life, both the terrible and the incredible.

What Tommy doe not seem to know, or acknowledge, is that the real “music industry” is that thing over in the corner main-stream media is not reporting on and not aware of.

I have to suspect that Tommy has heard perhaps less than half a percent of all the music being released. But even if he did, who cares, finally the world gets decide what has value, and that’s the point. The industry has been democratized and set free from those that anoint themselves as the gatekeeper.

That’s why music downloads sales by unit are UP, not down!  That’s right, there are more songs/singles being bought by more artists now than at any other time in history. There is more great “rock”, “punk”, “dance”, “hip hop” “classical”, “funk”, “folk”, “country” etc etc than there has ever been before. And this is why IT IS SELLING.  Finally, artists have access to distribution and the general population can decide what they like/don’t like.

Since its launch, TuneCore Artists have generated over $70,000,000 in gross music sales . Some TuneCore Artists are actually outselling Top 40 artists – guess the Top 40 aren’t really Top 40 anymore.

And with all due respect, people ARE buying and consuming and stealing and streaming and listening to music. And more and more of them are becoming so inspired that they actually are going out to teach themselves how to “rock.”

So unlike Tommy who apparently has “the” golden ear and can tell all of us what is good and what is bad, most of us take the time to listen and/or make our own decisions.

He better quickly call Pandora/LastFM/MySpace/Slacker/Jango/iTunes/Amazon/Beat Port/Amie Street etc and tell them aside from a few artists, the other hundreds of thousands they play and sell are “crap.”

Jeff Price


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