TuneCore Artists Sound Off on the Realities of Advances

April 10, 2020

By Kevin Cornell

A few years back, TuneCore partnered with Lyric Financial to introduce TuneCore Direct Advance. It was a huge step toward offering financial assistance to some of the artists who rely on TuneCore to get their releases on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and over 150 other digital store partners.

The idea was simple: if you’re a qualifying TuneCore Artist (based on sales history and projected sales from digital distribution ), you can take advantage of automated advances on your future distribution revenue. Since then, we’ve been proud to help hundreds of artists finance needs like recording time, touring costs, marketing and promotion, or simply just paying the bills.

As COVID-19 has recently generated increased financial anxiety, now is a good time for pre-qualifying TuneCore Artists to finally take advantage of an advance.

Independent artists have often sought out the financial windfalls of the ever-mythical record label advance. While now is a more empowering time than ever to be an independent artist, there’s no doubt that as your career begins to build, a little bit of cash can go a long way to sustain that momentum. Aside from that, this recent pandemic has reminded us all that unexpected financial needs can come out of nowhere.

“My initial reaction was “Thank God for music” because I was super strapped for cash,” explains I.Am.Tru.Starr. “My bank account had just got defrauded and I needed to pay bills. So that advance was right on time. It didn’t just help me as an artist: it helped me as a person being able to get past that tough time.”

Based in New York, I.Am.Tru.Starr is a hip hop artist who has been distributing music via TuneCore for over five years. He’s a great example of an artist who would be less likely to be facing much of an advance from smaller indie labels as he built his fan base up.

“As artists, we are always trying to balance our present lives with our future lives,” he says. “Sometimes they don’t always line up, but we press through and do what we gotta do, because we believe in what we’re doing: our art. But you gotta take care of home and make sure your life is in order.”

Figuring out where to allocate advance money is a whole other consideration. Nashville-based rapper Jelly Roll has been recording and releasing music a bit longer than I.Am.Tru.Starr, and as such has a more extensive history with labels, touring and collaboration. However, his sentiments are similar:

“As independent artists, we always kind of always know what needs to be done with expendable cash. We are always a hair behind the labels, so we are always playing catch-up.”

Jelly Roll utilized TuneCore Direct Advance as he’s qualified, and he’s a great example of an artist who’s routinely trying to bring new styles into the fold. As artists continually release new music and book more dates, costs can rise and an advance can help support their drive toward new levels of success.

Financial hurdles for independent artists are nothing new. As we look at both Jelly Roll and I.Am.Tru.Starr’s career trajectories, there are a few differences, but certainly some undeniable parallels.


As it pertains to touring, Jelly Roll reminds us: “I’d like to be able to put more money into the actual production of the tour – especially tour openers.” Where major label artists enjoy the comfort of knowing who’ll be tagging along on the road to open up each night, “independent artists don’t have that luxury because we don’t have a tour support budget.”

While Jelly Roll counts himself as blessed to worry less about the day-to-day lifestyle sustainability woes of an artist, he and Tru.Starr see eye-to-eye on how an advance can help with PR support and the marketing and promotion of music.

“Gotta get yourself some big PR, and that costs. But that’s the game. Gotta spend your wins on top of making the best music you can. Content is the new oil, and it gets hard to cut through the smoke,” he explains.

“It’s not as much a struggle for me to record and release music – the area I need help most is playlisting [and establishing] promotional budgets. Ad buys are expensive, it’s nearly impossible for an independent artist to hang on,” Jelly Roll concurs.

Jelly Roll

While not every TuneCore Artist is at the point in their career where they’ll pre-qualify for Direct Advance, there are important notes to keep in mind along the way as it relates to managing your finances and handling influxes of money.

As a veteran artist, Jelly Roll has watched young artists mishandle their money: “They don’t plan on the long haul, or they get discouraged too fast from not seeing the results they anticipated.”

I.Am.Tru.Starr admits that he’s still learning how to manage his finances – which is not surprising, as artists are used to learning on the fly. But still, he suggests, “Pay your bills and invest in yourself. Whether it’s your career or your comfort, balance is key.”

As for those up-and-coming artists holding off for the big record label deal and cash advance we hear so much about? Jelly Roll tells them, “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze. Be patient and build it slow. Control your own destiny and financial future.”

For more info on TuneCore DirectAdvance, click here.

For a limited time, when pre-qualified artists can request your advance, they’ll receive 50% Off the one-time advance fee. Act fast– this discount ends on April 15, 2020.

Tags: advance advances directadvance featuring finances i.am.tru.starr jelly roll lyric financial