February Industry Wrap-Up

Our monthly look back at news from the music industry – distribution, streaming, publishing and other topics that matter to the our community of independent music makers.


Apple Music Eyes Eventual Leading Spot With 36 Million Subscribers

As music streaming becomes more popular among fans each month, independent artists are seeing the benefits – and not just monetarily, but also in terms of how they are able to promote and market their releases. While countries all over the world have their favorites, there’s no denying the branding power that Spotify and Apple Music bring to the table here. This month, Apple Music announced it has more than 36 million subscribers, up from 30 million in September of last year.

While Spotify remains at number one globally with over 70 million paying subscribers as of this year, Apple Music (sitting at number two overall) appears to be specifically growing at a faster rate in the U.S. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s subscription growth rate should put it ahead of Spotify in this country by the summer. The report points to Apple’s ability to put the service right in its customers’ hands as streaming becomes more and more widely adopted, not to mention the release of their new HomePod speaker system.

As a digital distributor, TuneCore’s aim to is provide a pathway for artists of all genres to sell their music online and be discovered on popular streaming platforms and digital stores all over the world. We love all of our digital store partners equally, so reporting on their competitive nature is simply a reminder of the growing power of streaming.

In fact, as Music Ally points out: “The fact that Apple’s ability to bundle Apple Music trials with its popular devices is paying off is good news for our industry. The fact that it’s paying off without seemingly cannibalising the growth of two different models from its main rivals is even better news.”


“Alexa, Build Me a Playlist”

Speaking of music streaming, there’s been little to slow down the popularity of both official and unofficial playlists on some of the major platforms. Fans dig the ability to listen to their favorite genres handsfree – simultaneously enjoying their favorite hits, keeping up with new releases, and discovering new talent.

Also increasingly popular are smart devices like Amazon Alexa, a voice controlled speaker that allows users to get information, access their Amazon Prime, play music, and more. Now, the online retailer and music service provider has introduced a feature to their Alexa devices: the ability to create playlists on Amazon Music.

Saying simple commands like, “Alexa, create a playlist” or “Alexa, add this to my playlist” (the latter while a song is playing) will instruct the device to do just that.

While they haven’t made as much of a big deal about this new feature as, say, their support for SMS messaging or its new Android capabilities, we here at TuneCore think it’s pretty cool! It obviously remains to be seen how popular this option for playlist building will be, it denotes the popularity of playlisting and how this concept can bring more new ears to independent artists.


Spotify Eyes Entrance Into the Hardware Game

As mentioned above, we’re seeing that just because there’s a steady rise in the realm of digital music streaming, physical devices are evolving to make listening even easier. This past month, the industry was abuzz with rumors when Spotify posted a job description for the brand new role of “Operations Manager – Hardware Product” – among a few others. Full disclosure: TuneCore has no inside knowledge of where these roles came from!

However, industry writers and pundits have been quick to notice these roles seem to suggest that Spotify has big plans for a hardware rollout in the future. The Guardian has pointed out in the past that the streaming provider has been working on hardware “akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles”.  It’s not hard to imagine that many have pointed toward the possibility of a smart speaker, but once more, it’ll be a little while until we know.

Regardless of what the future holds, we’re excited for any new introductions that will encourage music sharing and discovery.

How to Successfully Build Relationships in the Music Industry

[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]


When you first entered the music industry, you may have expected that your talents would be enough to carry you. While talent is an important part of creating a lasting career, there’s another piece that’s just as, if not more, important: who you know. While some might find that unfair or daunting, I see it as an incredible opportunity to build connection and opportunities based off friendships and human connection.

The key to relationship building, is to treat it as you would any other relationship or friendship. This means giving more than you get, learning to listen, and respecting boundaries. It also means being completely genuine in your approach. If you go into it with a clear agenda of “here’s what Person A can do for me”, and view them only as a means to an end, they’ll see right through it, and you’ll almost certainly alienate them and hinder your chances at a fruitful interaction.

So, where do you start when it comes to relationship building, and how do you build these connections in an honest, productive way?

Make your own opportunities

The first thing I want to mention is that if something isn’t going your way, if you can’t find the solution you’re looking for, it’s ok (encouraged even) to create your own. This means if there’s not a show for you to jump on because you’re a brand new artist that no one is willing to take a chance on, organize your own and use it as an opportunity to get to know other emerging bands. If you want to tour but you’re waiting for a major label to scoop you up and pay for it, stop waiting, start saving money, and begin routing your tour to make it happen yourself.

The music industry is a beautiful place, but it is also complicated, messy, and at times chaotic, so if you want something that doesn’t already exist, sometimes you just have to figure out a way to make it happen yourself.

Oftentimes, it’s these acts of self-reliance that end up leading to the most memorable, significant moments and connections.

Attend conferences

Conferences are a wonderful place to network. If you know there’s a certain person you want to meet while there, the best way to get in front of them is to plan ahead. Have an idea of who you want to meet, what you want to accomplish, and how you’ll go about it well before you actually get to the conference. If you can, try to set up the meeting via email before you arrive.

Either way, it’s best to have your approach solidified beforehand. Then, get to know the person via past interviews, social media, etc, and see what makes them tick. By approaching them and introducing yourself, then bringing up something that interests them vs just talking about what they can do for you, you’ll capture (and keep!) their attention much longer.

Bonus tip: I also recommend attending as many smaller conferences as possible, rather than just sticking to the larger ones. While there’s a lot of value in giant festivals like SXSW, attending some of the smaller ones (Launch Music Conference, for instance) allows you to be in the same room as the same few hundred people for several days in a row, making it much easier to connect with both other attendees and panelists. The more you see someone, the more natural small talk becomes. As a bonus, small conferences are also a lot cheaper to attend!

Utilize social media

Is there anything more convenient for the introverted musician than social media? It’s the perfect way to get in front of new people and build relationships, without ever having to leave the house.

While some of the simpler tactics apply here—follow people you want to get to know on social media, interact with their posts with comments, etc, are valid, I want to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite ways to network online, and that is through Facebook Groups.

There are no doubt tons of options depending on your genre/city and a quick search can bring them up, but a few of my favorites for supportive, helpful discussion and support across all genres and cities, incorporating advice from musicians and industry professionals alike are the Music Launch Hub, Rock/Star Collective, and for ladies only Music Biz Besties and GBTRS.

Join these groups, introduce yourself, and then take a few minutes each day to peruse the groups that resonate most with you and see where you can chime in. Is someone asking a question that you know the answer to? Are they asking for advice that you could be helpful on? This is a great opportunity to employ that “give more than you take” strategy I mentioned earlier. The more people see your name pop up in a group, offering helpful, informative advice, the more they’ll begin to think of you as someone trustworthy, knowledgeable and yes, worth checking out/following.

By being a constant presence in these groups, you’ll begin to find a new group of followers and supporters to help you navigate and grow your career. Not to mention, you’ll come across some truly profound advice for advancing your career!  

Get involved with your local scene

One of the best ways to really get in front of people is to take advantage of your local scene. Go to shows, talk to the other bands, get to know the people in the audience, and you’ll start to develop a sense of community.

Many times, the same people will attend the same shows (i.e. the same crowd goes to the Tuesday open mic) so the more you show up, the more familiar faces you’ll see, and just like I mentioned with Facebook groups above, the more people begin to trust and recognize you, and the more embedded in the community you become. This means you get invited to more shows, events, and opportunities.

Likewise, if your city has a meet up, get out there and attend it! Face to face interaction is still one of the absolute best ways to make a strong impression and build relationships. There’s a variety of meet ups all over the place, but one that I’ve been deeply involved in and has chapters across North America is called Balanced Breakfast. With active chapters currently in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin, and more, there’s probably one in your city—you can check event listings here.

But if there’s not? Start your own meetup! It doesn’t have to be huge, even just a few interested people meeting regularly to talk shop about the music industry and support one another is enough to begin building a strong foundation. Trust me, before long you’ll see that meet up grow, and with it, your network.

Ask for an introduction

Is there someone you’d love to talk to, but just can’t seem to get a response from? The music industry is relatively small, so if you don’t have a personal connection to the person you want to get in front of, and you’ve done your due diligence thus far with relationship building, odds are you know someone who can do that intro for you.

Don’t abuse this by constantly asking for intros, but trust that an email intro from a mutual acquaintance is far more likely to get a response than a cold email from someone they don’t know.

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.

December Industry Wrap-Up

Amazon Music Unlimited Expands to 28 Countries

Back when TuneCore got started, Amazon was one of the first stores we helped independent artists get their music into. It was a different digital landscape back then, but over the next decade Amazon would evolve in pretty miraculous ways – bringing us to the age of in-home smart technology.

Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers have made it easy for music fans to get access to instant streaming music from its Music Unlimited service. This month, Amazon announced that both Alexa and Music Unlimited would be available in an additional 28 countries! A wider rollout throughout Europe and South America is sure to please hungry listeners looking for a new layer of convenience.

Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music said, “Music is such an incredible global connector, and with Amazon Music Unlimited we’ve been able to give listeners access to an extensive catalog with the added experience of using their own voice to hear music in so many ways with Alexa.”

We’re always reminding independent artists that in addition to getting their releases onto popular platforms in their respective countries, by distributing to those additional platforms in territories they know less about, they’re opening up the doors to discovery for new fans. We’re always ready to celebrate new development from our store partners like Amazon Music, especially when it means new opportunities for TuneCore Artists to be heard.

YouTube “Remix” Music Service – Potential March ‘18 Launch

We all know at this point that YouTube is a major destination for music fans – from music videos to Art Tracks to exclusive user-generated content, it’s become an undeniable force in the industry. (No wonder TuneCore helps you get your releases on there AND collect potential revenue from sound recording use on others channels!)

Of course, YouTube’s road to becoming a streaming destination has been rocky in terms of how fans consume and pay for subscriptions (if they choose to). Between YouTube Red and Music Key, all signs point to YouTube consumers being less likely to sign up for a subscription service. With so much to offer users in the way of content, it’s not entirely unsurprising that when it comes to music, YouTube appeals to more ‘passive’ listeners who are willing to sit through some ads and use an app that also allows them to watch videos.

YouTube’s latest rumored offering, known internally as “Remix”, appears to take on more of a model that’d be similar to Spotify or Apple Music. While like any other streamer these days they’ll have to navigate negotiations with the majors, there’s certainly no reason not to be optimistic about Remix if you’re an independent artist. As Music 3.0’s Bobby Owsinski put it:

The best part about a Remix launch for artists, labels, songwriters and publishers will be the fact that there’s another deep-pocketed entity in the game with hopefully more marketing muscle than Google’s previous efforts. Nothing bad about another potential revenue stream.”

While it’s not an official announcement, Bloomberg reported that the new paid service could come as soon as March 2018.

Practice of Fractional Licensing For PRO’s Upheld in U.S. Appeals Court

In what’s being heralded as a “massive victory” for songwriters and publishers, it was announced this month that the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold a 2016 decision allowing for the practice of fractional licensing.

ASCAP and BMI, the two leading performing rights organizations in the U.S., joined forces to challenge the U.S. Department of Justice, which was seeking to end the practice of fractional licensing. Without fractional licensing, songwriters and copyright holders are forced to adhere to ‘100% licensing’, without the ability to split up royalties – both PRO’s believed that the DOJ’s mandate would “cause unnecessary chaos in the marketplace and place unfair financial burdens and creative constraints on songwriters and composers”.

The 100% licensing requirement was an update made by the DOJ, creating legal and logistical obstacles for creators. While both PRO’s believe this to be a ‘2-year distraction’ that resulted from their original goal of updating the standing consent decree that they considered to be outdated.

Given the benefits to those songwriters, composers and publishers associated with either or both of the two PROs, ASCAP and BMI received unwavering support from members and the music industry overall during this period of uncertainty.

Songwriters who have signed up and registered compositions via TuneCore Publishing Administration can rest easy when it comes to the continuation of fractional licensing.

4 Myths Musicians Believe About Succeeding in the Music Industry

[Editors Note: This was written by Krizel Minnema and appeared on her blog, Music Road.]


Glamour and luxury has shaped the way a lot of musicians perceive the music industry. Even the way few musicians are discovered seem like glorious happenstance that seem sort of in reach. 

This turns into two things for aspiring musicians. First, success looks like a millionaire life with tons of fame. Second, to achieve this success, you need to keep hustling until you stumble upon the right record label exec to get you signed.

As a result, I’ve found that there are 4 big myths that musicians end up believing about succeeding in the music industry. And unfortunately, a lot of this blind hope only sets them up for failure.


Sure, artists like Rihanna and Taylor Swift were discovered. But TONS of musicians are discovered and only a few of them make it. 

Regardless, musicians will gig around as many places as possible. They might even do some covers and originals on their YouTube channel hoping to be the next viral hit.

The problem with this is that it’s a “spray and pray” or “scratch and maybe win” process. It’s aimless, tactless, and it  hardly works. I call these musicians the “lottery musicians”. 

Doing gigs and sharing music needs to be strategic and meaningful. For example, The Civil Wars started in small areas and very specific areas. Their other strategy was to offer a free live recording EP in exchange for emails and zip codes. They got over 500,000 new subscribers from this!

Not only did they get an excellent way to connect DIRECTLY with fans, but they knew where their fans were to build tours around them. This is deliberate and strategic – not random. 

The kicker? They became a grammy-award winning success all without a major record label. 

In fact, record labels don’t even look for talented musicians anymore. They look for artists that have a following. For example, Bhad Bhabie. She has absolutely no rap experience. She had a few one-liners in a Dr. Phil show, and then she became an internet sensation. Not long after, she was offered a major record label deal from Atlantic.


The Civil Wars, Chance the Rapper, Dodie, KING, Ingrid Michaelson, Kina Grannis and other artists are all independent artists that don’t have a major record label. 

Yet, they’re making 6-7+ figures in their music. Aside from their salaries, they’re able to create music full-time while paying the bills. For most people, this is success.

Nowadays, “getting discovered” is like winning the lottery. Much worse, even if you are signed, record labels aren’t obligated to get an album out of you. In fact, only .2% of those signed manage to dodge the bullet of being dropped by a label. In other words, that means 99.8% fail. Even more, 99% of the acts signed never even get to release an album (Avalon, 2011). 

You might think to yourself, “But I’m different. I’ve got real talent, and they just gotta find me.” I’m sure this *might* be true for you. But you can’t bank on happenstance to get a deal. If you do, your likely failure rate just increases.

The reality is, successful musicians are strategic and smart about how they promote and grow their fanbase.


This isn’t just a musician problem. It’s an artist problem. The mentality is “if you love something, wouldn’t you just do it for free”? This reason comes from the idea that being poor means more passion and more authenticity. This couldn’t be more wrong. 

Deep down, it’s an excuse to not think strategically or try harder. As a result, they convince themselves that real opportunity will be handed to them. “Real art is found.” However, like in The Civil Wars example earlier, opportunity is created not hand delivered.

The music industry is changing and it demands a change in mindset. This leads me to the next myth.


Ever since P2P file-sharing back in the early 2000s and, now, the growing streaming industry, CD sales have plummeted. Demand, however, has not.

People are listening to music more than ever before. In fact, there is countless academic research that show that streaming increases the interest of music consumption. In other words, streaming increases a fan’s listening palettes AND increases their interest to buy full CDs and/or physical albums. Like, for example, classical music.

And I mean music that was made CENTURIES ago is having a comeback in this changing music industry. All thanks to streaming. Back in 2016, Mozart (yes, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) had one of the highest album sales of the year.

The way in which fans consume their music is completely different from the early 2000s. How much they’re consuming is also changing. This also means artists need to be creative with the ways we reach fans and how we sell to them. 

Beyonce created a visual album. Chance the Rapper gave all his music away and made money from concerts. Kina Grannis ran a Patreon campaign to create her own label with her fans. Radiohead released their album at a “pay what you want” model and made more that way than any other major record label release.

Thanks to the changing digital landscape around music, there are even MORE opportunities to connect with fans and succeed in the music industry.


As a musician you can build a tangible – and strategic – plan to succeed in the music industry. It all starts with a shift from a “lottery musician” mentality to an “opportunist musician” mentality. 

Here are three jumpstart steps for you to get into that mind shift:

  1. Have smart, digestible goals. Being strategic means being reasonable with your goals. Make simple, tangible goals that make it easier to get to your biggest goal. If your goal is to have 100,000 fans, start with the first 10, then 100, then 1,000, then so on.
  2. Think of different streams of revenue. Don’t just focus on getting fans. Think of ways to monetize your craft. This includes streaming sales, single/album sales, merchandise sales, sync licenses, collaborations, lending your voice in projects, live digital shows (yes, that’s a thing!), crowdfunding, and more.
  3. Keep learning. Keep investing in your education. Not just your craft. This includes music business. Learn how to network with the right people. Understand smart promotional strategies to get more fans by reading books or watching courses on marketing. Never stop learning and APPLY what you learn.

November Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds More Artist Friendly Features

As “Spotify For Artists” evolves and continues to set the tone for streaming platforms and how they allow artists to control their profiles, this month marked another update that most who distribute their music there should be happy about. Spotify introduced “Artist’s Pick”, a new feature aimed at allowing artists to control the music that sits on top of their profile – they can pick any album, track, or playlist they prefer to highlight, and even include a message about why they dig it so much.

In addition to “Artist’s Pick”, artists who distribute their music to Spotify can now add custom images and share geotargeted tour dates. Previously, artists were limited to their profile image when it came to these sort of uploads/customizations – now they can add photos from on the road, album art, or hey, even a fun selfie for the heck of it. As far as tour dates are concerned, this new feature actually coincides with the “Artist’s Pick” feature, as they can choose to make their geotargeted tour date the main focus of a user’s attention up top! Both of these go a long way in offering free tools that allow indie artists to engage and connect with their fans via an increasingly popular streaming platform. We’ll be sure to keep you updated month to month as all the stores/services we help you distribute to make announcements like this!

YouTube Announces Partnership with TicketMaster

Remember last year when Spotify partnered with Ticketmaster to integrate local tour dates into artists’ profiles? Well, YouTube is getting in on the fun! The video streaming giant owned by Google announced in November that they’d begin featuring “hundreds of artist’s upcoming US tour dates on their YouTube videos.

When it comes to music – love it or hate it – a LOT of music fans rely on YouTube to stream their favorite music these days. It remains to be seen what differences lie among those who use YouTube to stream versus those who prefer services like Deezer, Spotify or Apple – specifically in how these users engage with their favorite artists or how often they’d pay to go see them live in concert. But this certainly signals a shift in YouTube’s strategy for additional revenue streams, or at least an attempt to diversify from their main source of dough: advertising.

If you’re an independent artist and you distribute your music to all platforms available, this only increases the access your fans – whether they’ve been with you from the beginning or are just discovering your tunes – have to your upcoming live dates.

Google Assistant Adds Song Recognition Feature

It’s unlikely at this point that you haven’t been hearing a lot more about Google Assistant. The tech behemoth has been making cool updates to their voice-controlled feature available on Google and Android driven devices, and it’s latest involves music.

Eerily similar to the process that helped put Shazam (which TuneCore distributes to) on the map, users with Google Assistant can now instantly get more information about the music being played in their surroundings.

By holding down a home button (to trigger Google Assistant) and asking your device what song is playing, you’ll immediately be served with a song title, the artist and a sample of the song’s lyrics (where applicable). But of course, that’s not all you’ll get: in typical Google fashion, links to Google Play, YouTube and search (for more information) are also offered up with each response.

While it’s not an incredibly revolutionary addition, it’s important to remember that this action no longer requires a music fan to have additional apps they may not have previously considered downloading to get instant access to the new music they’re hearing. That stands to impact artists of all career levels when it comes to how quickly discovery can lead to fandom.

Deezer Announces New “Community” Feature

While the messaging/sharing and social networking elements of streaming services have been explored, blown up, and in some cases completely dialed back, Deezer has decided to open up the conversation…among its users, of course. In November the streaming platform announced that its subscribers can access the Deezer Community feature in order to share new tunes with their friends on the platform, receive Deezer news and updates, and join fellow music lovers on their message board-like system in order to find support, share tips, or act as a leader in conversations about artists and genres.

While it may seem less relevant in 2017, one must not forget about the power of message boards and forums among diehard music fans. They’ve long been a refuge for those active listeners looking to share new deep cuts, discover underground singles, and participate in deep topic conversations with like-minded folks. In the same way that vinyl and cassettes are still being purchased by some, these forums and communities too are populated with vocal and fervent music fans, (don’t believe us? Just check out indie hip hop label Stones Throw’s boards for yourself!)

We’re psyched to see the European streamer get its toes wet in the social game, because after all, when it comes to independent music, word of mouth can be everything.

October Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds Playlist Pitching Options, Partners With Google & Launches New App

October was a busy month for Spotify! They’ve announced some recent updates that impact fans, labels and artists. For music fans who use Google and Android smart devices, an advanced partnership now allows Spotify subscribers to use voice command control of the app using  Google Assistant. Formerly relegated to Google Home smart-speakers, this marks a move towards Google’s acceptance of Spotify’s high subscription rate and putting it front-of-mind when updating its mobile offerings. While Andorid users can rejoice in their ability to say “OK Google, Play Spotify”, Music Ally points out that the tech giant may still be leaning toward YouTube being the lead music brand for Google going forward, as it merges with Google Play.”

For independent labels, pitching for slots on playlists and Spotify’s ‘Browse’ section can be as difficult for those without representation. There also remains an internal struggle between the promotion of label playlists and Spotify’s own in-house playlists. As such, Spotify has moved to offer a new system for indie labels aimed at giving their artists a better shot at making it onto playlists while also (ideally) giving labels’ playlists “a better chance of building an audience on Spotify.” Read more about the pitching system here, and as indie artists, keep your eyes out for more transparent pitching opportunities in the future!

Finally, as creators are concerned, Spotify launched it’s “Spotify For Artists” app on iOS. We’ve talked about the “Spotify For Artists” app on the Blog before, so it’s exciting to see such a helpful tool being offered to artists right in their pocket. An Android version is soon to follow, but for now, indie artists with iOS devices can edit their bios and their ‘artist’s pick’, as well as update their playlists and keep an eye on their listener analytics.

2017 On-Demand Streams Soar in the U.S.

We know, even though it feels like time is flying, the year isn’t over yet. But as a digital music distributor serving independent artists with the opportunity to make their music available on dozens and dozens of digital streaming platforms, we can’t help but get excited about figures like this: on-demand audio and video streams are up 40.5% in the U.S. so far in 2017

At 442.44 billion streams so far, MusicAlly once again provides a helpful comparison that shows that this year, eight tracks have already toppled last year’s most-streamed track, “Panda” by Desiigner, in the comparative window of time.

While the top artists being streamed are no doubt most of the big-timers you’d expect to see leading the way, it’s important as ever to look at these types of figures as an overall shift toward the trend of streaming. Once a consumption method for the ‘active’ music listener, more and more subscribers means more and more music discovery. With direct access to these platforms, it puts independent artists in a good position to be marketing their releases across fans’ preferred channels for streaming.

BandsInTown Announces “Big Break” Platform For Emerging Artists

BandsInTown – if you don’t already know (and you should) – is a popular app aimed at helping artists promote their concerts/tour dates and helping fans keep track of when all their favorite performers will be playing locally. In addition to helping fans discover new artists by offering concert dates for bands they don’t already follow on Facebook via a “listen-if-you-like” style algorithm, BandsInTown is launching their “Big Break” platform in an effort to promote new independent artists.

The new feature “highlights everything you need to know about the fresh faces turning the industry upside down. From the secrets behind their viral tracks to their big plans for the future…”, supported by a series on their blog. BandsInTown will select 50 artists in order to grow their ‘trackers’ following from 500 to 5,000.
This is a very cool step towards further connecting indie artists with new and potential fans. The app is already right up any diehard music fan’s alley in terms of keeping up with their favorite acts’ performing schedules – even for local artists. Head on over to their blog to learn more about the platform and how to keep up with the opportunities coming from the app down the road.