TuneCore: RIAA Has Become A Part Of The Problem For Artists

from the indeed dept

For many years, I’ve used TuneCore as one of the key examples of the new generation of middlemen who served as enablers rather than gatekeepers for artists. The company has a clear record of really helping tons and tons of artists make money from their music in ways that were entirely impossible for most of those artists previously. It’s a true success story. That’s why I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in late 2010 when TuneCore’s CEO Jeff Price came out in favor of COICA, the problematic predecessor to SOPA and PIPA. Thankfully, since then it appears he’s realized the error of his ways.

Beyond his continually awesome series of posts providing tons and tons of useful data that the legacy recording industry has totally ignored, he’s written a brilliant response to Cary Sherman’s NYT op-ed that we’ve been discussing. Price points out that the real disinformation campaign has been from the RIAA, and the key point is that the RIAA does not represent artists, but rather it represents the major labels, who very frequently have agendas that are at odds with artists:

The RIAA has become part of the problem of protecting copyright due to its occasional less than honest approach to things.  You just can’t take what the RIAA says at face value as their agenda is not clear—is it to protect copyright or is it to protect the interests of its label members at any cost?

After all, this is the same organization that had the RIAA employee Mitch Glazer attempt to sneak language into a bill on Capitol Hill changing the definition of “work for hire,” depriving artists of their rights (there’s a great article about this in the Austin Chronicle).

Now add to this that as the RIAA demands that its label members’ copyrights be respected and properly compensated, its members have knowingly taken hundreds of millions of dollars of other peoples’ songwriter royalties over the past few years.  Knowingly taking money generated from the copyrights of others—aka “Black Box Money”—sounds eerily like stealing.

Furthermore, he notes that the RIAA’s strategy here now puts it at odds with what’s actually best for musicians. He goes on to point out that SOPA/PIPA in their original forms might have actually been the end of a service like TuneCore:

However, if the original SOPA and PIPA bills were passed years ago, TuneCore most likely would not have existed, and power would still be concentrated with the old regime; they would have found a way to slow the market shift away from them. In the guise of “protecting copyright” the original SOPA bill would have provided the RIAA unilateral and almost unchecked power to kill the new emerging industry.

All the RIAA would have had to do is claim that music distributed by TuneCore was infringing on its label members’ copyrights. With limited to no due process, TuneCore could have been shut down just like Dajaz1.

And I can assure you, from time to time TuneCore gets illegitimate and wrongful claims of infringement by the RIAA (and some of its label members).

No matter how much the legacy players in the industry want to claim that it was “just Google” that helped kill the bill, there’s simply no way anyone can credibly claim that TuneCore is a Google puppet. In fact, I think it’s clear that TuneCore has been one of the most useful tools out there for getting artists paid. And it’s coming out strongly against the RIAA on this one, highlighting the key point that too often gets lost in this debate. The RIAA represents the gatekeepers, not the artists. This has never been about protecting content. It’s always been about protecting gatekeepers.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: riaa, tunecore

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “TuneCore: RIAA Has Become A Part Of The Problem For Artists”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Ima Fish (profile) says:

is it to protect copyright or is it to protect the interests of its label members at any cost?

The RIAA’s sole interest is the protection of its members. As I’ve commented before, the RIAA and the MPAA are not actually Copyright Maximalists. They’re Middlemen Protectionists. The don’t give a frick about protecting copyrights in general. What they care about is ensuring that their members are the only entities profiting from copyrights.

gorehound (profile) says:


And they also have robbed Artists for deacades.The Big Labels have lost lawsuit on price fixing.The big labels lost lawsuit in Canada for using Artists Music without permission.The big labels have been found guilty more than once for “payola”.
Could keep going on and on.
RIAA & Their Labels are the Enemy of Artists not their friend.Wish more Artists would just realize this.

Jed says:


Whether you are talking about organizations like the RIAA, AARP, the various Unions, or the person(s) that are purportedly representing you in the government.

The IMPORTANT question is: Who are they really working for?

Are they working for the artists (RIAA), the seniors (AARP), union members, you, or are they working to further someone other person/organizations interests? Interests that may be partially or completely at odds with the interests of the people they claim to be representing.

Take a moment to really consider my question before you dismiss it.

Anonymous Coward says:


I suspect that, at least in the short run, they aren’t handling or addressing piracy at all. Tunecore makes no investment in acts, puts no “skin in the game”. They are no different than Fedex or UPS in this matter, they are only agents of delivery.

Tunecore isn’t a replacement for record labels, any more than Amazon.com is a replacement for publishing companies. They are different stages and steps in a process.

When it comes to piracy, the retail is not concerned, for they are making a percentage of every sale, not attempting to recoup a major investment in each product. Someone else (in this case the artists) are the ones taking the risk in investing their time, efforts, and yes money to make the recording that are sold here. They are the ones that will take the loss directly when they don’t sell, Tunecore makes money pretty much on the first copy sold.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Investment”, “Skin in the game”

The problem with the recording industry is just that, why is a huge investment and budget needed to create the product? It’s because the market has been made so closed that it’s no longer the consumer, the fans, the quality or innovation of the art, that drives the market. Every generation of listener has moved against the mainstream…trying to slide out from under the mass produced tripe the industry has provided… and every generation has those movements get co-opted. Now, our kids have an entirely different technology, and they can finnally actually do it… leave the homogenizing, big money, corporate, corrupting influence behind… and finally be able to use the word “artist” without stifling a giggle.

I say more power to them, and that the true champions of the free market are the ones who aren’t screaming “too big to fail, OR ELSE!”… or “SOPA, or the industry dies”.

No… successful business is not the goal of the economy, you self-important corporations. You are mearly riding a trend… and when it ends, so do you. THAT is the essence of the free-market.

Like the dinosaur, the time of the collossal corporation is at an end… your inefficient, beauracratic, officious, and ill-suited to survive… realize it. The sooner you die, the sooner we can use your decaying remains as a historical footnote, and maybe, something useful to burn as fuel.

Anonymous Coward says:

The RIAA, also known as the “gigantic three”, are made up, primarily, of Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. They are the most important thing in music today, employing the most important “talent” the world has even known. They help write important secret treaties and other important laws, like SOPA.

They represent creative freedom and the willingness to rock and roll, to gangster rap, to contemporary folk and other important musical genres. They are at your friendly neighborhood record store, called the Wal-Mart, and are also inside your home, sneaking out of your radio and television to watch you when you sleep at night.

The RIAA needs to be protected, the way that your ears need to be protected from anti-music propaganda. Why won’t you listen?

Torg (profile) says:


Okay, yes, now that I’ve looked at it, a flat rate per month wouldn’t be affected by piracy. That much is true. Now for the rest of your post:
“TuneCore artists have sold over 500,000,000 units of music in the last few years and generated over a quarter billion dollars.”
This was in the article that this one is based around. What was that about “when they don’t sell”?
As far as taking losses, I’ve seen people write and record good-sounding music and post it to YouTube just for the hell of it, so it would seem that music production isn’t all that expensive. Tunecore’s service costs ten bucks a month, which can be earned back if a band manages to sell one album or ten individual songs. Anything short of a three-minute rendition of a banshee’s wail can get more than that just by asking nicely on the right website. Overall this doesn’t appear to me to be a very risky venture. Certainly less so than a system in which a merely moderately successful musician can end up owing the label nearly $400,000.

Anonymous Coward says:


“Overall this doesn’t appear to me to be a very risky venture. Certainly less so than a system in which a merely moderately successful musician can end up owing the label nearly $400,000.”

Welcome to YouMissedThePoint, population you.

The point is Tunecore doesn’t have anything in the game. Piracy isn’t an issue for them because it doesn’t cost them anything. It doesn’t take away from their ability to recoup an investment, because they didn’t make one in any of the artists.

Your rant and poke at record labels is nice, but meaningless in the context.

Anonymous Coward says:


You can’t be serious are you?

The RIAA and Co. do exactly what TuneCore does, the only thing Tunecore doesn’t do is sign the artists copyrights away to them and spend millions in promotion I hardly call that developing an artist or developing arts.

BTW haven’t you heard that Amazon is producing millionaire writers on their own?

That to me sounds a lot like a viable modern alternative to tradition publishing houses.

Just like Jamendo is for music.

Richard (profile) says:


The point is Tunecore doesn’t have anything in the game. Piracy isn’t an issue for them because it doesn’t cost them anything. It doesn’t take away from their ability to recoup an investment, because they didn’t make one in any of the artists.

Not true – if artists who use them don’t make money then in the medium term they have no business.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:


Tunecore isn’t a replacement for record labels, any more than Amazon.com is a replacement for publishing companies.

You really do have your eyes squeezed shut, your fingers in your ears, and you’re shouting “Lalalala the internet isn’t real!”

Amazon’s Kindle (and other e-readers) are making self publishing a reality for thousands of authors.

Do those authors using it, and the musicians using Tunecore, have to invest time and money? Sure they do. But they do not have to invest millions of dollars to be successful, or to reach the public, like they would have been required to do a decade ago.

Yes, Amazon and Tunecore are in it for the money. But they’re helping thousands of artists every year become profitable at the same time. That’s a win-win model, not the parasitic leech model of RIAA. Really, how many artists can the RIAA claim to have made profitable every year?

Michael says:


“Erm, what? Piracy isn’t an issue for people who sell music as their core business model? What’s the RIAA’s problem then?”

The fact that they’re not longer the only game in town? The fact that more and more artists are turning away from their lousy business model? The fact that they don’t get to regulate the internet and our computing devices?

surfer (profile) says:


I see what your doing here a = b, and b = c, therefore a must = c.

The word artist is not part of either the RIAA, or the MPAA acronymn and therefore do not compete with the RIAA or TuneCore, and if their competitors are for SOPA, therefore they must be anti-SOPA, therefore all artists are theives. Wait that’s not right..

It’s either with them or against them, until you dissect one of their failure points, then your Google, or an internet mindless mob. Wait that’s not right..

I think the brainset at the *AA’s is so bottom shelf, they can only speak using the two point system for argument; for/against or pirate/artist

‘bring up valid imperfection in their gem SOPA’ = theiving pirate

‘bring up genuine dislike for the provisions of SOPA in detail’ = Google

‘just don’t like SOPA’ = mindless internet mob.

‘likes SOPA’ = artist devastated by piracy

and any combination of the for/against pirate/artist outside of the above, they just ignore, they don’t have talking points for artists whom are against SOPA, and/or file-share.

Anonymous Coward says:


Read again slowly. Even if an artist sells ZERO, Tunecore isn’t out of pocket anything more than keeping the lights on. They didn’t put X thousands of dollars on the table to make a recording. They just sell it. They are on the same risk level as any retail store, except they don’t even have to pay for inventory.

Tunecore’s risk is the total cost to keep servers online, and that risk isn’t tied to any single artist.

Anonymous Coward says:


Paul, you have to pay attention (something you are not good at).

How much does Tunecore put up front for each artist?


How much does a record label put up for an artist? Often hundreds of thousands.

If the artist sells nothing, how much is Tunecore out?


If the label artist doesn’t sell, how much is the label out? Often hundreds of thousands.

You cannot compare RIAA companies with Tunecore, because they are at different points in the process. Compare Tunecore to Amazon, maybe then you are in the right area.

Anonymous Coward says:


The costs aren’t low – the costs are merely transferred, once again, to the artist. It’s the hidden costs that labels were fronting the money for, now the artists have to find it themselves.

I would bet you that, if you calculated the artists cost in time and such on an hourly rate, very few of them are even making minimum wage for their efforts. “Making money” is a slippery term when you ignore the costs.

Anonymous Coward says:

All the RIAA would have had to do is claim that music distributed by TuneCore was infringing on its label members? copyrights. With limited to no due process, TuneCore could have been shut down just like Dajaz1.

Have any of the people whose writings you praise here even read the bill? “Just like Dajaz1”? No private party could have seized the site like that under any current law (which Dajaz1 was seized under). Nor could TuneCore been affected by SOPA as it as US registered site.

So this guy lies and you swear to it Masnick? Is your case against anti-infringement so weak you have to distort and lie in order to keep it going?

Not an Electronic Rodent says:


I would bet you that, if you calculated the artists cost in time and such on an hourly rate, very few of them are even making minimum wage for their efforts

And I would bet you that each artist makes a gazillion dollars a minute just for thinking about using the service.

Oh… I’m sorry I thought we were playing “Who can make the most obviously totally unsubtantiated and pulled out of their arse claim”.

The costs aren’t low – the costs are merely transferred, once again, to the artist. It’s the hidden costs that labels were fronting the money for, now the artists have to find it themselves.

That would be worse than the label charging all those costs back to the artist with the addition of plenty of interest and dubious accounting would it?

Anonymous Coward says:


Someone correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t these the basic steps?
1. Artist learns instrument
2. Artist plays gigs in pubs and clubs to hone their craft
3. Artist records demo out of their own pocket
4. Artist sends demo to label
5. Label might decide to give artist wads of cash

The artist is already out of pocket, what’s wrong with them trying to recoup some of those costs by using a service like TuneCore instead of approaching a label? If does well they can use those funds to produce their next song. If it doesn’t they could still approach a label.

And with the reduced costs of music production these days, why are the labels still spending so much money?

PaulT (profile) says:


“Record labels do all sorts of deals, including pure distribution deals. Why not compare apples to apples?”

You first. I’ll assume that you’re equally critical of the labels that offer pure distribution deals, as they didn’t invest in the albums they’re distributing. Otherwise, you would be a hypocrite.

“you know on a level playing field, the labels will win out”

Ah fantasy, fact free assertions being made as though they’re fact, then used as the basis for entire arguments despite evidence to the contrary. I’ll miss you on whatever day you decide to join the real world.

PaulT (profile) says:


“Did I miss anything?”

You missed the fact that they don’t claim to do any of those things. They’re a distribution service, nothing more, nothing less, whose job it to enable artists to get their albums sold as easily as possibly. That’s it.

What you’re doing is the equivalent of attacking a CD duplication plant for not having been involved in the production of the album they’re pressing. It’s both bizarre and rather stupid.

Michael says:


I love how you never seem to touch upon how the major labels invest an absurd amount of money into unproven artists and then expect them to somehow pay it all back out of about 10-12% of their total profit. Read about indentured servitude in the music industry. Even when artists don’t break even (which is common given the ridiculous debt), the labels will then do a huge tax write-off, all the while making a fortune at the artists’ expense.

Please stop insulting our intelligence by trying to portray the major labels as the victims of bad unrecoupable artists. Take a look sometime at the average contract they con the artists into signing. You’ll learn how it essentially turns the artists into corporate slaves and strips them of all ownership of their own work.

Yeah, who’s the thief?

Amish Schulze (user link) says:

I use TuneCore

I am in a small bluegrass band called “Frum The Hills” based out of Maryland. If not for services such as TuneCore, we would have a much harder time getting our music out there. We have a physical CD that we recorded, pressed and are distributing using our own money, and now thanks to TuneCore we can sell it in the iTunes store, Amazon and 20ish other online stores. Plus, we get plays on online streaming/radio services. I pay them roughly $64 a year for their service and it is well worth it. When it comes to Piracy, I would hope that people that come out and see us by our songs, but ultimately I’m glad people want to hear it and enjoy it. To fight piracy we would have to fight that fight ourselves, out of pocket. TuneCore is merely a vehicle for bands to be heard and make some money, too. I’ll never make back what I’ve put into being a musician, but that’s not why “I” do it. I just love to entertain. I mainly am posting this because some people don’t really know what TuneCore does.

lolzzzz says:

replies to aboves

NO they care to gt free money form artists so they can jet aorund and keep there lifestyle all while you gt no health care , have to fight in stupid wars and get no retirement money…

YA right.
@11 NO they are the giant taxation regime that bribes cheats and started to screw with the worlds civil rights.

I get pissed when a law they draft and hand out to govts world wide has repercussions because its so vague.

With todays technology tell me again why you need a label if say a pirate bay existed for real and artists could just up works and note there tour dates and where you can buy legal and donate? YA thought so shill written all over you…

@13 WHAT 500$ a unit? whose the smuck paying 500$ for a music dvdr/cdr?
UGH ya numbers aren’t right….makes ya wonder don’t it….

well might be but they’d make a lot more on one standard for all and a 25 cent ebook after all what is the ROI for bandwidth and the insta copy you download….and hten there is the DRM garbage to deal with….I gave up a long time ago putting any cash into any of them cause its as i see in ever y post its about money not about art and creation first….

THAT is where it all goes wrong.IF i see something old and a few others things and mix em together into something not done before and cool. WHY should i have to pay full price for crap 30-40 let alone 150 years old?

YOU haven’t figure it out china and india and asia are doing all the manufacturing that means we have to be doing this copyright should be lessoning so more people can create and get work and make a buck. NOT the other way and make it impossible and thus toss millions out of work when china finally has all the jobs….USA wants to try and corner that market before they hand all manufacturing to china and india….WELL i hate to say it unless you copyright folks are willing to pay my rent and food aka welfare it wont work.

just sum it up this way….
THE RIAA/MPAA/BSA are all a bunch a no minded lawyers who otherwise would have no income. POOR them all .00001% of them of the worlds population. TO screw over and tax the rest of us in such a harsh way for being too poor.

DO you really think if i had there level a income id bother pirating? DO YOU? get real for a change ….
@36 DUDE i can make a song freely ….and i could host a million such songs on a 10$ 100megabit server with bittorrent tracker…..OH WAIT….
#38 HUH i have to register sites now with whom in the usa?
What if i aint in da US OF AH?
fail….read above why.ALSO by law where i am any .com/net/org hosted and bought by me and hosted here in said area is property …YOU just try and thieve it and ill have a day in court and YOU WILL LOSE….and ill take it to the world trade organization and there ill get the right to infringe on your nation to the tune of my damages….

THATS one way it actually has been dealt with the usa not playing fair….
#39 then don’t try, because for me and him to discuss the fact of tricky accounting meant to obfuscicate revenues and hide moneys form taxes in offshore tax heavens is just beyond most people and would entail a long long article by mick and i doubt he has even all the facts….ITS why only a few do it, and you need big bucks ot get into that club.

Other things they do like starting up an organization called “peoples civil rights” or something as a sub company then using it to lobby on top of there own lobbying just makes the whole act of bribery seem less until you do research of how awful that is.

Ask your self why was Sun Microsystems and Oracle doing DRM work together and hiding it all under a shoe company?
See sounds fishy that’s an example.

what the heck are you talking about? THIS post is about a company that takes your song puts it on the net for a small fee and when done on mass via artists you get traction and some sales.

Labels make you sign a contract pay you X dollars and extra costs are born most times by the artists and that’s why you see certain ones getting screwed over.

ask yourself why in 2005 i went into a future shop and as i walked about i saw MUSIC CDR for 29.95 and knowing that most artists if big named get 50cents a cdr….
WHOSE the thief again?
@44 hrm most so called artists get paid to goto said pubs and have started out with other jobs too so once you get to a point where your music is more work aka running around with that demo and your gigs that are paying you more then your job…then you show that also to a label ( used to anyways ) and then they might see about signing you.

THERE are EVEN OMFG bands that dont want to get signed by labels and just play clubs for fun….kinda like a opensource version of music….

@48 they aren’t , they are needed to continue the control of said industries to maintain lifestyles no one should be entitled to while the actual artists and people of the planet get smacked.

so a 10 cent pressed cdr at 29.95 artist gets 50 cents labelling on cdr and case costs 50 cents
and your what? only reason you don’t see cdrs that price is cause of piracy peoples said SCREW THIS BULL CRAP.
The very same people that gave limited rights in the first place are saying its too much now….
Do i care what they invest ? IS this why they need 150 year copyright to penny pinch cause they cant tell who’d even be worth investing in? Sounds like all the lawyers that took over don’t know wtf they doing so only recourse is to ask for more laws to keep the gravy going.

NOTICE that as copyright increases the us economy keeps getting worse..YOU figure it out yet?
I got a band as a producer into a studio to get there album made and i’ll tell ya never again , gave me kidney stones that bullshit and i’m not into it ever again.ITS AWFUL BUSINESS for AWFUL PEOPLE.
@51 you do not get that a poor guy say me gets yoru tunes free and says to his nicely emplyed bud hey check out this band and he like sit gets a copy then decides wants the real deal and buys and we both then pay to see you in a concert or bar? ITS ADVERTISING MAN USE IT SEE WHAT IT CAN DO FOR YA …best is its free if your smart….Imagine that mister record label investing money and you aren’t just a net connection to upload….with a link to buy for real and donate…damn if ya don’t get back the 5 cents in bandwidth and a few bucks in your tunage cost to make….YOUR DOING IT WRONG.

lolzzzz says:

adlib to #11

OH and how does it get paid for
you let the site put ads around too and hat revenue is shared
AKA once the bills for server and coders are paid and the people n hosting it. what’s left is to all the artists as per a share of there downloads….if your not equal to a cent we’ll roll it over till next month …and that’s a non profit in a sense….

John Fenderson (profile) says:


If you read the whole quote, you would have noticed the part where it said “if the original SOPA and PIPA bills were passed years ago”.

This is 100% accurate. The original bills allowed for that type of private action without going anywhere near a court. That was only changed due to public outcry. No distortion of lie there.

Yes, I, and I suspect a lot of people here, have read the bills in each of their incarnations.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


Actually, Amazon is increasingly a replacement for publishing companies. With the reduced costs associated with creating and publishing works of all sorts, the role of traditional publishing companies is becoming less important as time goes by.

This is particularly true with music, as there is now no need to make anything physical at all. The traditional role of the labels is almost irrelevant, and what remains relevant is being done in a better way by startups like Tunecore. This is why the labels are freaking out. Piracy isn’t a real threat to them. The changing nature of the production & distribution chain is.

Michael says:

replies to aboves


You realize that I was speaking *against* the industry practices, right? They claimed way back when that as production costs progressively came down on discs, so too would album prices fall. They didn’t — indeed, they kept jacking up the price.

The relatively new 360 contracts offered by major labels are so transparent as to be laughable. While the artist may get about 30% of all album royalties with it, they still have to recoup the labels via album sales (despite album sales being at an all-time low) and the labels have the option to front an additional $200k, thereby increasing the artist’s debt. In exchange, the label will receive 30% of ALL profits from touring, merchandising, endorsements, etc. which, inevitably, is considerably more money than the album will make.

Major labels, the RIAA, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc. are irrelevant in this day and age. The 11th hour has arrived for the middle-men and their armada of slick lobbyists and lawyers who specialize in extortion, bribing, stealing, back-room dealing, writing harmful legislation in secrecy, and scheming to claim ownership of all musical content via the seemingly neverending expansion of copyright.

lolzzzz says:


YOU realize that in 1995 it costed 10 cents to stomp a cdr via a press like device and they’d punch out tones a it….

costs went up cause lawyers moved in….end of story
need ot get more cash make a new law, we need bribe er lobby money for that…oh wait its not enough now we need more laws and more money well get out the bribe er lobby money again and that eats profits …then they said he we can charge more for doing all this too and wella utter crapola greed and then you enter the age of creative accounting for the fraudulently inclined WOOT …USA economy rocks don’t it…its got no debt and no issues….
Can my nation be like you
@56 thanks for that …even worse is fact avg artist 20 years ago got that much how then can labels be making record profits and artists are getting nothing OH YA lawyers and lazy fat cat ceos and staff…..YUP your right .

TheBiggerTool says:

They're all after my money

TuneCore, RIAA, the Big 3, who ever. All any of them want is to make money off the efforts of musicians. TuneCore has no “higher” purpose – they see hundreds of thousands of mediocre wannabe music stars as a can’t-lose cash cow. Period. They dress it up in “we’re here for the artists” rhetoric and everyone drinks the Kool-aid. Same as it ever was. New boss same as the old boss.

PaulT (profile) says:

They're all after my money

No name artists like Trent Reznor, Joan Jett, Public Enemy and Tiesto, to give a few examples from their home page? Or, do independent artists only matter if they try to distribute their music on their own?

Or, are you saying that because middlemen might still exist, we just have to bow down at the RIAA altar every time we buy something so that they can filter the music for us and off what they think is “best”?

TheBiggerTool says:

They're all after my money

Trent Reznor & the others are the loss leaders. TuneCore makes their money from the hordes of mediocre artists that will sell minimal (or zero) amounts thus costing TC less in bandwidth & accounting. For artists such as Reznor, Joan Jett, etc., (who established their careers with the help & power of a major label, by the way) TC is a good deal. For the wannabes it’s $60 a year they probably won’t earn back in royalties/retails sales.

All I’m saying is it doesn’t matter who it is – TuneCore, RIAA, CD Baby, iTunes, whoever! None of them have any higher purpose, they don’t really care about artists beyond seeing them as a source of income. If they did, you would see them putting some of the millions & millions in profits they rake in into some sort of program to discover & promote the truly talented musicians that get overlooked every day. They could put money into a trust to help uninsured musicians that have catastrophic health issues hit them unexpectedly; they could sponsor a nationwide touring assistance program to help low profile artists find bookings & affordable accommodations; instead of teaming up with Guitar Center to push their sales agenda they could team up with them to give a series of free seminars on how to earn money in the music business (or touring basics or PR basics or any one a gazillion things)- BUT THEY DON’T!!

I’m not saying bow down to anyone. I’m saying don’t drink the kool-aid. We will always have middlemen, we will always have gatekeepers. For the most part, we actually need them. I’m saying go in with your eyes open & evaluate the risks & costs associated with each entity; evaluate your own skill set honestly & accurately, and go with the new/old boss that is going to be the most beneficial &/or the least detrimental to your career. They all want your money, so don’t get sucked in by the aggrandizing anyone spews.

PaulT (profile) says:

They're all after my money

So, it’s only targeted at no-name artists. Apart from the big ones. But they don’t matter because they’re subsidising the smaller ones. Therefore Tunecore is leeching off the smaller artists, even though they’re providing a service that would be more expensive and too time-consuming for most of them to do otherwise, and represents a trivial outlay to get your work distributed. Wow.

Do you also criticise CD duplication plants for not investing in the products they duplicate? Printers for not having invested in the books they print? Haulage firms for not having invested in the manufacture of the containers they’re shipping? Warehouse operators for not investing in the crates they store? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing here.

“We will always have middlemen, we will always have gatekeepers.”

Middlemen != gatekeepers. Learn the difference, maybe you’ll get somewhere.

TheBiggerTool says:

They're all after my money

You make me laugh. The dupe plants don’t claim to “level the field,” UPS & the freight companies don’t tout the stars that use their services; you’re comparing apples to oranges & putting words in my mouth. TuneCore, iTunes, CD Baby, all of them offer a service, no question that there is a place for all of them. But they present themselves to the gullible as being the key to super-stardom. Sure, they don’t come right out & say that – it’s called “implication.” I don’t have the time to try to explain the marketing strategies here, or to reiterate my point in excruciating detail. Especially when my point is really simple: everyone – not just the RIAA – wants your money. Some deserve it, some don’t. You pick who you want to get it. Just don’t think TuneCore (or whoever) has more altruistic motivations than anyone else. They saw a way to make lots of money that happens to provide a service that is useful to some and won’t do a thing for many.

And middlemen & gatekeepers are not the same. They can be – that is to say a gatekeeper can also be a middleman – but they’re not always the same. Since you are such a deeply knowledgeable music industry insider, I’m sure you know who Anderson Distribution is, and that they distribute massive amounts of the physical product sold by the likes of Sony, Warner, etc. Anderson is a middleman. Sony is the gatekeeper. See the difference? Probably not, since you seem to be so certain you have all the right answers.

I know the difference. And I am somewhere. I’ve been in the industry a long time, I get paid royalties & retail profits every week, and it’s because I’ve learned not to drink the kool-aid. Like I said earlier, go in with your eyes open & evaluate the risks & costs associated with each entity; evaluate your own skill set honestly & accurately, and go with the new/old boss that is going to be the most beneficial &/or the least detrimental to your career. That’s what I’ve done and that’s why I have managed to “get somewhere.”

I could argue semantics, marketing strategies, old school vs new school, etc until the sun collapses and it won’t change your mind or cause you to actually grasp what I am saying, so I’m done with this thread. Good luck with your music career.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...