Re: Sadly, Silverman appears to have a good point... (by Lonnie E. Holder):
...I do not have hours to scour the internet for new bands and to then find a copy of that band's music. To do so is almost a hobby in itself. Perhaps I had that time as a teenager, but certainly not now.
But that's the point. If there really were solid ways to show the success artists are already enjoying, then that data could be measured and used and mined. When Tommy says 12 bands (!!) "broke through," he's saying he's got a measure, and by that measure, 12 bands "made it," and if you trust his authority, presumably those are the 12 you'll listen to in your minimal spare time.
But the data Tommy's using is at best incomplete, and it should be far, far more than 12--and even the definitions of "success" and "breaking through" need to be changed to reflect the new ways people produce and consume music. If that number climbed to something else arbitrary, say, 1,000, then maybe a service would come alone that used the better data to break even that down to manageable chunks you can use to find what appeals to you. The point is, the definitions and existing data (and what we choose to COUNT as data) are way out of step. Pandora, among others (as Mike Masnik noted), is point guard on this. Imagine their algorithms combined with new kinds of data, more complete data, and put into a framework where "success" was given new and multiple definitions. Finding music is going to be FUN.
That's part of The Anti-Mike's great point, one I make over and over again: success is a big, monolithic and practically useless word, in any general sense. But leaving aside even the vanity case, the point is people ARE hitting "traditionally successful-level" numbers (to coin a phrase), they're just not being counted properly, and the industry is way behind HOW to count them, let alone what to do with the data if they had it. And I'm unfair even to restrict this to "the industry" as if it were one thing located in NY, LA and Nashville. Regions are key, and not just as "stepping stones" to some larger geographical success.
Alan Gerow's point about people having to buy albums to get songs: that's certainly the way it used to work. But now, people can buy songs, and that's just one thing that's being improperly measured.
One final note: I appreciate the praise, but Jeff Price, our CEO, wrote those articles. You should hear him talk, too, he brings the same passion and accuracy and attention to real-life examples when he speaks. Back when TuneCore was just the three of us (with Gary Burke), we'd all talk late into the night about how we were going to change this industry.
I really ought to check TechDirt earlier--the threads build up here fast! I've been responding to so many blogs and reports, by the time I get here the conversation has already moved like a high tide.
So first, thanks everyone for the lively debate! I can clarify a few things.
That $31 thing is an example of a 10-song album, but it doesn't just include Amazon-On-Demand. For $0.99 more, you can add digital distribution into any iTunes store. $0.99 per store adds as many as you want, including AmazonMP3, eMusic, Napster, etc. So you don't have to rely on physical sales to make it back, you get worldwide digital distribution for a buck more.
As for how we make our money? The up-front delivery and yearly. THAT'S IT. We don't take a %, we don't have any kickback agreements with stores or vendors. We've put HALF A MILLION songs into iTunes alone so far, that kind of volume means we do just fine. The truth is, digital distribution isn't that expensive to do: other places have just been charging more because they can. We started TuneCore precisely to show the world that this can be done inexpensively, fairly, without exploiting people, and still generate great income for us.
Thanks again! Holler with questions, if you have any.