(AllHipHop Features) “You don’t need a label to share your music with the world.” Those are the opening words of the description on TuneCore’s website.
The 11-year-old music distribution and publishing company is providing an outlet for thousands of independent musicians to get their products out to listeners around the globe. The service has a direct link to retailers like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, and Tidal.
A major selling point for the Brooklyn-based business is its insistence that the performers keep 100% of their rights and revenues. TuneCore artists have reportedly earned over $648 million from 2006 to 2015, and its Artist Services component features live showcases, SXSW activations, Facebook audio recognition, MerchLink, YouTube profit collection, and more.
While established artists such as Public Enemy, Nine Inch Nails, and Talib Kweli have endorsed TuneCore as a means to distribute their work, there has been some criticism of the company as well. Camper Van Beethoven songwriter David Lowery complained about the Spotify/National Music Publishers Association deal and its effect on TuneCore users.
TuneCore also suffered a security breach in late 2015 when hackers gained access to customers’ names, email addresses, mailing addresses, account numbers, and passwords. As a response, the company has since hired a cyber assessment firm in order to improve security measures.
Despite limited carping and setbacks, artists continue to turn to TuneCore for online delivery of their music and more. AllHipHop.com linked with six up-and-coming entertainers to learn about their respective experiences using TuneCore.
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Recent Body Of Work: Broad Shoulders
My friends were always fans of my raps and it inspired me to keep it going. I eventually started recording in multiple home studios and at the You Media studio located within Harold Washington Library in Downtown Chicago. I then uploaded my music onto the YouTube platform. The responses to the early releases were great and things just kept rolling, doors kept opening, and I began forming my team.
My manager, Cabey, found out about [TuneCore] and encouraged me to use it to make my music accessible to millions of people through multiple platforms they are partners with. Also because of the customer service, they were very attentive through the whole process. The user interface is also very attractive and easy to use. I can easily see how many plays I’m getting through Spotify and how many songs I’m selling through iTunes and much more.
Hometown: Boston, MA
Recent Body Of Work: The Long Way
TuneCore has the best tools for independent artists to reach their fans. It’s as simple as that. My fan base is ravenous – when I was with a major label it would be months between releases, sometimes longer. TuneCore helped me get my long-overdue album out this spring on all platforms, so the fans could get it any way they please.
You need to really have all your ducks in a row. I’m writing my own songs, putting my album together, coming up with videos, putting together my set list, and working day in and day out on my craft. The major labels put all these people around you – for better or for worse – but as an independent entity, it’s on you to sink or swim.
Hometown: Bloomington, IL; Tempe, AZ
Recent Body Of Work: Coast 2 Coast with Devvon Terrell
TuneCore is super easy to use and gives me a detailed breakdown of everything that I could ever possibly want to see. They also have been hella responsive anytime we hit them up to make price changes on projects. They’ve connected me with other outlets and even got me featured on the front page of iTunes.
The main challenge of being an independent artist is the budget! It’s a much slower rise as an independent artist because you don’t have the money up front to make big things happen. Along with that, you don’t have the platform and resources to propel yourself right away either. I much rather be independent though and control my rise every step of the way.
Hometown: Manchester, UK
Recent Body Of Work: Facing Time EP
I decided to connect with TuneCore, because at this point of my music career, I want 100% creative freedom to do what I want without major label pressure or commitment. I have had the freedom to decide the artwork, the release date, the music selection, etc.
The main challenge of being an independent artist is getting the right people to listen to your music and believe in you. Also, as an independent artist you will need to finance most projects yourself, so it is so important to find ways of having other revenue streams like performing at shows, festivals, merchandise – whatever works for your brand.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Recent Body Of Work: Silence
[TuneCore] offered everything I needed without having a middle man. I handle everything myself – producing, writing, performing, engineering, mixing, mastering – so I don’t have to break anyone off. The checks are nice.
It’s you versus you when you’re independent. You gotta really know what you’re doing and what you want. You have to have direction and passion/ambition. [I’m trying to be] the biggest artist ever in the world.
Hometown: Westside Detroit, MI
Recent Body Of Work: Currently working full-length project.
I felt that TuneCore had the best platform and pay scale for independent artists. I’ve been rocking with them for a long time now. Let’s just say, those sales are looking lovely! [laughs] Thank you TuneCore.
My work schedule is currently full… I’m currently exploring my options. But until my team and I make a decision, I will continue to create more music and tour as much as possible. My follow-up record to “Addicted To My Ex” is in the can and a mixtape or EP is in the works.