It's a riddle the entire DIY space has yet to figure out: Why will musicians pays thousands in gear, fuel, airline baggage fees, and recording costs, but balk at something like $50 a year for digital distribution?
This was a lesson TuneCore learned the hard way last year when they attempted to raise their rates to that level, a decision that put then-CEO Jeff Price (and the entire company) in a defensive hot seat. People were screaming bloody murder, rivals were swooping in to sign the malcontents, musicians were storming the gates!
In fairness, the increase came rather suddenly, from a dirt cheap price of $19.99. This could have been handled a lot better. But, $50 a year, less than $5 a month, for distribution to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rhapsody, et. al.? This was roundly judged to be extravagant by the musician marketplace, which is why in 2013, TuneCore is hoping to undo some of that damage.
According to a promotional email shared with Digital Music News this morning, TuneCore is now dropping its annual distribution fee from $49.99 to $29.99, a 40 percent drop. They aren't doing this out of charity, that's for sure.
Not only that, they probably can't afford this in all reality. Which is why after the first year, the price goes right back to $49.99. And, prices for ancillary services like publishing administration and ringtone distribution are going up substantially. Because if you're the kind of musician that cares about mobile and publishing aspects, you may be willing to pay real rates for it (or so the thinking goes).
But this story gets worse, because digital distribution into places like iTunes is a frontline, critical service for musicians. It's the most in-demand of offerings, according to details shared by several distribution services over the years. The rest, which spans everything from analytics, social networking, and tour tracking, has proven a far tougher sell.
Really... Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Interesting move from Tunecore. I love how the table only puts them in a favourable light ;)
ZoSo Wednesday, December 12, 2012
If you were paying $50 a year to distribute your record, and only making $20 a year from it... it's more/less simple math.
Where is that new middle class of professional musicians the web was supposed to empower? When $50 a year for the distribution of an album is too much, I think you have your answer...
this begs the question...
BobSleigh Tuesday, December 11, 2012
You can't reallly go wrong, as Tunecore competitors Orchard, CDbaby and mayn more quote their fees on theire websites and distribute to the same stores::: or am i missing something?
Jeff Robinson Tuesday, December 11, 2012
It gets better! Indie musicians expect to make an entire album for $5000 or less! 35% of them want to make a full-length album for under $1000! They WILL NOT spend thousands on equipment.
tarantula Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Interesting. But how old is this, what musicians took this?
Jeff Robinson Wednesday, December 12, 2012
This survey is from 2009.
Look at the results of the Musician/Engineer Survey 2009 as well.
Guest Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Read the fine print. They are not dropping their fee. this is a first year offer. the next year costs exactly the same as before.
Visitor Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Because 99.9% of artists are charitans and posers who can't compose their way out of a paper bag.
Digital distributor Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I think it is rather quaint to observe people supporting the idea that digital distribution for indie artists should be practically free.
As distributors we haveto keep complex books on even the tiniest sales for each artist. We haveto store and backup all file data and metadata. We haveto provide ISRC and UPC codes for each single and album, the list is actually rather long.We also haveto provide the IRS with tax information and do the same for various other countries .
if you as an artist feel this service should be free here is our suggestion.
Negotiate deals with all the important stores. then build and maintain an interface for uploading storing and reporting. keep track of all the invoices you send to all the stores. Then make sure you get paid. Once you have done all of this you can pay yourself.
Jeff Robinson Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Distribution fees should be higher than they are, but also, the amount an artist can earn should be higher than it is via the internet. It seems ludicrous for a digital distributor to take a chunk of money when the artist will only earn back thousandths of a penny for use.
If digital distributors wanted to make this about an equitable exchange, then they would discontinue providing music to streaming entities and only distribute to 'sales'. Leave distributing to the streaming entities to digital radio promoters like iPluggers.com.
Distributor Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Equitable exchange? Are you kidding?
indie digital distribution is mostly about stroking massive egos and trying to avoid distributing songs that are so bad you will loose your deal with itunes.
99% of all tunecore type artists are nowhere close to needing a commercial outlet, and dealing with their content is a real job that someone has to actually do.
Even a rubbish song streams or sells enough to need book keeping.
As far as not distributing to spotify etc is concerned, it is the artists that choose what stores & streaming services they want for each release on almost all proper distribution services, so the simple fact is that the artist wants to be seen and to hell with the rest of it.
studio Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I got news for you from the trenches: they're not spending thousands on studio time either.
Maarten Wednesday, December 12, 2012
You don´t need to negotiate deals with important stores or build and interface, keeping track etc. If your distributor is too expensive, (or too exclusive :)) you can start one yourself using a ready to use interface.
Compare digital distribution to sending emails. This used to be a paid service, now there have many free options..and it´s the interface and quality of the service which really matters.
This market is only 10 years old and still very much evolving, I know how complex the distribution process is, but raising fees is not an option. And I don´t think a one-time 20$ discount on a service that´s already expensive will make a big difference.
Making better services will, however, make a difference. And only those services will deserve the money from the DIY artist. And they will only make sense to artists that make music that sells. It´s about interfacing, connecting the artists to the stores, and build value around this.
Versus Thursday, December 13, 2012
Silly complaints. Any of these distribution systems are an excellent deal, whether TuneCore, CDBaby, or one of the competitors. I can release an album for less than the cost for dinner out with my true love? I'll do both and keep the change.