TuneCore + MySpace Music: Great Opportunity, But Consider the Math

MySpace Music is now allowing unaffiliated, unsigned artists to collect ad-based revenues, another non-major nod.

According to details shared Monday, the payouts are being structured through TuneCore, meaning that artists must establish a TuneCore account and specify distribution on MySpace Music (or, simply add the distribution point to an existing account for an extra fee).  The opportunity creates another competitive threat for digital distributors like the Orchard and IODA, and artists now have access to another do-it-yourself channel.

Most artists already have MySpace pages with songs, but according to the partners, songs must be re-uploaded through a TuneCore account to qualify for the advertising payouts.  MySpace will not be paying artists directly.

The partnership offers a potentially nice revenue bump for unsigned artists, and a relatively easy solution for MySpace.  But ahead of the Thursday launch, it remains difficult to gauge what artists can expect to be paid.  Typical MySpace ads are low-CPM, and for smaller artists with niche or developing audiences, the payouts are likely to be paltry.

That introduces the question of whether artists will make substantially more than the TuneCore setup costs.  Unfortunately, ad-based payouts are often so anemic that the question must be asked.  In conversations Monday, neither MySpace nor TuneCore would offer Digital Music News any estimate of what an artist could expect to receive, or even percentage or CPM specifics.

But the TuneCore costs are easy to determine, depending on the number of songs.  Starting fees are $19.98 (renewed annually) for any album, and each distribution point (iTunes, MySpace Music) requires a 99-cent, one-time fee per song.