TuneCore Founder On Tommy’s Math: ‘His Information Is Wrong’

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Tommy Boy Silverman dropped a serious DIY buzzkill this week, and now, the industry is starting to respond.

Silverman took a look at Soundscan figures from 2008, and found that nearly every artist passing 10,000 units for the first time did it with the help of a label (indie, major) or some sort of team.  The pure-play DIY breakout seems like an incredibly rare bird.

Or is it?  The Tommy math is challenging the very basis for a number of businesses, including TuneCore.  But TuneCore founder Jeff Price is strongly questioning the methodology.  “With all due respect, his information is wrong.  But worse, the conclusions he reaches from this faulty information could be damaging to artists,” Price responded.

Why?  According to Price, one reason is that Soundscan doesn’t track every artist – only those that pay to set up accounts and have their UPC codes tracked.  “If the UPC is not registered in its database, Nielsen cannot match the sales data to an album (or song),” Price noted.  Price also reported that “90,000 releases via TuneCore in 2009 were not registered with Soundscan,” and further questioned the merits of counting albums instead singles.

That means that heavy single-selling artists would never make Tommy’s success list.  “With all due respect, Tommy might discount selling over 1,000,000 songs by an ‘unsigned’ artist as not ‘breaking,’ but I do,” Price wrote.