Don’t Worry, Tunecore Says the Massive Price Hike Is Worth It

Unsurprisingly, Tunecore artists have been unenthusiastic about huge distribution cost increases, especially when presented with little advance notice.

But Tunecore founder Jeff Price says the extra services are worth the 150 percent increase. “It costs money to create improvements, new features and upgrades,” Price responded on the Tunecore blog. “We can be an old, stale and out-of-date service and operate as we did three years ago, or we can invest and improve and create more value. I chose to create more value.”

Accordingly, the ramped-up, $49.99 annual album distribution fee – up from $19.98 – includes a raft of extras.  The list includes weekly iTunes trending reports (normally $7.98 extra); a-la-carte reports (normally $1.98); extra stores ($1.98); and unlimited album songs and distributed stores from the onset.

But that’s just the beginning.  On top of all that, Price also provided a long list of other services, including faster live support, quicker uploads, Ping support, better customer service, direct bank deposits, and Twitter support.

A better service is hard to argue against, though the question is whether artists can afford it.  A recent calculation found that the average Tunecore artist sells $179 worth of music a year, before ever-increasing costs.  But Price made the case for better quality, more features, and simplified billing.  “So we just said screw it, simpler is better,” Price stated.  “Let’s give Tunecore customers all the things they asked for and not charge them for each and every new feature.”

24 Responses

  1. Pay The Price

    Keep shooting yourself in the foot, Price.

  2. @CathyHNevins

    Cathy Halgas Nevins
    And people thought eMusic price hikes were bad…

    • Jed Thompson

      Tunecore has venture capital. Expect a sale of the company within 2 or 3 years. I believe they took VC money in 2008 and with a 5 year exit plan, Tunecore will be sold.

      Why is everyone surprised that Tunecore raised prices? They are in the biz of making money regardless if the music sells.

  3. David Nevue

    I don’t think most artists sign up for TuneCore, or any other distribution service, for the “features.” They sign up because they want a quick way to get their music on iTunes. That’s their whole motivation for signing up. All the other stuff is nice, sure, but I don’t think most artists really care about the added features. So from an artist’s perspective, they see TuneCore’s price as the cost of delivering their music to iTunes… and with other services being so much less to accomplish the same goal, I think TuneCore will definitely see a reduction in signups and renewals.

    • Madalyn Sklar

      I agree 100% with David’s comment. Artists just want their music on iTunes as quickly as possible. Most don’t care about the added features.

  4. Maxwellian

    Much, much bigger problem going on here. You see Tunecore can’t sell that extra stuff on its own. Artists really don’t care about analytics packages and trending reports, or exotic audio formats or whatever. Plus they don’t have a lot of money to throw around. So the only way to try to sell it is to force bundle like this — which equals #fail.

    • Joey

      Or the folks at ValleyArm have been great. I just put up my single to iTunes for one dollar oz, and the renewal fee is $20.

  5. @HardMusicNews


    lots of friends are raising hell over the increase, but most say they will pay anyways.. too much to lose

  6. Roger

    If an artist can’t afford or is complaining about $50 to get their music on iTunes through a reliable and reputable service, then I don’t think they can afford to be DIY’ing. If they’re doing it right, that’s literally pennies compared to the rest of their investment in their music careers.

  7. rastamouse

    “So we just said screw you, we want more money”

    Jeff Price

  8. @philville

    Phil Villeneuve

    giving artists more reason to do it on their own

    • Matt

      The problem is they can’t get to iTunes or other places w/o a 3rd party vendor or big label. So they HAVE to go through a Tunecore type of service.

  9. Asteroid #4

    Tunecore, unless we’re a label, we dont want the reporting or any of the other “extras”. We see reporting when we see money in the account. I know my group really doesn’t care where it comes from, just as long as we are earning enough to blow $100/day in the gas tank. Just provide us a way to get our stuff into the digital outlets. $20/annual is more than enough to cover the costs, and i think it was a fair deal.

    Honestly, Im seriously questioning why we even use Itunes, Amazon, etc. If someone is looking for our music they are a) searching Google for the band name (which comes up #1 in search) or b) searching google for the album torrent. Both of which are not in ITunes, both of which do not show results pointing to ITunes. I dont use ITunes (Media Monkey thank you), and Im sure there are millions who dont either, so most people aren’t seeing the “recommendation” anyway.


  10. Bob

    No one’s buying our extra services? Lets make them buy our extra services.

  11. xoti

    CD Baby is way cheaper and has no annual fees.

  12. @stephensurefire

    Stephen Tatton

    What’s this? TuneCore raises prices from $19.98 per year to $49.99? Utterly absurd.

  13. @thornybleeder

    Brian Thompson

    *cough cough* So bands & artists, what do YOU think?

    • Pyra Draculea

      I think I’ll stick to CDBaby for now, that’s what I think. 😉

      I do understand that Tunecore needs to keep their profits up, but at the same time, I think there’s something to be said for multiple price points. If all your customers want is the simple stripped down service, I think it’s ridiculous and foolish to force them to suddenly more than double their cost with such a bundle.

      Easy for me to say, though, as I don’t have anything invested into Tunecore so I have no information to lose here.

      • PRICE HIKE

        I’m really pissed off about this.

        Actually it’s not even the $30 charge for “mysterious” services I haven’t asked for that annoys me – it’s the smug and dismissive way that the questions, protests and criticism is being handled by Moderator PeterTuneCore

        So many of us signed up for this service @ $19.99/yr…not $19.99 this year but next year it’ll be $49.99.

        • WTF

          “But Price made the case for better quality, more features, and simplified billing. “So we just said screw it, simpler is better,” Price stated. “Let’s give Tunecore customers all the things they asked for and not charge them for each and every new feature.”

          That should be “Instead of offering a package deal for users who want everything, let’s charge Tunecore’s entire userbase 150% more for all of the superfluous features we previously offered as options.”

          There’s nothing at work here other than pure greed.

  14. Seriously?

    A $19.99 to $49.99 price hike is not “massive”. That’s increasing from the price of a bargain bin video game to the price of a brand new video game…if an artist can’t afford that, they’re clearly not doing very well for themselves. And, frankly, $49.99 to get distributed through every major channel, with easy accounting and analytics, is a hell of a deal. This is what we call “business” – there’s not enough money in the long tail of artists who can’t afford $49.99 for them to be worth Tunecore’s time. If artists don’t like it, they can go to inferior services or try and make all those deals on their own. Good luck with that.


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