The Average TuneCore Artist Now Makes $120 a Year…

This is a figure that keeps getting worse, not better, thanks to a number of unfortunate variables.  Because if TuneCore made it easier you to get onto iTunes, they’ve also made it easier for millions of others just like you to get onto iTunes.

According to the latest stats, TuneCore paid artists $101.8 million in 2012, an impressive number indeed.  Which leads to this per-artist breakdown.

$101.8 million earnings


849,000 total artist accounts


$119.91 per artist in 2012

In April of 2011, roughly two years ago, that figure was $179/year (based on a account base of 600,000).

Written while listening to Georges Bizet. 

30 Responses

  1. Vail, CO

    Good calculation, but I think it is even lower if you look carefully at the statement of the company. They said $100MM in pub. revenes, but “most” not “all” of those artists actually control their publishing so that is less than $250MM overall.

  2. @jamierowe

    Jamie Rowe
    Make music because you HAVE to or you’ll go nuts…the pay is slim

  3. nathan

    I think it’s lower for real D.I.Y. artists that are not big names. Tunecore has Jay-Z, Drake, plus Colt Ford who’s sold over 1.5 million using Tunecore alone. And a lot of other big names. So that drives the average up big time.

    • Nanker Phelge

      Did anyone see the recent Jeff Price interview where he said Tunecore was the biggest distributor of music in the world? It’s nice that traditional record executives no longer have a monopoly on B.S.

      • CTyankee

        I really cannot believe anything that Jeff Price says for a number of reasons. He has lost a lot of credibility in this industry and amongst many artists. In any case, at least without seeing some third-party study or something I cannot believe this.
        I just looked at this number and realized that his claim is probably false. Because iTunes/Apple would only make a few hundred thousand off all of these low-selling artists. And I just lost all respect for him after a few incidents, including some lame attempt to denigrate and libel Ted Cohen in front of a conference for no reason, plus a few other shouting incidents which really convinced me that he lacks credibility. His tactic is to create false enemies, rail against them, scream revolution and get anyone to listen. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

        • Robert Levine

          >>>His tactic is to create false enemies, rail against them, scream revolution and get anyone to listen.

          Well said. I like Tunecore, but I don’t understand why Jeff runs down other businesses or exaggerates his own success.

  4. Making Money

    600,000 accounts on TuneCore, with probably 99% of them making money above the yearly fees. Maybe the average isn’t very much, but at least they’re producing something. They’re making music and getting it out there rather than wasting thousands of dollars buying vinyl albums or duplicating cassettes or compact discs that will sit around and gather dust. Who cares about the average per account? That means nothing. At least record companies aren’t screwing them over left and right.

  5. keithmohr

    since when is it a website’s responsibility to sell an indie artists music? Cmon… its a tool.. some do not pick up the tool and build.. most look at the toolbox and say, “that’s a nice tool, but I’m too busy to use them..” Too busy doing what?

  6. @LeslieBAP

    Leslie Burns
    Think photographers have it bad? Try musicians…

  7. LeaveMeAloneInMyBasement

    Thus far Rupert and Napster have stiffed indies for spins. (A story in itself – know what I mean)
    But boy oh boy when (if ever) they do pay we’ll all be living like gods!

  8. lifer

    What does the average major record company signed artist gets paid by record company from sales per annum?

    What does the average non-major label affiliated indie signed artist gets paid by record company from sales per annum?

    Does this figure include Tunecore accounts that have not been accessed for 6 months? 1 year? Longer?

    How many of these Tunecore accounts actually have active careers and income streams independent of Tunecore?

    How much does it cost for a website to hire an editor or researcher to provide a little context?

    • presnikoff


      What you are asking for is broader research on the matter, which sounds like a good idea. And these are some good questions.

      On the immediate TuneCore questions: unfortunately, TuneCore has been totally unresponsive to Digital Music News, probably for obvious reasons. And that’s okay: a lot of the questions you are asking are related to proprietary data, which a company can either decide to share or not to share – especially if it’s a private company.

      So, if TuneCore says they have “more than 600,000+ accounts”, and won’t tell us how many of those have logged in over the past six months, we can’t show up at their front door with a baseball bat demanding the additional information. We have to work with what we have.

      So, our only choice is to present the information that we can reasonably obtain given our resources, with full disclosure about what we know, and what we don’t. In fact, that’s always been our approach. If I find out more information, I’ll certainly share – but in the meantime, this is the best I can do.

      Maybe you can bring more to the table – or even contact TuneCore. You might have better luck than we had.


      • lifer

        Thanks for responding. That is why I visit your site a few times a day. I feel like you are in the trenches with us.

        • presnikoff

          ha, indeed. you can bum a smoke off me anytime, if I’ve got it.

      • Robert Levine

        >>>On the immediate TuneCore questions: unfortunately, TuneCore has been totally unresponsive to Digital Music News, probably for obvious reasons.

        Don’t take it personally: TuneCore doesn’t seem to respond to any questions it might not want to answer. And the statistics it uses are selective – at best. I think the product is great – I just think the company isn’t straightforward.

  9. @estesc

    Chris Estes
    The reality of digital sales for many independent artists who don’t get their Hustle on

  10. @simplygigantic

    Simply Gigantic
    Selling music may not be the easiest in this digital age.

  11. keithmohr

    it is NOT the website’s job to sell an indie artists music. Most indies shouldn’t make their music for sale has little value. That is the issue. VALUE. if you create a product that has value, people will BUY IT.

  12. Andrew

    How useful is the “average” in this scenario? As far as I can tell, it’s not. At all. As someone has pointed out, there are some popular artists that are selling tens of thousands of units, and there are tens of thousands of artists that aren’t selling much of anything.

  13. @ThatEricAlper

    Eric Alper
    This is why having a label with marketing helps

    • cmon

      then you get nothing, or worse.. owe the label after its all said and done.. You dont want to do that..

  14. @iamMerveilleuse

    wow.. i am doing much, much better than i thought

  15. @Artistmcgill

    Kyler McGillicuddy
    How active is the average member is in their career?