artist services #2

gurdonark‘s comment on the previous entry on artist services:

I think it’s really cool that a self-releasing artist can now easily click through to an album release among most of the “usual suspects”. I think this is a creative approach, and I hope it succeeds.

I think that what we have in CD Baby and Tunecore is a template for future record labels. These are more or less self-service agencies for musicians. The model is that musicians direct their own roadmap and pull services from agencies like CD Baby and Tunecore as needed.

The other path for record labels to take is to be something like the game industry, where small shops do the creative work under their own power and then cut deals with the behemoths to get their work distributed.

4 thoughts on “artist services #2

  1. maybe. something is not sitting right with me on this one.

    Feeling more sentimental than visionary this morning I would miss a strong role of tastemaker. How do I get to benefit from the next Ahmet Ertegün?

    I see the world in two spheres, 1) community driven and staff picked (A&R, editors’, etc). Somewhere between magnatune which is 100% hand picked by staff and archive.org where the staff doesn’t even listen to uploads is nirvana.

    cd baby may be close but it’s not a label, it’s a retail outlet — and I don’t mean that as an analogy.

  2. I agree that cdbaby and tunecore are not “labels”. CDbaby is a service which also offers a retail outlet. Tunecore is a service.

    I also agree that in the long run, arbiters must arise if one is to differentiate between community-based mass participation and the “endorsement” of a “label” which sorts through product.

    I don’t see tunecore as a replacement for the label, nor did I read the post to suggest it served that purpose. I see it as one more aspect of the unbundling of label functions. In the past, a label provided a broad range of services, from providing capital for recording (at what amounted to unfortunate lending rates), providing some very gifted “ears” to sift the interesting things from the uninteresting things (and a large number of very non-gifted a & r ears who tried to do so, as one would expect in any field as tricky as creative endeavors), enhanced distribution on radio and in retail outlets (enhanced, sadly, by various forms of payola), and tour and marketing support.

    Tunecore is the unbundling of one of the services–the ability to get distribution of mp3s for anyone. A Tunecore listing, though, becomes a vanity process unless either mass acceptance is gained through some form of arbiter of taste or mass acceptance is built by the band through self-marketing.

    I agree that one is going to need an Ahmet Ertegum (though I’d have chosen a different arbiter of taste, the idea is the same). But the unbundling process will also extend to the arbiters. The ‘net culture has already begun to create them on its own, and will inevitably accelerate the process of creating new resources to choose good music from bad in the way that label a & r fellows used to do.

    It’s fair to say that Tunecore is not the solution, but I see it instead as only one of many different unbundled solutions that will arise. If I understand Lucas’ point, it’s that record labels will arise which can give artists enhanced clout (e.g., through giving them the imprimatur of label approval) as their products are marketed. This purpose for labels, rather than the adhesion market dominance of old, is a good place for a leaner, meaner new label.

    I agree with Victor that Tunecore will not *be* the new form of label, but I do believe that Tunecore-type services offer one element of unbundled services that a new kind of label can use to promote its products.

    At the same time, the creation of these new arbiters of quality, whether they be labels or journalists, is the next wave–much more than a “next wave” of musicians.

    To me, the revolution is in progress, but the ways it will be televised and who will hold the camera is in flux.

  3. Hey, my name is Jake and I’m the marketing intern at TuneCore. Gurdonark, I think in many ways you hit the nail on the head. As I see it, TuneCore does not represent the future for record labels so much as it represents the future of the music industry (of which labels may play a shrinking role).

    The way I see it, the digital revolution broke down a major barrier that had existed in the “Pre-Napster” world. It used to be that the only place you could buy music was at record retailers, and the only way you could get to these retailers was through a distributor. No one, not even the Beatles, could make their albums available worldwide without a distribution deal. The label or company responsible had to decide whether it would be worth their time and money to undertake this very expensive process.

    TuneCore stands at the front of the digital revolution not because we want to “replace” record labels, but because we know that now, artists can do it without them. Take a look at unsigned TuneCore customer Kelly, whose self-funded videos on YouTube have generated more than 40 million views, and who’s songs have sold more than 300,000 copies on iTunes! Also check out Eric Hutchinson, who sold over 120,000 songs in three weeks and went to #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts.

    Perhaps we are not “the” solution, but many artists may argue that we have been for them. These are volatile and exciting times in the industry, and I for one am always keeping my eyes open to find out how people are making it work. Thanks a lot for discussing us, and please let me know if I can be of any help!

    Jake
    jake@tunecore.com

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