artist services #4

This is Peter Wells’ (of Tunecore) comment on gurdonark’s comment yesterday.

I’m always happy when thoughtful commentary gets to the heart of the situation

Gurdonark has an excellent point. TuneCore is not an end-stop solution, because digital distribution isn’t the only thing an artist needs: artists need production resources (studios, practice space), time (if you have to hold down three jobs to pay the rent, when can you produce/market your music?) and all the tools for marketing and surfacing your music.

The idea behind TuneCore’s digital distribution is to make one of the most closed-off segments, distribution, at once easy, universally and globally available and so inexpensive and non-constricting that anyone can do it.

But we know artists need more, which is why we also offer physical replication and duplication of CDs, and we offer posters, stickers, buttons, T-shirts, hats, every tool an artist needs to market themselves. TuneCore will BECOME an end-stop solution, because unbundling is great, but bundling in a fair, open way can save bands trouble, time and money, making their success that much more possible. We’re already most of the way there.

The big question is always, “Okay, I’m on iTunes, AmazonMP3, eMusic, all those big stores, but how do I get people to notice me, to find out about my music and thus help me build a fan base who buys it?” This is where traditional labels have staked their claim to 80% of a band’s earnings, because it takes a HUGE investment of effort, contacts, money and more to get music noticed. But the Net is changing the environment, so it’s possible to do a lot of this work without the huge outlay, without impressing a bunch of A&R guys at a major, without having a rolodex with contacts up and down the “old boy’s club” of this industry. In the new Internet world, bands have a better chance at promoting themselves than ever. We provide tips, tools, suggestions and, most importantly, ALL the money your music can earn, so you can pour it back into marketing yourself. With the extra money, put together a good press kit, use our press finding tools and reach out to “taste makers” who will now know about you. Heck, even use the cash to hire an old-school style publicist.

So the plan isn’t so much to unbundle, but to rebundle services under TuneCore as they are feasible and realistic in the new Internet music space, and to redefine, put into the hands of the actual artist, those surfacing opportunities which are now within individual reach. Between that and market forces, only the quality of the music will make for success, which can only improve the entire space.

Thanks for the enlightened discussion!

–Peter
peter@tunecore.com

4 thoughts on “artist services #4

  1. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Peter. I believe you’ve taken the idea in the right direction–“what is the right for of rebundling to serve the artist’s needs?”.

    I really think you’re dead on right when you say “But the Net is changing the environment, so it’s possible to do a lot of this work without the huge outlay, without impressing a bunch of A&R guys at a major, without having a rolodex with contacts up and down the “old boy’s club” of this industry”.

    That’s what tunecore and CDbaby offer. You don’t pretend to be the marketing clout of a record label–you’re an artist service. Yet what you’re trying to do–to rebundle to fit artists–is the right direction.

    Let’s take as read that one can use your service and get no or few downloads. You’re not, as you acknowledge, the silver bullet. But the importance of your idea, whether it succeeds in your individual company’s case or not, is that you see that the old constructs of how artists distribute need no longer apply.

    You’re right that the “big question is always, “Okay, I’m on iTunes, AmazonMP3, eMusic, all those big stores, but how do I get people to notice me, to find out about my music and thus help me build a fan base who buys it?”.

    To me, it’s the creatino of media, whether formal or informal, to help artists solve this question that is the next step. I don’t believe this is the job of tunecore or cdbaby–I think it’s a new thing that is arising and must arise.
    When it arises, then the liberation from the traditional record company will be complete.

    Thank you for your very thoughtful response.
    I have no aspirations to be a commercial artist, being a hobbyist netlabel kind of guy. But it’s such a heady bit of fun, this thing you’re doing, that it’s tempting to do a tunecore album if for no other reason than the old-fashioned fun of being able to search amazon and see mp3s available there.

    Best of fortune in getting tunecore to grow and thrive.

  2. Thanks, gurdonark. Yep, that’s about the size of it. No one can MAKE people buy music they don’t want (though big-label “tastemakers” and the old payola scams of the past almost managed it). TuneCore is about opening the doors, keeping the price low enough for everyone, and letting the market and the band’s own efforts build the momentum.

    See, that’s what I wish I could tell everyone: PUSH yourself! You get heard by playing, you build fans by showing the fans your music. Go ahead and make a crappy video and put it on YouTube, why not? It’s exposure and you didn’t have to pay anyone for distribution. Link from there to your iTunes page, get sales, use the money to make a better video, or to hire a publicist, or to put together an awesome press kit. Use your money to keep paying your electricity bill while you hit the streets taking your demos to magazines (both brick-and-mortar and online).

    None of this will do any good if everyone hates your music, but hey, at least your destiny is in your own hands now. I wish people would listen. I can literally SEE the bands that are working hard–I watch the sales figures come in. I can see them making a ton of money when they push themselves on the Web, in blogs, even on MySpace.

    It is the promise of “we’ll do it all for you, just sign on the line” that fueled the old-school music world, and I never want to see someone suckered into that again. Before unbundled artists services like TuneCore, people HAD to sign, because how else would they get on the radio or on the shelves at Tower Records? If TuneCore rewrites those rules, hey, I’m happy!

    Thanks again, awesome discussion.

    –Peter
    peter@tunecore.com

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