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!