Business Spotlight: Tunecore

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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We spoke with Jamie Purpora of online music distribution hub Tunecore about the company’s new publishing administration service, which helps indie artists tap into previously unavailable sources of revenue.

What has the response been to your publishing administration services?

It’s been very positive. It’s created an avenue for people to have representation where there was nowhere to go before. You could only get [this revenue] through a major label in the past, and this is the first time that it’s been available to anyone.

So for an independent artist, this is a revolutionary development?

Yes, because there’s revenue they can’t get to on their own, even if they went and tried to sign up [for a service] directly, like if there’s download or streaming revenue [available to them] in Australia or Japan, they can’t directly go get it. So, we’ve opened up that door, and people are seeing money that they never would have received.

And Tunecore has a built-in audit trail for that?

Yes. For the sales of the download or the streams, we get the reportings from, say, Apple or Spotify, and we know how many times something was streamed or downloaded, and we approach the societies in each territory for that revenue, which has been a little shocking to them because it was sitting there unclaimed, right?

So if the song’s not registered in the UK or if it’s not registered in Germany or in Sweden or in Japan or in Australia, it sits. You have to have representation to go pick that up. We’ve been able to do that, so far, very successfully.

And these services you’re working with are cooperative?

We had the previous experience and I was at Bug Music for 17 years, and those relationships with the societies didn’t leave when I left there. We were able to re-establish them with this new model, and because of the technology, where you can digitally send the data on these songs, we’re able to handle mass quantities because we can register thousands of songs a week in a hundred places.

And again, an independent songwriter would have to sit there and fill out forms in different languages, right? We’re sending the data immediately. It still takes a year, a year and a half for the money to turn around, but they’re getting it this way, and that’s just the process.

Artist earnings are up 20 percent for Tunecore members in 2013. What do you attribute that to?

Just the broad spectrum of who signs up, and that there are so many people using that distribution tool to get their music out there. With the publishing admin, the whole point is to get the other copyright – the recording’s one copyright, but the composition’s another one. As you know, there are several income types for the composition, whereas for the distribution – that’s one revenue type, that’s the recording. It comes back and forth. When there is a stream or a download, and it pays at a different rate, or a master use in TV, those are the three places you’re going to see the money. With publishing, there’s a mechanical, a stream mechanical, a download mechanical, a performance, a streaming performance, a live performance, a ringtone, print, all those things. So you’ve got a lot more area to cover with that and there’s a lot of revenue generated. Although it was a penny business in publishing before, now it’s a micro-penny business because of the streaming.

What else is going on with Tunecore?

We now have an in-staff creative department to pitch songs for film and television, and we’ve created a website that we built strictly for the film and TV supervisors. So, if your song is distributed through Tunecore and the publishing administration is done through Tunecore, they can license both sides through this website we built. And they can also listen to the song, request a quote, all that.

So basically, it’s all this wonderful independent music that is now being made available in a sort-able way to supervisors. They can see what is selling big on Tunecore in the last week, in the last year. They can search by keywords, genre, etc., to help generate revenue. It’s really a neat tool. And it hasn’t been done with independent music like that. People have done it with libraries, and we’re not treating it as a library; there’s no pre-set fees. It’s all based on what the use is. Another aspect to this is we’re not just going out and collecting generated revenue, we’re licensing on the songwriters’ behalf to get them the most for their copyrights.

 

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