October 17, 2006

Submit this...

by Chris Randall

We normally use CD Baby's digital submission thingie to get all the Positron product in the digital stores, but for the most recent Micronaut release, we're going to give Tunecore a shot, I think. While the net cost is not significantly cheaper (in fact, I believe it could be more expensive over the long run if an album doesn't sell very well) it looks like a more logical method.

The main benefit is thus: when you submit to iTunes through CD Baby, your album can't be browsed to via the genre browsing in that store. But with Tunecore, it can be. For a relatively well-known artist (e.g. Sister Machine Gun) that's not such a big deal, but for an unknown, it basically makes the difference between selling a record and not selling a record.

The other deciding factor is that it can take up to three months for a CD Baby digital submission to get in to iTunes, while Tunecore submissions take a week or two. It's basically impossible to get a CD Baby-submitted iTunes release to line up with its hard-copy counterpart, but that's not such a trick with Tunecore.

So, we're gonna give it a shot. I'll report back when we know if it makes a difference or not, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has Tunecore experiences they'd like to share.



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Oct.17.2006 @ 7:36 PM
penzoil washington
I'm with Tunecore. First of all, I think they are a good company, and can't imagine a more fair arrangement than that they've come up with.

To clear up any confusion: You do have to submit a physical CD in addition to uploading.

Early on, the processing could take quite awhile, but I don't know how this is now.

My question is: what company is doing a good job of getting indie CD's into online retail catalogs/fullfillling orders??


Oct.17.2006 @ 10:49 PM

While it is true that it is easy to get burned with a bad contract, if you are simply clicking a button on a webpage, or faxing a contract in, it is very unlikely that anything "signing away all your rights" would hold up in court. That kind of thing is reasonably binding for placing a wholesale order, or to loosly give permission for someone to resell your music, but not for transfering ownership of intellectual property.

I have seen how major label contracts work, it is nowhere near as trivial as signing a form and faxing it to someone. These are very serious things that involve lawyers specializing in music contracts, and usually take place in person in a board room or lawyers office. A lot of artists DO end up signing contracts that screw them, but it is non-accidental. I have never, ever, heard of anyone "accidentally" signing the rights to their music away, in the way I believe you are saying.

I think for these kinds of contracts are more "lets cover our asses" catch-all things to protect the online distributer service from being sued or harrased... they are not really planning to "steal" your music. You can't sign away your rights to your intellectual property by clicking on a EULA or signing a form, any more than you can accidentally sign away your house, know what I mean?


Oct.17.2006 @ 11:21 PM
Chris Randall
Maybe they're not _currently_ planning to, but the company that buys them after they go in to receivership has to make their coin somehow, and suddenly finding out that they can shop a "Best Of The Unsigned Masses" boxed set to Rykodisk without actually having to pay royalties on the thing is a nice discovery, especially if one of those bands broke in the meantime.

And I'll give you a very basic example of how "signing your rights away" happens: most larger indie labels will offer a new signing a publishing contract as well, with a second advance on top of the one for the first album. The artist will then use this money to buy clothes, a car, and a half kilo of coke. Then their first album doesn't sell too well, and there isn't enough mechanicals (at 40% of 3/4 rate, which is what they agreed to in order to get that $25,000 publishing advance) to cover the advance. So they're in the hole viz. mechanicals, and need to take a publishing advance on the second record as well, because they don't have any royalty income from the first one. Now the second record's mechanicals have to pay off the first one _and_ the second one before the artist sees another check.

So, assuming the artist gets to make a third record, he's going to take _another_ advance, because he still hasn't seen a royalty check, even though the second record sold better than the first one. Then the third one tanks, and he actually _never_ sees a royalty check, even though he sold a couple hundred thousand records.

This story is so common as to be almost comical. If you want case studies, I'll be happy to provide them. In fact, I'll go so far as to name the actual example above: Gravity Kills. Six figure sales of their first record, and they've never received a mechanical royalty check, ever. There's never been a mechanical royalty check issued for a single copy of Pretty Hate Machine, either.

I could go on and on, and that's just from _one_ record label, and an indie at that. I, on the other hand, had a very smart person guiding me, who kept me from making bad decisions like that, and have been a successful professional musician for almost 20 years, with a steady stream of mechanical and performance royalty checks that have managed to pay my bills, even though my best-selling album barely cracked six figures.

Now, a _real_ negotiated major label contract will of course be negotiated between lawyers. However, almost all new signings come in to that fold via demo deals, and if you want to see miscarried justice in its most blatant form, a demo deal is what you want to look at, especially one with multiple options. You're really better off just pressing CDs yourself at that point.

In any case, long story short, yes, you're correct, inasmuch as it's never an accident. It's a matter of people not knowing what to look for, or not having people around them that do. But being a polyanna about it ("oh, they won't fuck me. It's just like clicking on a EULA") is _ABSOLUTELY_ the wrong tack. You can think everything else I've said is complete steaming horseshit, but you can take this one fact to the bank: record labels, like any other business, buy low and sell high. The lower they buy, the bigger the profit. Make no mistake, because this is business, and has nothing to do with art.



Oct.17.2006 @ 11:43 PM
I've been using Tunecore for a few months now and definitely have no complaints. In the beginning, it DID take about 6 weeks, but the last release I submitted was up in a much shorter time. Their customer service is also about as good as it gets. Anytime I have a question or problem, I usually get an email back from them within a few hours. As for the fees... Your mileage may vary, but my first payment more than covered the fees. Sales haven't been HUGE so far, but it is income we probably wouldn't otherwise have, so I am hoping we will be able to build on that a bit.

Oct.18.2006 @ 9:16 AM
The easiest way of using the link itdoesntsuck sent is to go here:

link [www.mosesavalon.co...]">link [www.mosesavalon.co...]


Oct.19.2006 @ 2:22 PM
Overall I've had good experiences with CD Baby, but I was annoyed that it took seven months (!) for my CD to make it onto iTunes. It started showing up with other companies (Napster, Rhapsody) much sooner, a matter of weeks, but I kept checking for iTunes, and it just wasn't happening. I emailed them about it, they apologized and said they'd try to move it along, but it was another month until it was actually up.

For your reference, I submitted the album for digital distro in Nov '05, and it showed up on iTunes in June '06. I can only hope that they've gotten better at handling the process in the meantime. I plan to still work with them on upcoming releases, in any case, but I might peek over at Tunecore...

On another note, has anyone had experiences with Rumblefish that they could share? It's an online music licensing service:

link [rumblefish.com]">link [rumblefish.com]


Oct.22.2006 @ 9:59 PM
Peter Wells
Interesting thread, and thanks for all the kind words. Our CEO Jeff Price just put up a blog post on TuneCorner (blog.tunecore.com) that ties into some of this:

link [tunecore.typepad.co...]">link [tunecore.typepad.co...]

To set the record straight, if you rip your music into Apple Lossless format and upload that, you don't need to send us a CD. We only ask for a CD when folks use a compression, just in case there's a fault in the process, so we have a backup.

Anyway, thanks again, and feel free to write me if you've any questions or want a comment.


Peter Wells
[email protected]


Dec.18.2008 @ 6:40 PM
Andy Ward
I used www.dittomusic.com and found them better than tunecore or CDbaby.

They provide you with over 50 sites, and not just the US based ones.
iTunes, Play, Amazon, mobile sites like Nokia and Jamster, iTunes Video, we7, HMV, Virgin and loads more

They have a 4 week turn around compared to CDbabys 6-8 week and you can specify release so that you know when it is going live.
They also register you for the UK charts.

They seem to have a wider coverage with about 700 sites including video distribution, ringtones etc

Definitely one to check out


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