Digital Music Marketing

Global Promo & Distribution at Minimal Cost

Selling Your Music on iTunes

A Beginners’ Guide to the iTunes Store

For music lovers, the verdict is in: downloading music is the preferred way to procure tunes. As the largest online music retailer, iTunes becomes a very important player in this new music economy. Luckily, it’s also pretty much the cheapest way to distribute music. So, if you are a musician, and you haven’t put your songs on iTunes yet, the question becomes: what are you waiting for?

If your holdup is based on inexperience with online distribution, take comfort in knowing that not only is it easy to get your music in the iTunes store, but it is also relatively inexpensive. Follow these steps, and your music could be downloaded and rated alongside some of music’s most popular artists.

First, you’ll need a UPC code.

iTunes, like all online retailers, require that all artists obtain a UPC code in order to sell their albums in the store. A UPC code is another term for the barcode that is printed on every item you’ve ever purchased from a store. It costs anywhere between $20 and $60, but if a service tries to charge you more than $60, consider exploring other options.

Then, you’ll need a distributor.

For independent artists or musicians who don’t have a label, you’ll also need to find a distributor for your CD before you can post your music in the iTunes store. Some services, like CDBaby, will not only provide you with a UPC code, but they will also deal with iTunes for you, so that you won’t need to deal with more than one company. CDBaby charges $35 to register and then $20 to grant a UPC code.

You might be wondering why iTunes requires you to go through a distributor. On their side, it makes perfect sense. By putting a trusted source between them and the independent artist, iTunes is trusting that the distributor will verify the quality of the music so they don’t have to. For your part, it will push you to release only the best quality of songs that will represent you in this arena in the best possible light. It is important when you are choosing a distributor, however, to ensure that in the contract you always retain the rights to your music.

Both CDBaby and TuneCore are respected iTunes distributors. TuneCore’s pricing plan allows you to register with only one song for $9.99 or for $46.99 for a full album. They also have an “a la carte” pricing plan that would allow you to distribute different songs across multiple platforms, like Rhapsody, Amazon MP3 or Lala.

What happens once my music is on iTunes?

For a song that is priced at $0.99, Apple takes a $0.30 cut, meaning you, as the artist, make $0.69 for each song downloaded. Equipped with a distributor and the iTunes model, your music should be better positioned to gain attention.

Do you have music already on iTunes? Or would you like to learn more about the back-end experience of selling music on iTunes? Comment in the Community Blog, and we’ll hook you up with more details as well as allow room for you to promote your music!

-Ashley Belanger

Neilsen Says TuneCore is responsible for ~100% of the music releases in 2009 (and oh yeah, we are a major record label)

Well here’s some interesting news.  An article just ran on Titled “The Plan To Save The Music Biz“.

In this article were statistics provided by Neilsen.

According to Nielsen (self defined as “…the world’s leading marketing and media information company.”)  there were:

“…106,000 new (music) releases in 2008”

In 2009, TuneCore released approximately 90,000 releases

This means, if their numbers hold true, almost every single new music release in 2009 was distributed via TuneCore.

In addition, the article went on to quote the following Neilsen statistic

“Of the 63 new releases that sold more than 250,000 copies last year, 61 were issued by major music companies.”

Well then, according to Neilsen, there are now four major “music companies”  – Sony, Warner, EMI and, according to Neilsen, TuneCore as all of the following TuneCore artists sold over 250,000 copies….and mind you, this is a not a complete list:

Jon Lajoie
Ron Pope
Boyce Avenue
Jesus Culture
Colt Ford
Harry and The Potters
William Fitzsimmons

Well, here’s my two cents on Neilsen…

In 1991, Soundscan launched and shook up the music industry by electronically tracking and reporting weekly music sales based on information reported to it from music retail stores across the country.

The once a week Soundscan sales reports displayed how a record sold over the last week and literally made or doomed a release.  Labels, managers and artists used the data to leverage MTV, commercial radio, get more record into retail stores, justify marketing and tour budgets, get gigs, create other marketing opportunities or alternately decide that a record was “dead.”

Although Soundscan tracked single, EP and album sales, it was album sales that were the most important as, since the early sixties, it was an album-buying world. The album ruled, not only in the way music fans bought music, but also in regards to profit margins.

Being on the top of the Soundcan created Billboard Top 40 charts meant money, heavy rotation on MTV, the cover of Rolling Stone, opportunity and being able to flip on a radio station anywhere in the country and hear the same song played relentlessly.  The whole thing would spin up into a frenzy selling more, making more money, getting more radio and MTV play, creating more fans, selling more, making more money, getting more play etc etc until it would burn out and the next one came along.  Being on the Billboard Top 40 was “IT”, the beginning and the end of what it was all about.  Since its launch in 1991, the sales numbers from Soundscan were exclusively used to make these charts.

And what a great position for Soundscan to be in – to be the ONLY entity in the country that collected, tracked and reported on “IT”. With no competition, anyone that wanted access to this information had to pay Soundscan a price Soundscan dictated. In an almost perverse twist, labels were paying Soundscan millions of dollars a year for access to their own information.

But the days of the Top 40 charts are coming to an end. Music buyers now predominantly buy songs across an artist’s catalog, not just from one album. Artists can also become extremely famous and make significant amounts of money from their fame in ways that are not tracked or tied into music sales. MTV rarely plays videos, commercial radio’s impact and penetration, thought still significant, is declining, blogs can break bands and needing to convince the retail store to “stock” music is no longer an issue in a world of unlimited digital shelf space and inventory. No matter what Soundscan states, I can empirically tell you its sales data and the Billboard charts no longer accurately rank “IT”.

TuneCore Arists like Nevershoutnever, Boyce Avenue, Secondhand Serenade, Kelly, Harry & The Potters,  Jesus Culture, and Colt Ford literally sell hundreds of thousands of songs spread over multiple EPs, full length albums and singles.   Should a band that sells 500,000 songs in one month spread across multiple releases be thought of as less successful than a band that sells 50,000 copies of an album in one month?  What about gig and merchandise income?  According to Soundscan, Bruce Springsteen and U2 are not “best selling” artists (they categorize them as “catalog”), yet in one night, they generate more revenue than many of the current Top 40 artists. And the new fad right now for labels is the “360 deal” where the label generates revenue from things outside of album sales.

And what about the arbitrary concept of looking at a weeks worth of sales, why not a days, or a months, or a years?  Things are moving much faster. More music is being recorded and released. Music buyers are moving faster too.  Seems to me that the age-old concept of weekly album sales has lost its relevancy.

It’s time to get a new system that more accurately reflects the new “IT” – and this time, its important not to consolidate the power of the reporting into the hands of one company.

Posted by JeffCore at 06:36 PM in Jeff’s PostingsPermalink

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