This is Celia Hirschman for On the Beat on KCRW.
As the digital age continues to mystify and terrorize the record business we've always known, it's fascinating to see folks who have adjusted to the changing environment. As they say, when you get lemons, make lemonade.
Jeff Price is an co-owner of the indy record label, SpinART. Built over 10 years ago, the label has weaved and bobbed as most indies do, adjusting to the business as it changes. His latest invention is an ingenious organization called TuneCore. TuneCore is a music-distribution service that works iTunes, Rhapsody, MusicNet and Napster as well as other digital services around the world. Just like a record distributor is responsible for getting physical CD's into record stores, a digital distributor gets digital music onto online-music download services. The concept of a digital distribution company is not new. A number of aggregator services have blossomed in the wake of iTunes. But all of those services add music at their own discretion, take a percentage of the sales, and lock the artist in long agreements. TuneCore is completely different.
Anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can sign up; the artist keeps all the rights, all the money, and the recordings. There are no contracts to sign. Instead of paying a percentage of sales back to the distributor, TuneCorp charges a nominal fee up front. The first service, most often iTunes is actually free with the order, and each additional service costs 99¢ per album to list. Artists can get their music up for sale on credible outlets for very little money now.
TuneCore is taking the velvet rope away from the record companies and offering artists and potential artists the opportunity to release their own music online. And they don't stop there. Using his background in record marketing, Jeff Price has organized a network of service providers to help bands grow their business. TuneCore can set up a band's website, print their t-shirts and posters, solicit opportunities at film and television for song placement and much more.
Mr. Price understands that the future of the music business will be built by the entrepreneurs who recognize the changing cultural trends, and who capitalize on them. Musicians live in every town, just waiting for their lucky break. With viewership on American Idol at an all time high, discovery of the talented underdog, is clearly the public's passion.
Why not give your recordings to a company that can provide access to like minded consumers at an affordable price, and with reasonable terms? That's exactly what Tapes 'N Tapes did, the hip indy band from Minneapolis, and the results have helped them build visibility both here and in the UK. Now, five months later, the band will embark on their first UK tour.
The entrance fee for bands and musicians is becoming far more accessible. Though bands will eventually need a powerhouse organization behind them, it's very refreshing to see new tools being developed to help them build their own support systems.
This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.