Whether or not the ability to use TuneCore as a way to get an iTunes Ping page piqued your interest, if you’re generally interested in selling your music online, here’s some more interesting news. SoundCloud has teamed up with TuneCore to allow you to sell singles and albums in a variety of online stores, including Nokia phones, Amazon MP3, Zune, Emusic, and of course iTunes.

TuneCore’s approach is pretty simple: accounts are free, and you play a flat fee ($9.99 per single, $49.99 per album) to distribute music online in all the stores. You keep all of the royalties; once TuneCore gets their flat fee, they’re out of the picture fee-wise.

Another interesting angle to me of all of this is what it may mean for Creative Commons-licensed music. There’s nothing stopping you from self-releasing an entire album under a permissive CC license, sharing it with communities of samplers and remixers on Creative Commons, but also generating revenue by selling it online.

The SoundCloud angle here isn’t complicated; it’s just some nice integration of the two accounts to save you some time. Given the rabid following SoundCloud has started to generate, though, that’s significant. “Fatigue” is really the largest problem facing social music, as a huge array of competitors try to get the attention of artists – most of them, quite frankly, fairly useless. TuneCore is very much in the non-useless category from where I sit, and getting them and SoundCloud in front of artists could be really valuable (indeed, maybe far more valuable than iTunes Ping).

Here’s the full explanation from the SoundCloud blog:
SoundCloud + TuneCore: Getting your music sold just got easier

If you’re curious who’s using TuneCore, this compilation could give you some idea. In a promotion, Yamaha (yes, the music gear and instrument makers) have worked with Amazon MP3 and TuneCore to put out a free album of TuneCore artists:
26 Free Songs. 26 TuneCore Artists.

Updated – I should note, I do hope this is the first step. The killer feature here would be “buy” links right on SoundCloud, but that doesn’t appear to be implemented yet. Edit: David from SoundCloud observes in comments that you can manually insert buy links, which gives you the freedom to choose whatever store you like. Whether automating that makes sense is another question, but you definitely have options.

And as noted by Steve of sighup in comments, part of the reason you don’t hear more about TuneCore from folks in this community is because, while it covers big-bucket distributors well, it doesn’t cover the kind of niches a lot of readers here want covered. And, indeed, focused retailers – whether direct sales or places like Beatport, Other, 7Digital, and Bleep – often generate more sales within a lot of genres, based on conversations I’ve had with artists. I’ll talk to TuneCore about what their plans may be there. On the other hand, what it illustrates is that there isn’t any one solution that works for everyone – cool as TuneCore is, part of what makes those smaller stores work is the relationships they build directly with labels and artists. And they may not be open to working with a TuneCore. The landscape is complex, but if you’re willing to invest some time, that can allow you to best fit something to your audience. More discussion in comments…

Anyway, enough shilling for TuneCore – let’s hear what you think. Are you currently using TuneCore, or an alternative outlet? What’s your experience been? Or are you leaving this to your label?

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    Are there going to be official "buy this track/album" links on a Soundcloud page to the various places stuff has been listed with Tunecore? While investigating this yesterday, I came to the conclusion it's just a helpful way of uploading content to your Tunecore account, saving you on having to upload twice, but nothing deeper as yet.

    When was the last time Tunecore added stores to its service? I haven't had anything listed there in a while. They had always said that they would grow their list of retailers, but it looks like that initiative has stalled. Personally, I think the large clearing house-style retail download outlets like iTunes are mostly useless to small-time musicians. I'd much rather see Tunecore build relationships with targeted retailers like Beatport, Bleep, Other Music, Fina, Boomkat, etc.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Steve:

    Yeah, I'd likewise want to see "buy" links on SoundCloud; those seem not to be there … yet.

    And I agree, I'd love to see TuneCore show up on Bleep, Other Music, Dance Tracks, and the like. Certainly, without Beatport, it's of limited appeal.

  • http://tekfro.com tekfro

    Beatport would be great for electronic/dance artists, but I doubt they would trust Tunecore to pick music for them. They are very difficult to get listed on as a new label, and they are very difficult to maintain a relationship with due to high (imho, due to the current economic situation) sales quotas. And, it has been my experience that they selectively apply the quotas, depending on the reputation of the label – longstanding or well-known labels get leeway on the sales quotas, unknown fellows get dropped like a hot potato.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @tekfro: Well, and to me, some of that is natural. There's not a one-size-fits-all solution, which is part of why you wouldn't want complete domination by any one retailer (like iTunes).

    I can't speak to Beatport, but some of the other niche sellers are definitely not worrying about quotas. They are, however, working on relationships with artists and labels. And that's a good thing.

    In fact, it seems to me that, sales aside, part of why we spend time on labels and stores and deals is to build relationships. It's good to have friends in the music world. You could see that as wheeling and dealing, sure, but in a lot of cases with these smaller outlets and labels, it's about having someone to share your work with. I mean, that's kind of part of why we do this at all; there are other ways of making money. (Boy, are there ever…)

  • http://bedroomproducersblog.com/ bedroom producer&#03

    my personal favorite in this field has to be Bandcamp.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, keep in mind that so long as the other choices – like bandcamp – don't require exclusivity, you can do both. You could certainly do direct sales via bandcamp, but also use TuneCore to get on the online stores for those who want them, and do get your iTunes Ping page if you really want it.

  • http://tekfro.com tekfro

    @peter: My only lament about Beatport is, when I did have my own label listed there (among dozens of other dance music retailers via a distributor), Beatport was easily 90% of all my sales.

    I have moved on. I have a relationship with a label that is in good standing with Beatport, so I guess I have a relationship with them by proxy, and I also have a personal relationship with Juno, who are much more accomdating to the little guys (and who have been taking over the backend of many other sites, so it's like getting a distributor without as many headaches).

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    Yeah, Tunecore's current model doesn't fit in with something more tightly controlled like Beatport. Itunes and the like allow for generic album dumping, which suits their model, but I think it's a poor way to go and ultimately becomes no more useful than Google for connecting with fans/consumers.

    But, if Tunecore developed systems with these stores that simply streamlined a method of getting in touch with and reviewed by stricter stores, that would get my attention. For example, if I had a small start-up techno label, chances of even getting considered by Beatport might be difficult. But it would be cool if I could go into my Tunecore, fill in an application as decided by Beatport, and enter into the queue. Tunecore would only charge store listing fees if it gets accepted.

    I suppose that system might fill up Beatport's queue pretty quick, but a site like Beatport's unsolicited application queue must be huge already, at least this system would be formalized and less prone to misspelled spam crap.

  • http://www.tekfro.com tekfro

    There are distributors that submit your music to Beatport for you, and Beatport is more likely to consider it since it has already been filtered by the distributor. Though, most dance music distributors do not have the transparency (or pricing scheme) of Tunecore. I had high hopes the first time I heard of Rebeat, but I think all your tunes released through them show up as a single label, Rebeat Digital.

    And Beatport stopped taking unsolicited label requests a few years ago.

  • -1

    I have nothing but respect for Tunecore, especially when one of the founders helped out on a few technical issues I had with the iTunes store.

    I'd love them more if they could come up with some affordable related PR / marketing plans for the small electronic artist though.

    And get me onto Beatport…

  • http://david-noel.com David

    Steve & Peter: first thanks for your post about the integration and your comments. Referring the the "Buy" links on SoundCloud, you can add buy links to linking to any online/offline retailer of your choice to all tracks and sets (albums). You can access the setting via your track or set options by clicking on the pen icon above the waveform.

    Cheers,

    David

    SoundCloud

  • http://audiotruther.blogspot.com john connor

    Not sure if Tune Core is jumping the shark here but, at first it seemed as they were focused on being a bridge for the unsigned/indie artist to get to the digital outlets . then they began referring services which made sense. Now they looking at being another retail outlet that is using artist too leverage they're business model/ I'm not too sure if it work out for them or make a difference for artist. since TuneCore lacks a Hardware Piece i.e. Ipod. Where Apple uses the downloads as an entail loss leader with hopes of establishing brand loyalty to push their other gadgets in the future.. at the end of the day in order for an artist to be successful many things have to fall in line on a consistent basis just like any other biz…

  • Jim Aikin

    Slightly off-topic, but my issue with SoundCloud is that anything you upload gets played back at 128kbps. For electronic music, this is often insufficient. 256kbps, in my listening tests, is far better … but even if you upload a 256 file to SoundCloud, they downgrade it to a crappy 128 on playback.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @David: Thanks! We'll have to do a little tips round-up for SoundCloud soon. Editing…

    @John: I'm completely lost. TuneCore is still a way of bridging services. And I can't imagine why they'd have their own hardware – are we actually talking about the same thing?

    @Jim: Well, that's only true for the streams. It is true when you're talking streaming, which is a whole other can of worms — all of the media streaming everyone apparently wants means degrading audio fidelity, sometimes significantly.

    But yes, 128k will have a serious impact. There are two things you can do – either recommend that people download (which means they can listen at full fidelity), or turn off streaming entirely if you want to be extreme, forcing them to download.

    That said, I kind of like the idea of being able to choose premium 256 streaming on online services, as music goes to cloud-based music. I wonder what will happen there. I mean, our bandwidth can definitely handle it; it's just a matter of cost.

  • sowait

    The only problem with tunecore is that they charge an annual fee to keep your tunes listed. That doesn't work well for artists or bands many of whom aren't going to sell $49.99 worth of their first release. There are other aggregators with better pricing models and they are usually only one time fees.

    Soundcloud seem to be great though! Bandcamp is also great but they are starting to trip too with their new charging artists for free downloads.

  • http://institutfatima.org pepezabala

    bigest problem with selling on itunes is that you barely earn nothing while the companies get most of the share. ithinkmusic, cdbaby or bandcamp offer way better conditions for unsigned artists. Just the other day someone posted a very nice grafic comparison chart on the ableton forum: http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=

  • http://ocp.pt.vu ocp

    After having tried Tunecore and not being able to keep up with the annual fees for several albums, I'm testing http://routenote.com which has no upfront charges. They get your stuff in iTunes, emusic, amazon mp3, spotify, napster, etc. and retain 10% of your earnings. However, you have to make $50 worth of sales before you're eligible to receive any payment. So far, I haven't earned a dime and I'm still waiting for stats after 4/5 months. I'll wait and see…

  • http://www.encym.net Roland Reinke

    The "SoundCloud + TuneCore: Getting your music sold just got easier" link doesn't seem to work.

    Very eager to get into this as I want to put out an EP or even album by end of the year.

  • http://guadanmuzik.com andyrio

    Yeah! SoundCloud very cool website..i promote my band song via it!!

    Awesome

  • http://tricil.net Tricil

    Please note that this integration ONLY works for new Tunecore customers who sign up from one single link: http://tunecore.com/soundcloud
    It does not work any other way.

    I read the soundcloud newsletter, said "oh cool," opened a new window and signed up for tunecore thinking soundcloud support would be a preference somewhere – it's not. Caveat.

    I've written tunecore on both twitter and email, and they've been anything but polite about this issue. Not happy.

    That said, I love the idea of tunecore. All I want is Soundcloud integration and a Ping account. I sell all my music thru my site for lower than iTunes on purpose but I need a presence in iTunes and the like as well.

    However, considering that "Soundcloud integration" was what got me in the door for them, and to find out I'm basically "disqualified" for clicking the wrong link by rude and snippy replies, REALLY rubs me the wrong way.

    Don't suffer my fate. http://tunecore.com/soundcloud

  • http://signaltonoize.com Eric Beam

    +1

    I've been a SC & TC member for some time now. Seems at this time only "new" TC members qualify. Crap I say.

  • http://www.aavepyora.net Taika-Kim

    Why hasn't anybody mentioned Imusician Digital?

    They have no yearly fees, have very reasonable flat fees for albums, and do Beatport for example. At least my album is there now, under the label Imusician Electronic or something similar. So you won't get your own label there, but the tunes will be there anyway… Imusician Digital does a TON of shops, including Itunes, Amazon, etc etc…

    http://www.imusiciandigital.com/

    I haven't sold anything though, maybe because I have a very narrow following, and all my sales have come from my Bandcamp site where I direct the people from my homepage… And anyway, my music on Bandcamp is free with a name it yourself price so mostly I just wanted to try out the service at Imusician Digital for maybe some future exclusively buy-only release…

  • Benkhach

    I also have both Tunecore and Soundcloud accounts and have already distributed my song. Is there any way I can do the same buy link separately from Tunecore?

  • Zette

    I converted my song in itunes but I am not able to upload in tunecore. When I right click, the word select is missing. All help is welcomed. Thanx.