A Conversation on Music Distribution with TuneCore CEO Scott Ackerman

Sierra Brown
Posted by Sierra Brown on Aug 29

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TuneCore is the plug. Through their music distribution services, they've helped artists earn more than $937 million from over 75 billion streams and downloads, according to Billboard.

The Brooklyn-based music distributor gives independent or unsigned artists the opportunity to put their music on streaming services like Spotify Apple Music while “keeping 100 percent of their sales revenue." In preparation for TuneCore’s session at the A3C Festival & Conference, we caught up with CEO Scott Ackerman to talk about the ins and outs of music distribution, royalties and how they help artists secure the bag.

For starters, we'd love to know a bit about you! Can you tell us about your journey with TuneCore and becoming CEO? 

Ackerman: I’ve been leading TuneCore for five years as CEO. Before that, I served as TuneCore’s Chief Operating Officer overseeing the company's operations. For as long as I’ve been with TuneCore, I would say my journey has always centered around understanding what our artists are focused on, what their concerns are, and how we can help them best to be successful.  

How would you describe the role TuneCore plays in artist development?  

Ackerman: At TuneCore we believe that artists have more opportunity than ever to take control of their careers.  That’s why we’re focused on providing independent artists with the tools, services, and a platform that will empower them to do exactly that, all without giving up their rights or creative control. As a company, we began by offering artists the opportunity to distribute their music to digital stores around the world while keeping 100% of their sales revenue. Over time we’ve added additional revenue maximizing opportunities such as Publishing Administration and YouTube monetization, as well as a range of tools and services curated to help artists develop and grow their careers.

In your own opinion, explain how building a relationship with TuneCore can aide an artists' success? 

Ackerman: An artist’s success is dependent on reaching as many potential fans as possible. From getting their music heard around the world, to growing their fan base, the TuneCore platform, and the services we partner with, are all aimed at helping independent artists grow as leaders of their own brand. Like any business owner, artists need tools and support to be successful. From best in class reporting, customer care, educational resources, and a commitment to transparency, TuneCore provides the simple tools an artist needs to thrive and succeed. It's been really exciting to see just how successful an artist can be when they take full advantage of everything a relationship with TuneCore has to offer.
 
Let's say I'm an artist and I pay to have my music on streaming sites. Explain to me, how do I get paid?
 
Ackerman: TuneCore collects all the revenue earned by an artist from digital stores/streaming services and posts it to their account.  Artists can then withdraw their money whenever they like via check, PayPal, or ACH transfer. Additionally, TuneCore provides detailed reporting and trend data to help artists understand where their revenue is coming from so they can make more informed decisions, such as where to tour and focus their marketing.
 
What are a few common music distribution woes you hear from artists, and how does TuneCore plan to help dispel them come October's conference?
 
Ackerman: At the end of the day, artists are always thinking, “how can I reach more fans?” I think that’s a common struggle, especially for new artists. That’s why we’re always working on innovative new products, such as our social media tool, TuneCore Social Pro, to help artists reach new audiences.  We’re also tirelessly making under-the-hood improvements for operational efficiency, and we’re excited to share more on that front in the coming months.
 
Chance The Rapper initially received recognition through his Soundcloud. What do you say to the artists that solely believe in grassroots distribution?
 
Ackerman: At TuneCore, we’re focused on helping artists at all stages of their careers, from the time they’re just getting started to the moment they really begin to find success and the many years beyond. SoundCloud is a great place to get started sharing music online.  But as an artist’s career develops, they’re going to need to reach new fans wherever people like to consume music. That means getting music in stores and streaming services like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and all of our 150+ digital store partners.  It’s important for artists to remember that potential fans are not always in their back yard, and they wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to reach a wider audience by keeping their music on just one platform.

How does one work to get their music on TV? Film?

Ackerman: TuneCore offers a service called Publishing Administration, which helps songwriters collect their songwriting royalties (including some that even PROs may not account for). Songwriters that sign up for TuneCore Publishing Administration ensure their compositions will be available to Music Supervisors for worldwide sync licensing opportunities in TV, film, commercials, video games, and more.  We have a dedicated team that’s proactively pitching our artists’ music for these opportunities, and we’ve seen some great success on this front.  TuneCore Publishing Administration clients have had their music featured in films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, television shows like Atlanta and Empire, and video games such as MLB and Watch Dogs 2.
 
Let's talk royalties! How do artists make money off of them, and how can TuneCore help?
 
Ackerman: If an artist writes their own songs, I would definitely suggest that they consider taking advantage of our Publishing Administration service.  When songs that artists write are downloaded or streamed, they may be earning royalties that the artist isn’t even aware of. TuneCore Publishing Administration finds & collects these royalties for artists and deposits that money directly into the their account.  Our Publishing Administration team is able to collect 13 different types of royalties, some of which are nearly impossible to collect without a publishing administrator, so it’s important that artists find a solution to make sure they’re not missing out on the income that they’re rightfully owed.
 
What are a few things you hope to achieve from TuneCore's presence at A3C 2017?
 
Ackerman: We’re really excited to be at A3C and to educate artists about the power of self distribution through TuneCore. A lot of artists really don’t realize how much power they have to get their music heard, sold, downloaded/streamed, and make money too. We’re also here to help artists understand how they can make more money from their music through YouTube and Publishing Administration. Year after year, A3C has been attended by some of the most exciting and talented artists around, and we’re very excited to be here and to talk with them about how we can support their artistic journey.
 
If you want to learn more about how TuneCore helps artists distribute their music, make sure you're at the 2017 A3C Conference!
 
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Sierra Brown

Written by Sierra Brown

Sierra Brown is a multimedia journalist from Atlanta, Ga., covering music and pop culture.

Topics: A3C Festival, tunecore

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