Leading independent automated digital music distributor TuneCore, a division of global digital music company Paris-based Believe, has reached the record-breaking milestone of $2.5 Billion paid to artists (since the company’s inception in 2006). The announcement was made today by Andreea Gleeson, Chief Executive Officer, TuneCore.
The massive number comes by way of downloads and streams on partner platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Tidal. To date, the company’s artists have achieved a whopping 500 billion streams and incredibly 700 million downloads. Currently, amongst genres, all time artist earnings are led by hip-hop, followed by pop, alternative, electronic and rock. Children’s music is also a high earner, led by the universally beloved children’s anthem, “Baby Shark.”
Besides digital music distribution, TuneCore also offers additional ways for artists to earn money including music publishing administration and YouTube Content ID, both areas that have grown by double digits over the course of the last year. Also in 2021, the company expanded its global footprint and now has operations in 14 countries across four continents, with the TuneCore website localized into 16 languages and supporting seven currencies. As a result of the emphasis on international growth, TuneCore’s creators outside the US have grown to represent 60% of its new artists and labels. The company’s support of independent artists around the world is bolstered by its cutting edge technology and inspired music industry partnerships, including “YouTube Shorts,” Facebook’s “Independent Artist Program,” Tidal’s “Direct Artist Payments” and Twitch’s “The Collective” as well as the launch of distribution to Peloton and Qobuz.
Said Gleeson, “TuneCore’s mission is to support self-releasing independent artists and provide them with the tools to grow their careers independently. We want music creators to know that TuneCore is where you go to make money and by announcing our artists have earned $2.5 billion, we’re showing receipts. While TuneCore is truly proud of reaching this immense milestone, all credit goes to our incredible artists.”
In one of the most innovative initiatives of 2021, TuneCore launched a groundbreaking new service called Social Platforms which allows artists to upload their music – for no upfront cost – directly into the music libraries of social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Facebook and Instagram stories and Reels. The program has seen immediate success, with artists like Lauren Spencer-Smith, who scored a viral hit with her single “Fingers Crossed” (32 million views on TikTok). The song has become a bona fide smash with over 151 million streams on Spotify alone, hitting the Top 15 on the Billboard Global 200 and Top 20 on the Hot 100, while debuting at #5 on the Emerging Artist Chart. In the UK it climbed as high as #4 on the weekly UK chart, alongside Adele. Spencer-Smith, who has amassed 10 million monthly followers on Spotify said, “I am grateful that social media and services like TuneCore enable me to get heard and connect with fans. I hope what’s happening with me inspires other creators!”
The company’s artists share a passion for music and independence. Nashville-based Alexandra Kay turned down a full scholarship to college to pursue music. Alexandra has been self-releasing music through TuneCore since 2015. Over the pandemic she launched a “Coffee Covers” series on TikTok, which quickly became viral, growing her followers to 2.9M on the platform. Kay has gained 600k monthly listeners on Spotify and will be opening for Tim McGraw on his 2022 tour. She says, “The time for independent artists is now. We have endless possibilities when it comes to creative control and more opportunities for growth than ever before. Because of TuneCore, artists like myself can keep 100% of their revenue and the sky’s the limit.”
Queendom Come, the Houston-based rapper, scored a huge hit with “Then Leave”, reaching 56 million streams on Spotify and saw a massive 250,000% leap in royalties. She commented, “To see my numbers go up like that, you get a reality check as things grow, and you start to ask yourself is this real? Then you look up and you got a whole gold plaque! TuneCore is for artists like myself: independent artists, and independent songwriters. Stay the course. Work hard. You don’t know when your time may be but just stay ready for it.”
According to MIDiA Research, independent labels, and artists direct (self-releasing artists) generated $10 billion and represented 34.7% of the market. Artists direct represented 5.3% of the market and $1.5 billion out of the $10 billion.
The $2.5 billion figure is the cumulative total of earnings by all TuneCore artists, who range from musical hobbyists and new creators, stretching all the way to top indie artists who tour and make a living from their music.