Get Your Music on iTunes

I wasn’t aware of this at the time or I would’ve blogged it, but in early 2006 a service called TuneCore launched. This service will take original music you’ve written and recorded and publish it on iTunes for you. (They’ll publish to other online music stores too.) The service costs the artist a paltry amount when compared to the benefits of exposing their music to millions of people. This kind of availability is approximately equivalent to having your CD in Target, right there on a shelf. This is a huge deal for independent artists.

The best part of the whole deal is that the owner of the music keeps 100% of the profits that come from the sales of their music. They don’t have a giant record label on their back, stealing the dollars right out of their hands as they earn them. The artist just has to sell approximately two copies of their album to pay for the cost of getting it in the iTunes store, and the rest is pure profit. You can’t lose!

So if you’ve been thinking of becoming a famous musician, but haven’t been able to get your music into the hands of a wide-enough audience, you just lost your last excuse. According to the data Steve Jobs gave in his most-recent keynote, iTunes sales averaged just under 3.3 million songs per day in 2006. If you got just 1% of one day’s total sales for only one of your songs, that’d be $33,000. Well, okay, it’d be $32,670, but you get the picture. And you’d have paid $11.96 to get that song on iTunes. That’s what I call a good opportunity.

Go write something catchy.


6 Comments

  1. Posted March 17, 2007 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to mention that iTunes and all the other online music stores take a cut from the sale of your song in order to pay for the costs of keeping their servers up, footing the bandwidth bill, maintaining their store, etc. iTunes gives you 70 of the 99 cents they get for your song, or $7 per album. According to TuneCore’s FAQ, that’s the best you can get. Other stores take the same size cut, and a few stores take an even bigger cut than that.

    So I guess after all is said and done, the cut you get from a sale of 33,000 songs in iTunes is actually $23,100. Not bad for one day, of course, but not what my original calculation said, either. I just wanted to correct that one point to be sure I wasn’t misleading anyone.

  2. Posted March 18, 2007 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    It’s not so much a cut as a wholesale price. You WILL get $0.70 no matter what your song sells for. It’s a very healthy model, works really well for all involved.

    Thanks for the kind words. It’s really true, we don’t keep anything, we don’t lock you in, we don’t leverage your rights. We just get you on the stores, get you your money, and get out of the way.

    Drop me a line if you have any questions. Thanks again!

    –Peter
    peter@tunecore.com

  3. Posted March 18, 2007 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    “If you got just 1% of one day’s total sales”–I’m curious, does anybody do that? Does the top selling single in the entire store even get 1% of sales?

  4. Posted March 18, 2007 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    @Kevin: I think the %1 statistic is probably the most unrealistic part of my whole schpeel. But the short answer is that nobody knows. Those stats aren’t released. Pick a recent popular album and see if you can find statistics of how many copies it sold in 2006. Then spread that over 365 days and see what you get.

  5. Posted March 18, 2007 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Let’s make a few assumptions here. First, we’ll assume the Wikipedia article for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is up-to-date. If it is, and if that album has actually sold 3.1 million copies in the US alone, then doing the math would reveal U2 had averaged a bit under 111,000 album sales per month since the album came out. If the wikipedia entry’s data is out of date, it’s fewer than that.

    Granted, that’s an entire album and not just one song like we’ve been discussing, but it seems unlikely that a person would be able to sell 33,000 copies of a song if U2, at what I assume is the height of their career, can only sell an average of about 3,600 albums per day in the US. And that’s counting all outlets, not just online outlets.

    True, my 33,000-in-one-day could be an unusual spike that can’t be held up, but I imagine most successful artists never even see 1000 sales in one day. In fact, most full-time artists could probably shake the hand of every person who buys one of their albums and still have time to watch TV. In fact, if you averaged $7 profit per album, you’d only have to sell about 24 albums a day to make a $60k/year salary.

  6. Posted April 26, 2007 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Just got on itunes with my cd “After the Silence”. I will let you know when I hit the 24 albums a day mark! And we will! This is a great CD!! Thank you for your blog. Great information.