What is Tunecore:
Tunecore is an internet based music distribution service. For a flat fee, Tunecore will distribute your music to all of the major online music stores (not to mention some of the smaller ones as well). In addition to distribution services, Tunecore clients have access to special deals, promotions, advertising opportunities, live shows and more.
How Does Tunecore Work?:
Once you sign up for a Tunecore account, you start by uploading your music and artwork. If you don't have artwork, you can use Tunecore's templates to create artwork on the spot. You then set your price and decide which stores you want to have your music - this allows you to block any territories you may already have a deal in or any store you simply don't want to use. As your music begins to sell, you can track your sales using a number of different sales reports (store specific, total sales, etc). You keep all of your sales profits (less the key withheld by the store) and can adjust prices at any time.
Two Types of Tunecore Distribution:
Tunecore specializes in digital distribution, but thanks to a remarkable deal with Amazon, they can offer physical distribution as well. If you opt into the service, a fan can order a physical copy of your album, which Amazon will manufacturer - complete with your artwork - and ship on a per order basis. Although the fee withheld by Amazon for fulfilling these orders is significant;y greater than the fee for a download sale, it allows musicians to offer physical product to fans who want it without the expense of an actual album pressing.
Should You Use Tunecore?:
Tunecore offers a solution for the ever more difficult problem of finding good music distribution. Even if you have distribution options on the table, you would be hard pressed to find a deal that gives you so much flexibility in terms of determining where you music will be sold, not to mention a deal that allows you to keep so much of your money. For musicians and small labels on a tight budget, Tunecore gives you access to retailers you might struggle to get on your own and the ability to offer physical product without investing in a pressing that would require you to pay for more copies than you need.
Tunecore actively provides their artists with promotion opportunities. Of course, given the sheer volume of music on Tunecore, you will have to both proactively pursue these opportunities as well as work hard to promote your music outside of Tunecore. Unlike some more traditional distributors where a label manager may be bringing some promotional opportunities to you, you will need to take the lead. The ability to have immediate access to distribution at a low cost and increased share of your sales profits at Tunecore is a fair trade-off.
If your ultimate goal is to get a record deal, Tunecore can help with that, too. In addition to their deal with Universal Music, which allows you to distribute your music through Universal via Tunecore, the sales history you build up at Tunecore gives you some leverage when it comes to attracting label attention. Your Tunecore sales prove that you have fans who are paying for your music and that you are a solid signing bet.
To a certain extent, Tunecore is what you make it, but they more than provide you with the tools you need to get your music to your fans.