Having paid $222m to artists in 2021, TuneCore has now surpassed total payouts of $2.5bn

DIY music distributor TuneCore said today (April 25) that it has surpassed the milestone of paying more than $2.5 billion in royalties to artists since the company was founded in 2006.

TuneCore, which since 2015 has been owned by Paris-headquartered Believe, also revealed that artists using its platform have cumulatively achieved 500 billion streams and 700 million downloads to date.

Said TuneCore CEO, Andreea 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.”

According to its most recent FY results, Believe’s ‘Automated Solutions’ business – aka TuneCore – collected €188 million ($222m) in artist royalties in calendar 2021.

In keeping with TuneCore’s business model (100% of collected royalties paid back out to clients), all of this money was and/or will be paid over to TuneCore’s artists.

In 2020, this annual number (of money collected by TuneCore and paid out to artists) stood at €133 million ($152m).

Figures from Believe’s FY2021 annual report; see footnote (1) for TuneCore artist payout details in the year.

Meanwhile, Believe itself generated €35.8 million ($42.3m) in net revenues from ‘Automated Solutions’ (aka TuneCore) in calendar 2021.

This figure does not include the €188 million that TuneCore collected and paid out to artists in 2021 (as TuneCore pays out 100% of royalties collected).

Instead, it represents the total subscription monies paid to TuneCore by its DIY clients/uploaders, plus any other additional (non-royalty) income generated by the platform.

Believe’s FY 2021 net revenues, in which ‘Automated Solutions’ represents its TuneCore business.

TuneCore’s artist payout announcement comes at a time when the independent label and ‘artist direct’ (i.e. self-releasing artists) sector is becoming an increasingly significant contributor to global recorded music revenues.

Last year alone, according to Midia, independent labels and artists direct generated $9.9 billion in recorded music royalties, with the ‘artists direct’ segment alone estimated to have driven $1.5 billion of that sum.

In addition to announcing its $2.5 billion life-time artist payout figure, TuneCore stated today that it ‘”also offers additional ways for artists to earn money”, which include its music publishing administration service and YouTube Content ID.

TuneCore reports that both these areas have grown by double digits over the course of the last year.

Having expanded into multiple new markets in recent years, TuneCore now has operations in 14 countries across four continents, with the TuneCore website localized into 16 languages and supporting seven currencies.

TuneCore says that creators outside the US have grown to represent 60% of its new artists and labels as a result of its global expansion.

“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.”

Andreea Gleeson

Elsewhere, TuneCore reports that its ‘Social Platforms’ service, launched in November to let DIY artists distribute music to social platforms like TikTok and Instagram, “has seen immediate success”.

The platform points to Lauren Spencer-Smith as a specific artist success story, noting that Spencer-Smith scored a viral hit with her single Fingers Crossed, which has seen 32 million views on TikTok.

The song has had 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 No.5 on the Emerging Artist Chart. In the UK it climbed to No.4 on the weekly UK chart.

Spencer-Smith has also amassed 10 million monthly followers on Spotify, and recently signed to Island Records in the US.

Other artist success stories cited by TuneCore include Nashville-based Alexandra Kay, who has been self-releasing music through TuneCore since 2015.

Kay launched a “Coffee Covers” series on TikTok during the pandemic, which went viral, and saw her followers on the platform grow to 2.9 million.

The artist has also gained 600,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, according to TuneCore.

Meanwhile, Houston-based rapper Queendom Come reached 56 million streams on Spotify with her song Then Leave, after which, she saw a “250,000% leap in royalties”, according to TuneCore.

Last month, TikTok confirmed to MBW that TuneCore has been picked as its distribution partner for its new SoundOn distribution service.

Artists who upload their music to TikTok SoundOn will then have that music distributed to other platforms (Spotify, Apple Music etc.) via TuneCore.Music Business Worldwide

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