TuneCore has paid indie artists over $2bn to date – and is now paying them over $400m per year

TuneCore-affiliated artist Yung Gravy has see two of his singles go Platinum in the US

DIY distribution platform TuneCore has confirmed that it has surpassed the milestone of paying $2 billion in total to independent artists since it was founded 15 years ago.

The firm says that, presumably boosted by rapid growth during the quarantine period, it’s now paying an average of $1.2m in royalties a day to indie artists. That’s a run rate of $438m per year, or over $100m per quarter.

TuneCore says it’s paid out half of the $2bn figure in the past three-and-a-bit years alone, having surpassed the $1bn artist royalty payout mark in July 2017.

The $2bn number is obviously a significant milestone for TuneCore’s new US-based leadership team of Andreea Gleeson (Chief Revenue Officer) and Matt Barrington (Chief Operating Officer).

To date, over a million independent artists have used TuneCore, and the firm says “thousands” of them are now making over $100,000 each annually via the distributor.

According to TuneCore’s newly-announced statistics, some $480m of the $2bn lifetime payout has gone to Rap, Hip-hop and R&B artists, with a further $198m going to Electronic/Dance acts.

One particularly important thing to note about TuneCore is its business model: the company’s standard charges see DIY artists pay a one-off fee of $29.99 to upload an album to digital services like Spotify, Amazon Music et al. These artists then pay a further $49.99 per album, per year after this point.

For single tracks, TuneCore charges $9.99 per year.

What this fee-based model means is that 100% of the full $2bn in royalties paid out by Believe-owned TuneCore so far has landed into artists’ bank accounts, with no cut taken by the service.

According to Gleeson, there’s a further qualification needed: TuneCore pays out 100% of that 100%, she explains, meaning that behind the scenes, no B2B fulfilment partner (“middle man”) is taking a cut of the proceeds.

As a result of this, TuneCore artists get the benefit of headline deals struck with the digital services by Believe, the Paris-headquartered global powerhouse in the independent sector that turned over more than $700m in digital revenues last year.



Said Gleeson: “We’re here to help artists connect with and develop audiences while maximizing their digital music revenue – this is our core mission. We’re showing that indie artists can gain a huge fanbase and make a lot of money with TuneCore.

“We never use a middle man and pay 100% of 100% of revenue from the stores directly to artists, unlike other distributors, many of which claim to pay artists 100% of their revenue, but in fact are distributed by or affiliated with third parties, who take a percentage off the top.

“TuneCore is empowering indie artists, now more than ever, to say F it and take control of their own careers; there’s little holding them back anymore.”

“Artists who use TuneCore make more money.”

Andreea Gleeson, TuneCore

Speaking to MBW, Gleeson added: “We have direct partnerships with all the major platforms, which means we’re able to negotiate the best possible deals [via Believe] for our artists.

“When we ask our artists, they tell us the No.1 reason they use TuneCore is get their music out in the world, and the No.2 reason is to make money. And they know that artists who use TuneCore make more money.”

Combined, TuneCore and parent company Believe claim to distribute approximately one third of the world’s digital music.

According to MIDiA Research, independent artists generated $873 million in 2019, up 32% from 2018.


TuneCore artist is Ken the Man was driving for Uber and delivering for Door Dash just one year ago.

After TuneCore distributed her song He Be Like, she was able to quit those jobs. She commented “He Be Like changed my life. I would write songs in between deliveries.

“I knew during my entire career I’ve always wanted my music to be a reflection of all sides of me. I’m not trying to get any kind of record deal where artists only get a small percentage and they have to give up rights to their own music. Why would I, when TuneCore pays me 100% of what I’ve earned?

“I’m able to distribute when I want and what I want.”

“I’m not trying to get any kind of record deal where artists only get a small percentage and they have to give up rights to their own music. Why would I, when TuneCore pays me 100% of what I’ve earned?”

Ken The Man

TuneCore’s independent artists span all genres, with Rap/Hip-Hop and R&B currently the largest, taking in over $100 million from streaming alone in the last year.

The company has established itself as a home for aspiring Hip-Hop artists and currently counts over 200,000 Hip-Hop artists on the TuneCore roster with almost 41,000 new Hip-Hop artists added thus far in 2020.

“this is only the beginning, with many new artists turning to TuneCore every day.”

Matt Barrington, TuneCore

Matt Barrington, Chief Operating Officer, TuneCore said, “Here’s the thing – TuneCore artists have earned $2 billion, and this is only the beginning, with many new artists turning to TuneCore every day.

“It proves that giving artists the control, allowing them true independence is a very powerful and positive thing. And it also turns the traditional music industry model on its head.”

In the past six months, TuneCore has expanded its global operation into territories such as India, plus Russia and Brazil.Music Business Worldwide

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