TuneCore Paid Out $102 Million to Artists Last Year, Company Claims

While some Jeff Price fans might question TuneCore's future  business prospects, the company's management tells Billboard that the company enjoyed robust growth last year, hitting revenues of $101.8 million for its artists through sales and streams.

So even while the company was under scrutiny from its controversial firing of Jeff Price and the ensuing hoopla in the music industry blogosphere, TuneCore managed to produce a whopping 47% growth from the $69.3 million it had recorded in the previous years. According to TuneCore, its $102 million in revenue came from nearly 79 million downloads, up 25% on a unit basis, and 1.17 billion streams, up 258%. Since TuneCore's main mission is paying its artists, "anytime you can increase your artist revenue by the percentage we did," it makes TuneCore management happy, says company chief operating officer Scott Ackerman. "We had a great year last year."

In other TuneCore news that should provide further growth for the company, TuneCore Music Publishing Administration announced that it has signed four sub-publishing agreements. However, all of the revenue figures in this apply to money paid to its artist from its distribution business, and does not include publishing royalties are any other revenue it derives from its business. Moreover, all the numbers in this story were supplied by TuneCore and couldn't be independently verified. While TuneCore appears to be going onward and upward, it can't seem to escape its abrupt dismissal of co-founder and CEO/president Price during the summer of 2012, at least as far as the industry rumor mill is concerned.

In the latest spitting contest, TuneCore is apparently investigating, according to a report in Techdirt, a Price $500 travel expenditure.

Price says he cleared up any confusion the company had on a legitimate expense and received payment from the company, and he declines to comment further. Co-founder Peter Wells says a bigger issue is that the company's board has repeatedly refused the shareholders request for information about the company. "If they are wasting resources investigating a ludicrous incident like this, what else is going on at the company that they are not telling us about," he says.

For its part, TuneCore issued a statement: "The media is not the proper forum for arbitration of contracts and issues, and it is unprofessional and unproductive to suggest a public negotiation of a private matter. The matter of the dispute is one more appropriately handled behind closed doors among the parties and, if necessary, in a courtroom. It is not for public consumption, nor does it have any bearing on its work toward its core mission," TuneCore said in a statement.

The company added that, as part of its core business of helping artists reach their fans and consumers, it is expanding into Japan, Canada, and to campuses.

In a Jan. 25 interview, Ackerman told Billboad that the company was lowering its first-year subscription price to $29.99 for albums, but the renewel rate will stand at $49.99, while singles remain at $9.99. The company also says that last year it distributed 112,158 releases to digital music service providers, with rock and hip-hop being its most popular genres, being No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. But it also said that rock's share in its portfolio was declining, while hip-hop continues to grow. The top 10 best-selling revenue generators for all digital configurations combined for 2012 releases was Boyce Avenue, the Civil Wars, Pretty Lights, Ron Pope, LeCrae, Your Favorite Martion, Schoolboy Q, Colt Ford, Hoodie Allen, and Hopsin.

Top revenue generators among album releases include: The Civil War's Barton Hollow; Schoolboy Q's Habits & Contradictions; Hopsin's Raw;  Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross' The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; and four Boyce Avenue titles, New Acoustic Sessions, Vol. 3; 1; New Acoustic Sessions, Vol. 2; and New Acuostic Sessions, Vol. 1.

Top revenue generators among songs include Nayer's "Suave (Kiss Me)," featuring Mohombi & Pitbull; Pretty Lights' "Finally Moving;" Freestylers' "Humble (Flux Pavilion Rmx);" the Civil Wars' "Barton Hollow" and "Poison & Wine;" Boyce Avenue's "What Makes You Beautiful;" Public Enemy's "Harder Than You Think;" Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross' "Immigrant Song;" and Nielson's "Beauty & De Brains."

Since 2006, TuneCore says its artists have generated over 1.8 billion music units downloads and streams from more than 447,000 total releases, which have produced over $250 million in earnings for its artists. As for the publishing agreement: TuneCore Music Publishing Administration, which began in November 2011, appears to have a good chunk of the world covered.

TuneCore Music Publishing Administration, led by former Bug Music executive Jamie Purpora who is president of that arm, has signed agreements with Schubert Music Europe, which will cover France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia,  Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Andorra, Monaco, and Lebanon; ROBA Music Verlag GMBH, which will cover Germany, Austria, and Switzerland; Native Tongue Music Publishing PTY LTD., which will handle Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea; and Cafe Concerto International S.R.L. for coverage in Italy, Vatican City, and Republic of San Marino.

Furthermore, TuneCore Japan KK represents Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan; while TuneCore Music Publishing Administration says it has direct society affiliations with a number of collection societies in Europe and Canada.