Used primarily by independent artists, TuneCore distributes music to online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon.com and Google Play. Rather than charge a percentage of each sale, TuneCore built its business around annual fees ranging from $9.99 per track to $49.99 per album. In exchange, artists keep all of the revenue they receive from online stores, which deduct 30% of every sale.
TuneCore also distributes its artists' music to streaming services such as Spotify, Rdio and Deezer, collecting royalties from the on-demand spins generated by each service. One artist, Ron Pope, recently disclosed that he was able to collect $334,646 from Spotify via TuneCore between September 2010 and November 2013.
To expand its revenue base, TuneCore recently entered the world of music publishing. In November, it tapped INDmusic to start collecting YouTube advertising revenue on behalf of TuneCore's artists. Through a licensing database, it also helps artist place their music in movies and television shows such as Fox Network's "New Girl." These efforts led to a 190% increase in publishing royalties collected in the first quarter compared to a year ago, though the company did not divulge the actual dollar amount.
In 2013, TuneCore paid out $121 million to artists from more than 3 billion downloads and streams, up 19% from $101.8 million in 2012. In total, TuneCore has paid out $405.6 million to artists since the company launched in 2006.
*An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated that TuneCore's payouts had grown 75% year-over-year. It was actually downloads and streams that had grown 75% from last year.