[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

(TV) Interesting Article on Music Downloads/Frank Black

A workable ink for this article requires a daily subscription to The Globe.





Jonathan Perry, Globe Correspondent Date: March 1, 2006 Page: F1 Section:


The clash between a musician's creative impulses and the commercial
imperatives that 

drive record  companies is as old as recorded sound itself. Artists make the
music and 

labels sell it, promoting and marketing it to the masses and reaping the
lion's share of 

the profits.


The online music revolution has begun rewriting that equation. Many
musicians are 

getting their music directly onto the Web, in many cases without a label to
promote them. 

Yet most digital music distributors still perpetuate the record company
business model, 

grabbing a healthy chunk of an artist's online sales. Brookline native Jeff
Price, 38, has 

come up with a different model. He recently launched a new service called

that, for a small fee, helps musicians get their songs uploaded onto popular

such as iTunes, Napster, and Rhapsody, but allows the artists to retain
control of their 

publishing and master recording rights.


"Technology, for the first time in the history of the music industry, has
the ability to 

offer channels of music distribution that can get your music into the same

stores as Madonna, Radiohead, Ludacris, R. Kelly, Death Cab for Cutie,
Arcade Fire, 

you name it," Price says on the phone from New York. "Bands can get access
to the 

same channels, but [with TuneCore] can do it in a way that's never been done

without giving up any rights, and in a way that gets them 100 percent of the

that's generated from the sale of their music."


In just the few weeks that TuneCore has been up and running, Price says that

of artists have joined, including Pixies frontman Frank Black, whose other
band, the Catholics, 

records for Price's record label, spinART Records. Last month, Black's new
compilation with the 

Catholics, "Snake Oil," was the first digital album to be uploaded by
TuneCore and shipped to 

iTunes for sale.


"It's great for me because I have a built-in audience, and I can say, `My
B-sides album is coming 

out and it will be available,' and there's a place where my fans can find
out about it," Black says. 

But he counters, "For the anonymous bands that are now going to be posting
their music on iTunes, 

it's not going to sell you. It's just a place to store digital information.
But I think it will be good for 

the hard-working bands who have a following. And I think the more places
there are for people to 

post their music, or put it up for sale, the better."


While artists may be excited to maintain control of their recordings and
their profits, TuneCore 

isn't free. Musicians can have their songs placed at a variety of online
digital music outlets for a 

one-time-only delivery charge of 99 cents per song (placement in the Apple
iTunes US store is 

always included free). Placing an album, EP, or single at an array of online
stores, such as 

Rhapsody, Napster, or MusicNet for example, is optional, and each extra
service costs an 

additional 99 cents. Other costs include an annual TuneCore maintenance fee
of $7.98.

In addition to keeping their publishing rights, artists keep all the money
that Internet music stores 

such as iTunes pay on music sales, about 70 cents per song or $7 per album.
Moreover, unlike 

other digital distributors, TuneCore does not require clients to sign
exclusive multiyear contracts, 

Price says.


"People keep trying to figure out the catch, and there is no catch," Price

"We make money off the delivery fees."


Other online distributors are more circumspect about how groundbreaking
TuneCore is, 

or how effective it will be in the long run.


"No, I don't think it's revolutionary," says Greg Scholl, president and CEO
of The Orchard, 

a distributor of digital music that works with thousands of artists and
labels from 73 countries. 

Scholl says his company's focus of working with labels and marketing
big-name artists is very 

different from Tune Core's mission of providing a platform for independent
artists hence The 

Orchard's higher fees and exclusive contracts. "I think it's another flavor
of what a lot of people 

are doing. It's an interesting flavor. [Price] is a very creative,
successful entrepreneur, but I don't 

think it's this totally new thing. It's not no-cost."


Price cofounded New York's spinART Records 15 years ago and is acknowledged
as the first 

label owner to put his entire catalog up for sale as legal digital downloads
in 1998. He estimates 

that 17 percent to 25 percent of spinART's annual revenue comes from iTunes
sales, and he does 

not expect those numbers to decrease soon. Record labels won't go away, he
says, but he predicts 

that eventually they will have to redirect their business toward digital
downloads and away from CDs.


For his part, Black says record companies will always have a role to play if
only more of 

them operated like Price.


"Of all the record company people that I have worked with, he has been the

generous and the most honest," Black says. "I don't think that record
companies are ever 

going to be totally unnecessary because it's not just about having the
physical CD. 

It's about people getting on the phone, working it. And that's what record
companies are. 

That's what they do."
To post: Mail tv@obbard.com
To unsubscribe: Mail majordomo@obbard.com with message "unsubscribe tv"