Q+A: Scott Ackerman, TuneCore
Located in DUMBO since day one and reaching the $1 billion mark in artists earnings, TuneCore is an avenue for independent artists to create content and get their music out worldwide. We sat down with CEO Scott Ackerman— who celebrated 7 years as part of TuneCore’s team last week!— to understand more of what the world's largest digital distributor of new content is all about!
How did TuneCore start?
TuneCore was started by a group of people who wanted to build a model for independent artists where the artists could distribute their music, keep all of their rights and get 100% of what they earned. They started the company 11 years ago and today this is still the main piece of our business: the artists create content, they deliver the content to us, we put it out into the digital world, we collect revenue for them, and they get 100% of that. TuneCore is based on a subscription model where the artists pay a fee every year for us to deliver their music and keep it on the digital the stores. We just announced that probably in the beginning of October, maybe at the end of September, our artists are going to have earned $1 billion dollars in revenue. So that’s 100% of what the artists have earned! We’re 11 years old now and have a lot of other services, but still have that piece of distributing the music for any artist so anybody can create content in the world.
What's the future of TuneCore?
We started this distribution model and it still is the core piece of our business. We have a report behind the distribution that allows artists to see every day who streamed and bought their music and all the data they need. Our artists used to come back to us and say “Why can’t you add more services? We have to go to all these other places and we would love to just come here” so we launched some other services. Today, we have a publishing administration service, where we help artists collect royalties. We have a sink department where we pitch our artists’ music to TVs, commercials, movies, etc. We have a YouTube monetization service where we collect revenue for artists when their sound recordings are used anywhere on that platform. We’ve also added some other services, whether it’s to get your music reviewed by professional fans before you distribute it, get your music mastered, or a physical outlet where people can get cd’s made. Recently we launched a social media tool to help artists manage their social media channel and build their fan base. We’re going to continue adding more services. As for the future of TuneCore, our goal is to have a one-stop shop for artists, wherever stage they are in their career, where they can pick and choose services, keep 100% of their rights, and continue to grow.
Is the service limited to artists based in the US?
Tunecore.com was built for anybody in the world; as a matter fact, more than 30% of our customer base is international. We realized a long time ago that we needed to localize our product and so we first launched TuneCore Canada. It has local content, you pay in Canadian dollars, the homepage is a Canadian band and we try to add to services that help artists in Canada. We later launched TuneCore Japan, Italy, France, Germany, UK, and Australia. We won’t have a website in every country but everybody can join TuneCore.com!
How has being based in DUMBO helped TuneCore?
We’ve been in DUMBO since the very first day! It’s a great location–we have employees in Connecticut, New Jersey, all over the New York area and the burrows and it’s easy for people to get here with the A, C, and F trains. DUMBO is an artsy area, it’s a cool place and TuneCore is cool, right? So we like to be here and the staff really enjoys it. We have a great view of Manhattan out of our window here, and it has been exciting for the staff to watch DUMBO grow - even just in the last year with new restaurants and stores, which gives our team new places to have lunch!
What's your favorite place in DUMBO?
For right now, Atrium is kind of becoming the TuneCore restaurant. I’m there frequently when I have meetings and I see a lot of the staff over there!