TuneCore is one of a handful of companies (including CD Baby and ReverbNation) offering digital (and in some instances physical) distribution for the DIY musician. For a relatively small fee, artists using these services can get their tunes in all the major digital music sellers (iTunes, eMusic, Rhapody, etc.) -- which means a coffeehouse strummer can be in the same "store" as Beyoncé -- Pretty cool, huh? CD Baby will also handle the warehousing and mailorder for your physical discs, and most of these services provide referrals for custom-batch CD manufacturing.
Today, Digital Music News is reporting that TuneCore has made a deal with Amazon to have a special section within Amazon's MP3 store:
The TuneCore-branded environment will live within the broader AmazonMP3 site. Additionally, artists can offer custom-crafted CDs through Amazon partner CreateSpace. The action starts June 1st.
TuneCore already direct-ports downloads into a number of stores, including Amazon, iTunes, among many others. The store-within-a-store builds upon an existing partnership between TuneCore and Amazon, as does the CD-pressing component. The expansion helps TuneCore to expand its value proposition, though it also allows Amazon to breathe some life into its CreateSpace acquisition.
You may be familiar with CreateSpace, which grabs DIY by the long tail (ha!) and lets users self-publish books, music and movies to be stocked and sold through Amazon. We think it's great that more artists are able to use new services to get their creations out there, but if these services continue to take off, there will be that much more stuff to sift through. The question then becomes, what mechanisms can effectively facilitate discovery? Or to put it more simply, how do fans find what they like? Do they just randomly stumble upon it? Does the burden of marketing and promotion rest solely on the creator? How can developing artists most effectively cut through the noise?
In the past, labels handled much of an artist's promotion (PR firms also assist), but the game is changing for any number of reasons -- the erosion of the physical CD market, unauthorized filesharing and the uncertainty around new models (like ad-supported and subscription services) -- to name a few. For now, this could mean fewer acts get signed to traditional labels, and less money is available for promotion. It could also mean a future where industry entities become "all-in-one" services that provide a combination of marketing and promotion, live booking and tour management, recording and distribution and possibly even rights administration. The so-called "360 degree" deals that are popular with some superstar artists could represent a step in this direction.
But what about all the other artists out there? How will they cultivate and retain audiences? It's one thing to be able to make your stuff available, it's another to get the right people to find it. Magazines and radio have always acted as a kind of filter, but restrictive commercial radio playlists and the financial struggles of print (and online) media combined with the ever-increasing amount of music makes it tough for most artists to attract listeners. Obviously, reaching audiences was a challenge even back when the business of music was dominated by a system of bottlenecks and powerful gatekeepers. But there are new hurdles now that creative content is seemingly ubiquitous.
We're curious to hear your thoughts about the future of DIY and marketing in the digital age -- feel free to leave a comment below. . .