If you're anything like me, your band is not famous.
You might have had some moderate success in local markets, but let's be real; your band's trajectory isn't heading towards Coachella any time soon. As a matter of fact, your band has internally combusted. Over the years the band mate relationships have dwindled into Facebook 'likes' on random posts. Someone just had a baby. Someone just started a new business. Someone just got married... and what's worse, the local bars have stopped buying you drinks. Ouch!
Five years later, the digital sales from all of your albums are next to nothing. Yet something just won't let you take your album off of the market. Is it vanity? Is it hope? I imagine it's the same thing that won't let you throw away the large boxes of dusty CD's in your basement.
If this is you, don't worry. You are not alone.
You are NOT Jack's sense of inflamed rejection.
In fact, a vast majority of people just like you have the same issue. No one is buying their songs either. It no longer streams on iTunes. It isn't connected to "Sounds like ___ artist" on Spotify. It's definitely not bangin' in Bangladesh - although the promise of a global market place sure did sound appealing.
I recently read a great post by Bob Lefsetz called, "The Most Important Thing You Will Read All Day." This confirmed my long time suspicion that a majority of artists/hobbyists aren't selling anything.
I was not alone.
In 2011: 94% of digital tracks in 2011 (that’s 7.5 million tracks) sold fewer than 100 units, and an astonishing 32% sold only one copy.
With this report, I ask the question: Why keep paying for your album(s) to be "digitally stored" year after year with an annual renewal fee?
1 album on Tunecore is $29.99 to upload to be digitally distributed, and it costs $49.99 (each) to stay put year after year.
If you live in the 32% range of the above sad statistic, you're in trouble. Hell, if you live in the 94% range, you're in trouble after a few years... especially when your music isn't relevant anymore to the ADHD consumer being force fed free content.
Let's say you have multiple albums - I have six from various projects. That's $300 a year for me to keep shelving those dusty digital tracks. Ack! This is not a good option.
4 Better Alternatives:
Bandcamp: If you're an indie artist and you prefer driving traffic to one location, Bandcamp is a great service with a beautiful storefront design that takes a 15% rake with no charge for upload. Set your own price or give away for free. Their platform also makes it easy to find out who the people are who download your music. Important!
SoundCloud: SoundCloud is a phenomenal service with a vibrant social network for the artists who just want to stream or give their music away (which I would argue should be you until you have your100-1000 true fans).
CD Baby: I know, you still like the idea that anyone in the world can access your music forever from wherever. iTunes is important to Grandma... That's cool. I get it. Then use these guys as a digital distribution service. If you're like me, you're much better off with a service that takes a 9% rake withno annual fee. Especially once you realize that the long tail towards irrelevancy is actually shorter than expected.
Topspin: Even though you pay monthly for the service, I think it's one of the most robust options on the marketplace for bands with momentum and traction. They also have storefronts and amazing options for direct-to-fan activity. I wish this service was available when my band was in its heyday.
Look, my aim isn't to pick on Tunecore. I just don't think their business model makes much sense for musicians like me.
Turns out, there's a lot of us.