Tunecore Review and Information

Review of Tunecore

2020 Update:  As it stands I have to almost always suggest DistroKid over Tunecore and the other competitors. See the comparison section below for details. You can see my in-depth DistroKid Review here.

What is Tunecore?

Tunecore is a platform for conglomerating the distribution of digital music. The main reason to use this service is it allows for musicians to get their mixes and songs on multiple online distribution platforms.

The main appeal of Tunecore is the sheer amount of implied reach that the site promises. In exchange for the distribution of your music to these services, they ask for flat yearly fees for putting the tracks and albums in their system. With a smaller year one stocking fee, and a larger recurring annual fee.

The service allows artists to feature their work on a total of 150+ platforms, with the biggest networks being:

  • Apple
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • YouTube
  • Google Play (2020 Update: Being Discontinued and combined with YouTube)

How much does Tunecore Cost and What’s It’s Pricing Strategy?

Tunecore has a subscription pricing strategy that’s separate for every album and single released on the service. If you stop paying, your music is removed from the service. For an album it costs $35.99 ($3/mo) for the first year and $59.99 ($5/mo) for every following year. A single has a flat rate of $11.99 ($1/mo).

Is Tunecore Even Worth the Price?

Whether or not Tunecore is worth it is entirely dependent on where you are in your artistic career. Essentially the bigger your following is, the better Tunecore is for you. If you’re frequently getting questions about where to find your tracks during outreach and shows it’s definitely worth looking into.

In my opinion, Tunecore is only viable if you are a full-time musician with a large following or a record label with many artists. However, in almost any other circumstance, Distrokid is your best option.

Tunecore VS Distrokid VS CDBaby for Releases

2020 Update: As it stands I have to almost always suggest Distrokid over Tunecore and the other competitors. Unless you are running your own record label, and releasing multiple large records for multiple large bands. As an indie artist or band manager, go with DistroKid. This section will explain in-depth why this is so.

Which service you go with generally amounts to how much traction you have on your own and whether you’re planning to be a releasing under multiple artists/bands. All of the companies have almost the same distribution networks. Any differences usually amount to <1% of your streams and sales. Distribution networks are essentially null at this stage in the industry.

Tunecore charges a subscription for each musical release on a yearly payment schedule. You are able to keep all royalties on the songs and will stay in the distribution network as long as you pay the subscription. The more releases that are done, the more expensive the service becomes. Additionally, to break even on each release, you need to generate a lot of streams and sales. If this was the 90s, this would be the best distribution network. It’s not.

CDBaby charges a small 1-time fee for each musical release. Yet takes a percentage of royalties generated from the distribution network. In my mind, CDBaby actually impedes you as you get bigger popularity. For actual numbers, if a track or album generates >$950 yearly revenue the service starts to lag behind Tunecore. Yet is almost always behind DistroKid.

DistroKid charges a yearly subscription to stay on their service. Their basic plan is $20 a year. Their upgraded plan is $36/yr. It immediately beats Tunecore and CDBaby with that pricing unless you’re only releasing 2 singles for the entirety of your artistic career with Tunecore (or 2 a year with CDBaby).

You get to keep 100% of your royalties and can release an unlimited amount of tracks and albums, without raising the price of the subscription. The $36/yr plan is recommended, as it allows you to set release/preorder dates, gain data insights, and set iTunes prices.

Generated button

Right now the industry is changing rapidly and artists are finding that thanks to technology a new release schedule is becoming extremely lucrative. It’s moving from “Movie style” to “Youtube Style”. Instead of doing one large project blockbuster hit, it’s better to reach out to your fans often. In other words, instead of 1 album a year, it’s better to do multiple small releases.

This strategy is much more effective for artists (especially indies) because it allows you to frequently interact with your fans in a meaningful way. Each new release is an event to increase your popularity and fan base. At the moment, only DistroKid is efficient and effective for this strategy.

 

tunecore-networks

What is Needed To Release on Tunecore?

The requirements for distributing a song to Tunecore are pretty straight forward. They have the same requirements as any distribution service. You only need to bring a few things to the table. Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need:

  • A Tunecore account
  • Funds to pay for the service
  • A kickass track or album
  • An ISRC Number (Tunecore will provide you with one if you don’t have one)
  • Amazing album art for the track/album
  • Artist information (You and any collaborators)
  • A list of what digital stores you want Tunecore to release to

What Does A Successful Tunecore/DistroKid Release Need?

This is a slightly different question. Here’s what you need in order for your release to be as successful as possible. After releasing a bunch of indie music over the years I’ve determined three things that really up the success of music being sent to a distribution platform.

Fans

First, you’ll need an existing fan base and a way to communicate your new releases to them. Most of the store’s suggestion algorithms look at how popular tracks are and will suggest tracks with more traction more often. It’s unfortunate but you need to have some form of off-platform buzz.

You’re probably doing it already, but if you aren’t; Post in your social groups, tell your fans, advertise during shows, and if you got an email list from merch sales, send it to them too. Make them aware.

Sexy Album Art

Second, album art needs to look professional. This is pretty much the first contact fans and potential new listeners come into contact with you in the music stores. It needs to be on point because subconsciously the quality will be attached to your music. I found a direct correlation between art quality and shares/new listener discovery.

You’ll need a really good graphic designer, illustrator, or photographer. If that’s you, put in extra time to make it look amazing. Reach out to buddies if you know any. I didn’t know any, but I found a few freelancers online. Ironically I found them on Fiverr and learned that inexpensive doesn’t mean cheap.  I’ve come to use freelancers a lot more in my work. Click the button to see for yourself:

Priming The Algorithm

Finally, and this is a huge game-changing secret for music distribution… You need to set a future release date of at least 2 weeks after you send it to Tunecore. Here’s a guide on how to do it. This is a real pro strategy. Let me break it down. If you intend to do this on DistroKid you need the $36/yr plan.

All the main music platforms have new release suggestion engines in place. When a new track is released, they find their way to new fans through these playlists. However, all of these platforms require time to get to your track, analyze it, and decide what kind of listeners would enjoy it. This usually takes around 10 days.

If it doesn’t get that analysis, it won’t make it on to the suggestion playlists, because by the time it does get analyzed, the track will be too old for a “New song suggestion” playlist.

Adding in this future release date lets Spotify, Apple, Google Play, etc figure out what your music is all about, and connect potential new fans that will enjoy it.

 

Is Tunecore a Scam For New Artists?

It’s definitely not a scam, but it’s definitely not for the naive or new mixmasters. Just because you can put your music into the system doesn’t mean they’ll ever get purchased. A large portion of music (around 94%) on the platform sells fewer than 100 copies. 64% of the tracks manage sell more than one copy. 1 in 3 tracks don’t sell at all. You definitely have to be in the top 5% of music composers for this platform to really pay off.

The main problem with the above paragraph is the annual fee, the first year for an album is cheap at $35.99 but the following years it costs $50 to keep your album on the platform’s roster. If you’re not making the sales you’re just going to be losing money.

As mentioned above Distrokid is almost always the better alternative. With only a small recurring yearly fee, Distrokid will be much more efficient for you.

Generated button

Both services provide a nice way to reach potential audiences and are a great way to bring in some extra money that can be used to improve your setup or free up some time to continue to create. But if you’re looking at a distribution service be sure to pick the one that’s right for where you’re at professionally.

How to Become A Professional Music Producer and Sell Your Beats

Why You Should Work Towards Trying To Sell Beats

I remember the first time I sold some of my music. I sold a backing track to my buddy for his live DJ shows down at a college bar. Initially I was going to give it to him for free, all I asked was for him to promote me. But he refused, said he’d pay and passed me $40. He told me, “Producing music takes a lot of time. If you’re just giving it away for free you’re essentially forced to only do once in a while. You won’t be able to dedicate as much time to your craft. You won’t be able to give what the track deserves. Quality will suffer and you’ll be stagnating as an artist. Less time leads to less practice. That’ll stunt your growth. “You can’t not sell”.

I had to follow his advice and I have to say it’s one of the most satisfying ways to make money. You’re creating something you put your soul into that was forged out of passion. Then it lets you buy fancy dinners. It sure as hell beats a nine to five. Since then I’ve sold different compilations in online marketplaces and to video advertisement agencies for YouTube and television marketing.

Creating a beat worth selling

One of the most important things a music producer needs to learn (or any artist really). It’s that when you’re creating something with the intent to sell, you’re creating value for the right person. I’ve ran into so many “VISIONARY” DJs and producers who create weird ass shit that they love; but it sounds like noise to the average listener. They’re creating music for themselves, it’s purely selfish in nature. Call it selling out if you want, but if you’re creating music for others, create it for others first and your own ego later.

So when you’re creating a beat to put on a marketing database or online you have to start with the end in mind. Who’s this beat for? Is it for an upbeat fizzy drink ad? DJs looking to add some Metalcore to their transitions? Is there a demand for what you want to make? Work backwards and create something people can’t help but need because it was made for them.

Where do you sell your beats?

There are two different ways to sell your musical productions and beats. You can either join a free marketplace where other members are trying to sell. Or you can get yourself on paid distribution databases like Tunecore or CD Baby. These sites put your music on Google play/iTunes. These databases also have sync licensing which is intended for non-musicians and content producers to find tracks for use in their media. Think commercials, media, movies, television, etc.

Now I’ve had some experiences with online marketplaces. I put my tracks up, and didn’t get a single sale, because literally everyone on these sites were there for one reason. They all wanted to sell beats like me. They weren’t there to buy them.

Any sale I did make was through self driven promotion. I had to do it myself and could have just sold to them directly for my own price. But this is absolutely amazing if you’re starting out and don’t really have an infrastructure foundation. It’s extremely simple to do. You just make an account, put your beat up, and hope someone willing to pay finds it once in a while.

The money goes straight to your Paypal and you can build your portfolio. Sales are rare, and you’re definitely not going to build a reputation on these sites. Not without hitting the pavement hard with self promotion.

Numark Mixtrack Platinum Review

So I decided to take some time and write a Numark Mixtrack Platinum review. The controller is one of the latest additions to the Numark family. Numark intends that the controller for the skilled amateur. As such there’s a lot of features added for ease of use and monitoring for the user. While at the same time some top range features are left out. All said and done the controller is very good value for its price.

MixtrackPlat2

button_check-price-and-availability-here

Multiple Decks

Usually a feature like this is only found in higher priced controllers, but the Mixtrack Platinum comes with 4 channels split between 2 decks. Allowing you to load up to four songs/clips to play at any time. The deck select allows for mixing in samples and clips easily. Most controllers at this price only allow for 2 channels.

Displays

The main selling feature of the Mixtrack Platinum is its Hi-resolution jogwheel displays. These are very nice as they’re easily seen and monitorable by the DJ. They show all kinds of useful information, like the BPM, platter position, remaining time in the song, a key lock and the pitch. However, one issue that I ran into was the display easily got a scratch from transport so you need to be careful not to throw it into a backpack with a bunch of loss objects.

Another piece of information they show is a great indicator of which channel is currently running on the deck. Each deck can swap between two different channels. This display was unexpectedly very useful, and much better than the traditional indicating LED in the heat of a performance.MixtrackPlat

button_check-price-and-availability-here

Comes with Serato (Or Not)

The controller does not come with the full Serato, instead it comes with a lite version called Serato DJ Intro. It’s definitely enough to get you to start mixing but if you want to get real fancy you’re going to have to buy the full version of the program. The Intro program will not allow you to record tracks within the program and limits quite a lot of aspects. To get full Serato you need to pay an additional $10 a month or a flat fee of 100USD

Limited Track Effects

One issue I found was there was a very limited amount of track effects. At the most there were 2 settings for each effect. Essentially making you feel limited on what you can do with the effects themselves. At least you can stack 2 effects allowing for tons combinations so it’s not like there’s not a lot to do. But it definitely feels like begginer controller. As for using the effect settings themselves, they have an intuitive dynamic touch strips where you slide your finger along, similar to a straight fader, but fancier. I didn’t have any issues with it, but I do worry it may misbehave if your fingertips are wet or cold.

MixtrackPlat3

button_check-price-and-availability-here

The Hardware itself

When it comes to the design and construction of the controller. I’m impressed, it’s pretty sturdy constructed with hard plastic. It’s durable and lightweight allowing for travel, I wouldn’t feel bad putting it in the hands of kids. Something that always impresses me and is actually one of the things I look for in a controller that this one has is the 100mm faders. Long faders allow for you to very precisely adjust your settings manually. It doesn’t seem like much but that extra physical space is really nice.

This Mixtrack comes with its own soundcard, it’s a decent 24bit card that allows for great sound. Anything more would just be a placebo to human ears. The only issue is that it’s RCA out only which is unbalanced and can lead to crossover in large club setups. It has two monitor feeds, allowing for both 1/8 and 1/4 headphones.

Another hardware consideration is the power. If you opt to use an external soundcard, or have a complex set up you may need to also look at getting a powered USB hub. The Numark Mixtrack Platinum only comes with the option of being powered by USB. This means you need to plug it into your computer, and if you bring a laptop your USB slots may be limited (see an example in the pic below) and if you have too many devices running it may start to misbehave while running on low power. Another issue I found is it didn’t come with a power off. I have my computer in my bedroom and have to fully disconnect the controller from my computer otherwise it stays on. A slightly distracting personal issue but one all the same.

MixtrackPlat4

button_check-price-and-availability-here

The Rundown

Overall after carrying out the Numark Mixtrack Platinum review I’ve seen that it’s quite good for it’s price. It does have some weaknesses moving into the professional sphere but it will carry you well as a midrange DJ controller. It has some nice standards of living, like it’s original Jogwheel displays, yet at the same time has some issues with the more creative aspects of DJing.

 

Numark Party Mix DJ Controller Review

First Impression of the Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller

I was surprised by how small the Party Mix is in person when I first saw it. Obviously, I knew it was going to be compact, but I was initially worried it might impact performance. However, I’m happy to report my worry was for nothing. If anything, the smaller chassis allows me to take it more places, and my kids can easily tote it from room to room while they play with it as well.
The plug n’ play aspect is appreciated. Nothing’s worse than installing a bunch of extra drivers or having to buy extra gear to setup something like a beginner’s DJ controller. I like that it comes with its on software. As I later mention in this review, it’s optimized to work with the software it comes with. Luckily, you actually get the software for free—for keeps. This would have been a downside if it was merely a free trial, but thankfully you can continue to use it, which makes it worth it, in my opinion.

numarkpartymix

 

The Party Mix easily connected with both headphones and speakers we already had at our house. The connection was pretty standard, so for those who already have their own, you likely won’t have to buy any, which is another very likable aspect.

Most important is functionality. The Party Mix offers a lot of capabilities for a DJ controller that is targeted at beginners. You can actually make some quality mixes and it’s easily to tinker with them to get the sound that you want—the scratch pads are especially fun to play with, which I suppose is what most of us adults who have always imagined ourselves DJing have been dying to do since we were kids, since, you know, there were actually records back then.

As I mentioned before, I have kids, and they love the Party Mix as much as I do, so, in my opinion, it’s great for all ages, which makes me love it more.

The Pros

  • Class-compliant, plug n’ play
  • Free Virtual DJ LE software included
  • Built-in soundcard—no extra sound software required, simply plug in speakers or headphones
  • Compact chassis are space-saving
  • Dual scratch pads
  • Dual slider controls
  • 8 total multifunctional trigger buttons for cues and samples
  • Equalization controls for customizing master gain, bass and more
  • Built-in lightshow feature; RGB LED backlighting
  • User manual included
  • Warranty included
  • Lightweight at 1.8lbs—easy to travel with

The Cons

  • To fully access the included free software, Virtual DJ LE, you have to go to the website and enter the registration code. This is a bit annoying, but at the same time, it is your free pass for the software, and the good news is once you enter it, it’s yours for life.
  • Since it’s intended for beginners, it’s really only designed to be used with the included software, but this isn’t really an issue for the DJing novice, and if you end up becoming serious about DJing, you’ll likely upgrade to a different controller anyway.

91N7LU34YJL._SL1500_

 

Warranty

Numark’s Party Mix is covered under a warranty, so if any issues arise during the warranty period, you’re good.

Final verdict

The Numark Party Mix is an ideal DJ controller for beginner DJs by providing all the basics you need to get a handle on basic DJing skills and concepts—and then take them to the next level.

How To DJ a Wedding – Tips and Tricks

Make Any Special Day a Success Through Music

DJing a wedding can be a lot of fun and also a lot of hard work so it is important that things are done right. Being that weddings are a pivotal part of people’s lives making sure everything runs smoothly is of utmost importance. A good DJ can make or break any wedding, so come prepared with plenty of music. It’s important to treat the client as a customer and to craft your show so it fits with their desired experience. Be sure to find out all the information before hand. What genres to play, how old the guests are, special songs for certain dances, and logistical information such as stage size and set times. You’ll also want a suitably sized library of tracks for any situation. If you’re doing some heavy technical mixing and you’re on for 2 hours you’ll want 6 hours of music available. If you’re just playing track after track with no mixing you can shorten your library length. Here are some additional tricks and tips to make sure your wedding service runs smoothly every time. 



Setting up Equipment For the Function

The setup is the first step in Djing a wedding. Make sure to leave plenty of time before guests arrive to setup the equipment. Often times this will take up to an hour depending on how much equipment is being used. You’ll want to get the acoustics set up while you have access to the room before the guests arrive. Be aware that often times there will be a long period to wait before a DJ’s duties come into play. Try to act professional while you wait as you’re on the job.

It’s extremely important to gauge the acoustics of the room to give a great performance. Make sure to set the speakers up according to the shape of the room to get the best sound. It is very important to do a test run of the sound system before the wedding gets under way. Play a song and walk the room, notice any spots where sound misbehaves and see if adjusting it helps. One of the biggest issues is corners trap bass so heavy base tracks may disrupts tables in these areas. 

When It’s Time For Action

When guests start to arrive it is a common custom to have light music playing, this music will likely continue throughout dinner. After dinner it is time to play the bride and grooms special song, this is the most important part of your night. Some weddings have many special songs which include the first dance, a dance with the parents and a dance with the bridal party. Getting these songs right in these moments is crucial so make sure to be well prepared for these times. A good rule of thumb is to keep the music fast and lively while mixing in a slow song for people to have a rest in between. Most weddings will start with older songs giving the older generation a chance to dance and throughout the night the music can become more modern to please the younger crowd.

How to Dj: Reading the Crowd

Reading a crowd for what songs to play is an art form that can sometimes take many years to grasp. Often times a Dj will receive requests for songs to be played and if appropriate make sure that they get played. Nothing makes people more upset then not playing a certain song that was requested. Be prepared to have a late night of partying, drinking and good times.