Music Distribution is the process of getting music from artist to store for consumption by public. The said store can be a physical one or digital music retailer. A distributing company acts as an intermediary /middleman between the artist/record label and the store.

Of late many international music distributors have entered the Indian music market. One of leading ones being TuneCore.

The US based company has been dedicated to provide independent musicians the tools they need to get their music out to the world, grow their fan base, and stay in control of their careers.

To know more about TuneCore’s business in India, we spoke to Heena Kriplani, Head of TuneCore India

Heena joined TuneCore as Country Head for India in January 2020 after 12 years at Gibson Brands, Inc. where she last served as Director of Entertainment Relations, Asia. Heena is committed to enabling success for every Indian musician and believes that TuneCore offers them the tools to navigate their artistic careers.

Tell us about your journey so far at TuneCore.

It’s been great and we’re going strong! The India domain is now a year old and we’ve spent this time bettering our product and learning and adapting to artist needs. Also as part of Believe we have the unique opportunity to remain independent while leaning into Believe’s massive infrastructure, industry relations and general good will. There’s also the opportunity to ‘upstream’ TuneCore artists when then reach certain thresholds. Some very interesting artists have moved over from TuneCore and are now signed by Believe. We see their success as a big win.

TuneCore is the first international DIY distributors to have an India specific website. We recognized the massive opportunity to serve artists in this region where the music market is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years.

At Believe and TuneCore, we are first and foremost supporters of the community. We live this truth by integrating best in class practices into our platform… With TuneCore, an artist receives a 100% of their sales revenue and keep all their rights. This in spite of the low price point ₹499 for a single and ₹1499 for an album for 1st year of distribution. Artists are provided with a transparent and state-of-the-art artist dashboard that allows them to track their Digital Music trends and sales. We offer YouTube and Facebook & Instagram Monetization services. In March we made available YouTube Original Artist Channel which gives artists a path to claiming their channel on YouTube where they are able to customize or view their analytics, discography, music videos, vlogs etc. In May, TuneCore partnered with YouTube to provide music for its short-form video service, Shorts. In June, we partnered with Facebook to launch Facebook’s Independent Artist Program, a function that allows artists and creators to distribute their music across Facebook and Instagram products such as Stories, Reels and anywhere Facebook offers a music library. It’s been a busy few months!

Then, another really important aspect of today’s digital world is customer support. We facilitate world class customer service and conversations with real people whose only job it is to solve your distribution problems. Not many know that you can write to TuneCore support in your preferred language too – Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil… and get the answers you need

We also think that know-how and education give tremendous power to the artist. We facilitate workshops and masterclasses of relevant industry advice and education from artists and industry experts who know what they’re talking about. We formalized this effort with TuneCore Rewards which is a first of its kind, multi-level educational loyalty program – a free program for TuneCore artists.

It’s been quite a journey and there’s still so much more to do. We are proud to support the Indian independent artist and do our bit for the region’s music ecosystem.

What does a typical TuneCore-artist contract encompass? What should artists look out for while deciding which platform would be the best for them?

We support all artists, at all stages of their career and our platform is for everyone. Right from a first time musician, to someone who just wants to experiment with music, to the established artists – TuneCore is for you. With a country like ours, the talent is immense, diverse and dispersed. Artists emerge from bustling cities, small towns and remote villages. We want to provide this talent with the means to reach audiences. And to add to that, there are no restrictions on numbers- some put out an EP a quarter, other upload multiple singles a week. As long as an artist owns or has rights to distribute their music, they can upload and distribute through TuneCore.

There are several factors, but at its crux I think most decisions will boil down reach and money – that is – the network of stores, and what you get back in terms of earnings. Keeping the first bit in mind we made sure that the 4 major DSPS – Gaana, Wynk, JioSaavn and Hungama – was part of our network. This asides from all major international stores and 150+ others across the globe. As far as artist earnings go – Our direct relationship with stores means we don’t use a middle man, and pay 100% of 100% of revenue from the stores directly to artists. As of today, we’ve paid out more than $2 Billion in revenues to our 1 million+ artists community, averaging about $1.2 million to artists each day.

How does TuneCore team up with the online stores?

Ours is a direct relationship with the Stores on a global and local level. We provide fast delivery to over 150 stores across the globe and are one of the only DIY players who offer distribution to all 4 Indian major DSPs – Gaana, Wynk, JioSaavn and Hungama. Artists who use TuneCore for distribution have access to the widest audience globally.

Asides from this, we have teamed up with several of our store partners on various workshops, masterclasses and initiatives. Earlier this year we partnered with YouTube for its short-form video service, Shorts and with Facebook to launch its Independent Artist Program. We’re also very proud to be part of Spotify’s Initiative, AmplifiHer, that Spotlights Indian Women in Audio

What kind of challenges, from a legal point of view, do you have to face while managing Indian artistes on an international platform like TuneCore? 

Not many. Ours is a DIY distribution platform, and our terms of use reflect the laws of the land. As long as an artist distributes music that they own or have the right to, there are no legal implications.

What changes would you like to see happen in the current Indian laws to suit platforms like TuneCore?

TuneCore is a DIY platform and because of the way we are structured, we don’t have as much to do with copyright laws, as long as an artist follows the rules and distributes what he has the rights to. There aren’t any laws that we would like or need changed. Our challenges have more to do with imparting education and knowledge to artists. Industry information, understanding the intricacies of the business, promoting your work, harnessing the power of social media, platforms awareness – these are just some of the topics that we believe artist’s need a deeper understanding of, and that we strive to deliver.