Jeff Price is truly a man on a mission. The founder of TuneCore, the independent digital distribution company, Jeff is passionate about “democratizing” the music business, and “righting some wrongs”.
As you will see in this two part interview, Jeff has a lot to say about the current state of the music business, and pulls no punches along the way.
Part 2 below — including our discussion on the death of artist development, and Jeff’s take on where we are headed next.
Isquith: So, here we are in 2011. The retail side of the business has been changed meaningfully through digital distribution and your Tunecore efforts to a significant degree….
Isquith: But what about all the OTHER gatekeepers?
Isquith: Radio, Press, Licensing etc.
Isquith: What are your thoughts there?
Price: the only significant gate keeper that I believe still exists is in commercial radio
Price: outside of that…..
Price: and as people move to the “cloud”
Price: The first thing you must be clear on is that, inexorably, we are moving towards an all-streaming delivery of music. Should you be interested, you can read more details about the coming streams in an article I wrote some time ago entitled, “The Stream that Snuck Up on You.” The premise is that in an era of (near) constant connectivity, there is little-to-no reason to actually have the file on your device.
Price: Soon, about the only place where (for better or worse) you won’t be online is on a subway. Combine this constant connectivity with a virtually unlimited selection of music that is available for instant streaming, and you truly must ask, “What is the distinction between ‘ownership’ of a file and streaming?”
Price: with this type of accessibility
Price: and connectivity
Price: radio will become less relevant
Isquith: I buy into the power of the cloud. It’s also clear that Apple/Google/MSFT are readying as they spend for these capabilities…
(Editors note — we spoke to Jeff before the recent Amazon Cloud announcement)
Price: outside of that the only “gatekeepers” left are old school guard trying to proclaim there is no change
Price: like Tommy Silverman
Price: Board members of the RIAA, A2IM and SoundExchage make public statements
Price: claiming music is not selling
Price: and that (not my quote) 80% of the music released via TuneCore is “crap”
Price: and is “cluttering” the market stopping the good music from selling
Price: I guess we need to tell Civil Wars, who used TuneCore
Price: and had the #1 album on iTunes for 7 days, that they don’t count
Isquith: Fair enough
Price: or Lecrea with over 2M songs sod that sorry dude, you are not real
Price: I have a list of thousands and thousands of artists that have outsold and out earned “major” artists
Price: btw – majors have a 98% failure ratio on releases
Price: I am not a label killer
Isquith: Why do you think there is weakness in other areas of the business besides old school physical retail and major labels?
Isquith: for example…Concert Revenues are down
Price: I however do believe that when Drake used TuneCore and sold 300,000 singles in 11 days outselling Lady GaGa
Price: he was on par
Price: there is no more class distinction
Price: artists are all now just artists
Price: each as important as the other
Price: weakness comes from the old model
Isquith: But if you are a promoter…either Ticketmaster or AEG or even a small Mom & Pop promoter….shouldn’t this create bigger opportunities and results?
Price: Arrested (Artist) Development
Price: a get rich quick strategy that was single based; that did not develop more catalog
Isquith: So you are saying…stopping artist development has had a trickle down negative effect to promoters, etc?
Price: oh hell yes
Isquith: OK, that is reasonable.
Price: this is why legacy artists do so well (live)
Price: they developed over time
Price: Bruce Springsteen
Price: first album sales were low
Price: it crawled up over years
Isquith: Springsteen’s 1st 2 LPs failed, U2s first 2 albums likewise
Price: developing fan base etc
Price: and they grew over time
Price: now its like opening weekend of a movie
Price: 1st album sells best and all the others decline
Price: one hit wonders
Price: This get rich quick strategy helped destroy the value of labels and the careers (and potential careers) of thousands of artists.
Isquith: I’m going to throw out 5 quick questions, and hold you to 1-2 sentence answers
Isquith: Here goes
Price: will limit myself
Isquith: 1- “If I had unlimited start-up $, time and energy…I would look at…
Price: music publishing
Price: cure for cancer, help Japan
Isquith: 2-” The most interesting person I’ve met lately is…”
Price: Fred Bourgoise
Isquith: tell us more…
Price: about Fred?
Isquith: yes please
Price: co-founder of Bug Music Publishing
Price: largest independent publishing company in the world
Price: sold it about three years ago
Price: he did for Publishing
Price: what TuneCore did for distribution
Isquith: ok….#3 – “Most Gratifying part of my day/week is….”
Price: honestly, it’s going to sound corny
Isquith: corny is often true
Price: but it’s when I play any role whatsoever in helping someone reach their goal
Price: and from time to time, it happens
Price: and I smile
Price: knowing i was able to contribute to that person’s dreams/aspirations
Isquith: it’s a big driver for many of my friends in music
Price: I get more pleasure out of helping someone else
Price: than myself
Isquith: #4 — Most frustrating part of day/week?
Price: when people do not know or understand the reason behind what I do are #3
Price: i did not start TC to make a buck
Price: i did it to change something i thought was wrong
Price: whether TuneCore exists or not
Price: there is no reason why any artist should be denied access to distribution
Price: keep their rights..get all the money from the sale of it
Price: so yes, cynics – who tend to project themselves onto you
Price: just b/c that’s how they operate does not mean the rest of the world works like that
Price: there are some good people in the world …(thank god!)
Isquith: last one….#5 : if you could only, god forbid, save 1 all time album (file) from a burning fire…..it would be?
Price: Rubber Soul
Isquith: hard to argue that one
Isquith: any parting words of wisdom?
Price: In regards to musicians
Isquith: anywhere you would like to take it…
Price: its important to understand copyright
Price: You MUST, MUST
Price: this is what drives the entire business
Price: these are YOUR rights
Price: codified in the US constitution
Isquith: Know Your Rights, Joe Strummer once shouted…
Price: they are boring
Price: but its how you make a living doing what you love
Price: with this knowledge
Price: you can make decisions
Isquith: thank you again Jeff for making the time for us, and telling us the story of Tunecore.
Price: thank you for the opportunity
Price: I now have carpel tunnels syndrome
Isquith: Yup, you can thank DMI for that. Look forward to meeting in the physical world.