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TuneCore politely smacks down TommyBoy and Nielsen

About 1,500 artists break the “obscurity line” each year. Less than 1% do it on their own.  Not so fast says Jeff Price, the CEO of TuneCore. 

Seems like TuneCore has the success measurement numbers that Nielsen is (completely) missing.  Read Jeff’s latest post.  Quotes below:

When they were unsigned, the following TuneCore artists sold the following quantities of songs across their releases:

Kelly sold over 2,000,000 million tracks
William Fitzsimmons sold over 150,000 tracks
Soulja Boy sold over 200,000 tracks
Boyce Avenue sold over 1,200,000 tracks
Ron Pope sold over 250,000 tracks
Colt Ford sold over 300,000 tracks
Secondhand Serenade sold over 250,000 tracks
Tapes N Tapes sold over 200,000 tracks
Nevershoutnever sold over 1,000,000 tracks
Drake sold over 300,000 tracks
MGMT sold over 225,000 tracks
The Medic Droid sold over 150,00 tracks
Nickasaur sold over 150,000 tracks
Harry and the Potters sold over 200,000 tracks

in 2009 alone, unsigned artists using TuneCore generated over $32,000,000 in music sales by selling over 42,000,000 songs - this is more than one song a second selling by a TuneCore Artist on iTunes.

Commentary: After this lack-of-data debacle, I don’t think many people will be placing a lot of faith (as far as measuring the success of independents) in the numbers released by SoundScan/Nielsen.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have sensationalized the Silverman interview to start all this, but it sure sparked a lot of debate (read Steve Lawson’s take), and look at all the great data that’s flowing now.  I have a ton of respect for Tom Silverman (he didn’t have all the data) and Rick Goetz is running a great blog at Musician Coaching.  What else can I say other than TuneCore Rocks (again) and thanks for joining us on this roller coaster ride.

Reader Comments (12)

Justin - recall when I said two years ago that this industry is going to become a data driven business?

January 21 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Warila

Billboard magazine wrote a story on me last year ( This would make most indie musicians happy, but I was miffed about it because of this line:

"...For an artist with a niche audience and total sales of 16,000 for her 2005 solo album and a 2004 EP, according to Nielsen SoundScan..."

I was miffed because those numbers are digital sales of my album as reported via iTunes (which started selling my music in summer 2006)...and are a fraction of my sales. By my reckoning, I've sold 30,000 copies....but I'm not allowed to report them.

(of course, Billboard *IS* Neilsen so I shouldn't have been surprised)

I thought I'd make an effort this year to get ALL sales of my upcoming CD reported by Soundscan. I sell physical copies primarily from my website and at shows. So, I bought a barcode scanner for my fulfillment person and wrote to Neilsen, naively asking about their required format for uploads of weekly reports.

This was their reply:

" Zoe,

The online store will be eligible to report to Soundscan once there are at least 12 artists with albums available for purchase at all times. Accounts are only assigned to record labels to report venue sales. The label must be in business for more than 2 years to be eligible to report those sales as well.

- Joe Johnson
Retail Coordinator
The Nielsen Company

I've always suspected that behind the endless variations in the press on the "No one is selling music" story....there are plenty of independent musicians who do...but we can't prove it.

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterZoe Keating

(p.s. Tunecore, obviously you rock, can you add classical soon so I can sign up?????)

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterZoe Keating

It's been evident for years that Neilsen numbers are not relevant to what is really happening in today's recorded music sales, and especially the direction of the industry.

Hopefully this recent episode will serve to bring the mainstream media closer to understanding the music business has changed, and we're not looking back!

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterTony

I know, I feel the pain of no classical. It'll come, we're just growing so fast it's hard to build everything at the same time. As an engineer once said, it's like building a plane IN FLIGHT.



January 22 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Wells

I'm not an industry expert, just someone who wound up on this site from a daily swarm link, but it's worth pointing out that 1% of 1500 is 15, and the number of unsigned success stories listed above is 14, which is exactly what Tom Silverman said. So what's all this about "not so fast" and "data bending debacle"? Do a little arithmetic before calling someone a liar. wtf
Zoe Keating's post sheds more light on the matter than the blog post does does

January 22 | Unregistered Commenterstrictlystats

Clearly, Tunecore is pointing out 14 artists that were not included in Silverman's false claims. And, there are hundreds, probably thousands more, who are not being mentioned by anyone.

The bottom line is that Nelsen - Soundscan numbers do not reflect the reality of today's recorded music industry.

Anyone using those sources cannot end up with a true statement of the big picture.

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Hey Strictly Stats - did you read the posts linked to the posts here? There's a shitload of data that's unaccounted for.

Silverman's analysis of the SoundScan data is perfectly correct, and if all one ever read was his analysis, one might conclude that the world exactly operates as portrayed in his interview. However, now that TuneCore has shed some light on the reality of the matter, I think it's safe to say that reality has been unintentionally not accounted for.

The use of "data-bending" was a poor choice of words of my part. I have amended the post to say "this lack-of-data debacle". Data-bending would only be appropriate if Mr. Silverman had some prior knowledge of the scale of success that is obtained outside of the measurable world according to SoundScan.

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Warila

We should acknowledge that Tunecore is one of MTT's top sponsors in the headline above.
I think if anyone took the time to read Tommy's full interview they would've realized that the so-called debacle is only being fueled by self promoters and sites who quote, but don't think or analyze - whether you found out about it via lefsetz or jeff's reply and subsequent links across all tech sites, the question remains ---- "does the internet and music related technology help to break more artists?" If the sample pool to measure such success is sales of music as tracked by soundscan, then I would say NOPE!

Maybe next year someone will analyze artists IRS filings and come up with a new measure of success. Anyone willing to offer up those numbers for analysis? But let's remember that "making a living" is not what artists dream about when they dream of being stars...

January 24 | Unregistered CommenterDandyAsshole

@ Dandy

Music Think Tanks does not have any ads, sponsors or revenue. Sorry dude, you are barking up the wrong tree.

January 24 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Warila

"Kelly sold over 2,000,000 million tracks"

That's a lot of tracks. Two trillion by my reckoning.

January 27 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh Marble

Couldn't Tunecore just provide sales data to Nielsen? Controversy over, right. Its free for them to do that. Why do they choose not to? I'd love to hear a response to that from tunecore.

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterChip

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