I used to be very intimidated when I heard the word publishing.
I thought this was something only reserved for the big names in the music industry so I brushed it aside as something not worth pursuing.
I strongly urge you to avoid this mindset or else you could be leaving money on the table.
If you do some research, you can potentially make music publishing a realistic income stream for your music career.
While this area of the music business is complex and you may not be cashing in on life changing income just yet, the reality is there are ways for you to get your foot in the door with music publishing right now.
Some companies are trying to help you do just that and one in particular is TuneCore.
Often known for its music distribution services, TuneCore also has a publishing administration arm that could help open some publishing doors for you.
Learn more in our TuneCore Publishing Administration Review below.
Summary of TuneCore's Publishing Administration Service
- Easy to use
- Opportunities for sync and placements
- Don’t have to use their distribution services
- Youtube Monitoring
- Own 100% of the rights
- Collect what your PRO can’t
- Strong relationships and networks
- Register Unlimited Songs Worldwide
- Sync opportunities are not guaranteed
- 1 year term
- High sync commission 20%
For now, TuneCore stands out as one of the best options among publishing administrators and distributors.
It gives artists opportunities to quickly and easily get their music registered with major online stores and platforms, and I think that the RightsApp tool is a welcome addition in an industry where there are plenty of people trying to take control away from creators.
Once again, I will caution you to take the time to thoroughly review the terms to which you are agreeing, and this goes for any partnership in the music industry. Also, I think TuneCore should be looked at as an investment, and as with any investment, you need to do your homework.
TuneCore does have a well-established history in the music industry, and its reputation has held up fairly well among independent artists.
When used effectively, I feel like TuneCore has the ability to provide new opportunities to emerging artists without taking them for a ride.
The pricing is fair enough, but it only works for some situations, so keep in mind that there are alternatives to explore before going all in.
What is TuneCore?
TuneCore is primarily a music distribution company, but they also provide artists with a number of different services.
One of these services is their Publishing Administration option which has been helping artists in the areas of publishing and sync licensing.
For artists looking for help in these areas, I’ve tried to boil down the essential elements of TuneCore’s Publishing Administration services.
TuneCore Publishing Administration
Of all the services that TuneCore provides, their publishing administration services are among the most important next to music distribution.
Publishing administration basically means that TuneCore monitors and collects royalties from multiple platforms that are not all covered by traditional performance rights organisations.
As we have touched on before – there are two copyrights to consider when an artist distributes a work that they have written and recorded.
There are differences in how copyrights apply depending on if you wrote the song, recorded the song, or both. Each scenario will require different administration which essentially means different forms of income streams to collect from the use of your work.
TuneCore's Publishing administration service ensures artists are not leaving money on the table for the songs they have written.
Not to be confused with what a PRO does who collect performance royalties, TuneCore Publishing Administration works in tandem with your PRO to maximise performance royalties globally while also collecting additional revenue streams such as mechanical royalties which PROs do not collect.
For most digital services including Spotify and Apple Music, mechanical royalties make up the majority of publishing income. TuneCore publishing administration ensures every single cent is collected for the use of your work.
Secondary to publishing, TuneCore also offers distribution services to get your music onto platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, and more.
This makes TuneCore unique because not all distribution services offer publishing administration services. If you are looking for a one stop shop, this makes TuneCore very attractive.
It is also worth noting that TuneCore provides a range of artist services, including access to its RightsApp, which was developed in partnership with Sentric Music Group, as well as audio services for mastering and music reviews. In addition, TuneCore offers monetization for YouTube as an add-on service.
Key Features of TuneCore's Publishing Administration
Register Unlimited Songs Worldwide
When you sign up for the publishing administration service, you’re able to submit unlimited compositions as your catalog expands over time for a one time fee of $75.
This allows everyone to be on even footing, so whether you’re just starting to build your catalog of music or you have thousands of works you want to publish, TuneCore has the tools to make the process easy and efficient.
This is great for growth as it allows artists to get started now with their current tracks and then add more as new songs are created.
You can also register songs that aren’t distributed through TuneCore just as easily and for no additional cost.
Sync Licensing Opportunities
TuneCore also provides access to sync licensing opportunities. Sync licensing basically means that you are licensing your music to be included along with other media.
Traditionally, this means inclusion for movies and television, but as the web continues to redefine media, other content, such as podcasts, online documentaries, game streaming and more may also fall under the purview of sync licensing.
While terms are evolving, this is actually a very good thing for musicians. Essentially, the more media content that’s created, the greater the need will be for music to be generated. This can equate to more opportunities to generate revenue by monetizing your music.
TuneCore has a sync team on the ground in Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris working to solicit sync placements in the advertising, film, television, gaming worlds and beyond.
TuneCore uses proprietary software to ensure its songwriters have the most control of their music. Through its joint venture partnership with UK based Sentric Music, TuneCore is able to offer its clients an industry leading direct collection network with global reach.
This includes digital collection in over 200 territories worldwide which means consolidated international digital royalties in one payment every quarter. In short, this means that TuneCore claims to collect and pay publishing royalties as much as 18 months faster than traditional PRO channels.
TuneCore is also able to offer “distro optimized” data. Data is king in music publishing and with their optimised data, TuneCore is able to submit the some of the most accurate society registrations in the business. The more accurate the data, the more money you receive.
You Keep Your Copyrights
As we always stress, you want to keep your copyrights no matter what, and I’m happy to state that TuneCore does not make any claim to its users’ copyrights.
Whether you publish your tracks for royalty collection, you distribute your tracks for sale online or you get a sync placement opportunity through TuneCore, you still retain your copyright.
Keep in mind, however, that sync licensing opportunities may require some negotiation on your part if your music is going to be included in a work that will be owned by another entity like a production studio.
Is TuneCore a Performance Rights Organization (PRO)?
Because TuneCore offers the ability to track streams and plays to generate royalties, it can be easy to confuse the company with a performance rights organization.
These organizations do provide tracking for things like live performance royalties and plays on radio or television, and some also offer tracking for online streams of songs.
TuneCore does provide tracking for streaming royalties, but it then reports its figures to the world’s leading PROs like BMI, and these organizations then record and pay out the royalties.
So, in the traditional sense, TuneCore is not a PRO, but it does have partnerships with traditional PROs to ensure royalty payments for online streams, mechanicals, and syncs.
Other Things to Note about TuneCore's Publishing Admin Services
We also want to point out a few things that we discovered during our review so that you’ll be informed prior to giving TuneCore a try. These things are not hidden per say, but I did have to do a little digging to get the details.
First, TuneCore's monetisation of the composition asset on YouTube is included in publishing administration and cannot be opted in or out. TuneCore has a separate YouTube service for sound recordings which can be opted in/out.
Samples & Clearances
Second, you can register music that contains samples, but you will need to have the proper clearances for those samples. This is a formal process that requires the sample originator to basically give permission for the audio to be used in a different composition than the original.
PRO's & Letters of direction
Third, if your music is represented by a traditional PRO or you have a publishing company, you may need a letter of direction to allow TuneCore to administer your publishing rights in conjunction with the PRO. The vast majority of people who sign up for TuneCore publishing do not need to execute an LOD.
In a nutshell, this gives TuneCore permission to operate on the streaming, mechanical and sync side of things on your behalf while the traditional PRO handles the collection of royalties covered under your existing agreement.
Fourth, it is important to note that TuneCore offers an exclusive sync licensing deal so if you are looking to have another company help you land sync opportunities you will not be able to use TuneCore’s sync services.
An exclusive sync deal means you cannot work with other companies to help you land placements. The publishing deal is non-exclusive however.
This isn't exactly a con and more the reality of the situation. To give an honest review of sync, we should also mention that if an artist is hoping to secure a sync placement, then they should be providing TuneCore’s sync reps with the necessary tools in order to maximise the potential of securing a placement.
For example, ensuring the music is of high quality, ensuring high resolution files are available, ensuring instrumental versions of songs are available and knowing what the rights picture looks like (if outside ownership of publishing rights).
Pros of TuneCore's Publishing Administration
Easy to use
By far, the biggest pro to using TuneCore is the simplicity of the system. Distributing and managing your music using online stores can be a time-consuming hassle, and each store will have its own way of doing things.
Likewise, registering and monitoring tracks for plays and pay through streaming, mechanical's, and sync can be equally complex. TuneCore provides a one-stop shop to handle all of the hard work.
Opportunities for sync and placements
There is the potential to land placements depending on where you are at with your career. Not all services will offer this but keep in mind that there is no way for them to guarantee that you will land a placement.
Don’t have to use their distribution services
Another benefit to working with TuneCore is that your music does not need to be distributed through TuneCore in order to be registered with the company for publishing.
This means I have more freedom and flexibility to sell my music online while still relying on TuneCore to collect royalties for me.
This also means that I’m not completely locked into using TuneCore as my only option unless I choose to make it my sole distribution partner and publishing administrator.
TuneCore will also collect royalties on your behalf if you distribute your music with another service.
If your music is used on YouTube, TuneCore has infrastructure in place to ensure that these videos are found and you are paid the royalties owed to you.
Own 100% of the rights
You don’t have to worry about any loss of ownership when using TuneCore, the music is always 100% owned by you and you are just giving up a commission for the administration grunt work being done by TuneCore.
Collect what your PRO can’t
Your PRO is limited in what they can actually collect on your behalf. TuneCore is a tool you can use to help you collect what your PRO cannot, specifically mechanicals and syncs.
Strong relationships and networks
TuneCore covers most of the territories in the world and has direct relationships with most international markets to collect publishing royalties.
They can also work with your current PRO to collect on your behalf or will register your songs with your local PRO if you don’t already have a PRO that you’re working with.
Register Unlimited Songs Worldwide
TuneCore’s publishing services are a one-time fee for unlimited songs which means you don’t have to worry about consistently paying for your publishing needs.
Cons of TuneCore Publishing Administration
Sync opportunities are not guaranteed
While this service is great, keep in mind that it won’t be realistic for everyone to land syncs. I would be wary of any service guaranteeing placements to anyone and everyone using their service.
To be clear, TuneCore isn’t promising this and the extent to what they can do for you does have a lot to do with the current state of your music career.
1 Year term
A lot can happen in a year and while I do not like being tied in for that long I do get the other side of the picture.
Keep in mind that there is work involved in getting you set up from a publishing and sync standpoint and it isn’t exactly fair to make them do this work and then have you leave prematurely.
With that said, this is not a huge negative and if you have a big opportunity I can’t see them trying to impede your progress.
High sync commission 20%
The sync commission is a bit high for my liking but again these placements come in all shapes and sizes and if TuneCore does help you broker a deal then it could be argued that they played a bigger role in landing you a placement and thus deserve a higher payout.
Keep in mind if you are working with an indie or major publisher you will most likely be giving up a similar percentage (give or take) depending on how much “clout” you have.
TuneCore’s base services for publishing across digital platforms currently require a one-time set up fee of $75. This includes unlimited submissions, so it’s especially economical if you have a large catalog.
If you opt for distribution as well, then there is an additional annual fee that changes based on whether you are submitting a song, an album, or a ringtone for distribution. These fees currently range from $9.99 to $49.99 per year.
Commissions, however, can be a bit trickier. Right now, TuneCore takes 20% from sync licensing deals, so if your music is used in other media like film or a television commercial, TuneCore gets 20% of the cut.
Once again, make sure you understand the terms you’re agreeing to so that you understand whether you have the option to license your music independently.
Otherwise, if you cut your own deal, TuneCore may still be entitled to its 20% if that particular piece of music is published through another company.
Additionally, TuneCore takes a 15% publishing administration commission off of royalties. This commission comes from streams of your music and other similar usage of your work that is not covered by other copyright claims.
Basically, every play that does not come from a direct sale of a song or album or from a sync license falls under this category.
Alternatives to TuneCore
SongTrust is another music publishing administration service that offers a number of the same benefits as TuneCore.
Some think that the main difference between SongTrust and TuneCore is that TuneCore utilizes sub-publishers outside of the United States to publish music globally.
The reality is TuneCore is just as direct as Songtrust is outside of the United States and they do have a dedicated team of publishing specialists around the world.
They both are great at what they do but keep in mind that Songtrust is strictly focused on publishing and does not offer additional services like distribution or promotional tools for example.
CD Baby is another publishing and distribution service, and it differs from TuneCore in a couple of ways. For one, you cannot use their publishing services exclusively from their distribution services.
CD Baby also charges you for each release where publishing is concerned but TuneCore is a one time fee for unlimited releases.
With CD Baby, if you opt for both distribution and publishing you are paying for both services for every release. Where TuneCore is concerned you would only be paying for distribution after paying the one time publishing fee.
CD Baby is also different in the sense that they don’t actively pitch your music for sync. However, please keep in mind our comments above on TuneCore’s abilities to pitch your music.
Final Thoughts On our TuneCore Publishing Administration Review
In my personal opinion, TuneCore’s publishing administration and similar services are very important because PRO’s simply don’t cover all of the money out there and available to you.
So right off the bat, TuneCore is providing an essential service. Now on top of publishing administration, TuneCore also offers sync opportunities where they are focused on helping artists land placements or will help you when these deals happen for you.
Keep in mind that TuneCore is a massive company dealing with a large number of artists but to give yourself the best shot you should be providing their sync reps with the necessary tools to maximize the potential of securing a placement.
If you are looking for an alternative, you can also look for indie or major music publishers. Even then, your success will come down to where you are with your music career and their ability to land you a lucrative placement.
Keep in mind that this is easier said than done and in this case, TuneCore’s Sync Licensing is best for musicians who have already garnered a bit of a following and who are ready to take the next step in their music careers.
The reason I suggest this for semi-professional musicians is that your income for the most part is determined by your placements. hobbyists may not have the resources to put together professionally recorded music that is going to receive wide exposure through TuneCore’s Sync Licensing services.
TuneCore is also for artists who are looking for a one-stop shop where distribution and publishing are concerned.
The only other notable company offering such a service is CD Baby which offers both distribution and Publishing. I lean on the side of TuneCore however as the publishing is a one time fee for unlimited music and CD Baby charges for every upload.