No-Name Bands Make a Killing on iTunes

Equally anonymous distributors rise to the top of digital heap
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2010 2:03 PM CST
No-Name Bands Make a Killing on iTunes
Customers at an Apple Store wear headphones as they listen to new Apple iPod nanos October 22, 2007 in San Francisco, California.   (Getty Images)

You probably haven't heard of TuneCore, but the small startup has swiftly become the world’s biggest music distributor, helping bands you’ve also never heard of make a comfortable living selling music on iTunes. Unlike traditional distributors, which take a cut of music sales, TuneCore and similar digital distributors charge artists only a small upfront fee to list their music online. Apple takes its cut, and the artists keep the profits.

The model has proven so popular that TuneCore now uploads some 300 albums per day, selling more than a song per second, reports Business Insider. Most of its artists are unsigned—“whatever that even means anymore,” says the company’s CEO—so they keep all the profits from their music. For example, AC/DC cover band AC/db made $32,000 in November, on $45,000 in sales. (Read more iTunes stories.)

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