If you’re an indie artist with your music distributed by TuneCore and you always wanted to be part of a major label, it looks like that’s now the case. Last week Sony Music sealed the deal to buy the French company Believe Distribution, owner of TuneCore, for a price between $355 and $444 million, according to multiple reports.
Right now, it’s hard to see how this plays out in favor of the indie artist, although it very well could. While there probably won’t be any changes for a while until the dust settles, you have to wonder how Sony will view TuneCore in the grand scheme of things. Will it look to the company as a feeder system for the major label or for its Red Distribution? Will it be easier for artists to sign with Sony or get a better deal with Red as a result?
Will TuneCore publishing become part of Sony/ATV? How will that impact an indie artist if she wants to sign with another publisher? What if an indie artist wants to sign with a non-Sony label? Will the fine print in the TuneCore agreement stop that from happening or require the artist to jump through hoops?
Will TuneCore gain any economies of scale by being part of the Sony Music machine, such as easier access to Spotify or Apple Music playlists? How about being the beneficiaries of any Sony direct publishing deals?
As you can see, there are as many pros as there are cons in this acquisition, but it’s still possible that everything can remain business as usual with TuneCore for the foreseeable future. That said, if you’re a TuneCore artist, you have to look at the association in a different light, as there remains plenty of uncertainty about what might happen down the road. While that’s somewhat the case in any online company these days, there’s probably less of it in other online distributors until Sony lays out its plans for the company.
UPDATE: Believe Digital has refuted the reports of its sale to Sony this morning, saying that it’s only raising money. It’s entirely possible that the sale hit a last minute snag and hasn’t been completed yet. Hopefully, the real story should come out soon.