Has iTunes responded to your application?
July 27, 2008 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone successfully gotten their music on iTunes without using a distributor like CD Baby? If so, how long did it take?

Two months ago my boyfriend started the process of submitting his band's music to iTunes. He filled out the iTunes on-line application and received a confirmation that it had gone through. The language of the e-mail stated that it could be "some time" before he got a response due to volume.

His band had three albums, two of them on a major label, as well as a greatest hits album (he has since regained the rights to all of his music). The albums have been out of print for a long time, but it's popular genre of music, and the band has a pretty decent fan base. Several of his songs have recently been featured on compilations by very well regarded artists.

So after 10 weeks with no word from iTunes, we are wondering if it's worth hanging in there and dealing with iTunes directly, or if we should start looking at distributors like CD Baby that will place the music for a fee. Anyone have relevant experiences they can share about dealing with iTunes directly?
posted by kimdog to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really don't know anything of these things, firsthand, but I've heard frequent and positive mention of TuneCore, and my understanding is that their service is free.
posted by wreckingball at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2008

TuneCore is not free, and not what the OP is asking about. Although I am happy with their service.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:50 AM on July 27, 2008

Best answer: CDBaby is pure awesome. When I was researching putting my albums on iTunes, about two years ago, they did not accept submissions from independent artists.

While it sounds like this restriction may have changed (news to me), I would still recommend CDBaby as they submit your material to over 30 distributors, aggregate the proceeds and pay you on your own schedule, with a comprehensive report of all sales available at any time.

Plus every time I've had a question (needed additional reports, payment discrepancy, etc.), CDBaby has gotten back to me via email from a real live person within the day, delivering a helpful and friendly answer.

That's worth 9%, easy.
posted by Aquaman at 9:33 AM on July 27, 2008

Best answer: FYI, I also applied with iTunes early 2007. It took a few months before I got a friendly "we think you should use an aggregator, thanks for writing". So I think 10 weeks is not unnatural, it wasn't for me.


I think you should consider the possibility that iTunes will not be the holy grail of digital distribution forever. Amazon is catching up pretty fast, others will too. Mobile is a huge untapped and emerging market.

You cannot possibly cover all the myriads of coming and going services and markets yourself, unless you are a major label and have a crew working on it it fulltime. So using an aggregator is probably well worth the percentage they take. I am very happy with mine (Artspages, in Scandinavia).

So my advice would be, YES, look into using an aggregator, don't wait for or even bother with iTunes. IF iTunes approves your producer account, super cool, you can probably sign up for non-exclusive/other services with the aggregator. But keep in mind an iTunes producer acc means you will be in TOTAL control, that means spending time on encoding/transcoding and adhering to strict metadata guidelines :)
posted by gmm at 9:54 AM on July 27, 2008

Similar scenario and frustrations dealing with iTunes directly. Go with CD Baby. They are great to work with. They keep it clear and simple and easily earn their cut. They are one of the only entities in the music business who truly deserve more than they get.
posted by quarterframer at 10:01 AM on July 27, 2008

kimdog's boyfriend's awesome band... The Comateens!!
posted by lee at 10:18 AM on July 27, 2008

Best answer: I run a small indie label with about 6 artists on the roster. When I first explored the options for digital distribution, I thought it might be best to deal directly with Apple, so I submitted the iTunes application. Many, MANY months later I received a reply saying that they had reviewed my request and appreciated my interest, but that I would need to go through a service like CD Baby or TuneCore... I think it was due to the relatively small number of releases in my catalogue.

By the time I received the reply from Apple I had already made a deal with a proper distributor, and I have to say it's been great to work with someone who is focused on maintaining relationships with the digital retailers and keeping up with the ever-shifting landscape of the digital music world. Oh, and FYI: while the bulk of our sales come through iTunes, we also see a good number of sales from other sites like Amazon, eMusic and Rhapsody...

So, my advice would be to stop holding your breath for Apple to respond. Instead, try to find a distributor that will take some interest in your boyfriend's catalog and place it in all the digital stores worldwide. If the band has a decent fan base, he should have no problem making a deal with a distributor... they will take a small percentage of each sale as their fee, but in my experience it's worth it. I'd suggest contacting someone like Ioda or Virtual Label and see what they say.
posted by departure lounge at 10:20 AM on July 27, 2008

Best answer: itunes used to offer direct deals with various indie labels but don't really do that anymore. So unless it's a big record, I doubt they would be taking your boyfriend's releases.

Although aggregators like to say they market your music, most don't so choosing an aggregator in your boyfriend's case should mostly depend on how many he thinks they are likely to sell. Tunecore doesn't take any royalties on sales but they do charge up front fees. Other aggregators will take anywhere from 5 to 25%. Since your boyfriend's band apparently has a decent fan base and recognition, I would think paying Tunecore's fees could end up being a better bet than giving away a portion of future sales.
posted by gfrobe at 12:23 PM on July 27, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your tremendously helpful and informative comments. We are certainly coming to the conclusion that a good aggregator is the way to go with this, and are now in the process of exploring the operations of the biggest ones. We'll let you know how things turn out ! Thanks again.
posted by kimdog at 10:58 AM on July 28, 2008

Best answer: In case you're still reading -

TuneCore is better if you think you have the sales to cover the annual $40-50 per album fee you'll incur by posting the albums online (royalties from Amazon/iTunes are 60-70% of retail, so you will get $0.70 per single song or $7.00 per 9.99 album)

CDBaby takes 9% of each sale, so it's cheaper to get set up if you're not expecting to sell a ton of albums, but more expensive if you do sell a lot. (You get $0.60 per single, $6 per album, or thereabouts.)

I've posted music with TC and have been suggested to use CDBaby by an employee of the company, so it's not exactly an unbiased viewpoint... BUT, they do seem to have better customer service, which would be nice when you inevitably have a delay or problem in getting your music posted or receiving checks.

I've received a few hundred bucks from TC so it's been working out okay for me so far, but they do seem to be having problems as they grow, whereas CDBaby has been pretty large for a number of years and seem to have their act together.
posted by rubadub at 11:45 AM on July 29, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you rubadub.......that is useful information indeed.
posted by kimdog at 12:38 PM on July 30, 2008

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