Music Distribution...It's a Steal.
I thought I would write a little update as to what's been happening and to also give warning to anyone who uses an online music distributor to get their music on platforms such as Spotify, Apple etc.
I'd been with Tunecore for 15yrs, they were great in the beginning, the founders, two of them, bent over backwards to personally help artists/bands get there music out there but then they eventually sold the company and....well, as with alot of these situations the rot set in and the more the company expands the deeper and wider the rot spreads.
Those who've followed me over the years will know that after losing my brother and sister in 2015, music and life came to a standstill, I've been struggling to get my arse in gear but recently signed back into my Tunecore account only to see that I'd been blocked from withdrawing money from streams, sales etc.This is the only message shown:
" Withdrawals on this account are temporarily being held, This may be due to a large hold amount on your account from an unresolved store claim or other suspicious activity. Once the holding conflict is resolved the appropriate amount of allocated funds will be made available for withdrawal. If you would like to know more about potential reasons your withdrawals may be on hold please feel free to refer to our terms and conditions"
Now the problem with that is, it doesn't tell you why exactly yours is being held,it's just all generalized yadda yadda. You should know by now i'm not one to stay silent ,as a solo artist with no management, meaning I do everything myself I have no idea what it's about. So I asked, simple enough huh? apparently not, the customer service agent did everything but, so in a frustrated moment I told him to close the account. Now you would've hoped a decent customer service agent would come back with something like "Hey I know its frustrating, but how about you let me see if I can fix this first, then decide if you're still not happy?" but no, he came straight back with "yep I can do that for you" and in a moment 15yrs worth of effort was gone, Spotify, Apple and most of the other platforms, I was gone.
However he told me that although the music can be taken down the account had to stay open forever due to historical sales and having access to withdraw money...( what the money I can't access and the question you still can't answer?)
I went to sign in but the account had gone? I emailed in and was told the account had been deleted. What about my money? I was told that once an account is deleted you forfeit any right to the funds you had in your account.
"So Tunecore are stealing my money?"
"You forfeited it when you closed the account?"
I've sent them copies of the emails from the customer service agent who told me the accounts have to stay open forever. They are investigating and will get back to me with more info once this is done.
But after a bit of googling It didn't take long for me to come across numerous artists and bands that have had their money stolen by Tunecore and various other well known distributers. If like me you don't read through the numerous pages of terms and conditions, let me skip to an important bit that you really need to be aware of. Tunecore have the right to take your music down and close your account and keep all of your money without giving you notice or reason apart from the suspicious activity or other issue generalized yadda yadda, it's as simple as that.
Musicians are a pretty poor bunch in the main so we can't go bringing in the big guns, music solicitors/laywers etc to fight these large companies, I'm sure they are aware of this and that's why they get away with it. Music distributors are fine until their not, once a problem arises it's an absolute nightmare of a journey as many are discovering with clueless agents, wrong info given or messages going unanswered. These digital platforms were once an alternative to record companies so that artists could remain independent and stay in control and not be shafted as they often were, sadly that's no longer the case, most of these music distribution sites have gained more and more control over the years & no matter how they dress up their terms and conditions, not even a bow on top can mask the fact that they are stealing money off their clients and at the end of the day theft is theft.
I thought I would contact Spotify to explain my situation and ask if there was anything in the pipeline of them considering letting artists/bands upload their music directly...a simple enough question huh? apparently not . So at first the Spotify customer service agent told me I need a distrubutor.....(No shit Sherlock) I wrote back and asked the same question and this time they came back with a list of my releases and told me they would be ready to go live in 72hours? ...(Eh? My releases have been on the platform for years?) They then told me they would be going live THAT day ? ....(What the one's I've had on the platform for years?) It was evident I'd get more spit and sense from an Alpacca so I ended the conversation.
I have decided that I won't be signing up with any distributor again, I will not be associated with these companies that have no reliable customer service or integrity whatsoever. For now and any new releases I will be on my Bandcamp page only, I've also been with them along time & I quite like the idea of just being on one site, everyone measures success differently and for me it's never been about being popular or getting radio play, although I mega appreciate those who give me the opportunity of course, I just like it when people can relate to the lyrics & music, that's what its all about and why I do what I do. At the moment I'm still struggling majorly to find an apt local studio with producer, obviously living with the illness M.E I can't travel too far. I've written my comeback single along with other tracks and I'm raring to get going again, I just wasn't expecting so many setbacks, but then life is sent to try us, just know i'm doing my best to deal with all the challenges so that I can get back & release some new music again.
Forever a Life Student
Stay Blessed X