April 16th, 2007
There seem to be many small business owners who live and work in Dumbo, but TuneCore’s technology has earned its music clients millions of dollars; not quite small business. Co-founders Gary Burke and Peter Wells live and work in Dumbo Brooklyn. They’re close to convincing President, CEO, and co-founder Jeff Price to move to Dumbo as well. I caught up with co- founder Peter Wells, Sr. VP Operations about what TuneCore does to help fellow music artists earn millions and how TuneCore and Dumbo are alike:
For people who aren’t familiar with the business model, how does TuneCore work?
Three of us founded TuneCore in 2005 so everyone could get music distribution under a new model where they keep their rights and earnings. iTunes is the 4th largest seller of music in the U.S., and there’s room at iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, all the download stores, for an infinite number of albums, why should only the big record labels have access, and why should gatekeepers force you to give up your rights or a huge percentage of your earnings just so you can get in? TuneCore gets your original music (even covers!) on iTunes and many other online digital stores for what comes to about $20 an album, average. You keep your rights, you control your own masters in a non exclusive agreement that you can cancel at any time and best of all, whatever your music earns you keep: we pass it all along to you, without taking a cut.
TuneCore is based in Dumbo Brooklyn. What bought the business here?
DUMBO was the perfect place to set up shop. TuneCore founder and CEO Jeff Price was already here, running his indie label spinART Records out of a seventh-floor office at 20 Jay St. spinART’s been around almost 18 years, the last few in Dumbo, which has always been a place artists of all kinds can be without going broke over rents, but close enough to vibrant Brooklyn and Manhattan scenes. Now that DUMBO is its own scene, it made sense to bring TuneCore’s headquarters here. In January, Gary Burke (our chief of technology) and I moved from Massachusetts to an awesome loft on Washington St. We’d fallen in love with DUMBO when we came to scout out office space, and decided it’d be the perfect place to live as well as work. We’ve been here about two months and already love it. So now TuneCore and spinART Records share space on Jay St. and we have a 3-block commute by foot.
Sounds like TuneCore and Dumbo are very intertwined. How are TuneCore and Dumbo alike?
Both have a hidden but very real history, both are about the artists first, but are moving hard and fast into the new century. Both are up-and-coming, and while DUMBO does all it can to grow and still hold on to its artistic, free-spirited roots, TuneCore is becoming a major player in the music world, but still remembers it’s all about the music, and keeping the door open for anyone who wants their music to get heard. If you can get your album up on iTunes and sell it, keep the money and pour that back into your band, you’ll be able to keep playing longer, make more music, keep the dream alive. We’re also providing all the tools you need, from making CDs to posters, stickers, buttons, t-shirts, so you can turn profits into promotions. That seems to be DUMBO’s move, too: from the plans for the Pearl St. Triangle to the park, the success of the neighborhood is pouring back into the area to improve it.
How can music artists grow with Dumbo as the neighborhood changes?
That’s the energy that made us decide to stay in DUMBO, and even live here. In just a couple of months, I’ve seen this neighborhood change radically. I can’t imagine what will happen when J-Condo and 85 open up. I can’t imagine those empty retail spaces are going to stay vacant long. As the price of living here grows, if there are companies that help artists reach their audiences inexpensively, using all the new technology that’s out there, DUMBO won’t have to give up its soul while it finds success.
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