A plan hatched by Universal Music Group and Tunecore over the Summer has finally born fruit as they launched the label-branded Tunecore services last week.
Universal Motown Republic Group (http://www.unimodigitaldistribution.com/ and http://www.republicdd.com/, Island Def Jam Music (http://www.idjfirstlook.com/), and Interscope Group (http://www.interscopedigitaldistribution.com/) all launched their web sites, which allows artists to get a version of the Tunecore service that is provided by any of the forementioned labels. Does your music fit under the Motown style? You can put it under the Unimo site, giving your music a niche selling point.
All the sites look the same, which looks just like the Tunecore site, but branded under the specific label.
Tunecore's service is a handy one, allowing artists to go to one place, and making their music available for sale at a variety of online sites like eMusic, iTunes, LaLa, Amie St, Amazon and more. The artist gets to keep the money from the sales and more importantly, the rights to their music.
It seems obvious that the trade-off here is that the labels get a fee for hosting and selling the music under their umbrella, in exchange for an opportunity to have their music reviewed and monitored by the label to serve as a sort of test market for unsigned bands. They'll offer marketing and promotional support as well, but what kind and how much support is unclear at this stage. Will it be information posted on a web site, or will artists actually get a go to person for real advice?
The other carrot that Universal Music is dangling here is that this will somehow get an artist a little more attention in terms of potentially getting signed to the label, although what extra advantage is gained at this point is also unclear. What kind of monitoring will happen? What gives the artists that participate in this new service any extra advantage that other artists don't have?
Which leads to another question: is there really anything of extra value to signing with the label-branded version of Tunecore?