Moving To Digital Distribution

Public Enemy to Use a Digital Distributor

Jeff Price, the founder and chief executive of TuneCore, a digital music distributor, has a simple pitch for musicians: “For $30, the cost of a pizza and a six-pack, you can get your album on iTunes, the third-largest music store in the country.”

As a sign of how much digital distribution is changing the music business, this pitch has been heard by unknown bar bands but also some established artists. Today, the company is expected to announce that Public Enemy, one of the seminal hip-hop groups, will use its service for its new album, “How Do You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul.”

TuneCore is a digital distributor that gets music into online stores, just as traditional distributors stock shelves at regular retailers. But Mr. Price (who also co-owns an independent label) does not take a percentage of sales, as most distributors do, nor does he provide the same marketing and promotional services as those companies.

Rather, he charges a flat fee: 99 cents a song as an uploading and processing fee, 99 cents for each store where the act wants to place the album, and $19.98 an album each year for storage.

Hmmm — and Universal wants out?