I received our first paycheck today from CDBABY, who supplies our music to iTunes, MSN music and other stores.
The good news, is that at $992.02, it's actually worth depositing, and amounts to something. The bad news is that no single artist made over $100, this for about 3 months worth of digital sales (sept-oct-nov). I'm not too surprised, given how large a catalog is on iTunes, and most artists are happy to see an extra $50 in sales, for not having to do anything. This is a *lot* better than the less-than-one-dollar check I receive from musicnow (67 cents, last month), which *isn't* worth depositing. With sales like that, is it any wonder Music Now just sold to AOL?
Some of the better sellers are obviously because of keyword matches, such as the Brook Street Band's "Handel Oxford Water Music" and DA CAMERA: A Celtic Celebration while others like EHREN STARKS: The Depths of a Year and HEAVY MELLOW: Acoustic Abstracts must be found by some other means. I was happy to see a few artists who don't sell too well on Magnatune nonetheless do decently on iTunes, such as JAMIE JANOVER, MICHAEL MASLEY and KITKA. I think that shows that iTunes has a different musical audience than what Magnatune draws.
Interestingly, there are virtually no Magnatune rock artists selling decently on iTunes -- the only appearance in my sales records is BURNSHEE THORNSIDE, and what they do is pretty special.
So, the verdict is that iTunes will be a nice supplemental revenue, but for now at least, won't make a major impact. And... what iTunes apparently rewards is our more esoteric catalog.
CDBABY's accounting system tells me the total amount they've paid per album since the 1st day we signed up with them, not how each payment to us was broken up by artist album. That's not perfect for my accounting, as I was planning on reporting these other-services-payments to my artists as music-license-sales (ie, we license the music to iTunes) but instead it'll need to show up as a single line-item in musician's reports (other digital music services: $xxx.xx) that increases over time. It's a little funky to have a line-item in your royalties that grows over time, but as long as the numbers are honest, I hope that'll be ok for musicians.
And of course, CDBABY's timing couldn't be better, with them sending me my first paycheck a week before I'm about to pay my musician's royalties.
However, iTunes isn't selling any Magnatune artists who don't have cover art in our system. That's about half our artists, which is my bad (though they don't tell you this, the albums just mysteriously don't make their way onto the site), but Joel has spent the past 60 days scanning these all in (so they'll also be on www.magnatune.com, which is real good) and we'll shortly re-upload those albums to iTunes so that they sell those too.