- TuneCore is an independent digital music distribution, publishing, and licensing service.
- Alisha Outridge, a tech exec helping TuneCore evolve, shared how businesses can maximize technology.
- This article is part of “Tech Leadership Playbook,” a series that shares advice from the most innovative tech execs.
Music is an intrinsic part of human culture that has existed for about 35,000 years, according to the Smithsonian Institution. Thanks to the advancement of technology, music is transforming rapidly and becoming more accessible than ever before.
Digital music distribution platform TuneCore is one company that is driving technological advancements in the industry. The service provides independent musicians and record labels with digital tools to grow an audience for their music with the ultimate goal of building long-lasting careers. These include tools for digital distribution, publishing administration, sync licensing, and YouTube monetization.
In an industry dominated by behemoths like Spotify and Apple Music, TuneCore continues to strengthen. Since its founding in 2006, TuneCore — which is now owned by global digital music company Believe — has issued more than $3 billion worth of payments to independent artists and currently operates in 150 countries around the world. In 2022, Believe’s revenue also topped $1 billion.
The mastermind behind TuneCore’s product, technology, and operations is chief technology and product officer (CTPO) Alisha Outridge. She’s also responsible for implementing tools, services, and processes that enable TuneCore’s employees to “achieve our goals effectively so that we can best represent the interests of independent artists and labels in the music industry.”
Outridge spoke to Insider about how music companies can use technology in products and internal processes to transform the industry.
Tech execs should embrace their role as a guiding light for their companies
Outridge said the key to being a successful CTPO is having a strong understanding of areas like engineering, entrepreneurship, product, technology, and organizational leadership while possessing “a passion for shaping the future of their company in the market and building a team to create impact together, smartly, and at scale.”
Innovation and scale are important factors in TuneCore’s global success, Outridge said. “Tactically, I draft and review short- and long-term roadmaps, set goals, brainstorm solutions, and lead my teams to balance innovation alongside operations to achieve our business and technology goals,” she said.
When it comes to developing and implementing an effective IT strategy, Outridge said there isn’t a “one-size fits all” option. Instead, IT practitioners should consider the specific needs of their company, particularly around its size, number of employees, and products.
Keep evaluating and establishing design principles for products and processes
At TuneCore, Outridge has adopted “continuous product design and execution” principles across product, technology, operations, and support functions. The two main aims are growing and leveling up TuneCore’s people, products, and processes. This approach helps the business evaluate “all angles of who we are, what we are creating, and how we do it in the best way at scale globally and thoughtfully per market,” Outridge said.
She explained that a cross-discipline strategy would be defining a goal, identifying a minimum viable solution (MVS), acknowledging your assumptions, building a solution, reviewing results, and repeating the process.
To create the most impactful products, TuneCore utilizes a dual qualitative and quantitative measurement approach. This entails conducting surveys with business partners and artists, organizing one-on-one customer interviews, launching beta releases of key features in phases, and reviewing automated testing models.
The product team at TuneCore ensures its objectives and goals are mapped to key performance indicators (KPIs) through the use of performant frameworks. This helps them quickly analyze the factors that impact user-facing product features and explore operational improvements that define the MVS for artists.
To ensure its IT strategy is a success, TuneCore’s engineering team embraces strategies like cross-functional collaboration, a culture of experimentation, and data-driven decision-making that improves internal processes and operational systems. They also employ tools such as emerging technologies that help create new products, flexible and scalable systems for music distribution, and pair programming through which engineers and quality assurance specialists share ways to improve the quality of TuneCore’s internal and external services.
Looking to the future
When asked how leaders at non-tech companies can apply technology to their day-to-day roles and operations, Outridge recommended that they speak to their peers about how technology has helped them and create an organizational value chain.
“That will enable you to be able to continuously test your assumptions and learn how you’re leveraging that technology so that you can understand how it is driving impact,” she said.
Reflecting on the past decade, Outridge said Web 2.0 technologies have transformed “how fans discover new music and artists, connect with their favorite artists, and how artists create music.”
She expects Web 3.0 — a term describing emerging technologies like decentralization, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies — to create “even more opportunities for musicians” and signaled that TuneCore will adopt these further down the line.