TuneCore Expands Language Support from 5 to 29 Languages with Unbabel

July 21, 2021


To support its community of global musicians, TuneCore, a leading independent music distribution and publishing platform, started working with Unbabel in 2017 to offer multilingual customer support. TuneCore uses Unbabel’s Zendesk integration to make translation seamless for its artists and agents alike. Faster ticket responses, better quality translations, and a confident team of specialized agents demonstrate how Unbabel’s translation layer helped TuneCore expand its business into new markets.

With an audience of global musicians across 11 countries, speaking to artists in their native language was essential for TuneCore. Unbabel has allowed TuneCore to internationalize its customer service operations, increasing its market opportunity as a leading global distributor of independent music.

A partnership with Unbabel has allowed the team to expand from five languages to the 29 languages Unbabel currently supports.

About TuneCore

TuneCore provides independent musicians the tools they need to get their music out to the world, grow their fan base, and stay in control of their careers. In 2015, TuneCore joined Believe, a top independent label services company with offices in 45 countries. Together the two companies are aggressively expanding their global presence.

At a glance

  • Founded in 2006
  • Serves artists globally with local operations in 11 countries and three major regions
  • $2 billion in revenue earned by artists since inception
  • 100% of revenue retained by artists

The challenge

Music has no language barrier, so why should customer support for TuneCore artists?

TuneCore serves musicians across 11 countries and counting. With a lean customer support team across its five largest languages, many agents were challenged to respond in a timely manner to queries from global artists outside these core markets.  Often, the team handled these requests by using Google Translate or searching for an employee with any experience in the language – even if it was a semester abroad over a decade ago. With a variety of music terminology in the mix, this approach wasn’t scalable, and led to some confusion from international artists due to a lack of accuracy.

As the company continued to grow its presence in new markets, the artist support team needed a solution to scale multilingual customer operations quickly. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many musicians relied on digital distribution as their sole source of income. As a result, the stakes were high to get it right, helping musicians maximize their profits as consumer listening habits shifted entirely to digital platforms. Long wait times weren’t an option.

Unbabel’s AI-powered, human-refined translation platform reduces response times and increases accuracy.

Using Unbabel, both TuneCore’s internal team and its BPO partner Apollo Blake removed existing language barriers for artist support. Using the Unbabel platform via its Zendesk integration, the customer support team can quickly field requests from independent musicians around the globe. The Unbabel platform can even seamlessly translate complex music terminology across languages.

With Unbabel, TuneCore can confidently expand into new markets, knowing that its customer support team is equipped with tools to quickly and accurately translate support requests into 29 different languages. Instead of having to hire native-speaking agents, these international support requests can be handled by specialized, English-speaking agents without missing a beat.

“Without Unbabel it would be almost impossible for us to serve a global marketplace, at the scale at which we’ve been expanding into new countries and territories this year. It has been one of the most important parts of our toolkit.

Sean Daley, Director of Content and Rights Operations, TuneCore

The global pandemic hits the music community

  • Increased volume of releases: During quarantine, TuneCore artists kept creating, spiking the volume of new releases (along with the need for multilingual support).
  • Loss of live music revenue: Artists turned to digital distribution to make up with the major losses in revenue from live music.

TuneCore artist support team provided relief: The customer support team acted quickly to provide extensions for musicians in need, providing much-needed relief.

The solution

Scaling multilingual support operations fast with the existing team

After implementing Unbabel, the artist support team was able to make key changes to their operations, answering tickets that previously would have taken up to three weeks within the same day. In some cases, support tickets that once took weeks were answered in under 30 minutes. This dramatic drop in wait times increased customer satisfaction scores by five percentage points in 2020. Even though customer support ticket volume increased due to a surge in pandemic-driven digital music releases, the artist support team consistently achieves SLAs in the high 90s for its fast, efficient and accurate multilingual support.

This high level of artist support gives TuneCore a competitive advantage in the international independent music publishing and distribution space. Instead of taking months to hire language specialists for new markets, the team could focus on hiring specialists in the area of YouTube distribution or fraud prevention. These specialists could serve customers across multiple languages using Unbabel. Some agents have called Unbabel a “lifesaver” for translating tickets within new markets.

Plus, TuneCore’s ability to collaborate using Unbabel for Zendesk from wherever they were working allowed the team to go remote with little disruption. This integration provides the team with fast, high-quality translations for each multilingual support request. And, since the translation layer is built into the established Zendesk workflow, the experience feels frictionless for the artist support specialists and musicians alike.

The Unbabel effect

  • TuneCore’s artist support team consistently achieves SLAs in the high 90s for its fast, accurate multilingual support
  • Support tickets that once took weeks are now handled within the same day
  • TuneCore expanded its language support from 5 to 29 languages, making it much more efficient to operate in new, multilingual markets
  • As a result of Unbabel’s integration with Zendesk, CSAT scores for the global company increased by five points in only one year.

We’ve become a much bigger player in the global independent music distribution landscape. Keeping up with our changing client base wouldn’t be possible without Unbabel.

– Erica Clayton, Director of Customer Care

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