Two questions that are asked all the time are, “Where should I sell my music online?” and, “How should I sell my music?” The number one answer to both of those questions may surprise you.
You have to make sure you cover all your bases. Your fans are likely spread out over various platforms, so you need to do your best to be wherever they go to buy music. But there are so many places to sell your music online, it’s impossible to be on them all.
So where should you sell your music to ensure that your fans can find you and buy your music when they are ready to buy?
I’m going to identify five tools and platforms you should be using to ensure your music can be found whenever your fans, or just the casual passer-by, goes to look for it online. I’ll also breakdown how much you’ll make per sale at each of them, and end the countdown with the number one best tool for selling your music, and why it’s number one.
Ok, Let’s go!
- Streaming Platforms
“But wait isn’t streaming evil? Didn’t Adele just announce that her album wouldn’t be on Spotify?”
You can make the argument that streaming services do not pay artists enough, but musicians should really be looking at Spotify, Apple Music, and the other streaming services as the replacement for radio. People that seek out and enjoy listening to new music and not the same 10 songs on repeat have abandoned radio and have gone to streaming.
Most music distribution aggregators will take care of getting you on a wide variety of platforms, so there is no need to sweat over which one is the right one for you.
…And in the end it’s up to you how you look at the pennies you get for each stream. You can look at it as money you get for “selling your music”, but it probably makes more sense to look at streaming services as awareness and marketing platforms. Use them wisely.
So, how much does streaming pay? Well, not much but… I can’t break it down any better than this Guardian article did. Have a look: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/03/how-much-musicians-make-spotify-itunes-youtube
We all know iTunes but do you know how much you make per sale on iTunes? It’s a 30%/60% split, with $0.30 going to Apple, but if you used an aggregator, then they may take a cut of sales too.
Some might choose not to put their music on iTunes but, if your music is not there, fans will ask you why not?
To put it simply, a lot of people use iTunes as their primary platform to purchase music. Make buying your music easy and you will sell more.
Bandcamp is great for people that don’t want the hassle of making their own website. A Bandcamp page looks professional, has a lot of functionality options, such as custom domain names, and a subscription service that you can offer to your fans to generate reoccurring monthly income. (I still recommend having your own website, but supplementing that with Bandcamp can be good).
You can send people straight to your Bandcamp page to make purchases. Honestly, it’s so easy; it’s hard not to use it.
Bandcamp is free to use but they take 15% cut of all digital sales, and 10% cut of all merchandise sales. If you sell more than $5,000 in a month they drop the percentage from 15% to 10% for all additional sales.
- Music Distribution Aggregators
A music distribution aggregator, or more specifically a digital music distribution aggregator is a one stop shop for getting your music on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Rdio-(Bankrupt), and in most cases, many other platforms.
You upload your music to the aggregator and they take care of all the behind the scenes hoops that iTunes and the various streaming platforms make you jump through to get your music added to their catalog. They also collect and pay you any money you’ve earned through sales of your music through these platforms.
But, which one should you use? For me, I use Distrokid. So far, I’ve been pleased with their service, but it hasn’t been flawless.
CD Baby and Tunecore are two of the top used distributors.
Both of these services are very good, but they again, each have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you want physical album distribution and fulfillment, you’ll need to go with CD Baby because Tunecore only handles digital distribution.
But, in the end it all comes down to you, what you do musically, and what services you need. I suggest taking a look at their comparison pages to decide between them, but make sure you look at both of them because, obviously, they each present the data differently, and by looking at both you’ll be able to make a truly informed decision.
Click the button below to get a very detailed infographic that compares pricing and services of CD Baby, Tunecore and Distrokid. Feel free to share it with anyone that might find it useful.
Click here to get the infographic
- Your website.
No, the multi-million/billion dollar companies like Apple and Spotify, just can’t compare to you selling music on your own turf, this is of course assuming that you’ve taken the first step of cultivating an audience. If you’ve done that, then selling your music on your own website is simply the most effective method for direct-to-fan sales. Here’s why: First, if you have built your email list, nurtured and maintained your relationships with your fans, and asked for the sale, why would you want to send them to amazon, iTunes, Google Play, etc. to buy where they can easily get distracted by something else and not actually complete the sale. It happens everyday. That’s why there is “abandoned cart” software out there that identifies and retargets people that have put things in the shopping cart on a website and then not finished buying it. Second, you can keep a much bigger percentage of the sale by handling it on your own website. For example, Google Play takes a whopping 30% cut if you sell an album on their site, and that’s after a one-time set-up fee of $25. Side note: There are other benefits to using a service like CD baby for physical album sales since they will pack and ship it for you, but for digital sales you can definitely take care of that yourself. …And here are two ways to do it.
1. Create a Paypal Button: If you have a Paypal account, login and find the link that says “Selling tools.” Click it.
(See the screenshot below)
That will take you to another page that says “Merchant Services.” Then find and click on the link that says “Create Payment Buttons for your website.”
(See the highlighted text in the second screenshot below.) This takes you to a page where you can enter the information for your product, album, t-shirt, or whatever else you are selling and Paypal will give you a button to put on your website or directly in your email so customers can buy directly from you. Paypal does have a processing fee, which is currently only 2.9%, but they also tack on a $0.30 per transaction fee. So if you are selling individual downloads, it makes more sense to use a service like CD baby because they only keep 9% of digital downloads. So to break that down: CD baby Digital: You sell a $1 song, you get $0.91 PayPal Button on website: You sell a $1 song, you get $0.67
2. Use Gumroad:If you haven’t heard of Gumroad.com, let me quickly get you up to speed: Gumroad is a website that gives you a button that allows you to sell stuff on your …Well that was easier than I thought it was going to be.
It’s free to set up an account on Gumroad, and you have the option of sending people to their site via a link or you can create buttons that integrate with your website and sell your stuff on your own turf. They also take a percentage for processing each sale. They currently take 5% plus a $0.25 fee. So, again this is appropriate for selling physical goods (you handle shipping) such as your band merchandise, and digital albums but not the best option for selling single song digital downloads. I like Gumroad because it integrates seamlessly with your website. The button that they give you to install on your website creates a very sharp looking popup window with your product information and album art and, unlike PayPal, it keeps people on your website throughout the purchase. I use Gumroad on the Watch Me Explode website. I currently have it set as the “pay what you want” option. (This is another awesome feature and good selling tool). Feel free to take a look, at my Online Courses page (found in the menu bar at the top of this page) and see how it works. In almost all cases it makes sense to use a combination of sales and distribution options, but everybody’s marketing plan will be different and the tools and platforms you use should be chosen based on your specific needs.