Whether you’re releasing a new album, EP, or launching a series of singles, you’ll want to have a plan in place to help you sell your music online. This will help ensure that people do hear it, and fans are able to support you by purchasing your songs.
Making new music takes time and care. If you put in a similar effort to sell your music online, all of the love you’ve poured into creating your songs will show through, and result in more engagement from your fans.
In this comprehensive guide to selling your music online, we’ll break things down into manageable pieces for any musician to get started with. The key is to first create a strategy to engage your fans. Then, use a mix of services to sell music online, while focusing on your website and your mailing list to maximize revenues.
To get started, here is where to sell your music online:
Where to sell your music online
Selling your music online is so much more than uploading it and hoping that fans will find it and want to buy it. To get started with selling your music, you’ll want to decide where to place your music for sale.
To figure this out, think about where your fans are. Where are they likely to consume or purchase music? Put your efforts into the areas that make the most sense for your style of music. Be realistic about your genre, and the demographics of your fans. Then be ready to add music to all of the places where they’re likely to be.
As a first step in selling your music online, make a website for your music. It’s a place where you fully control the experience, plus you’ll make more money if you use a website service like Bandzoogle, because your music sales are commission-free.
That means you can scale up and sell as much as you’d like, and you also have this online space where you can direct your fans to support you.
Regardless of which social media platforms come and go, if you create a dedicated music page on your own website, your fans will always be able to find it. It’s accessible to fans of any age, demographics, or listening preference.
More importantly, you will own the data and the emails you collect with the sales through your website. This is crucial for the long-term success of your career, as you will use those emails to stay in touch with (and sell music to) your most dedicated fans.
Build a professional website in just a few clicks where you can sell music and merch commission-free! Sign up and sell music with Bandzoogle now.
Streaming platforms are a popular way to consume music, but don’t miss out on selling your music online through digital retailers. Releasing your music in as many places as possible means that it will reach a wider percentage of listeners. Many music fans will choose to buy new music from a store they use regularly and trust, where they already have a credit card on file, and they know the platform is compatible to sync with their music library.
To sell your music in digital stores, you’ll want to use a distributor like CD Baby. They’ll send your music across 150+ download and streaming sites worldwide. This includes familiar retailers like Google Play and Amazon, so that people will be able to locate and buy your music in their preferred way.
Bandcamp is a free service where you can sell your music directly to your fans, as well as collect the data and email addresses. They do take a cut of sales (15%), but there’s also an emphasis on music discovery. Bandcamp actively recommends music to fans through their blog, app, and the Bandcamp Weekly podcast. Plus, many music fans are familiar with the platform, and gravitate there to find new music to purchase.
In addition to selling your music through Bandcamp directly, you can use the Bandcamp integration to embed and sell that music on your Bandzoogle website.
SoundCloud has a large community of users and curators on the platform, so including your music here can be a good way for your music to gain some visibility through discovery. Although not a sales platform, Pro users can edit or add a ‘Buy’ link into track metadata to let fans purchase the track from another site.
Many music fans will listen to music on services like Spotify and Apple Music. While the amount an artist might make from streaming is small, these platforms can be helpful when it comes to music discovery.
Getting your song on a Spotify playlist, for example, can help you to draw in new listeners, connect with them, and hopefully continue the relationship beyond that first discovery. The goal is to create true fans that will want to keep up with your music. Once you’ve captured their details, you can sell music to these fans in the future.
How to sell your music online
Once you have a plan in place to make your music available, you’ll want to be sure that your fans are able to find it. Create some momentum for your music by first estimating your efforts, and then lining up the timing prior to releasing your music.
Once you’ve sketched things out, prepare all of the communication, photos, and videos, as best you can. Things will start to move quickly, and organization will be key to make sure you maximize your release.
To start with this, decide on a few phases of selling your single or album. You’ll want to build anticipation for your new music early on, strengthen your relationship with your fans, and raise money in the process. It might look like this:
Create a strategy to sell your music
Before you get started with selling your music online, you’ll want to create a music marketing strategy. In doing this, keep in mind the places you chose from the list above to sell your music, and where your fans will easily access it.
It’s important to set up a timeline here, which will keep you on track and help you hit your goals with selling and promoting your music. You should have a concrete idea of the music you plan to sell first. Then sketch out whether you’re going to release singles, and when. List the ways you can actively promote the music, keeping the places where you’ll sell it in mind.
Engage your fans
Once you have a good idea of the timeline you’ll follow to sell your music, you’ll want to work on engaging your fans right from the start. The key is starting early enough that you can invest time into creating a journey with your fans.
Make sure that your fans know you have music coming soon, and plan some promotion to coincide with recording, producing, and seeing your songs through to completion. Be sure to use some ideas that feature your new songs, like video snippets and teasers to Facebook and Instagram. Reach out regularly to your followers with photos to document the process.
Create a crowdfunding campaign
Think of crowdfunding as the ultimate way to set up pre-orders. Create a crowdfunding campaign directly on your website, before you record your music, so you’ll keep 100% of the crowdfunding pledges.
Adding perks not only funds your album, but also gives you a good idea of the numbers of CDs, vinyl, or other items you’ll need to produce. Crowdfunding an album is also a great way to rally your community around your upcoming release.
Set up pre-orders
Whether you’ve crowdfunded or not, it’s a good idea to get your album up for presale in the weeks leading up to the release. This will give you another announcement to make to let fans know about the music (“album available for pre-order in these stores”). Plus, it’s an opportunity to invite those who did not participate in the crowdfunding campaign to purchase your album.
In the pre-sales stage, you’re engaging your biggest fans, so drive pre-sale orders to platforms where you can maximize your revenues. This means your own website, and Bandcamp, where you can collect email addresses. With Apple music, for example, you’re making less money, and they’re not sharing valuable data and customer emails with you.
In the pre-release stage, you can explore other options such as releasing your music early to Spotify, or using a service like Show.co to create Spotify pre-save or audio ads. Research a few ways to release a single, and see what makes sense for you.
All of these options present opportunities to keep engaging your fans in fun and interesting ways, so be sure to allow yourself time to see the process through.
Releasing singles at a steady pace is a beneficial way to build towards an album launch. It helps you stay top-of-mind for your fans, and gives you all sorts of creative material to promote. To make the most out of releasing singles, either on their own or as a lead up to a full album, choose which singles you’ll release, and when.
Then set up a pre-release strategy that you can follow through as you build momentum with your music. You can sell your singles from your website, and on all of the same platforms where you’d list your album.
Release your album
Once your album is ready, release it to the fans who pre-ordered. Then, make it available for sale on your website, and in digital online stores and streaming services.
This should coincide with a series of email newsletters, social media posts, and other online music promotion. Add each of your new songs to your YouTube channel for discovery (music videos, or even simple lyric videos, with a buy link leading to your website in the description).
Even though your album will be available through popular online stores, your website should still be where you drive your fans to purchase.
Make the most of your release with a Landing page that focuses your fans’ attention on the new music. Use Smart Links to create an organized layout, offering options to buy or listen to your music on different platforms. Send fans there while your release is fresh.
Your website’s Homepage should also contain up-to-date details about your new music. Music discovery from streaming, social media, or YouTube will encourage listeners to check out your official website, which in turn contains all of the purchase options for your music.
Music sales follow-up
By this point you may be getting tired of the constant focus that’s required to sell your music online, especially as an indie artist. But you’ll want to put in the effort to complete the cycle of selling your music - which is the follow-up.
Keep your music top of mind for your fans by scheduling social media posts and email newsletters designed to drive traffic back to your website.
You can do this by celebrating milestones - your album has been out for a month, vinyl has been pressed and shipped, or you’ve fulfilled all of your pledges, for example. Then you can create buzz by bundling items and offering discount codes for your full catalog of music.
If you’ve created a strategy to sell your music online, you’ll be able to space out all of the promotion at a good pace, offering creative video clips or photos that engage your fans. Make sure that all of your sales tactics in the follow-up phase of selling your music are heartfelt rather than repetitive.
How to make money selling your music online
Throughout the journey of creating music, you’ll want to make use of as many tools as you can to get the word out. Once you’re ready to sell your music online, use these same tools to get the word out and make some money with your music. Here are a few ways to go about that with a new album or single.
Use your mailing list
The most important tool you have to drive sales is your email list. A big reason for this is that you own that database of fans. No matter which mailing list tool you use, you can always download your list of email addresses. This list has been carefully gathered, and usually contains people who are genuinely interested in your music.
Not everyone checks social media every day, and even if they do, low organic reach may mean that they never even see your posts.
In comparison, most people check their email every day and read those messages. If they’ve opted in to your list, either to receive news or by downloading music in the past, chances are they would welcome an opportunity to support you.
Make the most of this list by sending a series of dedicated email blasts to your fan list with a link to buy your album. Encourage pre-sales, sales, and send out other meaningful news about your music.
Social media can be a powerful tool to help with both artist discovery and selling music online. The key is to determine where your fanbase is, and how to reach them in the best way.
Social media ads or sponsored posts may be your best bet to catch the attention of new listeners. They can also help people who have interacted with your content in the past to find out about your upcoming releases.
Rather than spread yourself too thin, decide where you’ll focus your attention with social media. This will vary depending on where you’re most comfortable, and where your fans are. Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are great places to add creative content and capture interest.
From there, you’ll want to drive people back to your website to sell music, either to your Homepage or a Landing page with Smart Links. Offering a way to support you directly (your website) plus an option to support you where they’re familiar (online music stores, or streaming) means you'll get the most out of every visit.
Pay-what-you-want pricing on songs
After you’ve sent out initial blasts to make sure your fans are aware and able to buy your music, follow up. As time goes on, keep adding incentives to get more people to buy your music.
You could try selling more music online by using the pay-what-you-want pricing model. Some people might buy your songs for next to nothing, but there are definitely some fans who are willing to pay more.
Offer physical and digital bundles
To create some variety, make product bundles that include your music in different formats. If you decide to release a CD or vinyl version of your album, you can bundle it with a digital version in your online store.
You can also bundle together other merch, as well as your previous albums, with a digital copy of your new album. Offering variety in your store besides just music will help you sell more music online, with options for die hard fans, and casual listeners.
Digital back catalog deal
After you release your new album online, consider offering a deal on your back catalog of albums. While you have your fans there on your store page ready to buy, let them know they can get your entire discography in a package deal.
This is an important way to sell music if you’ve put some muscle into creating new fans and driving them back to your website. They may be happy to support you by picking up a package that includes music they don’t know yet.
Sale pricing & discount codes
Once your new music has been out for a while, circle back by offering a discounted price for a limited time. Or celebrate the release of your new music by offering a sale on your older albums and merch.
You could also send a note welcoming new subscribers to your email list with a limited-time discount code to use when they shop in your online music store.
Set up fan subscriptions
If you plan to regularly make new music, release multiple singles, or create new content, you could set up fan subscriptions on your website and sell music to your fans that way.
While it’s a different sales model than just selling your music online, you could launch your subscriptions area just before your new album. Then build momentum towards your release with regular updates and content in exchange for a monthly membership fee.
Selling your music online is an ongoing process which takes time and care. To be sure you’re using every opportunity wisely, create a spreadsheet or make a list on a whiteboard to keep things on track.
Don’t oversaturate your audience by begging them to buy your music day in and day out; keep working on interesting angles and stagger your marketing efforts. Make notes on what went well, and what you could do differently with your next release.
To recap, here are a few things to keep in mind when selling your music online:
- Start early and engage your fans from the first stages of music creation
- Focus on owned properties like your website and your mailing list to maximize revenues
- Use a mix of all services and products so that every type of fan, from superfan to casual, can support you in a way that works for them
If done right, all of this will help you strengthen the relationship with your fans, drive more sales, and make money to create more music in the future.
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