Don’t hit a bum note: the best ways to sell your music online

Musicians have a notoriously difficult time selling their music. There’s a reason the stereotype of the broke musician exists. And the internet has, as it always seems to do, made this problem more complicated than it ever was.

But complicated shouldn’t be taken to mean more difficult.

In fact, the internet’s reach and the easy availability of streaming, testing, and eventually purchasing music have really opened up possibilities to musicians in every stage of their development. Though the industry is still dominated by the major players, there is now more scope for musicians without major financial backing to become known, become loved, and be successful.

Certainly, making money in music is more complicated than it was. But that just means that the musician needs to be more aware and tuned in to proven practices for marketing themselves. More now than ever, after decades of online pirating having dealt a death blow to many major record companies, fans are aware of the hardships of those starting out in the music industry and are willing to pay for the work of independent musicians that are talented.

We’re going to look at the most effective ways a musician or band can sell their music online. We’ll address the positives and negatives of each route to offer a detailed explanation so that you can make the right decision.

Straight up: sell music directly from your website

We’ve previously covered the topic of the best methods to build a website that sells, so we’ve covered that for you. But for selling your music? The best way to do that is directly through your website.

Now don’t be alarmed. What seems like a tech-focused pain really is not as difficult as it would appear. Simply follow this advice:

Firstly, you’ll need to opt for a secure payment gateway on your website. There are hundreds of these that offer a diverse range of benefits, but for those who don’t want to get too bogged down in the details simply plump for a reputable and popular gateway such as WePay, Ayden, or Skrill.

Before picking a payment gateway, you must ensure it is fully compatible with your website platform. Stripe, for example, can be customized so that it fits into the website with a pleasing aesthetic, rather than sticking out like a sore and very ugly thumb.

Do not** go for a payment gateway that doesn’t have an SSL certificate included. This Secure Sockets Layer is the standard security measure for most major cash transactions on the web. Simply put, the SSL encrypts the data that a buyer sends to your website giving them an extremely high level of safety.Google Chrome will tag a site as “not secure” if it doesn’t offer this functionality and given that Chrome is the largest web browser around, you need to consider it.**

Of course, you need to give visitors a taste of what they can receive when they buy a song or album. So, really, do check out our guide on how to build a website that sells.

Make a mailing list work

The mailing list is another fundamental piece of the music marketing jigsaw. Despite easy availability of social media notifications, the mailing list makes sure that news and offers are delivered directly to the inboxes of those people you know already want to hear your music. The fans, baby!

With mailing lists, fans don’t have to search for your newest release.

Mailing lists might seem a little mid-2000s, but the fact is that seven out of 10 American adults have made a purchase after receiving an email offering them a product. The simple truth is that it works. And it works so well because you’re not cold calling or throwing a hope out to the emptiness or the internet. You’re contacting the people you know are interested.

Let fans know about releases before they happen, offer pre-order discounts for when new songs or albums come out or offer “secret sales” or “fans sales” on your work. There are many ways to make a mailing list work for you.

For those that prefer the physical: Vinyl and cassettes

E-book sales are dropping, cassettes are cool again, and vinyl printing factories are reopening their doors.

The digital world has people pining for something they can touch, and the music industry is well-placed to benefit from this.

Audiophiles are the classic vinyl lovers, but everyone is getting in on the act now. The incredible and memorable artwork that accompanies albums has the unique ability to connect the visual with the audio and this is what so many music lovers… love!

Cassettes are an even cheaper way of adding an alternative, interesting product that fans can get their hands on. Like the vinyl, cassettes have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity and are fan-favorites for a one-of-a-kind product.

If you’re able to make the artwork of your cassettes and vinyl memorable then all the better. Who doesn’t know the album artwork of Abbey Road or Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures? The album artwork is almost as famous as the music.

Bundle it up: offer music in bundles for higher sales

And lastly, music bundling should be a definite strategy for musicians and bands.

Bundling of products is an extremely effective strategy for most retailers, helping them sell more due to the savings that shoppers will receive. Know when you’re shopping online and the website has an “add this for only X amount” offer? That’s bundling.

With digital music, this can be done in many ways. You could simply offer higher discount rates for the more a fan buys – 1 album for $15, 2 for $25 etc. Alternatively, you could offer extra singles if fans buy more.

The varieties and ways to go about bundling your music are limitless. Don’t give your music away, but offer fans something to think about!

If you’re a musician or in a band and looking for someone to help make your music a success, 2nomads is here to help. A unique, creative, and forward-thinking digital marketing agency only for musicians and bands. Together, we can make you a success.

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About Patrick Appleby

Patrick is a British journalist and content creator now based in Mexico City. When not searching for a scoop or trying to memorise Spanish verb conjugations, he enjoys cycling, reading, and wandering through the vast streets of the Distrito Federal.