So I said to myself, “StrangeFlow, why don’t you write out some basic information for getting music folks that cash they want and deserve?”
And I responded, “Ok, Me, good point, I’ll do just that!”
And then, after I got out of that bubble-bath, I put on some clothes and turned my computer on and wrote this blog post…
So, if you’re a musician, and you’re just starting out, there are several avenues you should definitely be aware of. There are sites that let you sell your music. These are the basics. Now, I’m not going to BS you for one second – it can be hard selling music online. Yes, it’s easier then going to the mall and hustlin’ for customers; but since it’s seemingly easier than this, there’s a lot more people competing.
The best thing, in my opinion, is to make the decision to work extremely hard, if you want to really get successful. Promotion is also very important – as well as creating buzz.
What the hell is buzz? Well, it’s something I plan to cover in a different article – as this is an article mainly dedicated to different websites to use to sell your music – but I will say this: want you want to do is separate yourself from the competition. You want to look different than other musicians, you want to have a different and unique sound, and you want to have a product and story and a musical experience that people can ONLY get from YOU.
That being said, here are several notable music sites that people are using to sell their tunes…
Bandcamp <<< (FREE)
This one’s great for independent musicians. You can put up all your tracks, and your graphic art, and write descriptions for all your tracks; and then sell them.
Soundcloud.com <<< (FREE)
You need to put your music on this site. You can link to Bandcamp or Itunes or wherever, and Soundcloud is NOT a site you collect the money from, it’s a site that you can link to other sites to make money with. It’s a free site to join, though they DO have ‘premium’ memberships and whatnot… But personally, I’ve had tons of folks hear my soundcloud tunes, and never really considered upgrading. I might, down the line (maybe…) but at this point, I see no need. If you’re a new artist with only one album’s worth of tracks, there’s no possible reason you should even consider updating to a premium account, unless someone else is paying for you, or if you’ve got tons of money lying around.
CDBaby <<< (FREE)
This is an interesting site. I used to use this one, and I actually made money from CDs. Yes, there’s a concept, eh? Making money with CDs, online! Ha. They have an MP3-selling option as well, which is obviously a lot easier. But if you want to go the physical-copy route, you mail them your product, set a price, set up a page on their site, and then, ideally, you get checks in the mail! Obviously it’ll help out a lot if you go and promote your CDBaby site, as well.
Myspace <<< (FREE, BUT STUPID)
Myspace is dead. The only reason I still have an account is because they won’t let me delete it. I’m serious. Yes, the golden era of Myspace is over, thank goodness. Anytime I see some musician link me to their Myspace page (as their primary page) it makes that artist seem tacky and very much behind-the-times. Sorry, but that’s the image a lot of people have of this over-glittery nonsense site that looks as though it’s primary target is twelve-year-olds. If I were you, I would not waste my time on this site too much.
Itunes <<< (FREE)
Yes, Itunes is obviously an important site to get set up with. It’s a huge site with thousands of artists, and it would benefit to be on there. Lots of people shop there.
Spotify <<< (FREE)
Spotify has a unique format (until others copy their platform) where listeners can establish their own playlist and put songs they want to hear onto a list and jam out for hours at a time. You can make royalties as an artist if your songs are chosen for playlists. To see any return, however, you have to be on a lot of playlists. It’s a downfall, sure. To be fair, you’re going to get at least somewhat-popular on some of these sites to really make much money.
There are more sites similar to these, but if you’re not on any of these websites, they are definitely something to look into. So, my recommendation is to do your homework and really figure out more about each of these sites, and find out what other people are saying about them, too.
Sometimes it seems as though there is more money to be made in promising artists more money through your website than there is money to be made by actually making the music being sold. Is that unfair? Well, possibly, but that’s the way the internet works right now. Though it might be better than the pre-MP3 era (and that idea is up for debate, albeit irrelevant, for the most part, if you’re talking about making money ONLINE) MP3s aren’t really going anywhere, and if you want any of that web-cash, you’ll have to really strive. Once you have developed a name, you’ll see more money than if you’re just starting out.
Here’s another thing to remember. Most folks won’t get very far simply because once they realize how far they have to go, they’ll give up. I stated it in a previous article but I’ll reiterate it here: if you can get beyond the point of your competitor’s laziness (they’re ‘give-up point,’) you will be closer to success. I will talk more about that later.
Also, remember there are other avenues beyond just selling music online. I won’t get into most of them because this article is specifically about online-music-sales, but I will point out that a lot of musicians make money touring and selling shirt, stickers, posters, and things like that.
Back to websites, though; I’ll tell you what I would ideally like to see from a website set up for musicians… I think it would be great to see a Soundcloud type of site where users can openly stream content, but with advertisements that the artist directly benefits from.
I don’t want to hear about the “lack of purity” in advertising, in a world where most music fans refuse to pay for music, and musicians have to work five times as hard as someone working at McDonalds just to make end’s meat. A lot of people talk about how you should “just be making music because you love it, and not for money.” Well, that’s a silly thing to say, because most of us do love music, which is why we make it in the first place! But, face it: money is a necessity, plain and simple. You could try to go at it full-time, and sell your music online (what some people might call “selling out”) or you could just go at it as a part-time hobby, and keep that job at McDonalds (which, for some reason, is NEVER considered “selling out,” even though you’re flipping burgers all day for a super-corporation… just saying… ) Just some things to think about. I don’t think it’s ‘selling out’ to work for almost any company, because you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do to survive right now…
Also, I’m actually not trying to rip on that specific burger-chain for any specific reason, though I am pissed off that they’ve phased out their breakfast bagel sandwich. That thing was gigantastically amazing.