How to Sell Music Online

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Reach millions of listeners worldwide by selling your music online. Here, we explain the best ways to get your tracks noticed – so listen up!

If you want to take your music journey to the next level, and maximize the exposure of a new album, single, or EP, then you’ve probably thought about the best – and most effective – ways you can sell your music.

With so many online music stores and streaming services available, it’d be silly to not sell your music online. But with so many online options to do just that – in what’s an already saturated marketplace of musicians spanning each and every genre known to man – it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.

So in this article, we’ll talk you through the various ways in which you can sell your music online; making sure that all of the time and talent you pour into your music is seen and appreciated, and – hopefully – making a little money along the way!

Sell On Your Own Website

The great thing about having your own website, no matter what your brand or business aims, is that it offers you a slice of the internet that’s completely yours. Here, you can control the narrative around your music, and don’t need to rely on social media algorithms and trends to get your songs heard.

Selling your music on your own website will require you to create an online store where fans can buy your music directly from you. With so many different streaming and download sites available, many true music fans prefer to buy directly from the artist, safe in the knowledge that streaming giants aren’t taking a substantial cut from the price.

Plus, having your own website not only allows you to sell your music directly, but also enables you to create a wider online community and presence around your discography. Here, you can personally control what content and information you distribute to your fans – whether that’s music, messaging, or merchandise.

When it comes to building your own website, we recommend using Squarespace. The platform will allow you to upload your music, as well as other content such as blog posts and music videos. Plus, its music website templates – which allow you to base your site off a pre-existing design theme – are some of the industry’s finest.

It’s also simple to set up and easy to use, and the variety of pricing plans and help and support available makes it the ideal option for all budgets and abilities.

Squarespace for selling music online homepage screenshot
Squarespace websites are responsive, and the builder's array of design templates and billing options make it a solution for everyone.

Sell On Online Music Stores

Whilst having your own website allows you to swerve the middleman and go directly to your fans, it can be hard to drum up interest at the start. Relying on people just stumbling across your website will likely result in lackluster sales.

So, alongside having your own website, you’ll also need to consider other online music stores, too. Online music stores will help you to reach a much wider audience, and help ensure that your music is heard.

One of the best stores to use to sell your music online is Bandcamp. Bandcamp is an independent platform that allows you to sell your music to fans in various formats, including MP3 and WAV. You can also collect the data and email addresses of fans who buy your music, which can be useful when it comes to marketing new songs or providing updates about upcoming tours, shows, and releases.

Bandcamp New and Notable section screenshot
Bandcamp’s “New and Notable” section is a great place for up-and-coming artists to be found.

Bandcamp is a popular platform for music fans who are interested in finding new music and artists thanks to its focus on discovery.

The platform actively recommends music to users through its app, blog posts, and weekly podcast. However, Bandcamp does take a 15% cut of all sales you make through it, so it’s important to consider this when using the platform and pricing your music.

Sell On Music Download Sites

Music download sites allow users to select, pay for, and download music straight to their device, allowing them to listen to their chosen tunes whenever and wherever they want.

Usually, listeners will opt to buy and download music from sites that they know and trust – so major music retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube are always good places to start! iTunes, for example, is available in over 100 countries, and its ability to allow users to pay with a pre-saved account and card on file makes the process of downloading music easier.

Like most third parties, these major music download sites will take a cut of your income. However, this percentage is often counterbalanced by the large audience they can provide for your music.

Platforms such as iTunes also offer handy marketing features, such as the ability to offer pre-sales and instant gratification tracks. Music download sites allow users to instantly access your music, rather than having to rely on selling traditional physical copies, which are more expensive and labor intensive.

Sell On Music Streaming Platforms

Music streaming subscriptions are growing fast. Streaming platforms are a great place for up-and-coming artists to gain momentum with fans who will then go on to buy their CDs, downloads, and merchandise in the future.

Whilst the amount that artists can make through streaming platforms is usually pretty small, the exposure they can offer new and up-and-coming artists is priceless.

Spotify is arguably the most popular streaming platform around, with over 356 million active monthly users. Just getting your music in front of a tiny percentage of that audience could transform your music career. Fellow streaming platform Apple Music may have been a little later to the party than Spotify, but – with over 60 million users – it’s quickly amassed an audience that you can’t afford to ignore.

Use a Music Distributor

Using a music distributor makes getting your music in front of as many ears as possible considerably easier.

Distributors such as TuneCore or CD Baby will do all of the hard work for you. Upload your music to these sites, and they’ll distribute your tracks to all of the major download and streaming platforms worldwide, including iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.

Using a music distributor not only makes your life easier, but also ensures that you’re covering all bases. Your music will feature on multiple platforms, too – ensuring potential listeners and fans can access it in their preferred way.

TuneCore homepage screenshot

There are various pros and cons to using a music distributor that you’ll need to balance out to decide if it’s the right option for you. Let’s take a look at TuneCore as an example:

Pros

  • You keep all of the sales made
  • In some instances, it offers money advances for future revenue projects.
  • TuneCore provides physical distribution, as well as digital
  • Its administrative publishing arm will help you to track down songwriter royalties

Cons

  • There’s a fee to add new streaming or distribution outlets to your original order
  • It’s purely focused on distribution, so you’ll receive no marketing support
  • The costs of uploading, as well as initial sign-up fees and commission, mean it can wind up being expensive

Create a Marketing Plan

Once you’ve perfected your tracks and decided on the best way to sell your music online, you’ll need to start thinking about how you’ll drum up interest around your tunes. While platforms such as Spotify do provide some great marketing features, you’re still going to need your own marketing plan to get things off the ground.

Social Media

Social media is one of the very best ways to not only get your music out there, but also to build and communicate with your fan base, too.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can bring together lovers of your music, and enable you to share with them new releases, updates, and behind-the-scenes content that they can’t get anywhere else. Social media is also a great way to build your community, and keep them interested in between albums or shows.

For more tips on how to master your digital marketing strategy, head to our guide to the 11 digital marketing tips you need to know about in 2021.

Pre-Sales

Pre-sales can be a great way to help build a buzz ahead of releasing new music. By introducing limited pre-sales, you add exclusivity – which, in turn, will help to increase demand. A pre-sale is also a great way of giving back to loyal followers by offering them the chance to hear and access your music before anyone else.

Events

Live gigs and events are crucial to the success of any musician. Once you’ve established and set up live events where you can showcase your talent, make sure to heavily promote them across social media and your wider digital marketing – it’ll help ensure the events sell out!

Online Publications

Getting the right people talking about your music can have a major impact on your success.

Just one good music journalist giving you a good review can result in hundreds, if not thousands, of sales. Against that backdrop, work to determine your target journalists and publications – the ones you’d most like to feature your music – and get in touch with them.

Send them demos or copies of your latest music, along with some background info about yourself. Remember, they’re likely to be inundated with other artists getting in touch, so try to think about what you can do to help you stand out from the crowd.

Selling Music Online: Summary

Choosing to sell your music online can be a decision that transforms your music from a hobby to a career – if you do it right! With so many music-selling and streaming platforms available, it can be hard to know where to start. But hopefully, this article will have provided you with everything you need to help make selling music online easier.

To recap, when looking to sell music online the different things to consider are:

  1. Sell on your own website
  2. Sell on online music stores
  3. Sell on music download sites
  4. Sell on music streaming platforms
  5. Use a music distributor
  6. Create a marketing plan

Rock on!