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September 09, 2022

Making art typically pays off emotionally, but less often monetarily. Thanks to technological advances, it is much easier to make money out of art, and music is not an exception. The internet introduced many ways to make music available to large audiences and enabled fans to support their idols worldwide.

In this blog, we’ll review how to sell music online. Keep reading to learn how to put your music onto the web, the best ways to sell music online, and more.

Digital Media vs. Physical Media

There are two ways to distribute your music products — via digital means or on hard copies. Each option has its own pros and cons. Let’s analyze them.

Physical Media

Physical media are a traditional way to share music. They include CDs (compact discs), vinyl records, and tape cassettes. Music industry trends show that physical media is experiencing hard times, and that isn’t hard to believe — when was the last time you saw a CD-ROM drive on a PC?

Despite the physical media market shrinking each year, CDs and vinyl are still being sold. From the entrepreneurial perspective, it requires more effort to make a profit from them. Dealing with physical media involves ordering disks, vinyl, and cassettes from your record label, storing, and shipping. Additionally, you will need to set up an online store to serve your fans.

Digital Media

Selling music online requires little to no investments. Whether it’s your own website or a streaming platform such as Spotify or iTunes, you do not have to keep a stock of CDs and vinyl or arrange shipping. The beauty of this method is that all processes can be highly automated. Despite that, revenue generated this way has its caveats.

In the case of streaming platforms, you need to pay a distributor either a one-time or recurring fee to have them add your music to their distribution platforms. Royalty payouts in this model will depend on how many plays your music gets.

That being said, using digital media is a great way to increase your fan base while providing a few good opportunities to earn some money on your creativity.

What You Need To Sell Music Online

Combining the two methods above is a solid way to sell music online successfully, so we will cover a few essential points needed to sell music online both ways.

Inventory Management

Selling physical copies requires keeping a stock of them. CDs and records can take up a lot of space, which means you need a place to store them. It is important to assess your storage space – know how much stock you can keep on hand. You may have to consider long term options such as renting a small storage unit or garage. Of course, you can always order more copies from your record company as you need them, but delays in stocking mean your fans wait longer.

Digital media is much simpler — you do not need to store anything but your music on a server. Paying for server storage is a lot cheaper and has a much higher capacity than a physical storage unit. What’s more, if you don’t sell as many CDs or records as you’re expecting, they’re not laying around collecting dust.

Website

Nowadays, the core of every business is its website. No matter if you decide to go with physical or digital distribution, you need a site to receive orders and communicate with your fans. In addition to that, your own website can help you collect data needed to sell music online even more efficiently.

It’s easy to track orders and anticipate demand for future releases. Also, keeping a record of email subscriptions shows how fast your fan base grows.

Picking a web host that is optimized for ecommerce will help with the specific needs you have as an online retailer.

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Delivery Options

Digital media resolves this problem very efficiently – music sold online is accessible from anywhere on the planet, provided you have internet access.

To determine the best delivery options for physical media, it is vital to understand your fan base. Is it international or mainly from your country? Depending on the answer, you should be exploring the associated delivery options. For local fans, go for courier services. International fans can be served via mail. Some delivery companies provide special terms for loyal customers or when sending parcels in bulk.

Naturally, there are companies, such as Horus Music, that are willing to take the burden of physical delivery off your plate for a percent of the revenue. Such companies can also be beneficial if you are not pursuing physical-only distribution — they can upload your music across different platforms, which is a great way to promote your music.

Payment Options

Different ecommerce platforms offer many payment options. On WooCommerce, for example, it is possible to configure multiple payment options – Stripe, Amazon Pay, Paypal, credit card payments, and more. That works for both physical and digital media.

If you hand off the distribution to a third-party company, they will charge your fans via their own channels. The ways you can receive your payouts are usually discussed during the contract signing process.

Return Policy

Return policies differ from state to state, but generally, it is up to you on how to handle returns and refunds. There should not be any issues refunding or sending another copy if your fans can prove that the product they purchased was damaged and/or became unusable. However, it is hard to come up with good reasons to refund digitally distributed music.

If the distribution is handled by a third-party company, your fans will be subject to return policies enforced by the distribution platforms. In this sense, you will not have many options to advocate for your fans if disputable situations emerge.

How You Sell Music Online

Besides recording music and displaying it on your website, there is much more to selling music online. Below are a few points that can help you boost your sales.

Creating a Customer Base

In the music business, your customers are your fans. That being said, you do not want to miss out on any opportunities to promote what you do. Create a social media presence, upload content, share news about your band, and stay in touch with your fans. New bands can take advantage of paid ads to make their presence more visible, and placing paid ads on social media sites can pay off really well.

Also, be aware of your target audience – younger generations prefer newer and more interactive social media such as TikTok, Twitter, or Instagram, while older audiences may only be using Facebook.

Most likely, you will have an image of your typical listener based on what kind of music you create. Nevertheless, you can create accounts on every social media channel, but bear in mind, you’ll need time to maintain all of them properly.

Utilizing Video For Organic Marketing

Videos are a great way to promote your music. You can create different videos and upload them to YouTube — music videos, Q&As, teasers, some backstage stories, or just your plans and thoughts. All that helps your fans be constantly engaged with you and your content. Cross-posting videos across your social media accounts will also be beneficial.

Leave the comments open and try to address everyone’s questions — your fans expect you to interact, at least while the number of comments under the video is not too high. Additionally, pay attention to what people say — their feedback can be very useful to iron out the kinks.

Marketing Plans & Content Strategy

If you are about to introduce a new product to the world, you should have a plan on how to market it. For example, try to plan how to share the content. If you have 5 videos ready to be published, do not release all of them the same day. Releasing one video every few days can fuel the hype much longer than dumping everything in one day.

Good timing is also of importance – be aware if your competitors are planning on releasing their album. If you release your music together with your competitors, chances are your album might go unnoticed. Ideal timing for releasing an album is when the media landscape is clear – no major political events, no war outbreaks, no recent tragic incidents.

Now What?

The first step in selling music online is creating a website. Developers charge hundreds and thousands of dollars to design even simple sites, and such amounts can be showstoppers to new businesses.

At Nexcess, we created a perfect solution for such cases: StoreBuilder. You can start building your own website in a matter of minutes using a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface — no coding knowledge required.

This solution is bundled with the fastest, most secure, and fully managed WooCommerce hosting. We take server management out of the equation, allowing you to focus on creating quality content and growing your business.

Try StoreBuilder today.

Andrew Reynolds
Andrew Reynolds


Andrew is a Solutions Consultant for the Liquid Web Family of Brands, helping prospects choose the best solution. He is a technology enthusiast and is always looking for ways to expand his knowledge in different areas. Andrew has a passion for languages — both programming and human.