IIf you are a musician or in a band, chances are good that you’d like to make some money from your music. CD’s, digital downloads, t-shirts, bumper stickers… the options are almost endless for a savvy musician.
The question is, how do you get people to find what you’re selling? With millions of bands and musicians worldwide, getting people to find you may seem like hunting for a needle in a haystack. Well, it doesn’t have to be.
On the downside, the odds of your website ranking well for any music related keyword phrase with even remotely decent search volume is pretty much nil. But don’t despair! As a musician looking to make money online, there’s a much better way.
Image credit: adebond on Flickr
First, before you try to sell anything, you need an online presence. This website or profile will be your digital hub, and everything we cover from this point on will point back to this site. If you already have a website, fantastic. If not, you may not actually need one (Editor’s note: better still get your own website at some point).
Step #1 – Create Your Online Hub
No band worth their salt would be without a website, MySpace page and/or a Facebook fan page. If you don’t have at least one of these, create one… now! Next, simply go to BandBox.com and sign up for an account. You get 30-days for free, and then it is either $10 or $15/mo after that.
BandBox.com allows you to upload your music, set a price, and then embed a widget into Facebook, MySpace, your website or blog, or any of a number of other platforms to sell your music digitally. You keep 100% of the profit, deposited to your bank account or PayPal every 30 days. It is the easiest and least expensive way to sell your music digitally online.
Now that you have a digital hub for fans to congregate and a way for them to purchase your music, it’s time to expand your reach. In order for people to buy your music, they first need to know it exists. Creating a local following isn’t challenging, but creating a large enough national or international following to make some serious cash takes a bit more work.
Step #2 – Make Your Music Available to Everyone, Everywhere
Do everything in your power to make your music available on iTunes, Amazon.com, Grooveshark, Pandora, Rdio, Napster, eMusic, Rhapsody, Zune and Last.fm (these links point to submission pages, if available.) You’ll need to get a UPC code for you music to sell it online through some of these venues, and the Indie Artist Alliance is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to do that ($15 per album.)
The easiest way to get your music up on these sites is by using a digital media distribution service such as FineTunes, TuneCore or SongCast.
Some of these sites will sell your music and give you a cut, some won’t, but if your music is available on these 8 sites then you are in front of the vast majority of music listeners throughout the world.
If the platform supports sales and gives you a percentage, make sure all of your music is available there. If the platform doesn’t support sales, or doesn’t give you a cut, only make a limited selection available on that site.
Try not to give all of your best stuff away for free :)
The submission process for some of the sites can be a headache, but it will be worth the effort in the long run. Make sure to optimize the album and track details to reflect the music niche you are most relevant to (Punk, Rock, Ska, Jazz, whatever), as this will make it far easier for people to find your music.
It’s also important to link back to your online hub from each of the sites, if possible.
Step #3 – Create Lots And Lots Of Online Profiles
MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… all of these are excellent resources for musicians. YouTube has helped a number of little known bands achieve notoriety, so remember to have someone record your band whenever you play, preferably in HD, and get those videos up there.
Twitter is another great way to communicate with your fans about upcoming events, and to reach out to new potential fans. It can easily connect to your Facebook fan page, so you don’t need to update multiple platforms.
You might also consider the following musician centric resources:
Each has pros and cons, but if you aren’t familiar with any of these they are worth a look.
It’s important that each time you create one of these profiles that you point it back to your main hub (website, Facebook, etc). This will help to improve the rank-ability of your main page.
Step #4 – Spread The Word
Now that you have a solid hub, have distributed your music and have created your profiles, it’s time to spread the word. Schedule gigs, play venues, enter battle of the bands. Offer to play for free at State and local fairs, events, or any other opportunity to let people hear your music. Charge if you can for events, but don’t be afraid to play for free to help get your sound out here.
Put up cool YouTube videos, Tweet funny things. Do everything in your power to make your band unique in the eyes and ears of your listeners.
And of course ask your fans to help spread the word at every chance you get. Let them know about your Facebook page, Twitter account, and the places where they can listen to and purchase your music.
And that is that. The more music related places online that your band has a presence, the easier it will be to be found. The more places you have your music for sale, the more money you will make.
Sam McRoberts is the CEO of VUDU Marketing, a Utah SEO company. He has been involved with online marketing since 1999 and has worked with hundreds of clients, from small local businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Sam loves all things music, and has sang Acappella at numerous events both public and private.