Selling Your Music Online
Traditional sales have been dropping constantly. As a result, many artists/producers/labels have resorted to the download business, which is an easy way to market your products.
This might sound silly, but in order to sell music online, you need good songs. Nowadays, thanks to technology, almost anybody can produce music. Please bear in mind that the public is still looking for well-produced and qualitative cuts and albums.
Let us assume that you have a great production and want to sell it online. What do you do? You can either work out a deal with an online label or sell it yourself. If you go for the second solution, there are some things you need to do: you have to apply for a global trade number (UPC if you are based in the US and EAN if you are located in Europe). These codes are used worldwide for marking products (either offline or online).
In addition to this, you also need to apply for an ISRC number (ISRC = International Standard Recording Code). The ISRC is an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings and music video recordings. ISRC registrant codes are allocated by national ISRC agencies to both corporations and individuals.
Now you are ready to market your productions online. Here again you have two opportunities: either you apply for a direct account with the shops you are interested in working with (iTunes, Beatport, Traxsource, Juno, etc.) or you might want to work with a so-called aggregator. In general internet terms, an aggregator is a website where tracks are collected by an online distributor and forwarded to other shops. The advantage of working with an aggregator is clear: you only need to upload your music and insert the data related to your songs (title, composer, publisher, running time, etc.) once, whereas when working directly with online shops, you will have to go through this process lots of times. On the other hand, by working with an aggregator you will have to give up a percentage of your revenues.
Your songs are now online, but there are some basic rules you need to take into consideration. The fact of having your music on sale in a shop like e.g. iTunes will not contribute to a single download if you do not promote your products like in the "offline" world. Technically, this is called "push and pull". A push-pull-system describes the move of a product or information between two subjects. On markets the consumers usually "pulls" the goods or information they demand for their needs, while the offerers or suppliers "push" them toward the consumers. In other words, in a push strategy the communication between seller and buyer takes place and in a "pull" system the consumer requests the product and "pulls" it through the delivery channel.
To cut a long story short, you need instruments like newsletters, podcasts, banners/skyscrapers/ad words on various portals or online shops, promotion through social networks, SMS marketing, etc. to promote your music and, on the other hand, you need online presence to be successful.
Also, you might want to consider working with a publisher when selling your music online. Publishers and authors (composers, lyricists and arrangers) sign an original publishing agreement. Under the terms of that agreement, the publisher undertakes to artistically and economically exploit the works transferred to him at his own cost and risk. In particular, that involves producing and distributing scores of the work (own publishing rights); finding a record company to distribute recordings of the work; finding a producer to use the work for a film; finding an artist to play the work or finding a musician to arrange the work. In other words, the publisher of a work is its manager. A publisher is not the same thing as a record company. The publisher has to find a record company to produce and publish the work. Many record companies have their own publishing departments and handle both sides of the business for economic reasons.
Here are some interesting publications that might help you in your online marketing activities.
- Damian Ryan - Understanding Digital Marketing
- Ryan Deiss & Russ Henneberry - Digital Marketing For Dummies
- Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, Iwan Setiawan - Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital