How To Sell Your Music Online: A Guide For Beginners

A young musician who started making electronic music emailed me with some questions about selling music online.

How to sell your music online

And after replying to him, I realized the info could help other DIY musicians new to the music sales game.

So below are the different ways you can sell and stream your music online.

What To Expect From This Guide

This guide is by no means an exhaustive list of every place you can sell music.

I’ll do a quick review with pros and cons of different websites I’ve used or have heard good things about.

This is a guide for beginners, after all.

Just so you’re aware, people nowadays are buying music less and streaming it more, and streaming revenues are pretty terrible (I received $0.80 for a few hundred streams of my music).

The idea here is to get exposure for your music on the biggest music streaming/selling platforms out there.

So let’s take a look at a few options for selling and streaming your music online.

Bandcamp

Sell music online
A screenshot of my Bandcamp page

Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Bandcamp, as a musician and a consumer.

It’s simple — create an account for free, upload your songs, start selling directly to your fans, and collect up to 85% of sales (BC takes 15% from all digital music sales, 10% from merch sales — see here).

Plus, they’ve designed simple and cool customizable artist pages, and the embeddable players look great.

Pros

  • Free to sign up and list your music
  • Fair revenue share pricing
  • Good looking design

Con

  • No compensation for song streams

CD Baby

CD Baby

I use CD Baby to get my music on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and a bunch of other digital music stores. The cost options are Free, Standard for $49, or Pro for $89 (see image above), then they take 9% commission from digital sales.

Plus, they have additional services, like song mastering, sync licensing, and they’ll even make physical CDs for you.

Pros

  • Distribution to nearly every digital store
  • One-time distribution fee
  • They’ll make physical CDs or vinyl for you
  • Mastering services

Con

  • To distribute your music, you need to buy a UPC (Universal Product Code) — an additional $5 for a single or $20 for an album

Tunecore

Tunecore

Tunecore and CD Baby essentially do the same thing — distribute your music to almost every digital music store. They also will press physical CDs for you, among other similar services. But there’s one big difference — the way Tunecore works is they charge an annual fee for each release.

So, for example, if I distribute three albums for $30 each, I’m paying $90 a year to keep them listed. If I don’t have $90 worth of digital sales per year, I’m losing money. However, to balance this, they don’t take any sales commission.

Years ago, I worked with Tunecore to distribute my music, but sadly I wasn’t selling enough music back then to break even. So I switched to CD Baby and have been with them ever since.

But it depends on your situation — Tunecore might be a great fit for you.

Pros

  • Distribution to nearly every digital store
  • You keep 100% of your sales commission
  • They’ll make physical CDs for you
  • Mastering services

Con

  • Annual fee per album and per single

Music Licensing

Audiosocket and Musicbed

Music licensing — allowing someone like a filmmaker to use your song in their video in exchange for a fee — can be a nice money-maker. You can earn anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars per song used, and you can often license the same song multiple times.

Musicbed and Audiosocket seem like great starting places for musicians who want to get into this industry, especially electronic musicians and composers.

Want More Info?

If you’d like a super in-depth review of some of these websites and many others, I’d recommend checking out Ari Herstand’s review over on aristake.com. He did so much work on it. It’s a lot of info, but worth the read.

Also, you should pick up Herstand’s super helpful book How To Make It in the New Music Business. It’s thick like the Bible — it’s the DIY musician’s bible.

Hope this post helps!


Stay motivated, manage your time, and move toward your picture of success — grab the One-Thing-A-Day chart for FREE…

This 18-Year-Old Produced A Kendrick Lamar Song With Only His iPhone

Who says you need a fancy recording studio with expensive mics to make high quality music? Steve Lacy of The Internet has never said that.

Lacy has shown us that you don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars to record pro-sounding music — you just need your iPhone, your guitar, and GarageBand.

He’s not the first band to record an album on an iPhone, or even on an iPad. But Lacy is getting a lot of buzz.

He produced the song “PRIDE” from Kendrick Lamar’s new album, DAMN, entirely with his iPhone, reports Wired.


RELATED: 3 Of The Best (And Cheapest) Microphones For Home Recording

RELATED: My favorite (cheap) recording programs


So I have no excuse to not record that song I’ve been wanting to record. I no longer can use the excuse, “I’ll never record an album because it’s too expensive.”

At the very least, I can just whip out my phone and start tracking songs.

How Steve Jobs Changed The Music Industry

Steve Jobs truly changed the music industry, and we don’t even realize it.

via www.phonearena.com

Apple launched iTunes in 2001 and has since changed how the music industry works, whether accidentally or not.

Mr. Jobs declared that all songs, no matter the quality, are worth $0.99 in the iTunes store. Despite the fact that songwriters and musicians work hard to create and record their unique art, Jobs leveled the playing field and made it all worth the same.

Is the price of $0.99 equal to the hours spent on one song?

A song may take hours upon hours to write and record. And as I write this, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25, according to the United States government — if you were to apply this wage to a musician’s work, each of their songs could cost $20 or more.

Obviously, no one is going to pay that much for one song, but you can see how low the rate-of-pay is for a musician selling his or her song on iTunes.


RELATED: Spotify — $0.80 Is Better Than $0.00


Plus, organizations that put musicians’ music on iTunes (i.e. CDBaby.com, Tunecore.com) take a percentage of each song sold. So the artist is getting less than $0.99 per song after spending hours to create it.

Also, single songs can be downloaded from an album on iTunes. Back in the day, you had to buy the entire album. Single song downloads didn’t (legally) exist until iTunes. You had to buy the vinyl record, the 8-track, or the CD.

I’m not chewing out Jobs for doing this. I’m merely stating how he and Apple have drastically changed the industry.


RELATED: In The Streaming Age Of Music, Songwriters Need Loyal Fans


Now the emphasis on the single-song download puts more pressure on the songwriter and musician; they have to make all 99 pennies count.