To make money selling your music online, engage your fans early in the music-making process. Know where to sell your music, and use platforms that can help you maximize your revenue stream.
It can be helpful to use a mixture of products and services, so you can access all types of fans and broaden your exposure.
Whether this is your first time selling your music online, or you have several albums under your belt already, come up with a good plan. This includes a timeline, deciding what to sell, when, and where.
You can register your original work with the U.S. Copyright Office to protect it from being used illegally. This gives you the right to sue if it is used illegally.
A big part of making money selling your music online is in the promotion of your product. You can do this through social media, your website, and word of mouth.
Where to Sell Your Music Online
Buying music online is the most popular form of purchasing music today. Online music sales for singles and album downloads topped $3 million in 2020, and revenue for streaming services skyrocketed to over $10 billion.
When it comes to selling your music online, you can make money by selling singles and albums to be downloaded or by uploading to a streaming platform. Ideally, you will use a mixture of platforms to gain the most reach, biggest fanbase, and highest revenues.
Digital Download Stores
As an independent artist, selling your music through a digital download store is vital to give your fans access to your music.
Digital stores such as iTunes and Amazon Music are huge marketing platforms that see a lot of music downloads and purchases daily. This music can be used offline with the purchaser holding their own copy.
Having your music on a streaming platform also puts it in front of more listeners, helping you to gain more attention and build your fan base. This can draw listeners in, and they’ll eventually want to download your music. Uploading your music to a streaming platform is an essential aspect of selling your music online.
This is a free service that allows artists to sell music to their fans directly. Bandcamp takes a 15 percent cut of your profits, but it does allow you to collect data on your fans, such as email addresses.
This site focuses on music discovery and supports independent artists.
It is essential to have your own website where you can sell your music online and completely control the experience from start to finish. You then have your own online space fans can use to access your music and information. It also gives you a way to stay connected with fans and keep them engaged.
How to Make Money Selling Your Music
To generate revenue for your music while selling it online, you will need a strategy that helps to promote your music, engage your fans, and make money doing it.
While the online music platform has opened the door for many independent artists just starting out, helping them to get noticed, the market is also saturated with new content daily. You need to find a way to stand out.
Start involving your fans early on in the process as you make new music. This can help them to feel like part of something and also build up the excitement for your music’s release. Use social media to release teasers or previews, and keep your website current.
How you release your music is important for gaining interest and keeping the momentum going.
Consider a timeline that looks like this:
- Set a pre-order. Digital music stores like iTunes allow you to set up a pre-order, which can be an optimal marketing tool for your music. You should set this up as early as possible ahead of your release date — a minimum of four weeks — to build excitement and generate interest in your music.
- Create a release strategy. You can release a single or two before releasing your entire album to generate future interest as well. Traditional release dates are Tuesdays or Fridays. You will need to select a date at least four weeks in advance in order to build out your promotional schedule ahead of time.
- Follow up with fans. After you release your music, check in on social media, your website, and through email newsletters to keep fans interested. Thank fans for their support and encourage them to purchase your music if they have not done so already.
Getting Started Selling Your Music
Before selling your music online, you need to make sure you can create the best listening experience for your fans. Your music will need to be of sufficient quality and meet all the requirements set by the digital music stores and streaming platforms.
These are things to consider:
- Music audio file: Music needs to sound good across all platforms. It should be uploaded as an uncompressed WAV file in 16 or 24 bits, 44.1 kHz.
- Metadata information: Online music releases contain metadata that will include the artist’s name, song title, contributors, and ISRC code, which is a unique barcode that tracks your music. A UPC/EAN barcode is also generated with your music release.
- Album artwork: Even if you are not releasing a physical album, the visual representation of your online music is still important. This should be a JPEG file that is 3000 x 3000 pixels, includes the artist’s name and release title, and has no explicit content or logos.
Ensuring Your Music Is Not Used Illegally
As soon as you create new music that is wholly original, it is copyright protected. You do not have to register your music with the U.S. Copyright Office for it to be protected as your intellectual property.
If you find out that your music is being used without your permission, you will need to have it registered in order to file a copyright infringement lawsuit. In this way, it can be helpful to register your music to protect it.
If you aim to sell music online, and make money doing it, you need to promote yourself and your music. There are several different methods you can use for promotional tools.
- Create an artist profile. Write a bio for yourself, including images to create a positive visual representation that can increase your appeal.
- Social media: This is a vital tool for interacting with and engaging fans. It can increase your visibility and reach.
- Mailing list: This database of fans is a direct link to people who care about your music. When fans subscribe to your newsletter or ask for updates, this is a way to reach them quickly and distribute links for purchasing your music directly.
- Fan subscriptions: When you have built a fanbase, you can engage fans further by granting access to special content with a subscription.
- Bundles: You can choose to bundle current singles with older content, or if you have physical CDs or vinyl copies, consider bundling them with digital content. There is a lot of room for creativity in creating different bundles.
- Discounts: When your music has been on the scene for a little while, consider offering lower prices for a limited time to increase revenue.
Music Selling FAQs
What is the best way to sell your music online?
Ideally, you will sell your music across a variety of platforms online to generate the most interest and highest revenue streams.
How do I start selling my music?
Keep fans engaged with the music process as soon as you start a new project to build excitement. Promote your music ahead of its release date, and use a release strategy that increases interest. Good planning makes a big difference in overall success here.
How do I protect my music?
Register your unique work with the U.S. Copyright Office to start a record of it in case your music is ever used without your permission.
What is the best way to promote my music?
There are many ways to promote your music. Get creative with social media, your website, and email mailing lists. Try different approaches to connect with fans. Be persistent, as these efforts take time to pay off sometimes.
Digital Music Revenue in the United States from 2008 to 2020, by Type. (May 2022). Statista.
iTunes. (2022). Apple Music, Inc.
Amazon Music. (2022). Amazon.com, Inc.
Listening is Everything. (2022). Spotify AB.
Discover New Music Every Day. (2022). Apple Music, Inc.
Pandora. (2022). Pandora Music, LLC.
Register Your Work: Registration Portal. Library of Congress.