We've got some good news for all the recording artists out there in cyberspace: if you've already made some music, you can sell it online, today. You probably already knew that part, but did you also know that it's actually pretty easy, too?
Seriously, there are all kinds of different e-commerce sites and streaming services that want to have your music available on their platform.
Many of these services rely on artists to provide them with their product; the platforms just exist to make it easy for people to find and access all that music.
But what are the best ways to sell music online? There are so many options that it can be hard to tell what's right for you.
This article will go through the major platforms available to you. As we move along, just ask yourself some basic questions about how you want to provide customers with your music and how much time you'd like to spend on the process.
Remember: even if your music isn't going to hit the top of the digital sales charts, you can earn a decent amount of money even from a modest amount of purchases.
One of the biggest benefits of selling your music on Amazon is that the company already has a massive presence online, as well as an enormous amount of brand recognition. Thousands and thousands of people browse the site every day, and that automatically means there will be a better chance that at least some of these browsers will see the listing for your music.
Another big advantage is that you can sell several different types of music products through Amazon.
The easiest by far would be to sell digital versions of your music, either as an option for streaming through a Prime subscription or as MP3 files that can be purchased outright by customers.
When selling digital versions of your music, you don't need to worry about shipping or inconsistent quality. Each file will be exactly the same for each user.
But you can also sell physical media through Amazon as well. Just make sure that you already have production of that merchandise already worked out, as well as distribution unless you want your life to become one big shipping operation.
Keep in mind that Amazon also has a robust customer product review feature for all products. If you're not comfortable with any customer being able to post a public review of your music, then you might want to steer away from the Amazon option.
Bandcamp started out as a small independent music site, and even today it has become a major hub for recording artists of all kinds, especially artists who don't already have major record label deals.
Many independent and underground artists have found great success on Bandcamp, and some of them have even seen that success lead to label deals.
At the time of publication, Bandcamp doesn't charge to post content to the site and set up your own virtual artist profile page.
You can customize that profile to an impressive degree, and, most importantly, you'll be able to post tracks that people can stream on the site for free, and you can also offer a purchase option for anyone who really loves your work.
As with Amazon, the most convenient way to sell your music here is in digital form. You can sell digital albums or even a digital collection of all your recorded music. Just make sure that you have lossless audio files of your music to upload since Bandcamp likes to offer its users high-quality downloads.
Thankfully, Bandcamp also offers artists the chance to direct visitors to a storefront that sells physical merchandise. Again, you should probably only mess around with this option if you already have a bunch of merch to sell and feel comfortable getting orders shipped out quickly and efficiently.
We placed streaming services toward the end of the list specifically because it doesn't necessarily qualify as "selling" your music online.
The whole point of music streaming services is that users continue to pay a monthly fee to maintain continued access to a huge library of media. Users never actually "own" specific albums or songs.
However, there's no doubt that placing music on streaming services is just the norm nowadays, even for small-scale recording artists, and that's partially because having music available on streaming services isn't just about making money, it's also about marketing.
There's just no getting around this part: streaming services aren't going to pay you a lot of money for each stream. In fact, the actual payout for one stream of one song is extremely low. It's often a fraction of a fraction of a penny.
But when streams start stacking up across thousands of different users, that payout can become significant.
Also, users of music streaming services will be much more likely to give your music a listen if they don't need to pay extra for it. Compare this to an outright purchase of one of your albums, in which case only a dedicated fan is going to shell out for the music.
As for actually getting your music onto streaming services in the first place, this has been covered in many different articles online, like this one.
Basically, there are many services out there that will distribute your music to a large number of music streaming services in exchange for a relatively small fee. These services also act as the middleman in terms of getting paid out for any streams that you receive.
Best of all, let's say that you're happy to put your music on streaming services but you still want to be able to steer new and returning fans to your merch store or a dedicated website. No problem!
Spotify, in particular, makes it very easy to write up your own artist bio and add links to other storefronts and merch items.
If you're really savvy when it comes to marketing your music, you'll end up making music available on multiple platforms, for purchase or stream, and these different online outlets will feed into each other over time.