Once upon a time it was every up and coming artists dream to get their CD’s on the shelves of major retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart & Target along with all their local music shops. Well… times have changed and while getting distribution in major retailers is still an incredible feat there are now major digital stores such as iTunes who have made it easier than ever to sell your music worldwide. BUT before you release your music on iTunes and proudly plaster the link all over the digital world there are just a few very important details you need to take into consideration.
Paying To Handover Leads to iTunes?
If you’ve already worked your butt off to grow a substantial fanbase of awesome people who want to purchase your music and support you then why send them to iTunes who’s going to take 30% of all your sales? On top of that if your fan isn’t already a customer of iTunes you’re basically paying iTunes to take all of your fans information so that they can now advertise your competitor’s music to them! Not cool bro!
Loosing New Fans
Let’s look at it from a different scenario. Let’s say someone just found out about your music for the first time on YouTube or Soundcloud and they noticed that you placed a link in your description to purchase the song on iTunes because you want them to know you’re “legit”. Now they go and purchase your song from iTunes but guess what? iTunes keeps all of their information and doesn’t share it with you! Which means you can’t contact them thanking them for their support. You can’t add them to your mailing list heck you don’t even know who they are! Which makes it impossible for you to build a relationship with them unless they hunt you down. You win small short term by gaining a sale but you loose big long term by likely losing a fan.
Don’t Get It Twisted
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell your music on iTunes. In fact, I think the more major stores you have to carry your music the better. I think iTunes is very user-friendly except for you having to reenter your password all the time. It’s just not artist friendly. I’m just saying I wouldn’t send everyone directly to iTunes. Allow me to explain a little bit deeper.
A Better Method
So your project is done and you’ve used a digital distributor such as CD Baby or Tunecore to get your music on all the major online music stores such as iTunes. GREAT! But you should also consider releasing your music exclusively to your fans first through a platform such as Bandcamp. They only take 15% starting out and if you reach $15,000 in sales it drops to 10%. Not only that but you can sell other merch on Bandcamp such as T-shirts and hats.
You can also set whatever price you want for your music and even give your fans the option to pay whatever they want which has been proven to increase your sales revenue by 40%. Which means your fans are likely willing to give you more than $1.29 for a single.
And the best part is that Bandcamp gives you your customers e-mail address so you can add them to your mailing list if they are new fans! That’s how it should be! Other great alternatives that are similar to Bandcamp are Nimbit and Noisetrade.
But There’s A Problem!
While the method above is a great method for increasing your sales and growing your fan base it’s not a one size fits all. Mainly due because Apple users won’t be able to download music from Bandcamp and have it sync to their iTunes without having to do a lot of unnecessary work. And a key to making more sales is simply making your product easy to purchase for the consumer. But don’t worry I’ve got a solution that will allow you navigate through this rocky terrain.
Smart URL is exactly what it’s named. It allows you to create a “smart” URL that will respond specifically to the device the user is using. This will require a little extra work on your end to ensure the user experience for your fans and soon to be fans are as smooth as possible. I recommend creating two Smart URL’s. One for your fans who are already on your mailing list and one for the “outsiders” who are not yet on your mailing list. Here are some simple infographics to demonstrate how they both work.
Smart URL for FANS
Since these fans are already on your mailing list all you simply need to do is get them to where your music is. iTunes for Apple users and Bandcamp for everyone else. Again the beautiful thing about Smart URL is you can share one link that will send users to different places based on what type of device they’re using. So in this example, if the person clicking the link is an Apple user they will be sent directly to iTunes. If the user isn’t an Apple user they will be sent directly to your Bandcamp store. Pretty neat huh?
Smart URL for OUTSIDERS
This is an example of how you may want to structure your link to everyone who isn’t on your mailing list. This is the link that you want to post on social media sites such as YouTube, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace… I’m kidding about Myspace 🙂 The only difference in this link than the other link is that you’re getting the Apple users e-mail address by them signing up to your mailing list first and then you share your iTunes link with them in an automatic follow-up message. If you’re not hip to what autoresponders are, check out my article on AWeber. And and a big shout out to producer Aaron Gibbs for his feedback and recommendation of Smart URL
You’re an independent artist for a reason. You enjoy the creative control of making the music you love on your on terms. You also have the same freedom in regards to how you release your music. Your fans deserve special treatment and you deserve maximum percentages on your sales. Release your project several weeks early and make it exclusive to your fans first. Remember to create a Smart URL so you’re only sending your Apple users to iTunes and the rest to Bandcamp. You can always create another link specifically for selling merchandise on bandcamp and share it with everyone as well.
Once you’re ready to share your music with the rest of the world “the outsiders” make sure you’re using the SmartURL technique so you don’t lose any fans because on iTunes. And make it a habit to import any new e-mail addresses you’ve collected from Bandcamp into your mailing list before sending out future newsletters. This will ensure you’re not leaving anyone out and are building relationships with new fans!
How Did I Do?
Did you find this article helpful? Have a question? I’d love to hear from you so make sure you drop your 2 cents in the comments section below!
There’s only one issue with this method. For iPhone users, solutions like Bandcamp or other music sites outside of iTunes adds more work for the user.
You can’t download music to your phone and have it sync up to iTunes. Therefore, you’re limited to downloading from your computer.
I’d say do both Bandcamp and iTunes at the same time! Then, use one of those link creation sites (I use smarturl) to personalize a link, and set parameters to redirect the customer to the appropriate site depending on what phone they’re on.
What I’ve done before is to send iPhone users to iTunes, Android users to Google Play, and everyone else to Bandcamp, all using the same link.
I know you’d still want to retain emails from those iPhone users though. So one course of action for that would be to have them sign up for the mailing list before sending them the product link in a confirmation email. That’s a little more work on the artist’s end, but it’s better for the artist to do more work, than having their fans jump hurdles for a product.
Hey Aaron, thanks so much for reading and providing some really helpful feedback! You made some really good points! I’m going to update the article using some of your suggestions and I’ll make sure to give you credit. Is there a reason you prefer sending android users to google play instead of Bandcamp? Thanks again for showing love and support! I sincerely appreciate it! 🙂
What up big bro… I already have a tunecore and bamdcamp fam.. And right now I’m in progress of gettimg music uploaded to those distributors for more stability with my fanbase and as far as promotional value.
Hey Terry, Thanks for reading my article and I’m glad to hear that you are on top of your game! I just updated the article with some more very helpful information that I think you will enjoy. Thanks for reading and commenting! Keep up the hard work!
There are still potential listeners on MySpace.. the faithful remnant.
lol!!!! I know you read this article for sure! ha ha! Are you one of the faithful? I still have a profile on there I just can’t remember the last time I checked it lol Thanks for reading and commenting Mike! 🙂
Hah, yes, I am. Ironically, I’m not on Facebook (deactivated it four years ago).
WOW! Really? Good for you 🙂 I think Facebook is quickly declining. I just jump on there to respond back to people who’ve contacted me. The timeline is always filled with shenanigans lol is Myspace mainly focused on music or is there still a lot of engagement between people?
It’s a time-killer for me, so I had to restrain myself. I’m still not on MySpace a lot, but I do update it and it seems some artists still have up-to-date profiles. It shows a timeline as well, so you can see how recently an artist was on there.
Wow that’s crazy! It would be funny if everyone starts leaving facebook and jumping back on Myspace 🙂 Everyone would be fighting again about who’s on who’s top 8 and in what order lol!
Hah, well, they did away with that.
lol That’s what’s up! 🙂
lol probably for the better 🙂
Read the article Cole. Great insight!
Hey Calvin, thanks for reading and commenting! I’m glad you enjoyed this article! 🙂
Wow Cole..Sincerely I don’t know you in person, but you have given me more that I never knew existed. I am new in the music totally blank. I developed the passion for music while in high school and since then I wanted to make music buh schooling took it all. Now have all time to do it. Your big Fun.
Hey Ali, Thanks so much for your kind words! I’m really glad to hear that you are enjoying my content and finding it to be helpful! That’s what it’s all about!! Keep up the hard work and I’m wishing you the best in all that you do! If you ever need anything or have any questions let me know 🙂
check out Wix.com & let me know what you think. I have not personally made a wix website but the reviews I’ve read are good.
Also check out their music app in this video ( Selling Music in Wix – Wix Music App )
Thank you for posting the how to rap videos. Your simple & clear instruction / explanation for song structure & lyrics has completely changed my perspective on music as a whole. I have a new sense of inspiration. For real. Thank you.
Hey KaterPillar, Yeah I’ve been aware of Wix or quite sometime and know of several artists you use it. From what I hear it’s very user friendly and easy to build on and I think it’s awesome that they’re doing so much integration for indie artists on their builder with the apps. Give them a shot, I don’t think you will be disappointing. And thanks so much for all of your positive feedback! I’m really glad that you have been enjoying my content and finding it to be helpful! That’s what it’s all about! Thank you as well for all the love and support! I sincerely appreciate it!! 🙂
Hey guys! I build my artist page with wix.com, than I linked it to my domain. Thank you Cole for this great article. I just finished up mixing and mastering my new single and was about to upload it on iTunes, when I noticed that big artist like Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift use smartURL to share their music with their fans. I was intrigued why they won’t use iTunes links directly and I started googling about smartURL and ended up reading this article. So insightful and helpful! Thank you so much!
Hey Koryna! I’m so glad to hear that my article was timely for you. Kudos to you for picking up on this technique before potentially loosing connection with many of your new fans. And congrats on the completion of your new single! I’m wishing you much success with it! Thanks for taking the time to provide me with positive feedback on my article and am wishing you the best on all your musical endeavors!
Big artists like Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift and the likes use smartURL to share their music with their fan. Great article! Thank you!!!
My pleasure Koryna! I’m glad to hear that you found my article helpful and thanks so much for your wonderful feedback! 🙂
I have an artist that wants to give away their new single. How can I allow apple users to automatically add it to their iTunes account?
Hey Paul, I’m not sure how that would work with Apple as i’m not an iTunes user myself. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. – Cole Mize
I always find your articles helpful…thanks a lot man
Thanks so much for your positive feedback Succy! I’m really glad to hear that you’re enjoying my articles! Much respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize
This is Golden info on the marketing side of music. Thanks North Pole Cole & Mr. Gibbs
lol! My pleasure Joseph! So glad to see you are digging in and learning so much! 🙂 – Cole Mize