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!