Musicians are creative people. To be successful, though, they need to learn how to apply that creativity to the business side of their music. Blogs, forums, and podcasts can be a wealth of information and inspiration for those not inclined to understanding royalties, copyright law, or marketing strategies.
One creative business strategy available to musicians is affiliate marketing. Below, we’ll explain how it works and whether or not it’s a good idea for you.
Where to Sell Your Music
Companies such as iTunes and Amazon are big businesses, and their business is to sell product (like music). As large companies, they have the ability to reach large audiences. These large audiences might not know who you are, might not know your products are available, might not trust your small website, and might not care to visit dozens of independent musicians’ various websites to buy music… but making your product available on the larger site could remove some of those hurdles. In fact, the large companies are counting on it.
Your business is selling your music. You could sell your music on your own website, but the large audiences of the big businesses make it awfully tempting to sell your music on their sites instead. To tempt you further, the big businesses might offer an affiliate marketing program.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
Here’s how it works: instead of selling the music directly on your own website, you can link from your site to your music for sale on the large companies’ sites. When your fans click the link and buy the product on the large companies’ websites, the companies track that incoming link and give you a percentage of the sale on top of the income you’re already making from it being your music. The more people you refer to them for sales, the more money you make on your music… or so the large companies argue.
While it sounds like a great concept, a closer look suggests otherwise. The traffic you’re sending to the large company was already on your site or profile; they could have bought from you directly. By selling through a third party, you won’t make as much off of each sale as if you sold the music yourself. If you’re able to sell your music yourself and already have the fans on your site where your profit margin is higher, wouldn’t you want to capitalize on that opportunity? We’re not saying you should ignore the third party options altogether, but we are saying you should not send your fans there. (Read this for more.)
If, for some strange reason, you aren’t able to sell music on your site and you absolutely have to use a third party store, affiliate marketing can help boost your income (albeit minimally).
Where Can I Find Out More?
Making money as a musician is tough; but with the right tools and knowledge of how to use them to your advantage, there are a lot of things you can do to make a little bit of extra money. It may start out as pennies, but as Ben Franklin said, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” He may not have been in music marketing, but he was a smart guy, right?
Have you joined an affiliate marketing program? How did it work for you? Was it in addition to selling the music yourself, or did you only sell through the retailer?