Category: Selling Music

Can Affiliate Marketing Help Musicians Make More Money?

Can Affiliate Marketing Help Musicians Make More Money

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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?

Retailers like Amazon and iTunes offer affiliate programs with varying profits for the seller.

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?

See also: Finding Music Distributors, Make Money Selling  Your Music

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Five Websites for Selling Music

Five Websites for Selling Your Music Online

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

For better or worse, the music industry is not what it once was. For example, with the internet securely in their toolbox, independent artists no longer need to rely on major labels to get their music out to fans. If you’re in that position and are hoping to get your music up on retail sites, here are a few online music distribution channels:


Unlike the below distributors, who connect artists to retailers, Bandcamp allows artists to become their own retailer. With a free account, Bandcamp users set up pre-orders, sell merch, and sell music in physical and digital format. Artists do pay 15 percent of music sales as royalties, although this drops to 10 percent once revenue exceeds $5000. On merchandise sales, artists only pay 10 percent as royalties. The site boasts expert mobile and search engine optimization. Bandcamp sends sales reports to Nielsen SoundScan, the company behind Billboard’s charts.


MondoTunes claims over 750 retailers as partners. By choosing a basic sign-up package, artists pay one-time fees of $7.99 per single, $24.99 per EP, or $37.99 per album. Other services vary in price and include marketing, registering a label, mastering, etc. After partners deduct their respective shares, MondoTunes forwards the remaining royalties, approximately 63 percent of sales, to the artist.

CD Baby

With CD Baby’s Basic Album Signup, users pay $49.00 per album or $12.95 per single. The package includes physical distribution (vinyl or CD). There are a la carte options users can choose, with a separate charge for each. With CD Baby Pro, users can take advantage of ASCAP and BMI affiliation. There’s also a service that enables users to license their music through various channels.


Artists can gain exposure through Spotify, Google Play, and others. The service charges a one-time annual fee for a single, album, or ringtone, and the musician keeps 100 percent of all revenue. TuneCore also provides cover art, if needed.


Users sell on a variety of digital platforms including iTunes, Google Play, and Rhapsody. SongCast offers Facebook and Twitter linking, access to iTunes trending reports, and an opportunity to promote through SongCast Radio, a Facebook app. The cost for listing music through SongCast is $5.99 per month, with $9.99 per single and $19.99 per album. Artists retain 100 percent of all royalties on digital sales, and 35 percent on CD sales through Amazon Disc-On-Demand.

Music distribution, especially with the ease of online distribution, affords the independent artist a way to provide their music to listeners. That is, after all, what a musician dreams about—being heard.

Have you used any of the above sites for music distribution? How did the experience work out for you? If there’s another site that you’ve used and would recommend, tell us about it.

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Finding Music Distributors

Finding Music Distributors

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

As a creative type, you might not have an innate aptitude for business. If you want to make it as a successful musician, though, you’ll need to be on top of the entire process, including business details.

One important business element that you should consider is music distribution. Do you know what do music distributors do? Or how you find one? Or what type of distribution best suits your sound? If not, read on:

Are You Ready?

If you are just starting to build a fan base and get your name out there, you might not be ready for a distributor. However, if you have an existing fan base and rising demand for your music and are wanting to branch out to an even wider audience, it’s time to consider music distribution.

Finding The Right Music Distributor

The job of a music distributor is to distribute your music (obviously). This can be as relatively basic as listing you online or getting you in a store, or it can be full service and include helping you with marketing, rights, and much more. If you’re wanting to get signed by a record label, a good distributor may be able to get your music in front of the right executives.

Think about where you want to be and what you need help with, and find a distributor with a proven track record in those areas. Ask bands a step ahead of you which distributors they’ve heard of, both good and bad things. Be sure that the distributor you select has your back and is worth any and every fee they will charge.

Music Distribution Options

The music business is at an interesting juncture, offering physical and digital distribution options. Many consumers still only purchase physical music (primarily CDs, though many bands still put out LPs), but digital music is very popular and still rising. Your best bet may be to pursue distribution for both options.

When you’re trying to find a music distribution channel, you may want to find one distributor who can do both ends for you. Distributors like The Orchard and Redeye are experienced in both physical and digital options. If you are looking for just digital music distribution, you might want to go with distributors like Ditto Music or Create Space.

Have you used a music distributor? Which one did you choose, and why did you choose that particular one? Did you focus on physical distribution, digital distribution, or both?

See also: Increase Your Exposure: Streaming Music, Make Money Selling Your Music

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