Every musician’s dream is to sell his music and make a living of it.
In this article, we’re going to explain different ways to make this happen, so you can design a road map for yourself and choose the path that best suits your talent and your circumstances.
We’re assuming that you are a musician or very passionate about music and you want to find a way to make this your professional career.
First of all, we’re going to differentiate between the two business models in this industry:
- Selling music to final consumers (B2C)
- Selling music and sound effects for companies and freelancers (B2B)
The first one, selling music for the final consumer, refers to all the music that usually we hear on the radio, television, iTunes, Spotify and Youtube. Your favorite artists and songs are included here and, many times, we believe that there is only this field within the music industry, because this is what we had always.
Justin Bieber, Avicii, Coldplay and Radiohead… all groups of music you’ve heard, both large and small are included in here.
The second point is different. We find here all royalty-free music and sound effects that are commonly used by marketing agencies, advertising, and audiovisual projects. No one expects here to make incredible songs, sell CD’s or play on concerts… this music is often used for example as a background music for commercials, corporate videos, video games, radio or even movies. The vast majority of these songs have no lyrics!
We find here for example freelancers and companies like Sound Ideas, Pink Zebra, Incompetech or ourselves, Snail Music.
Finding your spot in the music industry
Knowing now two ways to make a living selling music over the Internet, we will analyze both in detail, bearing in mind that none of the two variants of this industry is simple. In both, you have to take the project as if it were a real business!
Your music is clearly for people
Maybe you have a band and the dream of becoming famous one day, or you’ve always done music with deep lyrics or a specific type of genre. Who knows. The fact is that your music is not created for advertising projects or companies but for people from the street.
In this scenario, if we want to sell our music online we will compete with a huge number of musicians from around the world, not only in the musical aspect but in the promotion (marketing) and distribution as well.
While the musical aspect depends entirely on the quality of your songs, both in its composition and recording, promotion and distribution are a big part of the business and they have to be taken very seriously.
How do we sell our music through the Internet?
There are several ways to do this:
- Through specialized digital distribution platforms.
- By distributing the music on your own.
The difference between the two of them is that through digital distribution platforms you can forget everything around the world of music but that is not music: mastering, upload songs to major distributors such as Spotify, iTunes or Amazon, graphic design, website and social networks, merchandising, video marketing, etc.
They handle everything! Of course, in exchange, they have rates that are more or less acceptable according to the distributor. To find out what are the most important, the prices they handle and their pros and cons, we recommend reading this in-depth article from Digital Music News.
By distributing on your own, you take care of everything and there are no other people that take your money. Or at least not much, since there will always be payment gateways that keep small commissions.
One way is, for example, to create your own website and sell music through there, but there are other options like selling your songs through Soundcloud (with the extension DIY Music) or specialist sites like Bandcamp and Vibedeck.
Another strategy might be to not sell our music directly, but to create a Youtube channel where we upload covers of famous songs and make money through there … the options are endless.
Your music can be sold to businesses
Maybe you don’t mind being one of the most famous musicians in the but you will be very happy getting a monthly bonus or make a living with your passion, music, without all the mess that means starting to fight with all the other bands and composers for a small slice of the pie.
Then royalty-free music and sound effects can be your spot. And in this case, although it is also possible to sell through our own website, the best strategy will always be to sell through the already-popular marketplaces. Although losing a percentage of our sales, they give us access to all our potential customers.
Websites like AudioJungle, Pond5, RevoStock or Jamendo offer us incredible easiness when it comes to selling and if you are interested in this path, we recommend you to read this other article: royalty free music for commercial use.
Keep in mind that, depending on the time you devote to it, it may take many months or even years until you earn enough money to be able to pursue it full time. Therefore, it is best to keep an order and take it as if it was a real business: your product is the songs (or sound effects) and then there’s everything else around them: strategy, marketing, accounting … for which you will need some partner who is familiar with this aspect of the business.
It’s important not to close our doors to this path, you can always start doing one thing and move to the other later on. Make a living with your music is not an easy road, but it is doable with enough time and effort.