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Making Money with Music

Lesson 7 of 35

Selling Through Digital Distributors

Randy Chertkow, Jason Feehan

Making Money with Music

Randy Chertkow, Jason Feehan

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Lesson Info

7. Selling Through Digital Distributors

Lesson Info

Selling Through Digital Distributors

We've talked about a little bit about networking getting started we've talked about how to prepare your music to get it out there it's time to get it out there it's time to get to the heart of the question this is a question we get more often than you would think how do I get my music upon items? Not every musician actually knows how to do that but over the ones that dio there's actually a lot of gotcha is and there's a lot of things that you can do from a marketing standpoint in putting this together to make it work as well as you can get the most amount of income from it there's also a lot of other ways to make money with music in this zone we're going to be talking about royalties license saying a bunch of other topics but for now I want to start with digital distribution so here's the thing itunes they don't want to deal with us filthy musicians they don't want anything to do with us that having a nightmare of having to try and collect all the royalties from everything and handling...

each one and handling the calls from them when there's a question is not where they want to be there a business to business set up so what that means is you need to work with a middleman that will actually get you on to all of these different places and that's where this comes in they're called digital aggregators the names not too important what is important is this that they have to revenue models that they pay out this is now they may come up with a new one in the future but these were the ones we've seen so far I want you to keep an eye out for it because considering how this music business goes someone might come up with something new in the future but I want to remind you is something that we talked about right at the beginning the very first course we have three concepts the customer that's what drives the sales or where your marketing is going to be targeted the middleman which is actually the one that collects the money and pays you and you know the you part is just what tax idea you're putting in it has to do with your internal business the customer we're going to be talking about that tomorrow so we're going to leave that for tomorrow and actually a little bit even on day three but the middle man is the one that we're dealing with now and this is where you need to understand these two revenue models subscription model you pay an initiation fee you get you pay a subscription fee every year and then you keep all the revenue from digital distributors and by digital distributors I'm talking about itunes of the world I'm talking about the amazons of the world so whatever they pay after taking their cut you get all of it the other models of percentage model where you pay an initiation fee but you don't have to pay a subscription every year right? But then they take a percentage of every single transaction it can be up to fifteen percent nine to fifteen percent usually is is what I've seen to date so probably the next question that's going on in your head is which one is best for me now there's ups and downs for each of them but the key thing is that most aggregators on ly offer one revenue model so you have to choose the right one there is an exception route note and route note not only has the advantage of being free to join so you can get your music up on itunes for free using this service but once you condone it they'll take the larger cut percentage cut out of every sale but then you could turn around and pay on that subscription and then you get to keep all the money that comes out of itunes and all the rest so what you can do with this which is kind of clever is you can start out with zero money upfront get your music out there let it build up enough revenue to pay for the subscription and then you're still doing it entirely based on uh, money that you've made from your music nothing out of pocket that said out of the two models generally the way that you choose the right one to do out of these two is if you have enough sales if you have a fair amount of sales every year the more sales you have, the more it makes sense to do the subscription model now tune core is a good representative example of this cd babies a good representative example of this one these aren't the only ones there's quite a few services they seem to be popping up all the time. There's there's plenty of them lots of options for it. We're just giving you a general representative example and we're telling you to look out for these revenue models and decide which one will work for you that said aggregators can actually get you into more stores than just itunes it actually gets into spotify gets you into cardio and then she exam which is an interesting thing if you guys heard of sha zam right? What you may not know about suzanne is that I think it's upto one of fourteen itunes sales comes out of that application one of fourteen now think of how many sales that itunes has going on this is a big deal you really want to be in this the way that you get into them is to participate in a digital aggregator does that make sense? All right, that's why? This is one of the key earlier steps we talked about prepping the music but now they're right music's ready to go? We stopped just short of ok, now I'm gonna have him for sale now we're gonna put it out there for sale you need to choose your digital aggregator now the key is the more places that you're in the subscription aggregators usually charge mohr to get you in a more stores whereas the ones that take a percentage have every incentive to get your music out far and wide and so you pay like cd, baby one fee and you're gil everywhere you get in far more so it's also a question of how you do your marketing and where you think your fans are. A lot of people will focus on item use and the main ones that's fair and that may work for you, in which case the subscription model might be okay. Or maybe you know, if you're quite a popular artist it's not that much more to pay for the extra just evaluated based on what actual income you expect to get, start small and widen it later. Let the world tell you basically how to do it makes sense, right? Okay, so few gotchas though first of all you need to declare explicit content so that they can know what they're selling number two and this is something that not too many people seem to be aware of lately is that itunes and it's been a few years now disallows ur ls in the album art they're not going to let your album art basically advertise for some other website that they don't control that's the way they think about it, it even does the same things on itunes itself like it will look for something that looks like a u r l and may not display it. So what does that mean? Well when you make your album art, you need to make sure that your album art doesn't have you are always in it you also need to sign a release to clear all of your rights that's complicated and not just for the music but also for the art you did not want your music taken down after you have it up already and you've done all that work just because you didn't clear things right this is another thing that we get questions about all the time it's a legal matter it's very complicated and it's definitely something that we cover in the indie band survival guide in more detail if you want to know how to do it your safest bet of course is to just use your own art use your own music using cover songs is distinct using samples is distinct again like all these things can affect it okay so that's one set of things that's just digital distributors next we're going to talk about direct to fan platforms now the key with this one is there's one less middleman think of itunes fan itunes digital dissed egil aggregator you you have to in between this one shrinks it down to just one middleman less cuts getting taken out more profits right so you've got places like band camp and reverb nation nimba even see the baby sells direct as well you can send people to that you get the most percentage out of the whole thing each one of them offers different pricing each one of them has different options you have to evaluate this yourself and this is why it's worth to spend at least a weekend researching it deciding which one's good for you it's actually pretty important there's also extra options on some of these platforms the sword is particularly clever but something that can give you some really good ideas it's called music for good it's with reverb nation they boost the price of tow one forty nine attract instead of ninety nine cents but then after they take a little transaction fee and then half of the money goes to charity what does this mean? Well I mean it might make your fans a little more likely to actually buy the track if they know that it's going to be benefiting their favorite charity they give you a list of their charity list it's not like you can do anybody, it has to be one that they deal with. But it's quite a large list of charities as an option you might not be aware of. The nice thing about this is from a marketing standpoint, those charities actually helped boost your name is how it works, because otherwise, if they've never heard of you is an artist, it may be more likely to buy your songs because they like the charity, right that's how that kind of thing works? There are some directive fan gotsche is here we go again consumers on the internet or let less likely to use payment systems, but they've never used before. Basically, if you're asking them to enter their credit card, if you're asking them to enter their address, their name and all that stuff and they don't know who it is, they're nervous about entering that stuff in a new store. So what it means is, unfortunately, like the largest stores they win because they've already got the relationship. We talked about this a little bit in the last session, they already have your credit card, you just click buy and you might type in your password, and you're done the entire sales complete, so what we suggest? Is that you still want to be an itunes even if these other stores give you a higher margin so we've seen some musicians say hey, buy it from here like buy from band camp or buy it for reverb nation and that's great because they get a few more sense but you might lose the entire sale if you send somebody there and don't give them the option to buy a night is our recommendation is to flip that script around and instead of doing it you start with itunes because it's the most likely piece people are going to buy it there's another concept that we're going to talk about a little bit in the marketing classes, which is the easiest way to market is to actually be easy to do business with I know that seems like counterintuitive, but people if you think about it it's the reason why convenience stores can charge more money for what they d'oh because they're easy there there you get the few items you need you walk out if you could be easy to do business with, then you could make it work and that means that you're bilingual should be right next to the music and it just should they buy you don't bury the lead you don't put it three pages down you don't have tons of text that explains why it's so cool because reading the text isn't what sells it it's buying it it's just give him a sample on just by the sleeper thing anyway considering that's the case here's some direct download sales solutions shopify squarespace lodging, upload music just take payments handle the digital download zone that's probably about the best cut that you'll ever get but of course if you do that then you're in a position where it's another credit card thing you also have to deal with the store like when the storm breaks they're going to give you a call they're not going to give items to call because they didn't get the song that's the thing to remember with this kind of thing open source music solutions if you're like a lucky guy like me you know cash music is cool because they have an ally mud store, digital downloads, digital download cards, all kinds of stuff all tied to it based on their platform and there's word press if you have a wordpress based site, you can just throw in a plug in and start handling digital download sales probably plugging in something like paypal to handle the payments all of these air options for what you're trying to sell with your music we're going to talk about marketing now, but I wanted to stop and pause just briefly this point because this has a lot to do with like how you're selling your music and just wanted to see if you had any questions well we have one radio yeah are there too many ways like if you just put too many options out there cannot confuse your fans that is an excellent question there are too many ways and one of the things that there's a number of books on this topic in the business zone one of them is called the paradox of choice another one that like I said the secrets of word of mouth marketing I can't think of the author's name at the moment but they talk about the fact that the more choices you give the less likely it is that your personal do it you actually will usually do better providing them less options I'm providing you with a number of options here were actually sharing this because we've done the research and we wanted to give you a number of different ways to do it want us to do through the digital distributors others the one middleman method then there's the no middleman method where the payment process or maybe it's taking a cut for just handling the payment but then you're handling the rest these air all possibility he's absolutely agree with you provide them with not just less but just make it he's just by the song on items here sometimes they have a couple icons people don't get too confused with itunes google play amazon we've seen some musicians uh pushed the itunes make it very easy you could buy this song itunes but then underneath that say, if you want to support me, I can actually get a bigger cut if you go through band camp or through one of those things just so that that option is there, um, for the musician fan to actually have that choice on, and they found that their fans who actually want to support will actually go through the hoops where they might actually already have an account at band camp or one of those other stores. So that's another thing that you can do, you have that by for itunes, but then, hey, you can also do this it's a very good question, and generally when it comes to marketing and we're going to talk about marketing the next day or so it's about limiting choices and making it simple for people generally your messages, I'll just give a hint, is what's coming? You're marketing messages should try and get them to take one action and should always be focused on getting him to take an action and should be a simple is possible the time there spend reading your messages is time they could be doing the thing you want him to d'oh, and so everyone makes the mistake. I'll explain every reason why you should ever by my music, and by the time they get to page three I mean they're not buying you I mean so you don't want to be there speaking of marketing your music let's talk about marketing within the store itself bharti been going into this a little bit more text isn't better what really helps is that they want objective proof that your music's any good if they've never heard of you before, you know they might have heard of you and that's cool if they do, they're more likely to do it that even nature are just have to constantly remind people here's who I am and everything else lt's what is objective, quote? One of the objective proof is, quote it's quote from our viewers from any awards that you've done any high profile places played on npr that's what we do for a shamrock album it's like this one was played on npr well, interest hopefully by that point you hear that you're like, oh, well, then maybe I'll at least check it out and then from there they do the song sample and next to the song samples should be a little bi but that's how this chain works. So this is why that first review or that something that stands out that provides objective proof that it's ah good piece of music that other people like is key it's critical to it? If you don't have that to start, we're going to be talking about how to get your first reviews on day three at some point we will be talking about pr and some of that kind of stuff, but among the options you have you can actually pay to get your first review now, while that may sound dishonest, there are some places that will you pay them on lee to do a review, not the results of the review, so it gets you started in order to get more reviews from there. That's one way to do it another way is to use mp three blog's, and we're gonna talk about that next session. I want to leave that aside for the moment, the other thing you could dio is to mention famous bands that sound like you're so that your music comes up on searches for their music, right? So like the number one thing people are going to search on when they go to these music stores it's probably unless they know who you are, you're doing really well and that's great that's fantastic! The questions that we normally get is well, how do I even get noticed? They've done the marketing everyone's heard of that band they might not have heard of you while use that band you should sound similar I mean, don't put in some written van you don't sound like, but you should try and match it up and then once you're in the store if you sell your stuff yourself well definitely offer samples I mean people always want to try before they buy when it comes to me is they're like you just don't want to be by this song it sounds really good right? Probably not going to work too well the other is you link to your site and from your site you want that whole tie into the rest of your social presence is so that you can just establish yourself is a more complete entity and then there's the thing I mentioned before the break the number one weighing to kick start your sales this might surprise you a bit or maybe not we'll see digital music stores if you think about how customers actually use it are driven by searches right that's how it works I mean they may have a front page with a handful of stuff but most of the activity is in that little search bar in the corner so how do you come up in searches if they haven't heard of you yet and it's very simple you make a cover song the cover song will come up when they search on look up the famous cover if they like your music then I'll actually check out the rest of your stuff and they've actually already shown through the statistics that they get out of it that the albums with cover songs sell a lot better than the ones without any and furthermore, the ones with cover songs also you tend the people tend to buy whole albums not just single tracks so it's actually a really good enticement and so the best marketing you khun d'oh it's not exactly marketing is it it's back in the studio back when you're making your album you put a cover song on your album and yes, you have to clear the rights which is not something we mentioned this we didn't talk about how to clear rights if you're interested we have time at the end would be happy to talk about it but I just want to press forward with what we're talking about right now but does that make sense now you're thinking more like a fan now you're thinking how do I get in front of my audience in a way that will actually make it so they'll interact with my music that's how you do it so there's where we live in a very interesting time now when it comes to music because the music has been freed from the physical objects that it used to be on right always like the star wars quote luminous beings are we not this crude matter that's all it is right it's this luminous state does like that call I do like that many times and then that said if I have music and I want to sell it to jason and we're in person because I'm in a show how can I hand him digital bits? I mean, luminous stuff. It's, just like doesn't work unless there's this like, force thing that I haven't mastered yet. But how do you make this happen, right? And you still need to basically be able that actually hand people music and have them pay. You were going to cover that here.

Class Description

In today’s tech-driven world, it’s easier than ever to record, distribute, and market your own music, but what about actually making money? During this course, longtime industry professionals and best-selling authors Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan take you step-by-step through their proven techniques for establishing steady revenue streams in the music business.

Drawing on their combined experience of over 32 years in the industry, Jason and Randy will teach you how to rise above the rest, landing your music on all the popular radio stations, selling your albums in stores, making the most of digital distribution, and licensing your music for commercials and movie and TV soundtracks. You will learn how to maximize the money you make from your music and minimize the money you spend promoting it.

Jason and Randy also outline how to set up the right support team through networking, giving back to your fans, and identifying the right collaboration opportunities. By the end you’ll have an extensive playbook for making money from your music and scaling your business.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Links and Resources.pdf

Day 1 Keynote.pdf

Day 2 Keynote.pdf

Day 3 Keynote.pdf

bonus material with enrollment

Chapter 1 of The Indie Band Survival Guide 2nd Edition.pdf

First Ones Free.pdf

Master Class-Be Heard.pdf

Master Class-Starting A Music Business for $0.pdf

Mixing Your Music For Licensing.pdf

Monetizing YouTube.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Charles Galvin

As robust a blueprint as you're likely to get anywhere. Applicable to every genre and with the growing importance of authenticity to fans, this is the way you start, maintain and grow your music business free of corporate intervention. Great job guys!


Absolutely fantastic course from start to finish. I thought i knew most of the tools, methods and ideas of the modern musician - but i was wrong. This course filled me with food-for-thought and instantly inspired me to do more and try harder. Well worth it. Thanks guys!

Tony Gonzo

One of the best classes I have ever taken as far as how to make money in music. I highly recommend this for anyone who works in the music field as an artist - manager or independent label.