12 Days of Monetization: 4 Alternative Avenues to Monetize Your Music – Michael Shoup [DAY 10]

Music. It’s that undeniable emotionally charged energy that’s been around for thousands of years.  It’s sent us roaring into battle.  It’s comforted us when we felt the world was closing in on itself.  It’s led us down that road we never thought we’d have the courage to follow.

But what is it worth?

$15.99 per compact disc?  $0.99 per single download?  Everything? Nothing?

It’s a question that consumers and copyright owners may never agree upon again, but that beautiful inequality also allows us as artists to reinvent how our music can reach people.

My name’s Michael.  I’m a Songwriter and an Entrepreneur, and I want to show you 4 out of the box avenues I use to add value and monetize my music.


1. House Concerts

You may have a friend who’s been to one. You may have been to one or performed at one yourself.  If none of these are true, you need to click here and change that.  House Concerts are one of the fastest growing ways to hear new music, and they’ve been around for longer than you may think.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  You could just listen to my friend Fran Snyder, Founder of ConcertsInYourHome.com.

I’ve been a member of Concerts In Your Home for the last two years, and it’s changed the way I tour forever.  If you’re like me, you wish you could control the quality of experience you bring to your fans and are tired of dirty venues, hiked up production fees, or pay to play schemes, then look no further.  The intimate experiences at House Concerts have made my most dedicated fans and sold more merchandise than any traditional show I’ve ever played.


2. Office Concerts

Maybe houses aren’t your thing. I get that. But your neighbors down the street aren’t the only folks on the block who understand the power of music.  Small businesses are starting to understand how music moves and motivates their workforce… and they want you as a partner.

Yep, even Google:

These shows are all about developing an authentic relationship between their brand and your message, and though they may take more work to setup than a house show, the value of your service is rarely in question which leaves you very nicely compensated.


3. Become an Expert

You’ve spent countless hours perfecting your craft, making your music indistinguishable from magic… so why would you ever want to break the illusion?  What if you could be both Master and Teacher? Both Bruce Lee and Mr. Miyagi?  We often forget as artists that education and entertainment can be one and the same.  If you’ve never thought about teaching in your life, keep listening, it gets interesting.

Though I have no formal training in education, I’ve spent the last year educating through my music at colleges from Nebraska to New York City.  How? I’ve been giving Master Classes on Songwriting, Entrepreneurship, and surviving the Music Business, all while getting to play my music for the same students I’m speaking with.  And I’m certainly not the only one.  Meet my friend Danny Young, a fantastic musician and drummer for the musical “We Will Rock You.”  While on the road, Danny stops by at local universities to give a drumming and music business master class called “Beyond The Gig.”  I’ve seen his class firsthand and it’s hands down the most honest and entertaining looks at the life of a touring musician I’ve ever seen.  Oh, and it makes him money too.

Not convinced yet?  What if it was good enough for this guy:


Garth Brooks

Yep, that’s Garth Brooks, who for the last few years has been playing a solo acoustic show in Las Vegas that, boiled down, is some pretty fantastic educational theater about his journey through music.  While the monetary details of his show have never been revealed, you can bet it was more than some drink tickets and a tip jar.  Watch it here and you’ll understand how great of an outlet this can be.


4. Non-TV Syncs and Licenses

By now, if you haven’t heard about the potential of licensing as an income source, you’ve probably had your earplugs in for years.  The problem, moreover, is that everyone has heard about it, and there are only so many WB TV shows that might possibly want to play your music.

On the flip-side, there are a large number of other industries that have recently become interested in licensing music to help their cause.  My personal experience with these comes in the form of Real Estate.

Go with me for a minute.  What separates, say, a $500k home from a $5 million home?  They’re both probably big and have bedrooms and bathrooms.  But what makes the other so valuable?  The ambience.  The vibe.  The FEELING you get when you’re there.  And a number of agencies have started paying quite well to capture that feeling with film and music to help sell these homes.  To date, I’ve had 4 different songs synced to these videos, with a few licensed multiple times… and my story here is far from unique.  Give it a try.


The list could go on and on here, but the main take away should be to find what is authentic and unique to your music and let that inspire your creative process of how to monetize it. The sky is the limit, and you set the rules.


Michael ShoupMichael Shoup is an oddity in the music world. Based in Nashville, TN, he manages to tour extensively as a Solo Recording Artist while serving as the Founder and CEO of his internationally recognized Creative & Web Development Agency, 12South Music. His music credits include performances at SXSW, the CMJ Music Marathon, touring with The Stone Temple Pilots, and working for artists from Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift to Kelly Clarkson.


12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money in 2014. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.


12 Days of Monetization: Connecting with Fans Through Contests – Corie Kellman [DAY 9]

CorieKellman-756x513This article was contributed by Corie Kellman (@Coralman808), Director of New Artist Relations for Cyber PR®.

When all the numbers and the platform choices start to overwhelm you, take a step back and ask yourself – “If I was a fan, what would I want to see on my page?”

In the grand scheme of things, your pages are not about having the most views, the most likes or even the largest number of email subscribers – it’s about connecting with the ones that care enough about you to do something (Think: recommend your music to a friend… show up to a show… spend time at the merch table… buy something). When the platforms have evolved, changed their rules, or disappeared, those types of fans remain loyal and seek you out. These are the types of fans that are willing to pay for things that the fair-weather fans may not. Establishing good relationships with your fans is an essential step to monetizing your art.

One of my favorite ways artists are connecting with their audience are contests. Contests are great for three important reasons:

1. Contests engage the fans and bring them together – they ask them to participate in your community and bring your fans together in friendly competition.
2. Contests give you new, fan-generated content to feed your page and share.
3. Contests give you a chance to give back – fans are a big reason why you are where you are at right now, and will continue to be a driving force in your career.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few contests (some even I have participated in) to get your brain juices flowing:



Paramore asked their fans to submit a video of their best karaoke attempt to their recent single “Still Into You” – once all submissions were in, they picked their top six and asked their fans to vote to determine the winner. The lucky Paraoke Queen (or king) was up to grab the bicycle from the music video, two tickets to a show, and a merch pack.

We See You – You See Us

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 8.32.30 AM

Third Eye Blind used instagram to run a contest, which they cross posted to their Facebook page for 20 fans to win a chance to attend a private practice at the rehearsal studio. All the fans had to do was upload their photo entries to Instagram and hashtag their entry #3EBontheroad– winners were chosen daily the entire week – encouraging fans to keep their eyes on the page all week.

Fans Just Wanna Have Fun…. With Fun.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 8.32.40 AM

A local radio station called out to all Fun. fans, asking them to create the funniest or most outrageous video singing their favorite Fun. song for the chance to win first, second, or third row seats to their show at the Ryman auditorium.

Design a Poster for ZZ Ward

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 8.32.50 AM

Creative Allies administers amazing fan contests that peak interest of your fellow creatives. ZZ Ward is one of my favorites, but take a peek at their site – they have all kinds of great contests running. For ZZ Ward’s contests, fans are asked to design and submit a poster inspired by her music video “365 Days” to win $500 and a ZZ Ward Prize pack. Her community to vote on designs and share them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – I voted for my favorite and shared on Twitter.

12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money in 2014. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.

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12 Days of Monetization: What Will it Really Take to Make Money from Music? – John Oszajca [DAY 8]

John O CartoonThis article was contributed by John Oszajca (@JohnOszajca), a singer/ songwriter who has released albums for Interscope and Warner Brothers Records and is the founder of Music Marketing Manifesto.

We’ve all heard a lot of talk about the “1000 fan” model. The concept being, that an independent artist only really needs 1000 true fans in order to make a living from their music. But one only needs to run a few quick numbers before you start scratching your head, wondering just how that’s going to work. Because with the average album selling for about $10 a pop, one thousand sales is a mere ten grand. Hardly enough to call an income.

So how exactly does one make a living from 1000 true fans?

Well, if you are only selling albums then the reality is that it’s going to be tough. The reason being that music is one of those products that is priced so low that it’s difficult to afford using traditional advertising to grow your fan base. And chasing radio is nearly always a huge waste of money unless you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a large scale branding campaign. And so independent musicians are left with touring, as the only viable strategy we have for getting our music in front of new people and selling albums. But unfortunately, touring is expensive and difficult to sustain for more than a few months of the year.

Fortunately, there is a way to make that utopian 1000-true-fan-model actually work, using direct to fan marketing. Direct to fan (aka direct response marketing) differs from traditional marketing in that instead of simply seeking “exposure”, we use proven selling techniques to build an email list of subscribers, build a relationship with those fans, and then use various sales triggers to knock people off of the fence and convince a consistent percentage of them into ACTUALLY buy our music.

So let’s take a look at some numbers…

Let’s say you’d like to make $80,000 a year from your music. And let’s say that your primary offer (your album) converts at 5%.

That means that for every 1000 email subscribers you will sell 50 copies of your album. If your profit margin is $10 per album then you will make $500 per 1000 subscribers.

So far your average subscriber value will be $0.50.

Now, let’s say that you add a $40 upsell to your sales funnel and 30% of your initial buyers take you up on it (that’s an approximate industry average). That upsell could be a box set, a membership site, even T-shirts and more traditional merch.

That would mean that 15 of your 50 customers also bought your upsell bringing in $600 of additional revenue and boosting your subscriber value to $1.10.

But we’re not done…

Now let’s say you promote a house concert offer to your list a little down the line, and basically charge any interested fans $400 to have a private concert in their home.

Let’s say just 5% of you’re album buyers take you up on this…

That would mean that 2.5 people out of every 1000 subscribers would hire you, bringing in $1000 in additional revenue and bringing your subscriber value up to $2.10.

Now we need to take our income goal of $80,000 and divide that by $2.10. That means that we will need to generate 38,095 subscribers per year to meet our income goals (if we are trying to meet them within one year).

The average well structured lead capture page (just a fancy way of saying, the page where people sign up to your mailing list in exchange for some free music), converts at 25% – 40%. So lets make the math easy and say that yours converts at 33.3%. So now we know we need to drive 114,285 people to our site each year…

Starting to sound like a lot right? But hold on a sec…

Divide that number by the 365 days of the year and we only need 313 people to come to our site each day.

If we published just one search engine friendly piece of content each day for a year, and if we assume that we got an average of just one click per day from each piece of content, we could theoretically be on track in less than a year.

Maybe you decide that you don’t need to make $80,000 each year to survive. Heck, teachers make half that.

If you decided you could live on $40,000 a year you would only need to drive 157 people to your site each day…

That’s a mere 157 people each day to accomplish your life long dream of making a full time living as a recording artist.

If you are inexperienced with online marketing and promotion than you’ll have to take my word for it… 157 people a day is NOTHING!

Sure it will take some work. But getting in front of 157 people a day is something that ABSOLUTELY every musician can do. Don’t have the time or interest to do the work? Pay for the traffic. It will take an upfront investment, and there WILL be risk, but you can easily generate 157 clicks per day for far less than what most independent labels are spending to promote an artist.

While you’ll need to slide the numbers around a bit to reach your income goals, all you really need to focus on is bringing in new subscribers for less than what it ultimately costs to acquire them. And when you start offering upsells, running promotions, and pushing live events to your list, getting that subscriber value up high enough to cover advertising costs really becomes possible.

And remember, while some subscribers will drop off or go cold, the effects are compounding. Meaning that your income should grow from year to year as you add new fans each and every day to your list. Put in the work or spend the money now and you will still have most of those fans for many years to come.

Eventually your list will grow into the tens of thousands and you will start to have some real influence over your market. Furthermore, this is something you can do WITHOUT the help of labels, managers, or agents.

When you embrace the Direct to Fan Marketing approach, you are in control of your career, and monetizing your music is no longer some wishy-washy act of faith, but rather a sound business plan which affords you the ability to take specific actions which will get you the results you are after. Which ultimately is to be heard, make a real difference through your music, and to generate enough income to sustain your life as a musician.

If you’d like to watch a free 40 minute video presentation in which I go through each step of the process in detail, go to MusicMarketingManifesto.com now and claim your free copy of the Music Marketing Blueprint.

12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money in 2014. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.


12 Days of Monetization: Making Money from YouTube Part 2 – Bobby Owsinski [DAY 7]

Penny jar

One of the things that many musicians aren’t aware of is how to make money from their YouTube videos. This is becoming such a big business that most record labels now spend a great deal of time creating and monetizing video content of their artists, as they’ve found it to be a significant source of revenue. But what exactly does that mean to you as an artist or band?

First of all, it’s possible that a video on YouTube can generate as much as between $5,000 and $8,000 per million views. This money comes from the adverts that play before the video, the banners that pop up during the video, or a video in the middle or end of the video. The problem is that the amount you get paid stems from how long the viewer looks at the advert, so it’s really hard to determine the exact amount you make from each view.

The money that’s generated from a video is split 55/45 between you (the artist) and Google, who owns YouTube (you get the 55%). If you start to get a significant flow of views on your channel (on the order of about a million per month), you can sign with a Multichannel Network like Omnia Media or Full Screen to up your split to 80%, plus gain access to a whole range of additional YouTube tools.

In order for you to monetize your videos you must first enable your account for monetization. This is done under the Channel Settings link and then clicking Monetization, at which point you’ll be lead through the registration process (see Figure 1). After your application for Google Adsense (the basis of adding ads to your videos) is confirmed, click on the Start Monetizing Your Videos link and you’ll be taken to your video manager, where you’ll be able to see a list of your uploaded videos.

Figure 1: YouTube Channel Monetization

Figure 1

To the right of each video in the Video Manager you’ll see small three tabs; the first selects whether the video is available to the public or only private viewing, the second shows when the video was published, and the third (the one with the dollar sign) will allow you to monetize the video. When you click on the monetize tab a new window with your video will load with a selection box at the bottom that says Monetize my video. Once that’s selected, a new set of selections appear.

Now you’re able to select the type of ads and the way they show up in your video (see Figure 2). The first is Overlay in-video ads which loads a transparent ad bar on the lower portion of the video. This is usually the most unobtrusive type of ad, since it allows the user to instantly play your video without having to wait for a commercial to start.

Figure 2: Ad type selections

Figure 2

The next choice is TrueView In-stream ads. This is the dreaded pre-roll commercial that occurs before your video begins. The viewer has the choice of skipping to your video after five seconds, but that also means that the advertiser doesn’t have to pay much when that happens, which also means you don’t get much paid much either. In videos longer than 10 minutes, a mid-roll ad may appear around the seven minute mark.

The ads in your video are chosen automatically based on the context of the video, which includes the demographic of the viewers, the title and metadata, and how you categorize your video. This means that if you have a music video, the ad is probably going to relate to the person who likes music. You’re not able to manually select the type of ads that are inserted at this time.

One of the things about ads is that they appear even if you or someone else embeds your video on another site, which allows you to still generate income even if the video isn’t on a site that you control.

Monetizing your videos is actually a pretty deep subject that can’t totally be adequately covered in a short blog post. You can learn more about making money from your videos and music by checking out my “Turning Your Music Into Cash” program or Social Media Promotion For Musicians book.

7602524_origCombining his music and recording experience along with an easy to understand writing style, Bobby has become one of the best selling authors in the music recording industry with 23 books that are now staples in audio recording, music, music business and social media programs in colleges around the world, including the best selling “Mixing Engineer’s Handbook,” “The Recording Engineer’s Handbook,” and “Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age.” You can discover more about Bobby and his books, programs and blogs at bobbyowsinski.com.

12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money in 2014. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.


12 Days of Monetization: 12 Ways to Make Money from YouTube – Jay Frank [DAY 6]


This article was contributed by Jay Frank (@FutureHitDNA), author of FutureHit.DNA & Hack Your Hit, and is the owner & CEO of DigSin (@DigSin).

What, you thought there was only one way to make money from YouTube? Au contraire! Read on and take these 12 hacks for YouTube and start building an income stream.

1) Monetize Your Channel

It takes a minute to set up, but once you do you can set all your videos to be monetized. YouTube selects ads to be shown against your videos, you get a portion of the revenue. It’s that simple.

2) Make More Videos… Any Videos

What, you think just by setting the monetization up that the millions flow quickly? No, they need videos to do that. The good news is that it can be ANY video. Don’t wait to finish that song. Make fun quick videos (at least a minute long) talking about anything. Sure, some of them may make you just a couple of pennies. But over time the volume could start collecting into something meaningful.

3) Get People to Watch More Videos

OK, so someone comes in to watch one video. Might they want to watch two so you can make more money? Maybe, but make it easy for them. Make a playlist of your videos and direct people into watching a playlist instead of an individual video. Every view counts.

4) Set Annotations to Link to iTunes

Once you have a monetized account that has no copyright dings against it, you can enable your annotations to have live links to iTunes, Google Play and more. Just set Enable on annotations and add one to your video. Voila. Instant traffic to sell your downloads.

5) YouTube Content ID Fingerprinting

Make sure your music is put into a database that allows YouTube to match anytime your song is used. That means every time your music is added to a random skateboarding or fashion video, you’ll get a slice of the revenue. If your distributor doesn’t offer it, use a service like Audiam or INDmusic.

6) Join a Network

Have a great audience to work from? You can join a YouTube network such as Fullscreen or Maker Studios who leverage your audience for higher ad rates. They may also bring other monetizing opportunities for your videos, not to mention cross promotional opportunities to drive up views.

7) Put Your Video on VEVO

If your music videos are high quality and can attract a large audience, consider placing your video on VEVO. You get the advantage of both the YouTube and the VEVO network for visibility, they may promote your video to other viewers to get more views, and they pay at a rate significantly higher than YouTube.

8) Patreon

How about a guaranteed payment from your fans for each video you put up no matter how many views it gets? Patreon is a unique model where your fans pledge small monetary figures for Kickstarter-style rewards. The results is knowing how much money you might make from a video before you even make it!

9) (Nearly) Free Banner Ads

Little known fact. If you spend just $1 on YouTube ads to your video, you can put up a free banner ad at the beginning of the video that can go anywhere you want. Sell merch, concert tickets…anything. After you place an ad, a “Call-To-Action Overlay” tab will appear on your Info/Settings tab in Video Manager. Voila, free promotion to sell your wares.

10) Trailers

YouTube is encouraging channel owners to make a 30 second commercial promoting your channel and placing it on the front page of your Channel page. Great. You can also sign up on Fan Finder and they’ll run the ad in front of other videos for free. Bringing in fans and revenue. Genius!

11) Description Links

After you include the basic information on your video in the description, make sure you add outbound links to everything that you’d like to sell to prospective fans. Merch stores, iTunes, Spotify…all great places to draw your fans to for further revenue.

12) Licensing Companies

Don’t wait for someone to randomly find your song to put behind them on YouTube. Have people who are actively looking for songs to license. Companies like Audiosocket and CueSongs allow artists to have YouTubers legally license songs for their videos for low rates. Exposure + Revenue = Awesome!

12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money in 2014. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.


12 Days of Monetization: Selling Direct-to-Fan via Your WordPress Website – Ross Barber [DAY 5]

Ross Barber, Electric KiwiThis article was contributed by Ross Barber, a web designer who specializes in design for bands and musicians. With his company Electric Kiwi he has worked with many independent and unsigned artists to enhance their online presence.

This article discusses options for selling music via your WordPress website. This list is by no means conclusive – there are a huge number of plugins and options out there and this article covers some of the more widely used methods.

If you don’t use WordPress, there are still many direct-to-fan options available, such as Bandcamp, Bandzoogle, ReverbNation and Topspin. Whatever your website platform, the right solution is out there!

Why should I sell via my website?

1. Your website = the epicentre of your online activity.

Your website should be the central hub of what happens with your music online, and it should be generating money for you. Displaying your products on your website, rather than directing fans and potential customers to an external store offers a more engaging and consistent experience. You wouldn’t send people away from your show to another venue to purchase merchandise, so why would you do the same on your website?

2. You keep more $$$
Selling your music and merchandise directly from your website means that you have control over the pricing. Of course, most external stores allow you to set the pricing too, but with your own website you are more in control of what you actually make per sale because you’ll have less fees to pay – which is always a plus! If you’re using PayPal as your payment method, then there will be a small transaction fee to pay (approximately 5%), but you can always work this into your product cost. To do the same on an external store, you may need to increase your costs by 10 or 15% just to keep your margins the same and your finances afloat. Using a store built into your website means that you can keep the prices lower, but without sacrificing your profit.

3. You also have the opportunity to be creative.
You don’t necessarily need to sell the standard CDs or t-shirts that every other musician is selling. Create experience packages and sell them to your fans. Are you an awesome guitarist? Offer a 45 minute lesson via Skype. Do fans always ask you for you lyrics? Offer a handwritten copy of your lyrics accompanied by a personal message. When you’re selling products on your own store, you have the freedom to sell whatever you want, and that means you can get creative – in many cases more-so than you can with an external platform.

4. Your products can (and should) tell a story…

and where better to do that than on your website? Don’t just list your products for sale – talk about them, give your fans a backstory… make them care about what you’re selling, and get closer to them as a result.

5. Email addresses!

One big bonus with managing your own store via your WordPress website is that you can see the email addresses of those who are buying from you. Now, you can’t just add these to your mailing list without asking, but what you can do is send out a personal message to those who have purchased your music or merchandise. A personalized thank you can go a long way – it could turn a passive fan into a super fan…and we LOVE super fans! Ask them if you can add them to your mailing list so they can keep informed about your latest releases. You might be surprised at the response, and you might just make someone’s day. You may not have time to do this for everyone, but if you find yourself at a loose end, take advantage of it and make a connection. It could be the start of something beautiful.

Before making any decisions…

Create a list of what you would like your store to do and separate that list into essential and desirable features. Consider:

    1. WHO your audience is
    2. WHAT you’re selling
    3. HOW your music or merchandise should be delivered
    4. GIVING your fans the best experience possible
    5. GENERATING income for you as an artist

E-Commerce Plugins

There are a multitude of e-commerce plugins available for WordPress. The features will vary between them, but for the more advanced options will include features like stock control, coupon codes, product variations and different shipping options.

Before deciding on whether an e-commerce plugin is right for you, think about what you want to offer on your store; do you want to sell physical merchandise? Do you want to offer digital downloads? Do you want to offer coupon codes as a reward/incentive for your existing fans to purchase your new line of t-shirts? Do you want to offer different shipping rates for domestic vs international destinations? These are all important things to consider when making a decision on store plugin for WordPress, as each plugin has different capabilities.

#1: WooCommerce


One of the big players is WooCommerce. Created by WooThemes, WooCommerce, for most, is an out-of-the-box solution. If you’re at the point where you need a full e-commerce solution, then WooCommerce may be the option for you.


  • Free.
  • Relatively easy to set up.
  • PayPal integration, with options for additional payment gateways available as add-ons.
  • Stock management (i.e. you can tell WooCommerce how many of those awesome new t-shirts you have in stock, and it will automatically tell fans when stock is low, or you’re out of stock – no more awkward emails!)
  • Options for physical and digital products – that’s right, you can offer secure downloads direct from your website, as well as selling physical CDs. It’s like iTunes, but without the middleman.
  • Product variations – do you have 5 different sizes of t-shirt, or want to offer a choice between signed and unsigned copies of your latest CD? No problem!
  • Options for regular and sale prices – great for offering holiday discounts.
  • Large repository of additional extensions and features.
  • Styles can be customized from the options menu.


  • While there are options for basic customization, depending on your theme, further customization may be required. Generally speaking if you’re using one of the default WordPress themes, or a well recognized theme, WooCommerce should work as is, but if you’re using a custom theme then you, or your developer, may need to spend some time tweaking things to get things looking just right.
  • Extensions may need to be purchased if you require more advanced shipping options.
  • So many options can be overwhelming and cause confusion when adding items, or initially setting up the store.

#2: Ultra Simple Paypal Shopping Cart


For many, a full e-commerce solution like WooCommerce is too large an undertaking. After all, if you’re only selling a small number of products, or don’t require features such as stock management or digital downloads, then you may be better going for a simpler store. The name really does say it all in this case.

Many artists already use Paypal to sell their products. It’s a simple way to sell your music direct to your fans. It’s not always the most attractive solution – however, when styled to be consistent with your website (and not just using Paypal’s standard buttons) it can look like a higher end solution.

For artists who don’t want all of the additional features that some of the larger e-commerce plugins offer, Ultra Simple Paypal Shopping Cart is one viable solution.


  • Free.
  • PayPal integration.
  • Simple to set up: you could have your products for sale within an hour, if not less.
  • Ideal for artists who just want to sell a small number of products directly from their website.


  • Will require some development work to make the store operate like a higher end e-commerce solution.
  • No alternative payment options – must use PayPal.
  • Less flexible than a plugin like WooCommerce.
  • Not ideal for digital downloads (as cannot generate individual URL for each download link), so would be limited to physical products only.
  • No coupon codes or discount rates available (at time of writing).

#3: Easy Digital Downloads

If you’re only looking to sell digital downloads, then Easy Digital Downloads is the solution for you. It’s lightweight and simple, offering only the functions needed to operate a digital-only store.


  • Sell digital downloads direct from your website – keep all of the profits without paying out to iTunes/Bandcamp etc.
  • Promotional codes available.
  • Create product bundles.
  • Add ons available to improve functionality.
  • PayPal integration included – other payment gateways available via paid add-ons.
  • Since it’s digital-only, you don’t have to worry about making trips to the post office ;)
  • Mailing list add-ons available to merge email addresses provided during purchase with your existing mailing list database.


  • Digital only – no physical sales can be made via this plugin.

What if I don’t use WordPress, or want an easier solution?

If you don’t use WordPress, or don’t want to set up an integrated store, there are plenty of other options. At the end of the day, you want to be able to make money from your music, and part of that is about making your music readily available, keeping prices low for fans, and keeping profits high (or at least sustainable) for you.

You should ensure that fans have an option to buy your music directly via your website in some way or another. If this is simply a link to an external store, then so be it, but an integrated store is preferable.



Bandcamp is a great solution for many artists as you can create a storefront within minutes, and can also easily embed it within your website (WordPress or not). Bandcamp takes 15% of your digital sales revenue, and 10% on merch (dropping down to 10% on digital sales once you’ve reached $5,000 USD and stays at that level as long as you make that amount within the previous 12 months, too). Processing fees are (like Paypal’s) somewhere between 4 and 6%.

Bandcamp’s players are relatively customizable (although do lack in color and font options – hopefully something that will be expanded on in the near future), and Bandcamp is a trusted retailer by many. Embedding a Bandcamp widget onto your website is simple to do, and will allow people to make a decision without leaving your website.



Ecwid is a new storefront, which is free if you’re selling less than 10 items on your store. You have the freedom to set your own prices and shipping details, and you can embed the storefront onto your existing website with relative ease.

Granted, the appearance isn’t exactly beautiful, but it’s very functional and for artists on a budget who want to get a working store online and sell direct-to-fan, it’s a very reasonable solution.


Of course, there are many other direct-to-fan outlets available. The most important thing is that you do your research and compare them to find out which one suits YOUR needs best. Don’t be afraid to seek out feedback from other artists to find out what has worked for them, and what hasn’t.

In closing…

Ultimately, when it comes to selling your music or merchandise via your website, the decision is in your hands. There’s no correct answer, and no solution that is going to be right for everyone. The way that you sell your products to your fans will depend on:

  • What you’re offering (physical or digital, or both?)
  • How many products you’ll be listing at one time
  • Whether or not you need stock control or the ability to create bundles and/or coupons
  • What payment options you require
  • If you need to offer different shipping rates for domestic vs international
  • If you want to sell more creative/non-standard products

In other words, there are a lot of factors to consider before making a decision.

A fully integrated store solution is, in my opinion, the ideal option. Something that blends seamlessly into your website, and provides your fans with a consistent and smooth experience is a winner in my book.

Setting up your online store should be an exciting time. To ensure it’s a smooth process, consider hiring or collaborating with a designer/developer to get the best results from your new store. That will also free up some time to create some new music and packages that your fans will love. You’ll also have the benefit of drawing from a professional’s experience to help make your new store the best it can be.

If you lack the experience, budget or need for one of the more advanced, all-encompassing solutions, then an external storefront embedded onto your website may be right for your needs. It’s all about doing what’s right for you and your career at this point in time. Remember that things can always be changed and if you find that you need to upgrade at a later date, it’s very possible.

Whatever option you decide to go with, here’s wishing you a very successful, and profitable 2014!

12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money in 2014. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.

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