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Music is one of the most popular pursuits in the world. People around the globe listen to 4 ½ hours of music a day and music artists like Beyonce and Paul McCartney are some of the most recognized celebrities on Earth. 

Obviously, competition is fierce in the music industry and how musicians make an income has changed rapidly with the dominance of online streaming. Those factors can make the idea of making a living with your music seem like a lofty dream, but there are a ton of ways you can make money with music.

If you want to know how to sell music online successfully, it’s going to take time, planning and hard work. No one is successful overnight. But a huge audience is out there waiting for your music. What are you waiting for?

How to Sell Music Online Successfully in 7 Steps

1. Music business ideas
2. Choose your music genres
3. Music formats and products
4. Packaging your music
5. The best way to sell music online
6. Music promotion
7. The business of music

It’s easy to psych yourself out or to stop just as you get going because it’s scary to turn your passion into a business. What you need is a clear plan of action so you’ll be too busy focusing on your music to get off track.

This article will cover how to sell music in a way that fits your skills and personality. We’ll also cover the best ways to sell music online and how to promote your new music business.

Ready to get started?

A woman holding a record thinks about how to sell music online successfully

1. Music business ideas

Learning how to sell music online is more than what you will sell, it’s what problems you’ll solve. Your best source of inspiration for music business ideas will be problems that you and your friends have while making music or a problem you’ve been able to solve for musician friends in the past. 

For example, you may have a friend who is great with lyrics but needs your expertise building beats. Or, you’re the one people come to when they have questions about a specific instrument.

In the early days of your music career, it’s important to have more than one revenue stream. Most musicians, even some of your favorite recording artists, can’t rely on a record label to cover all their bills. To get to a place where you’ll be making enough income to cover all of your expenses, you need to get creative.

The most successful music business ideas will also have to be a good fit for your personality and other interests.

These questions can help you narrow down your music business ideas:

Do you like working on your own or do you do your best work with others Ideas for selling music online for someone going solo include:

Are you already performing live and hoping to supplement your income? Think about:

  • Looking for new venues to play
  • Selling band merchandise online
  • Becoming a session musician
A band playing together is thinking about selling music online

Do you want to build your brand as a musician and performer or are you interested in using your knowledge of music in other industries? You could:

  • Produce a podcast
  • Write music for movies or advertising
  • Create sound effects
  • Do the score for a video game or mobile app

Are you interested in music education? 

  • Teach music classes
  • Tutor musicians one-on-one
  • Be a voice coach

What else do you love to do? How can those other skills add to your music career? Consider:

  • Collaborating with brands or other musicians
  • Promoting music events
  • Producing music
  • Creating a record label 
  • Managing a band
  • Blogging about the music industry or writing reviews 
  • Creating a music podcast
  • Organizing music festivals
  • Creating a music magazine 
  • Doing music marketing and promotion
A wild concert shows all the different music genres and online communities interested in selling music online

2. Choose your music genres

There are so many different music genres it’s hard to pick a favorite. Whether you love pop or dubstep, EDM or jazz, there are hundreds of types of music to make and listen to.

Music lovers often have eclectic tastes and big record collections which can make it tough when you’re just getting started. What if you love a little bit of everything?

It’s important to stay true to who you are as a creator. There’s also a lot of value in narrowing your focus at the beginning. 

It’s much easier to build a name for yourself and your brand if you focus on a niche. So, not just Hip-Hop but Bounce or Nerdcore. Not just Electronica but Glitch or Skweee. 

As your brand grows you will find ways to expand your offer into other musical genres. Rooting your music career in a niche will help you connect with a core audience quickly.

3. Music formats and products

Now that you have an idea of what kind of music business you want and what genre of music you’ll focus on, it’s time to create the products that you’ll sell. There are three categories most products fall into:

Digital products

If you want to sell music online, digital products are the most effective way to earn passive income with your music. Popular digital products in music include:

  • Samples and beats 
  • Sound effects
  • Plugins or tools for musicians
  • Individual tracks or albums
  • Live performance recordings

DRM protected AAC is a popular option for most music downloads, but the format you choose depends on the expectations of your audience and where you are selling your music. Ideally, you’ll want to offer your music in multiple formats

Some formats, like WAV, are great for sound quality but also have a huge file size. If you’re selling from a platform with unlimited bandwidth like Selz, this isn’t an issue, but it can affect how long it takes for customers to download a file.

A woman using a sound mixer is thinking about selling beats online with Selz ecommerce for digital products

Physical products

In addition to the CDs, records and DVDs that give music a physical form, there are many other products that can connect fans to your music. 

  • Sell vintage music items like t-shirts and records
  • Band merchandise including stickers, enamel pins, keychains, and posters

Services

Most successful businesses offer a service, and the music industry is no different. Services you can offer as a musician and music lover include:

As you start creating your products, it’s a good idea to start small. You can build up your product offer over time with feedback from your customers. This is the best long-term strategy, especially if you have a limited budget, because you know that each new product will be an investment in what your audience already wants and needs.

As you develop your music products think about quality, not quantity. Your audience doesn’t care what equipment you use or how big your music studio is, so invest in the tools that will help you make great music and music products.

At this point in the process, it’s normal to wonder if you need advanced education or industry credentials to make it. Most people care more about what you make than what it took to make it. Mostly it’s about getting out of your own way to create a great product that meets the needs of your customers

4. Packaging your music

Once you’ve created the products you want to sell and nailed down the format you’ll need to think about music packaging. 

You know that the music world is competitive, so your brand will need to stand out. Your music packaging is the way your fans will remember your brand, so think about the details. 

A collection of rave fliers from the 1990s show how designers rose to prominence with EDM

Many popular musicians enlist the help of friends who are artists and photographers to give their sound a unique image. Others use imagery that is popular with influencers in the scene.

For example, as EDM rose to prominence so did many graphic designers creating flyers for clubs and shows. Keep your community at the front of your mind as you build the image for your music brand.

5. The best way to sell music online

Many musicians will sell from different music selling sites. These include sites like iTunes and Spotify, or beat stores like BeatStars or Soundee. In the same way that Amazon can help or hurt your income as you get started, these sites have pros and cons. Some make it difficult for individual artists to sell music or have requirements that the average person will have a hard time meeting.

The best way to sell music online is with an independent website. Your website will help you stand out from other musicians who are just starting out. It will make it clear to people who are just learning about your music that you are a dedicated professional.

You’ll also make more money, because you will have control over your image, how you present your products and the percentage of sales you keep in your pocket.

Choose Selz for selling music online and to boost digital product sales

Industry professionals choose Selz because of the useful features for selling music online including:

  • Easy set up with powerful features
  • Instant digital delivery
  • Secure download links
  • Buy buttons and widgets you can customize, and the ability to embed an online store
  • Securely processes credit card and PayPal payments without affecting the design of your site
  • Quick checkout for your customers 
  • Digital security features
  • Customers receive an automatic order confirmation with a link to your products
  • Integrates with email marketing, making it easy to build email lists
  • Discount codes for sales
  • One-click product posting to popular social media platforms
  • Direct integration with Facebook and Instagram shopping 

Sign up for your free 14-day trial to start selling music online with Selz

Music is a draw for every kind of audience, so learning how to sell music online successfully is a great idea for music lovers

As you start selling music online, great examples are really helpful, so we want to share one of our favorite sites.

Sunny Choi

I love the fact I can connect with people from all over the world who are listening to my music. Although I may not know them in person, they’re coming across the stories that I share through the music and we’re connecting that way. And I think there’s something very powerful and beautiful about the connection we can make online.

Selz is great because it is beautiful, it’s simple and clutter free. Probably some of the best combinations I can think of when it comes to an ecommerce platform. I can simply create a new product that I want to sell, put it up on Selz, and the next minute it’s ready for the world. I can also monitor my sales, and then make some adjustments so that I could potentially increase the store exposure.

Being able to sell online is like having my own store where it’s open 24/7 all around the world. So, no matter where you’re from, you have access to my store and it’s always open for everyone.

6. Music promotion

Selling music online requires powerful music promotion. If you want to make music but don’t want to think about marketing, selling music online may not be right for you because it requires consistent attention, enthusiasm and effort.

Music promotion can feel overwhelming when you first get started. But if you put a plan in place it can be rewarding and fun! At the end of the day, music promotion is about connecting with your audience and building partnerships with people that will share your music with the masses. 

Let’s go over some of the most effective marketing channels for music promotion.

Blogging

Start your blog by writing about your music genres and why you love them. Share stories of your experiences with music and the path you took to get where you are now. Over time this will help draw people to your site. This article can help you start your blog.

Next, you’ll want to start connecting with other music bloggers. This is really about building a strong community in your niche, and this post about guest blogging can help you get the details right.

A man records a video for his video blog and YouTube videos

Email marketing

An email list is essential for music promotion. Most people check email every day, and they pay more attention to their inboxes than to social media. If you have a great email list, you can use email marketing to:

  • Share new releases with your most loyal fans
  • Drive traffic to your YouTube music videos
  • Offer discounts or free products
  • Build relationships with customers to keep them coming back for more

Facebook groups and advertising

Facebook has the largest audience of any social media platform. It’s easy to post your products to your Facebook feed. You can also sell your physical products directly from a Facebook store. People are more likely to buy if you make it easy for them to purchase where they already are.

That said, it can be annoying when friends sell to you on social media too, and this is why Facebook groups are so useful. To make the most of Facebook groups, join groups that match your specific interests and niche. 

Start by commenting on other posts, asking questions and building relationships with the community in that group. Then, once you are a real part of that group, start sharing what you are working on and why it has value to that community. 

This is also the best way to approach online forums. There’s nothing worse than when a stranger comes to a group hoping to make sales, spams the group with links and then disappears.

Facebook advertising is also a useful way to build an audience for selling music online.

Read more: Creating Facebook Ads for Your Online Store: The Ultimate Guide

Youtube is a great space for musicians and selling music online

YouTube music videos

YouTube dominates the music industry. If you create great videos and learn how to optimize your videos for SEO you can get some serious traffic to your music website.

There are a lot of ways to create great video content. Many musicians create videos with a still image and music, but if you want to stand out, you’ll want to think about the viewer experience and create great videos. 

This is easier than it sounds. You can just talk directly to the camera and explain what you do. You can also show people how you make your music as you’re making it. Work in progress can feel vulnerable, but it makes your audience feel like they are part of what you are doing! Performance videos are also very popular.

Once you have an audience for your videos, you can add links to your profile and videos for people to purchase from your website!

Read more:

The Ultimate Guide to Selling Videos with YouTube
How To Sell On YouTube: The Ultimate 4-Part Guide to Video Content

Soundcloud

The Soundcloud community is full of dedicated music fans, so the best way to get noticed on this platform is to engage. It’s more about building relationships than posting your latest sounds. Be sure to like, share, comment and connect. Over time the time you put in will help other musicians get to know and respect you and your music.

Live venues

It may seem strange to market in-person when you’re selling music online, but there’s nothing like a live event to connect with music fans. Square point of sale and Selz make it easy to sell online music or physical products no matter where you are. 

Make time to perform or set up a booth at local shows, coffee shops, art galleries, and farmer’s markets. Talk to local businesses and see if they have an interest in collaborating. Reach out to local and college radio stations for more opportunities to get your music out there.

Read more: What is Point of Sale? A Complete Guide to POS for Small Business

A woman playing live at a Farmer's market is thinking about selling music online with a point of sale system for live events

Now that you’re building a presence on the best channels for music promotion, you want to create a marketing plan to launch your music business. Your marketing plan might include pre-sales of recordings, free samples of your music or a huge release party. 

A great marketing plan can build anticipation and sales even before you launch your website! It can also help you create a loyal fan base that will stick with you as your music business grows.

Read more:

How to Market a Product Online in 7 Powerful Steps
How To Drive Traffic To Your Online Store: The Ultimate 5-Step Guide
Email Marketing 101 for Small Business

Selz analytics include in-platform analysis of sales, conversions, traffic and more with direct integrations

7. The business of music

Choosing to sell music online means your life and approach to music may change. You’ll need to think about your music from multiple perspectives and build skills you may never have considered before. 

After your first sale you may think you have it all worked out, but selling music online is just like any other small business. That means constant learning from both successes and failures. It means new challenges and unexpected rewards.

To set your music business up for growth from the beginning, start with a business plan. Think a few years ahead about what you want your music business to look like, then keep an eye on trends, both in industry news and by monitoring your sales. 

No matter how successful you become, stay close to your audience and continue to look for ways to inspire.

Read more:

Growing Business 101: Structure, Manage, Succeed
The 10 Best Ways to Grow Your Business
Automation Tools and Tips to Help Scale Your Business

Now that you know how to sell music online successfully, your next step is to get started. If your music is ready to sell, fast track your online music business with a free 14-day Selz trial. You’ll be selling your music online in no time.

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.