Selling Music Online

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: My band has just put a CD out. We're selling them at gigs, but wanted to know how we can sell mp3 downloads on our site.

Answer: There are a few different ways to get into selling your own music online.

Control Your MP3's

When you sell mp3 downloads from your site directly, you retain 100% of the rights to do so. This is the reason most people try to "do it themselves". You can do it very cheaply as well. You can use software scripts like 123 Music Store that interface directly with paypal. This is probably one of the more popular routes to go if you want to do it yourself.

Online Music Distribution

There are now services online, that help you get listed in iTunes and other major mp3 download sites. These services are basically virtual record distributers. Some of these services, like CD Baby, will sell your physical CD's for you as well.

Fees for Selling Your MP3's

If you go with a store that interfaces with paypal, you will be forced to pay a percentage + a set fee. If you are interested in getting a lower rate with paypal, you will want to set up for a "micropayment" account. Contact paypal for more information.

The online music distributers have business models that either take a flat fee up front, or a certain percentage. Each service will be different so definitely do your homework.

Advantages to Selling MP3 Downloads vs. CD's

  • No manufacturing costs
  • No inventory that collects dust if not sold
  • Immediate gratification for your fans. They get your music right away!
  • A lot of your fans have mp3 players and want to fill them up with music!
  • Lower graphic design costs (usually)
  • "Set-it-and-forget-it" - Ron Popeil. Do the work once by uploading the music and make money on the same product until technology comes out with an extremely better solution for selling your music.

- Interesting Article from Bjorn Carey: "The Science of Hit Songs" -