musicians take a three-pronged approach to selling their music on the
Internet. The first 'prong' is what I call 'targeting with buzz.' That is,
you create a buzz about your music and get people talking about it. To do
that, however, you need to promote your music where people are already
searching for new music to try out. That is, instead of trying to bring
people to you (or your web site), you go to where the people are already
hanging out. Go where the action is, so to speak. So, where's that?
The first place I
recommend any musician start promoting their music is MP3.com. Though some
independent musicians feel MP3.com has 'sold out' (actually, they
literally have) to the commercial record industry, the fact is that for
pure exposure it's the place to be. MP3.com is a huge magnet for
music-loving traffic. Perform a search at Google for 'music' and MP3.com
the #2 site listed. Search for 'mp3' and it's the #1 site. You just can't
find a better place to put your music right in the path of cyber-traffic.
With proper promotion, you'll have hundreds, even thousands of new people
listening to your music every day. For example, for January 2002, I was
able to generate over 50,000 plays of my songs. And that was with just
basic, simple, inexpensive promotion. That exposure resulted in more CD
sales, lots of email from new fans, and more importantly, name
recognition. Once you've mastered MP3.com, you can start setting up shop
at other, similar sites such as Vitaminic.com, GarageBand.com,
Ampcast.com, JavaMusic.com and others.
The second 'prong'
to increasing CD sales on the net is what I call 'targeting by site.' With
this option, your objective is to create a web site that targets the
people most likely to be interested in your music. The question to ask
yourself is, 'what are the people who are most likely to buy your music
already searching the Internet for?' Once you have that answer, design a
web site to target that specific audience. Then, promote your web site
using tried and true web site marketing techniques (see
search engine promotion tips). In this scenario, you don't focus on
promoting your music per se, you focus on promoting the web site. Then,
since your web site is attracting visitors that tend to enjoy your style
of music, you advertise your music on your specialized web site, marketing
directly to those targeted visitors.
The final 'prong' is
where you will create long term fans; your own 'official' artist web site.
This personal web site is the place where you will provide your fans with
complete details about your act. You'll include song lyrics, news, CD
info, pictures, a discussion board, chat room, sheet music, whatever you
can think of. Your official site is the place you will drive traffic to
from prong #1 and prong #2. It's where, ultimately, long-term fans (and
friends) are made and, if it's well-designed and updated frequently, it's
the place your fans will keep coming back to. Here's a tip: if you have
more than one CD, sell them in 'bulk'. Give your visitors the opportunity
to buy more for less. I currently have 5 CDs, and give my visitors the
option of buying all 5 CDs for $50. Guess what? Most of my orders from new
customers are for the entire collection. So, if you haven't yet purchased
a domain name for your act, do so. I recommend using
where you can purchase a domain name for $15/year.
All three of these
prongs work together in tandem. The first (targeting with buzz) not only
sells CDs, it creates buzz, name recognition, and career opportunities
where none were before. My time on MP3.com has directly resulted in song
licensing opportunities, as well as a distribution deal with a Korean
record company. The second method (targeting by site) allows you to target
visitors who have a predisposition to your style of music. Maybe they
didn't search the Internet looking specifically for new music, but as a
result of their search they did discover you, and with some keen marketing
strategies you can gradually, over time, turn some of these casual
visitors into fans. Finally, the third 'prong' is where you keep them
coming back, your own, official web site. There, long-term fans are made.
Think of prong #1 and #2 as a funnel, that channels your visitors to prong
I'm sure you're
thinking this is a lot of work. You're right, it is, and it's only the
beginning. There's a lot involved in marketing and selling your music
online - much more than I can go into in this short article. But,
hopefully this will whet your appetite and inspire some creating thinking.
If your music is truly good music, and you (and others) really believe in
it, there are many marketing and career opportunities for you online. You
just have to dig them up, and be very persistent about it.