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Selling Music Online

Being a musician has never been easy. With the exception of  the lucky few who go on to become successful recording artists, making multi-platinum-selling records and touring the world, a typical musician “pre-internet” age musician had to struggle just to get his music heard, let alone make money from it.

The Internet has become a double-edged sword for musicians. On the one hand, it’s given opportunities that were once available only to established acts, or new acts who were under the wing of a major record company. Consider Youtube, and the countless musical acts who’ve been discovered as a result of a great viral video or a simple performance captured on camera. Youtube has effectively stolen the thunder from the once-influential MTV, and is now the “go-to” launching pad for not only music videos, but even for trailers for movies and TV shows. Plus anyone can have a Youtube account. It’s free, it’s fast, and easy to understand and use.

On the flip side, CD sales have steadily been declining since the advent of the mp3 format and file sharing. People have been buying music less and less because it’s become very easy to share and get music for free. So now you have a product that people are more accustomed to getting for free instead of paying for.

What to do? Be creative. That’s what you do.

There are a number of online musical distribution channels, but the most successful one at the moment is iTunes. iTunes controls between 60-80% of digital music sales.  However, getting in isn’t easy if you’re new. According to iTunes, you’ll need to have a catalog of at  least 20 albums, as well as UPCs (Universal Product Code) for all products you intend to distribute, ISRCs (International Standard Recording Code)  for all tracks you intend to distribute.

To help you start out, there are several services catering to new bands and songwriters .  For a fee, companies such as CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/), Musicadium (http://www.musicadium.com), and Song Cast (http://www.songcastmusic.com/) will take you under their wing and help get your music on pay-per-download sites such as iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon.

Just be ready with a pricing model. This will involve a variety of setup fees, flat fees, and commission fees are offered.  If you are starting out, a commission structure makes more sense; but when you start  or expect to sell a lot, a flat fee structure with no commission may be more sensible.

Prior to all that, make sure that your music is mastered, with dynamics, EQ, and volume of a recording properly optimised. Make sure your music meets commercial standards. Plus don’t forget to promote yourself by any means necessary. Get a Facebook AND a Twitter account. Take videos of yourself and post them on your Youtube Account. The opportunities are out there, but you just have to work harder to get where you want to be.

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