7 Ways To Earn Money Through A Music Website
Operating in an industry that has been turned upside down, DIY musicians are forced to be even more creative about how they generate revenue. We explore seven ways artists can use their websites to earn much-needed income.
By Dave Cool of Bandzoogle from the CD Baby DIY Musician Blog
Being in the music industry is always a wild ride, but the last few months have been some of the most turbulent in recent history. So much of what we knew about how to make money as DIY musicians has been disrupted, paused, or flipped on its head.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to take matters into your own hands and get creative with your online revenue streams. The smartest place to start is with your website, which is that one corner of the internet that you know will always be in your control, and can never be taken away from you.
Here are seven ways to make money directly through your own music website.
[Don’t have a website yet? Check out: The indie musician’s guide to building a professional website]
1. Sell digital music
While it’s true that most music listening has shifted to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, plenty of artists have found success selling their music online to loyal fans.
Make sure to sell your singles, EPs, and albums right through your own website, where you own the fan data and get to choose the pricing model that works best for you. You can also make your releases available anywhere people might look for them, such as iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp.
If you don’t already have a website with an online store, it’s easy to set one up with Bandzoogle. And unlike selling your releases through other platforms, you’ll keep 100% of your sales.
2. Sell CDs & vinyl
For many die-hard music fans, nothing compares to the feeling of physically holding an album in your hands. CD duplication has become incredibly cost-effective, and vinyl makes for a great collector’s item (although it’s more expensive to produce).
You can sell your physical music right alongside your digital music on your website, and even bundle it with merch to multiply your income.
3. Sell other physical merch
T-shirts, hats, posters, and stickers are all band merch staples, but this is also a fun opportunity to put your creativity to work. What other items align with your branding that your fans would be eager to buy? Anything from phone cases to flasks to handwritten lyric sheets is fair game.
Brainstorm a few merch ideas that make you excited, and then send out a poll in your next email newsletter or social media post to see what people are most interested in.
4. Sell digital merch
If you’re not seeing much demand for physical merch or you’re on a tight budget, think of some valuable yet low-risk digital merch offerings to sell instead. For instance, a beautiful ebook of your album lyrics, or a sheet music download for your latest single would only require a little upfront effort, with no worries about manufacturing or shipping when you make a sale.
You could also offer video lessons for any musically inclined fans. Teach them how to play an acoustic version of your song, share your songwriting techniques, or walk them through your music production setup.
5. Sell tickets to live streams
Online concerts are booming, and the technology is only going to keep getting better.
If you had strong turnouts at your gigs before the pandemic, those same fans would most likely be thrilled to tune into your live streams. Sell tickets to live streams through your website to make the online experience feel more exclusive and intimate.
6. Accept tips
The easier you make it for your supporters to send you tips and donations, the more likely they’ll be to actually do it. Bandzoogle members using a Tip Jar feature on their websites have already earned nearly $200,000, with the average tip being $42.12.
7. Start an online fan club
Craving a more predictable source of revenue? Subscriptions give your biggest fans access to special rewards and exclusive content in exchange for their monthly contribution.
How much money can artists make through their own websites?
This obviously depends on a variety of factors, from the size of your following to your investment in marketing and promotion. But just to give you an idea of the potential, here’s a snapshot of the revenue generated by Bandzoogle’s 50,000+ members since the pandemic hit North America in mid-March:
All of that money has gone straight from the fans to the artists themselves, with zero commission taken out — as has been the case for our entire 17-year history as a website platform for musicians.
With so much unpredictability around the state of the music industry, remember that the best thing you can do right now is focus on what is in your control. Implementing even one of the ideas above will help optimize your website for a new source of income, and that effort will continue to pay off long after the pandemic ends.
Dave Cool (yes, that’s his real name) is the VP of Business Development at Bandzoogle. Built for musicians by musicians, Bandzoogle makes it easy to build a beautiful website and sell music, merch, and tickets commission-free. He’s a recovering punk rock drummer, comedy nerd, and wine snob.