How Can I Sell My Music Online?


Introduction

There are many ways to your music online. If you have been successfully selling your music on sites such as The Orchard, CD Baby, or Amazon then we want to extend our congratulation. If not, do go to these sites to try them out. They do work in some cases.

Here, however, we try to present an complementary model; selling your music online on your own website. To most people this may seem too high a threshold. It’s our purpose in this page to demystify it. We hope after reading this page you will tell yourself that it’s not that complicated anyway.

Why should I have my own website?

Let's give you few answers here.

The more the merrier
If you already have presence on MySpace, Facebook, Amazon, etc., just consider your own website is one more branch of your retail store.

Better Control
Having your own website allows you to have total control of the content  Although Google does not use the meta descriptions for ranking, it does use it to show the search results to the users. If your site is only one of the pages on an aggregator site, you are unlikely to be able to control the content to the way you want. Having your own website also gives you access to your site traffic statistics. You may be interested in knowing what keywords drive people to your site and the demographics of those people.

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When people find you on your own website, psychologically it should be different from if they found you on other aggregator sites. An analogy is to shop for a piece of lingerie; one should feel more comfortable and confident on the products from a lingerie site than from Walmart.com or Target.com. Agree?

Looking for the future
Having your own website is like buying your own house and presence on aggregator sites is like renting. You never know what will happen to the aggregator sites. They may disappear through merger and acquisition, or they may choose to promote your competitions harder than you. Last but not least, you should reserve the domain name of your band as soon as possible because if you don’t someone else will claim the name you want. For example, if your band is called “The Expansion” and if you do not reserve this name now, someone will get the name later. Who knows what they will sell on say, www.theexpansion.com, maybe some organ enlargement drug.

Online Music Purchase Process

Presented here is the standard way to sell music online. Please refer to this fully functional Sell Your Music Online demo.

When buyers land on your site, they will normally listen to the sample tracks. They may like only few of the tracks or they may want to download the whole album. Sometimes they may also want to have the physical CD mailed to them. In all cases it will be a matter of putting the items they want into some sort of shopping cart. Once they are done with the shopping they will need to go through the check out process. During check out they will be filling a form with billing and possibly shipping information in the event that you need to send them the CD. If they choose to do the download only, they will expect either an immediate email informing them the download links, or an immediate page with the download links listed. This is very important in the whole process because that means you will need some sort of instant payment verification systems that the buyers have actually paid. But any automatic payment will open to abuse. Let’s deal with this issue later when we talk about online payment.

Build Your Website

Building a fully functional online music vending site will involve the following steps. We will elaborate on each on of them here.

  1. Register your domain name
  2. Find a hosting company
  3. Create your website
  4. Register an online payment account
  5. Advertise your website

Register your domain name

Getting your domain name of you liking is becoming more and more difficult now. The problem is that many parties have pre-registered the domain names betting on you will need it later and will pay for it for a much higher price. Sometimes you will need to be imaginative and creative to get a good domain name. Domain registration sites will provide a tool called Whois for you to check the availability of a domain names. But there is rumor that a famous provider will remember what you are trying and the next day when you try to register that name, BAND! It's been registered by someone else. This practice is called front running. We used godaddy and iPower because they seem to be honest on the fees. Both are under $10 per year.

Find a hosting company

Your web pages will somehow need to be hosted on certain place. A web hosting company will do that for you. Our website is hosted on bluehost.com which charges $6.95 per month. We choose bluehost.com for its reliability and availability of technical support. Bluehost also offers free domain name so you can skip the last step if you choose to take advantage of that. I personally won't recommend taking the free domain offer because you never know how cooperative bluehost.com will be if someday you ever need to switch hosting company. So a $6.95 investment on domain name from Step 1 is really worth it. The catch is you do need to tell the registar in Step 1 where you are hosting your website. For example, if you use bluehost.com as the hosting company, you will need to login to the control panel of the registar in Step 1 to change the domain name server as NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM. Contact your domain name registar is you have problem in changing it. You can also contact us and we will try to direct you.

Create your website

This will be the most difficult part for most musicians as it involves coding web pages in HTML. But if you can create music, which is creativity of the highest level, you can definitely create aesthetic web pages. There are many good software packages designed just for that. You can also search for some existing templates from google. Either way, you will end up with files with the extension html or htm. What you need to do is to transfer these files to the hosting company in Step #2. We have also created a simple tutorial with a fill in the form HTML code generator for you.

Register an online payment account

As mentioned in Online Music Purchase Process section, buyers cannot wait for you to key in the credit card and then send them the download information. The credit card key in scenario only works if buyers only want to have the CD sent to them. But any online merchant will tell you automatic payment opens up the window for fraudulent. Credit card numbers can be stolen, buyers can dispute (for true or fake reasons), chargeback costs more than the CD you are selling. All these negatives seem to be very unfavorable. We can only make few assumptions

  1. Music lovers tend to be good people
  2. Con-men won't bother to go through the trouble for something less then $20
  3. Using payment system that limits the source of buyer

Assumptions #1 and #2 are really at the discretion of God. If they are not true then you just have to accept it as a small percentage of defects in our society. Assumption #3 is something we can somewhat control. We recommend using PayPal Website Payments Standard or Checkout by Amazon. Both Paypal Website Payments Standard and Checkout by Amazon are free. They will charge a percentage as commission and also a small per transaction fee. Since these payment systems are membership basis, we can surmise that the quality of these buyers tend to be higher.

We have no data to support that people have a Paypal account tend to have an Amazon account. But at least that's the case for me and many of my friends. You may just want to include one of these, depending on your preference and your ability to integrate the codes from these comapnies to your own codes.

Advertise your website

Having a website with no one to visit is absolutely futile. To be found, your website needs to be known by search engines. A new discipline called SEO Search Engine Optimization) is derived because of the popularity of search engine such as Google and Yahoo. For your site to be search engine optimized you need to consult an SEO specialist. New Cyberian can help give you the advice but you will have to do much of the work by yourself. Google does not recommend the hiring of an SEO solely for ranking purpose. Google does recommend you to build your site with the content as the first priority.

Summary

The table below summaries the steps we have just talked about. Print this out and write down the user names and passwords you will receive from various parties.

Step Comment UserName Passowrd

Register your domain name

Go to domain registar such as www.godaddy.com or www.ipower.com to reserve your domain name. You will get a user name and password from the registar for you to access to their control panel. From the control panel you can set the domain name server of the hosting company you are going to use in the next step.

 

 

Find a hosting company

Hosting companies such as www.godaddy.com, www.ipower.com, www.bluehost.com provide storage space for the web pages you are going to create. You will receive a user name and password from the hosting company for you to upload the files to their server. They will also tell you what their domain server names are. For example, bluehost.com will be NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM. You will need to log in to the control panel of the previous step to set the domain name servers given to you by your hosting company.

 

 

Create your website

Design your web pages using software such as Dreamweaver or using some existing templates. You will need to prepare some basic assets such as pictures and MP3 sound files. If you need help call us at 408-944-0828.

 

Register an online payment account

Sign up a merchant account with either PayPal or Checkout by Amazon. You will have another set of user name and password which need to be integrated to your website to process the payment. Again, call us if you need help; 408-944-0828.

 

 

Advertise your website

Submit your website to as many search engines as you can but Google will be your first priority. Put a link from your myspace, FaceBook pages.  Ask your friends to link to the newly build website too.