Posted tagged ‘iTunes’

Is Bandcamp Really Worth It?

October 13, 2010

THE ARTIST: Caleb Pogyor (Pittsburgh, PA)
THE QUESTION: I was just wondering if Bandcamp has been good to you in terms of fairness and profit. Is it worth signing up and selling a $5 record? I’m releasing my new album on October 25th and was trying to find a good site to sell through.

THE ANSWER: I really love Bandcamp and I’ve written alot about these guys in the past. Here’s one of those posts: Bandcamp- A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent. But is it worth it financially?  Here are my thoughts…

1. Bandcamp has the artist in mind. Most download sites take roughly 30% of your track sales. On Bandcamp you can set the price of downloads and it routes through your paypal. Bandcamp takes 15% and then paypal takes a cut as well…but it still doesnt add up to 30%.

Bandcamp is also a good place for doing  promotionals. The site allows you to get people’s email addresses in exchange for a free download.  Things like this will help you build your fanbase. You can also run special promotional code discounts and other promos that you wouldn’t be able to run through iTunes or the bigger download stores.

Bandcamp will also give you a good platform for allowing people to hear your full CD before they decide to buy it. Some people might never buy it if they can hear it anytime for free, but some will.

2. iTunes has more customer loyalty. The reality of it is that most people will get your music from iTunes no matter what. Use Tunecore for this. Tunecore is a platform that allows you to submit your music to big dogs like iTunes, Amazon, Napster…etc. Read this post for more on that:  Alternatives – CD Packaging, Production, & Distribution.   iTunes is pretty much a monopoly in this game of digital downloads. So if you’re looking for a spot where 95% of people are already visiting, put your stuff on iTunes.

3. Who says you can’t do both? iTunes in great, BUT  Bandcamp is awesome for the folks who dont want to submit to “the man” 🙂 and folks who are looking for unconventional ways to do what they do.  So who says you can’t do both. Put your eggs in multiple baskets and they’ll both benefit you in different ways.

You might want to apply for Paypal’s “Micropayments Rate“.  According to Bandcamp, if the items you sell are under $12, it’ll be more advantageous to go the micropayments route so you get the best bang for your buck.  Think of it this way:

If you’re selling a $.99 track through bandcamp, Paypal will still take 30% of that and bandcamp will take their 15%.  You’ll get roughly $.55 of every dollar. That’s not exactly ideal. But if you set up micropayments, Paypal will take a much much smaller percentage and you make more to the dollar.

This is yet another reason why i love working with Paypal and Bandcamp.

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Why Do I Need a CD When Everyone Listens to mp3s?

April 21, 2010

82% of music sales are digital

18% of music sales are CDs

90% of CDs sold are at shows

I attended the LAUNCH Music Conference last week. Over the course of two days and several hours of panels, I had a chance to hear questions and answers to the things that independent artists are thinking about these days.  So here’s a good one: Why spend money on printing hard copies when most people are downloading their music these days? Here’s why:

90% of CD sales are sold at shows
This is your income and people like immediacy. If your audience enjoys your live performance, they’re more likely to buy your music at the show than a few hours, days, or months later. Be sure to capitalize on the fact that the source of your income is in the room. Yes, some people will still go home and purchase your tunes online, but many will buy it at the show if you make it available.

Yes, there are still people who like hard copies
People still love liner notes. And some people still want to hear a project from start to finish instead of just downloading their favorite tracks. CDs are still important. Will they still exist in 5 years? I don’t know.

You don’t have to share the profit
Ya, it does cost a good bit of money to get your discs printed. But, once you have them, 100% of the sales are yours. This means you don’t have to share anything with iTunes, Napster, AmazonMp3…etc.  This is by far, the greatest advantage of having a CD.

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Getting Your Fans to Review Your Music

April 6, 2010

Jessica Sonner

It’s great if they post a comment or a review of your album without you asking, but why not go out of your way to ask you fans to say a good word or two…or three

Why does it matter?
Fan comments are a big deal, after all, its the fans that fuel the flame, right? Their your mouth…your “word of mouth”. When a fan drops a nice note or an enthusiastic “I can’t believe your music is so freakin’ amazing!” post on your facebook, that encourages others to check out your tunes, get excited about your music, and possibly download a song.

Where Are They Saying?
Here are a couple very important places where your fans’s words will be noted:

  • iTunes: People read reviews before they buy music. It would be worth asking your fans to put up a kind word or two when downloading your album. By the way, you probably knew this already but iTunes has simplified urls. In other words, if your music is on iTunes, you can direct fans to I’m not sure what they’re doing for artists with incredibly common names.
  • CDBaby: Similar to iTunes, people will read reviews when they’re considering buying your tunes.
  • Facebook Page: Don’t put your wall setting to only show your bands updates. Make sure your fans comments are visible. I’d argue that the “Wall” might actually be more important than the “Info” page.
  • Your Site’s Guestbook: Many people think guestbooks are useless. I’ve always seen guestbooks as just another great way for fans to communicate with you. Check out Jessica Sonner’s guestbook for ideas. It’s clean simple, and the long list of entries prove that she has a devoted following. Guestbooks also are  not exclusive like Facebook where only FB members can comment.
  • Twitter: If your fans say something nice about your music, retweet it. Why not.

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Bandcamp – A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent

January 27, 2010

Colonizing the Cosmos

I first really got into Bandcamp when Pittsburgh Indie band, Colonizing the Cosmos, launched a digital release of their brand new album The First Frontier.  Just when you think there are too many online digital music websites, another pops up. But Bandcamp is unique for several reasons. Here’s why you’ll love it and why it should be an active part of your marketing…

The short end: Bandcamp helps independent artist sell their music.

  1. Layout: If a website is not easy to navigate, it is losing business. Bandcamp has a super clean layout and makes it extremely easy for your fans to listen to your tunes, download specific songs (or whole album), or learn more about you.
  2. It’s FREE: Less Output. More Input. Surprisingly, Bandcamp does not charge its users a thing! I won’t be surprised if they change this policy some day. But for now, 100% of the profit goes to you. However Bandcamp deposits those funds through Paypal; so you must have a PayPal account. Standard PayPal charges apply. You should have a PayPal account anyhow and here’s why: Selling Your Music – Setting up an Online Merch Store.
  3. Emails: First its important to know that you can offer your music for free or for sale. This can vary on each individual song. However, each time someone gets a free download of your music, BC allows you to collect their email address – like a trade. Its a clever way to collect a very important piece of information that will surely keep the connection going between you and your newest fan.
  4. Stats: Bandcamp will tell you how people found out about your BC page – where they’re clicking, what songs they listen to most ofen, what songs have been downloaded, and a host of other things. Over the holidays, I launched a free download of a new song of mine and discovered that most people had heard about it through Facebook and Twitter. Yes, even more proof that MySpace is dead 🙂 I also discovered that  a few people had snagged the widget BC offered for my song and put it on their own blogs.
  5. It’s the sign of the times: If you have music for sale, but you’re not focusing on digital distribution, then you’re losing out on income and a fanbase that is too lazy to go to the store and find you. Besides, you’re music probably isn’t in the store.
  6. The Alternative: If you’re an artist using iTunes (especially if you’ve been setup through CDBaby or another third party), you know that you only see roughly $0.65 of every dollar. Yea, everyone has to make their money. but its great to have options.

Oh and Bandcamp is not paying me to write this. So if the above sounds like one big advertisement, its probably because I really like them. p.s. Grassrootsy will begin accepting advertising in the very near future. You can inquire about that.

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Good Marketing for an Upcoming CD Release

August 12, 2009
TJ Cornwall

TJ Cornwall

A couple independent artists are releasing CD’s next month and have some great self promotion to go along with it. So I thought I’d highlight the efforts of a full time independent artist named TJ Cornwall.  Hopefully this information will help a few of you who might be putting out new projects or just need some good marketing ideas from a peer. 

T.J. Cornwall:

Revamped Website: Check out TJ’s myspace. The layout (created by Hidden Conspiracy Designs) is incredibly beautiful and easy to navigate.  TJ doesn’t have an official site but his myspace is professional-looking and can easily substitute as an official site.  Also notice that the design of his site corresponds with the cover art of his new CD.  Everyting matches, therefore creating consistency.

Countdown Clock: It’s always fun to build anticipation by posting something like a timer.  It might not make the world of difference, but subconsciously, there’s something exciting about counting down to a large event (think New Years Day).

Pre-orders: In addition to building hype for his CD release, TJ is also offering pre-orders of “Stepping Stones”.  People like pre-orders b/c they like to have things “now”.  Giving people the option to pre-order your project is just another way of “Thinking like a Record Label” and probably increasing sales.

By the way TJ uses BigCartel.  BigCartel helps artiststo create easily customizable shopping carts for their website. Funds go through PayPal. Check out TJ’s cumstomized cart

CD/T-shirt Bundle: If you’ve got merch, it’ll probably be easier to sell along with a new CD than on its own.  Offer bundles, 2-for-1 deals, or other special deals while there’s still a whole lotta hype around your new project. It’ll pay off!

Incentive: Now that TJ’s got a new CD, he’s offering a free download of his older CD to anyone who  signs up for his newsletter.  Many artists are doing that these days. Smart move.

Video: Last but not least, TJ has been documenting the making of  his CD, which is an excellent way to engage fans and build anticipation. Check out the first video in the series: “Stepping Stones Recording Video 1


Also check out another artist, Ben Alper. He revamped his myspace and has his CD already setup on iTunes even though it doesnt release for another month.  Nothing like having a hard copy and digital copy available at the same time.

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Creating a Killer Marketing Plan for Your Music

April 27, 2009


While visiting Artist House Music  (and incredible music business site) today, I came across a really rock-solid marketing plan by Boston-based Band Convey.  It prompted me to put up this post.  Make sure to check out Convey’s Marketing Plan when you have a chance.

The key to having a killer marketing plan is being practical.  Yea…you’re supposed to have goals…and they can even be hard to reach goals. But make sure that you intend to put in enough work…so that even if they are hard to reach, they’ll still be attainable.

Have a Budget
As it’s been said many times in this blog, money issues are the hardest part of pursuing music.  Having a budget doesn’t necessarily make things easier but it will help you to keep a clear cut account of what your funds are going into. How much are you willing to spend on PR material (i.e. press kits, posters, cds, display…etc)? When you have a defined limit, you’ll be able to make careful decision on what expennses are absolutely essential.  Budgets will especially benefit bands.  Its good for a band to corporately decide when/how/what they will spend their money on.

Plan Ahead (ya, there’s so much about this concept on Grassrootsy)
There’s plenty to read on this.  Check out the Planning Ahead – The Key to a Successful Show post or Planning a Tour: Making it Worth The Trip.  There’s no greater way to make a show or CD Release a success than planning ahead.  Convey plans to have their CD at their doorstep a full 4 weeks before the release date!  Their giving themselves a month to submit their songs to iTunes thru Tunecore.  That’s impressive for an indie artists.

Doing things with a Bang
Do what needs to be done to show people you are serious about a project or an event.  During that 4 weeks of promotional time, Convey is redesigning their website, their myspace, setting up a paypal account, iTunes purchasing…etc.  Like it says in the Looking Professional Even When You’re Not (or are you? i just can’t tell!) post, when you show people you are serious, they will take you serious.  Doing things with a bang doesnt mean you need to spend ridiculous amounts of money. But it does mean you need to spend ridiculous amounts of time.   There is no way you can do the job well if you don’t spend time maintaining your websites, recording and posting those videos on itunes, corresponding with your audience, and hyping up shows via social networking sites.

Market around specific events
It’s nearly next to impossible to build hype if there’s nothing to build hype around. Marketing thrives off of the facts: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. If you don’t have a specific event, tour, or significant peice of news, then you simply become like the other millions of bands on myspace who have their music posted.  And anyone can have music online.

Its worth it to set tangeable goals for your music, then create a marketing plan for any large event(s) you have.  If you’re marketing is successful, then you next step will simply be to keep the momentum going by regular communication (w/ fans and pr contacts), website maintenance, quality performances…etc

Be sure to check out Convey’s Marketing Plan.  See what they’ve mapped out for themselves.  Mimick it and alter it to fit your band’s goals.   Here are some other Grassrootsy posts that are related and relevant:


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Alternatives – CD Packaging, Production, & Distribution

March 5, 2009

IndyPendy: big savings for not so big musicians

IndyPendy: big savings for not so big musicians

This is continuation of yesterday’s post: Starting from Scratch: What it takes to Release a CD“. Read that past to get ideas on CD recording, artwork, photography, and packaging.

Now, lets say you don’t want to go the Dismakers or Oasis route (even though they handle digital distribution and other great hookups).  Lets say you just want to do a short print-run of maybe 1-200 discs…, here are resources for you.

Indypendy (Packaging and Production)
Check out Its a very simple company that does very simple work at a very cost-effective price.
They handle CD and DVD duplication at a fraction of the price compared to other companies (but don’t handle things like digital distribution).  And always FREE shipping.  You can ask for proofs ahead of time to make sure you’re getting quality in return. This page will give you a run down on some of the things they offer.

Indypendy especially came in handy 6 weeks before I released my CD.  I wanted advanced copies to send to media but I didnt want to spend so much money on packaging.  For roughly $100 I had them print my artwork on the face of 100 discs and and send it back to me on a spindle.  Here’s what it looked like. I burned the music onto each CD (from my laptop)  and put the CDs in plastic jackets before sending out to local media.

Local companies (Packaging and Production)
Be sure to check into local duplication and production companies in your area.  There are so many short-run companies who can print a small (and large) quantity of your project.  Sometimes cheaper. Sometimes not.  Do your research.  These companies may not handle other things like digital distibution and setting up accounts on CDbaby, but they can be especially good at a speedy turnover time. And sometimes the fact that it is in your neighborhood means you can pick it up and not worry about shipping.

Tunecore (Digital Distribution)
The website spells it all out. Visit to find out how to submit your music to iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, Amazon…etc without the help of Discmakers or Oasis.  There is a fee to submit your music but once the music has been added to any/all stores, you get 100% of the profit made off digital sales.  In other words, Tunecore does not take a cut, though the individual stores will still take their cut.

Lets say you submit a song for distribution to all major online stores.  That’s $9.99. The song sells for .99 on iTunes. Tunecore takes 0% but iTunes still takes their 30% (roughly). I’m sure there are other companies that offer a way to get digital distribution but TC seems to be the most popular.  Do your research and search the internet.

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