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Use Wordpress to build a website to sell music
Old 21st October 2016
  #31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
The bottom line is that unless you know what you are doing, you are far better off with a digital distributor that can get you onto iTunes, Bandcamp, etc. You'll have far more reach with new audiences. [...]
Totally agreed.

I don't want my discursions about Wordpress and direct sales issues to mislead anyone into thinking that I don't think the best course of action is to put one's music into the online stores and -- unless one is strategically or otherwise opposed to it -- putting one's music in the the stream services.

My current favorite aggregator is DistroKid, which offers super no-frills aggregation to major stores/services (you can pick and choose which) for $20 per artist. They also have block-tier pricing for labels with various numbers of artists.

There's also an in-between, 'Musician Plus' package for $36 that allows two artists and the label service suite of daily sales updates, and customizable label name, release date, and iTunes pricing.
Old 21st October 2016
  #32
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Totally agreed.

I don't want my discursions about Wordpress and direct sales issues to mislead anyone into thinking that I don't think the best course of action is to put one's music into the online stores and -- unless one is strategically or otherwise opposed to it -- putting one's music in the the stream services.

My current favorite aggregator is DistroKid, which offers super no-frills aggregation to major stores/services (you can pick and choose which) for $20 per artist. They also have block-tier pricing for labels with various numbers of artists.

There's also an in-between, 'Musician Plus' package for $36 that allows two artists and the label service suite of daily sales updates, and customizable label name, release date, and iTunes pricing.

Yes, I'm not trying to disuade anyone from DIY, but as someone who has personally dealt with digital downloads and e-com in the industry into the millions of dollars worth of sales, I think that any artist is shooting themselves in the foot spending their time going down this road.

It makes perfect sense for small and medium sized labels who already do Soundscan etc. and have digital deals with distributors and streaming services. It makes very little sense for your average indie artist trying to reach people and sell a few units a week.

I agree with the other comments about merch, that's an entirely different thing, and can certainly be more profitable. In that case, there are also very good options for artists with 3rd party vendors who can handle orders and drop ship for you.
Old 23rd October 2016
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
I have a strong appreciation for the DIY and KISS ethos. (ethii?)

But today, its tough. Have you tested your site on multiple browsers and multiple screen resolutions? Worse - at least a third of users are mobile these days - have you developed either a liquid or adaptive framework for them?

.
1. Yes I have

2. No. I don't have a phone and I don't care about phones. You will call me stupid for this. But my other site plays on people's phones just fine and this one probably does too and if it doesn't I don't care.
Old 24th October 2016
  #34
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^^ Yeah that's the attitude, **** my customers! IIRC its almost split 50/50 between using a PC to access the internet and using a mobile.

Also, The talk of DIY here is kind of funny. How is wordpress more DIY then Wix? you want to true DIY it? Run your own webserver, and code the whole thing yourself. Then process transactions yourself too.

Like I said before, you could be completely done by now.
Old 24th October 2016
  #35
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Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KamandaSD View Post
Also, The talk of DIY here is kind of funny. How is wordpress more DIY then Wix? you want to true DIY it? Run your own webserver, and code the whole thing yourself. Then process transactions yourself too.

Like I said before, you could be completely done by now.

Please don't DIY it. I went through the hassle of having my own web server and coding my own HTML. (Back then, there weren't any decent HTML editors, so it was all done in NOTEPAD using raw HTML code.) You know what made me switch to Wix? Seeing that after all of my hard work, a Wix template kicked my website's butt. Wix saves tons of time and the end results are very visually appealing. Plus their webshop interface looks great!
Old 26th October 2016
  #36
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weesaul's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammy Havoc View Post
Using WordPress is great for selling merchandise, we're using WooCommerce and Stripe over on the Voidance Records Shop, Stripe is a free payment processor. Works well, only takes a few hours to get the whole thing up and running.

We were selling music through it as a digital product (option in WooCommerce), but we've recently decided that from here on out, we're giving away our records, open-sourcing the project files, and funding the whole thing through merch, as the merch has proven surprisingly lucrative versus streaming and selling records.

We're using The Printful for merchandise fulfillment via WordPress too, so we don't actually have to print our merchandise, hold stock, or even dispatch it, it's all automated. Selling music is fairly dead unless you're on a major label with significant TV and radio exposure, especially when compared to selling a product like clothing; everybody has to cover themselves, not everybody has to buy records. Go figure.

We're also distributing our records via RouteNote to the traditional stores and streaming platforms in case anybody wants it on Spotify, Apple Music et cetera. This means we can monetize through use of our tracks on YouTube etc and collect royalties.
RouteNote is free (they take a 15% cut unless you want to pay a small fee), and the experience has been far better than it was with Ditto Music-- which in our experience for two releases, was quite frankly bollocks with missing statistics to this day for the major stores, and dozens of support tickets over typos in metadata that weren't there in the information we submitted.

I offer a web design and development service, happy to help anybody set up their WordPress CMS for a reasonable figure if that's what you're after. We offer custom themes, and the configuration of off-the-shelf products.
This guy talks the most sense.

Wordpress rules guys. It's secure, reliable, fast and powers most of the sites that are making money! You have an unending amount of plugins, tools etc to make your site better all for free. Plus, the way its going, merch, gigs and advertising are going to be the only way to sustain musicians.

You can write content and gain SEO traffic with wordpress. Sure, it takes a bit of time to set up, but the ROI is huge. You can post up ads and do all sorts of other things with this platform, it's all set to go in terms of generating some revenue when you start building up your following.

Peace out
Old 27th October 2016
  #37
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by weesaul View Post
This guy talks the most sense.

Wordpress rules guys. It's secure, reliable, fast and powers most of the sites that are making money! You have an unending amount of plugins, tools etc to make your site better all for free. Plus, the way its going, merch, gigs and advertising are going to be the only way to sustain musicians.

You can write content and gain SEO traffic with wordpress. Sure, it takes a bit of time to set up, but the ROI is huge. You can post up ads and do all sorts of other things with this platform, it's all set to go in terms of generating some revenue when you start building up your following.

Peace out
It's secure if you keep up with updates and your server environment is secure, which may or may not be within your control. And if it is, then you are most likely paying for a dedicated server. Wordpress sites get hacked and compromised all the time, it's a reality. It's a huge target for hackers due to it's popularity.

Again, selling digital downloads for individual artists makes less sense than merch, and even at that, there are 3rd party vendors that can handle transactions and shipping for you for a small fee. You can link everything from your website (wordpress or otherwise) without having to handle transactions yourself.

ROI is not huge for individual artsits when you consider the time invested vs money made, server fees, compliance, processing, etc.

Digital distribution through regular channels gets your music to a far larger audience (both sales and streaming services), does not require technical expertise, and there is no time investment in order processing, customer support, costs for server, hosting, etc. Additionally, sales are registered and tracked (Soundscan, etc.).

Not trying be the dissenting opinion here, but I've dealt with this extensively, both large and small scale (artists and labels) for over a decade, millions in sales. IMO It makes more sense for small and medium size record labels (with staff) to do their own e-commerce. Less sense for individual artists over the long term. You are potentially limiting your reach, and spending far more than you will recoup, which is the case with most indie artists.
Old 27th October 2016
  #38
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weesaul's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
It's secure if you keep up with updates and your server environment is secure, which may or may not be within your control. And if it is, then you are most likely paying for a dedicated server. Wordpress sites get hacked and compromised all the time, it's a reality. It's a huge target for hackers due to it's popularity.

Again, selling digital downloads for individual artists makes less sense than merch, and even at that, there are 3rd party vendors that can handle transactions and shipping for you for a small fee. You can link everything from your website (wordpress or otherwise) without having to handle transactions yourself.

ROI is not huge for individual artsits when you consider the time invested vs money made, server fees, compliance, processing, etc.

Digital distribution through regular channels gets your music to a far larger audience (both sales and streaming services), does not require technical expertise, and there is no time investment in order processing, customer support, costs for server, hosting, etc. Additionally, sales are registered and tracked (Soundscan, etc.).

Not trying be the dissenting opinion here, but I've dealt with this extensively, both large and small scale (artists and labels) for over a decade, millions in sales. IMO It makes more sense for small and medium size record labels (with staff) to do their own e-commerce. Less sense for individual artists over the long term. You are potentially limiting your reach, and spending far more than you will recoup, which is the case with most indie artists.
Yeah, but you can set up a daily backup to email your db over via email everyday! You don't need dedicated hosting, a $2/3month shared hosting is enough to get going.

PCI compliance ain't an issue if you're using Stripe. I don't know... it took me 3-4 days to set up a custom wordpress site. If you get the right theme, you literally don't need to do much editing, a quick hop on over to odesk will get you a programmer to set up things for like $100 just the way you want it.

I think having a good site is extremely important - it will be your hub as a brand, your links to social media - the ability to generate revenue etc as an indie artist starting out until you can get those record sales. It just means there's no begging and you can become a little more of a self sufficient artist!
Old 27th October 2016
  #39
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by weesaul View Post
Yeah, but you can set up a daily backup to email your db over via email everyday! You don't need dedicated hosting, a $2/3month shared hosting is enough to get going.

PCI compliance ain't an issue if you're using Stripe. I don't know... it took me 3-4 days to set up a custom wordpress site. If you get the right theme, you literally don't need to do much editing, a quick hop on over to odesk will get you a programmer to set up things for like $100 just the way you want it.

I think having a good site is extremely important - it will be your hub as a brand, your links to social media - the ability to generate revenue etc as an indie artist starting out until you can get those record sales. It just means there's no begging and you can become a little more of a self sufficient artist!
I totally agree with you, having a good site is extremely important, that is a given. Yes, these things can be set up quickly. Yes, compliance is not an issue if using 3rd party payment processing. However, order processing, chargebacks, refunds and customer service are still your responsibility. My point is that while you need a great online presence, doing the e-com directly through your own website can actually be shooting yourself in the foot for the reasons I have described.

What you want to do is drive traffic to your online sales points, be that iTunes, bandcamp, bestbuy, etc. and to the streaming services. Embed your purchase links to those places. That's where you are going to increase your visibility and build your fanbase. Do this from both social media and your website.

While you will make much more per transaction selling directly, you'll most likely have far fewer sales overall, unless you are already Radiohead and have a huge fanbase already. If you are in that position, then great, but not many are, and the upside becomes less appealing.

Merch is a separate thing from digital downloads, but the same thing can apply in the sense that it is often easier to let a 3rd party handle the merch, processing and shipping. Most major label artists and many labels do it this way, even when they could have staff do it themselves. It just makes more sense and ends up being more cost effective. (Theprintful.com suggestion is a good one, and that's along the lines of what I've been suggesting for the merch side.)

Anyway, I'm honestly not trying to disuade anyone, just want people to be aware of what's involved and to think through the options before jumping in head first handling your own music digital download order processing.

Old 27th October 2016
  #40
Some nice, healthy and positive discussion going on here, lads. Very pleased to see that, very refreshing compared to the last time this was brought up. :- )

Additional thoughts after seeing social media brought up: if you're an obscure artist, it's probably not worth investing serious time into social media at this point. Automating your social media with automatic publishing from your website, YouTube and SoundCloud is probably the way to go, unless you're willing to pay, and probably throw away a lot of money for little return.

Since social media went algorithmic, the whole thing has largely become pay-to-play, ala traditional television advertising. With that said, the numbers of follows and likes you receive do not equate to bottom-line sales, so don't fall into that trap, and don't centralize your audience on a third-party service. Social networks come and go, look at the frailty of the likes of MySpace, Bebo, Last.Fm, and the many other have-beens.

The way to win is to drive traffic to your website and get people subscribed to your newsletter, it's infinitely more effective than social media as it goes direct to inboxes, and you can even automate it when you publish news on your website if you sit and configure things for twenty minutes. Having contact information for your fans that transcends any social network is important. Facebook and Twitter convinced everybody to centralize their marketing around them, and treat them as a modern CRM.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, and now Facebook and Twitter charge you to reach the audience that you brought to their platform, which now makes them money. Social media suckered most people. You don't know much about your fans overall, and when kids and teens don't deem Twitter and Facebook to be cool anymore (oh wait, that just happened, and Twitter's current userbase is declining) then you lose the audience you worked so hard to build. Own your data, ladies and gents, I can't stress this enough. The ultimate CTA (call-to-action) of any social media platform should be getting somebody to subscribe to your email newsletter so you can later send them news on your records and merch, and hopefully make some conversions.

One of the Facebook pages I have access to has over 500,000 likes, but the conversion rate is absolutely lousy, even with paid posts. Looks impressive to anybody outside of the industry, but doesn't really impress anybody in the press. My personal Twitter has almost 30,000 followers, but the overall number of impressions per week averages 15,000 (non-unique, so it could be the same people seeing tweets again and again), and doesn't hit much higher than that when retweeted by major, verified bands and publications. Even paid promoted tweets don't fare much better. Email is by far the most effective method of marketing, and it should be everybody's end-goal.

On the flip-side I can send out an email newsletter to a couple thousand people and guarantee a pretty solid rate of sales.
Old 27th October 2016
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
....What you want to do is drive traffic to your online sales points, be that iTunes, bandcamp, bestbuy, etc. and to the streaming services. Embed your purchase links to those places. That's where you are going to increase your visibility and build your fanbase. Do this from both social media and your website.

While you will make much more per transaction selling directly, you'll most likely have far fewer sales overall, unless you are already Radiohead and have a huge fanbase already. If you are in that position, then great, but not many are, and the upside becomes less appealing....
Clarification, please: If I'm the one driving traffic to my content on digital stores, then whatever traffic my music enjoys is traffic I drove there. So what's the advantage of being there instead of driving that same traffic to my own site?

Or, asked the other way around - if I'm a little nobody, is anyone really discovering me on iTunes or any of the other online stores? I mean, are people really sitting there browsing all the bands in their favorite genre, auditioning tunes, and pressing 'buy'? At least, in any significant numbers? And are they really going to find me, artist number 8,356 out of 20,000? (Full disclosure - I do that, and have bought some music I discovered - but I cannot assume this is commonplace. Maybe I'm just one of a very few.)

Or asked another way - imagine your net on a digital store is 60% after store fees and payment processing fees. But on your own website it's 90%. To make the same total revenue, you need 1.5 times the sales on the store. When you're a total unknown, is the mere fact of being present in stores going to give you 50% more traffic, that you didn't generate yourself?
Old 27th October 2016
  #42
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Clarification, please: If I'm the one driving traffic to my content on digital stores, then whatever traffic my music enjoys is traffic I drove there. So what's the advantage of being there instead of driving that same traffic to my own site?

Or, asked the other way around - if I'm a little nobody, is anyone really discovering me on iTunes or any of the other online stores? I mean, are people really sitting there browsing all the bands in their favorite genre, auditioning tunes, and pressing 'buy'? At least, in any significant numbers? And are they really going to find me, artist number 8,356 out of 20,000?

Or asked another way - imagine your net on a digital store is 60% after store fees and payment processing fees. But on your own website it's 90%. To make the same total revenue, you need 1.5 times the sales on the store. When you're a total unknown, is the mere fact of being present in stores going to give you 50% more traffic, that you didn't generate yourself?


But how are you going to get your traffic to your website? That is the challenge.

As an example, I could sell a second hand SSL compressor on my website. It would literally take 15 minutes to get up and running, and I could keep 100% of the profit. eBay on the other hand will take 10% of the sales fee. But the question still remains... "if I sell it on my website".

In all likelihood, by advertising it on eBay the chances of selling the compressor increase well beyond a factor of 10. Probably closer to a factor of 100 or a factor of 1000 simply because the traffic on eBay is far more targeted and much, much higher than what my site could ever hope for.

That is the benefit of using websites like iTunes or Bandcamp. You may be relatively unknown on those sites, but from the very beginning you are putting your music in a location that is extremely busy with people searching specifically for music.

I don't order my occasional meal from eBay.
I don't look for lawmowers on iTunes.

How am I going to find your website selling your music on the world wide web? In a sea of literally millions and millions of other websites trying to do the same, where the walk drastically stretches out to being miles and miles longer because there are crack pots on every other corner advertising conspiracy theories or offering me high interest rate loans I could never afford or trying to sell me the next best insult-to-human-taste-turned-superfood?

If driving sales is your main goal, the answer is never about restricting your presence to just one place. A sale at 90% profit is great... but a sale at 60% profit is also better than no sale at all, particularly when it comes at zero financial risk to you. You only pay a shop fee when you make a sale.
Old 27th October 2016
  #43
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Clarification, please: If I'm the one driving traffic to my content on digital stores, then whatever traffic my music enjoys is traffic I drove there. So what's the advantage of being there instead of driving that same traffic to my own site?
You first have to define what your goals are. Are you trying to build a career and visibility and make industry inroads, or just do this as a hobby and want to sell a few units to family and friends?

You use social media and your own website to drive whatever traffic you get through those channels, to the distribution points for the sale (or streaming) of your music. This is assuming that you've made the decision to use a digital distributor instead of selling off of your website. (Your website should be playing samples of your music however).

If you are serious about building a career, this would be the preferred method. It gets you out there in ways you won't be able to do yourself.

Of course there's other things as well that are very important (live shows, YouTube, newsletters, etc.)

If you aren't on streaming services, I'm not going to happen to stumble across you on an Apple Music playlist, for example. Then I'm not going to look up your website. Then I'm not going to buy your music. Or my friends aren't, and they aren't going to tell me about you. Or if I'm a Music Supervisor, I'm not going to hear your awesome track, fall in love with it, and find you to inquire about placement of your song in the movie I'm working on, which happens to be Mission Impossible 9

Get it? Think bigger picture here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Or, asked the other way around - if I'm a little nobody, is anyone really discovering me on iTunes or any of the other online stores? I mean, are people really sitting there browsing all the bands in their favorite genre, auditioning tunes, and pressing 'buy'? At least, in any significant numbers? And are they really going to find me, artist number 8,356 out of 20,000? (Full disclosure - I do that, and have bought some music I discovered - but I cannot assume this is commonplace. Maybe I'm just one of a very few.)
See above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Or asked another way - imagine your net on a digital store is 60% after store fees and payment processing fees. But on your own website it's 90%. To make the same total revenue, you need 1.5 times the sales on the store. When you're a total unknown, is the mere fact of being present in stores going to give you 50% more traffic, that you didn't generate yourself?
Subtract hosting fees. Subtract processing fees. Subtract your time for answering emails from people who's file didn't download. Subtract time talking on the phone with your payment processor (Paypal, etc.) because Johnny downloaded your album and then did a chargeback with them (or his mom did because he used her CC without permission), or there was some other issue with the transaction.

Also, without wanting to be too critical, some of the sites I've seen in this discussion and elsewhere that do online sales drive home my point. They look hacky, amateurish and incomplete, and I can tell you exactly which Wordpress template was used. And from that, I can also see how poorly and half-assed it was implemented.

One other comment. All of the smaller labels that I've been involved with that do digital sales and downloads directly, also distribute the music through the major digital distribution channels, and they also have major label distribution as well. This is never a one or the other situation. The difference is that they have staff to deal with Soundscan, customer service, shipping orders (cd's and regular merch), and have their pipelines in place to do the required marketing and promo to actually make it worthwhile. The direct sales are still a small part of their business.

If I'm looking at an artist's site and they don't have digital distribution (iTunes, etc.), have a mediocre web presence, and aren't active on social media, it gives the immediate impression they aren't serious about their craft or working very hard at it. In turn, I the viewer am less likely to care about them.

If you are on iTunes, etc. but are only "artist number 8,356 out of 20,000", at least you are on iTunes, and people will see you are there when you promote that fact elsewhere. It adds credibility to your music in the eyes/ears of your audience.

Get yourself on those channels, promote those channels as best you can, and then primarily focus hard on making the best music you can and you have a better chance of building your fanbase.

You've all heard the saying, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" - The same thing applies here.


Last edited by Squawk; 27th October 2016 at 05:55 AM.. Reason: typos
Old 27th October 2016
  #44
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Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDStudios View Post
But how are you going to get your traffic to your website? That is the challenge.

As an example, I could sell a second hand SSL compressor on my website. It would literally take 15 minutes to get up and running, and I could keep 100% of the profit. eBay on the other hand will take 10% of the sales fee. But the question still remains... "if I sell it on my website".

In all likelihood, by advertising it on eBay the chances of selling the compressor increase well beyond a factor of 10. Probably closer to a factor of 100 or a factor of 1000 simply because the traffic on eBay is far more targeted and much, much higher than what my site could ever hope for.

That is the benefit of using websites like iTunes or Bandcamp. You may be relatively unknown on those sites, but from the very beginning you are putting your music in a location that is extremely busy with people searching specifically for music.

I don't order my occasional meal from eBay.
I don't look for lawmowers on iTunes.

How am I going to find your website selling your music on the world wide web? In a sea of literally millions and millions of other websites trying to do the same, where the walk drastically stretches out to being miles and miles longer because there are crack pots on every other corner advertising conspiracy theories or offering me high interest rate loans I could never afford or trying to sell me the next best insult-to-human-taste-turned-superfood?

If driving sales is your main goal, the answer is never about restricting your presence to just one place. A sale at 90% profit is great... but a sale at 60% profit is also better than no sale at all, particularly when it comes at zero financial risk to you. You only pay a shop fee when you make a sale.
I couldn't agree more. Very well said.
Old 27th October 2016
  #45
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Wow - I have to second Mr. H Havoc's sentiment - what a great quality discussion on this topic. Thanks everyone.

Now, not to be intentionally obtuse, but let me try to sort out the many angles being discussed here. We started off talking about Wordpress sites, and are now talking about social media campaigns, digital distributors, digital stores, and streaming services.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LDStudios View Post
...As an example, I could sell a second hand SSL compressor on my website. It would literally take 15 minutes to get up and running, and I could keep 100% of the profit. eBay on the other hand will take 10% of the sales fee. But the question still remains... "if I sell it on my website". In all likelihood, by advertising it on eBay the chances of selling the compressor increase well beyond a factor of 10. Probably closer to a factor of 100 or a factor of 1000 simply because the traffic on eBay is far more targeted and much, much higher than what my site could ever hope for.
Absolutely true - because eBay has lots of people actively searching for 'ssl compressor' and then carefully perusing offers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LDStudios View Post
That is the benefit of using websites like iTunes or Bandcamp. You may be relatively unknown on those sites, but from the very beginning you are putting your music in a location that is extremely busy with people searching specifically for music...
But there is my question - ARE lots and lots of people using digital store websites to actively search for 'my favorite genre' and then carefully perusing deep into the offers? Or are they just going there to buy the latest tune from artists they're already aware of? And even if they are perusing deep, what are the odds they're going to find my hidden gem of an album among the 15,000 other results? I'm not saying they're not - I have no information one way or another. I'm really asking the question - are digital stores actually very good discovery tools for new and emerging artists? If so, then, yes, that's a major benefit.

However, other benefits of being present in digital stores have been presented.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
...Subtract your time for answering emails from people who's file didn't download. Subtract time talking on the phone with your payment processor (Paypal, etc.) because Johnny downloaded your album and then did a chargeback with them (or his mom did because he used her CC without permission), or there was some other issue with the transaction.

Also, without wanting to be too critical, some of the sites I've seen in this discussion and elsewhere that do online sales drive home my point. They look hacky, amateurish and incomplete, and I can tell you exactly which Wordpress template was used. And from that, I can also see how poorly and half-assed it was implemented.

One other comment. All of the smaller labels that I've been involved with that do digital sales and downloads directly, also distribute the music through the major digital distribution channels, and they also have major label distribution as well. This is never a one or the other situation. The difference is that they have staff to deal with Soundscan, customer service, shipping orders (cd's and regular merch), and have their pipelines in place to do the required marketing and promo to actually make it worthwhile. The direct sales are still a small part of their business.

If I'm looking at an artist's site and they don't have digital distribution (iTunes, etc.), have a mediocre web presence, and aren't active on social media, it gives the immediate impression they aren't serious about their craft or working very hard at it. In turn, I the viewer am less likely to care about them.

If you are on iTunes, etc. but are only "artist number 8,356 out of 20,000", at least you are on iTunes, and people will see you are there when you promote that fact elsewhere. It adds credibility to your music in the eyes/ears of your audience.

Get yourself on those channels, promote those channels as best you can, and then primarily focus hard on making the best music you can and you have a better chance of building your fanbase.
All excellent points, thanks. The question then becomes whether theses advantages outweigh the store fees. Given that some stores are as little as 15%, I can easily see that being much more than offset by the freedom to focus on music creation and fanbase building. In other words, even if it turns out they're not the best discovery tools, there are other compelling arguments in their favor.

But that leaves us still beating the discovery horse - none of those benefits of the stores matters if we're not discovered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
...If you aren't on streaming services, I'm not going to happen to stumble across you on an Apple Music playlist, for example. Then I'm not going to look up your website. Then I'm not going to buy your music. Or my friends aren't, and they aren't going to tell me about you. Or if I'm a Music Supervisor, I'm not going to hear your awesome track, fall in love with it, and find you to inquire about placement of your song in the movie I'm working on, which happens to be Mission Impossible 9......Of course there's other things as well that are very important (live shows, YouTube......
Nail hit on the head, I think.

Not long ago most people's primary discovery medium was radio. Maybe it still is, but my little album is never going to get mainstream radio airplay. But now we have streaming - where both people and machines compile playlists by genre and interest - and here there is a small possibility of ending up on a playlist, being heard, and thus discovered by someone. Again, I don't know what the real life odds are. You're still artist x out of Y, where Y is a very large number. Someone will reply that any chance is better than the zero chance if you're not there. Then the question becomes whether there are any downsides to being on the streaming services that outweigh the small chance of being discovered. For example, if 50 streaming customers discover my music, but being on their streaming service means they never buy any of it, and the per-play rates mean I earn 50-cents from their plays, then the value of that discovery could be questioned. I would have been better off having just 5 people discover me in a medium that encourages purchase. OR, do those 50 early-adopters serve to spread the word to a few hundred others who DO end up buying something? And maybe they spread the word to a few thousand others?......... Hard to know. Certainly that's how terrestrial radio always worked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
....You use social media and your own website to drive whatever traffic you get through those channels, to the distribution points for the sale...
Social media, self-promotion, college radio, bloggers, live shows.....all those other ways to get yourself known. A lot of work. Same question - effectiveness, cost/benefit. I put together a band website, have music available there to listen to, encourage people to join the mailing list and engage with them. Go out there and try to bring some traffic in. Does this produce results that so grossly outweigh streaming discovery that streaming seems pointless? Or do they produce similar results? Or do these self-promo activities require sooooooo much time and effort and produce so little that this is in fact the nearly pointless activity?

OR - are the two complementary? Does being able to say "Check me out on streaming service X" on your website add just the cachet of validity that tips visitors into buying? Inversely, does having an active self-promo campaign and resulting web presence convince streaming discoverers that you're for real, with the same result? As suggested:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawk View Post
...they don't have digital distribution (iTunes, etc.), have a mediocre web presence, and aren't active on social media, it gives the immediate impression they aren't serious about their craft or working very hard at it. In turn, I the viewer am less likely to care about them. If you are on iTunes, etc. but are only "artist number 8,356 out of 20,000", at least you are on iTunes, and people will see you are there when you promote that fact elsewhere. It adds credibility to your music in the eyes/ears of your audience.
Whew - need a breather to take stock of it all.
Old 27th October 2016
  #46
Lives for gear
 
Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Wow - I have to second Mr. H Havoc's sentiment - what a great quality discussion on this topic. Thanks everyone.

Now, not to be intentionally obtuse, but let me try to sort out the many angles being discussed here. We started off talking about Wordpress sites, and are now talking about social media campaigns, digital distributors, digital stores, and streaming services.



Absolutely true - because eBay has lots of people actively searching for 'ssl compressor' and then carefully perusing offers.



But there is my question - ARE lots and lots of people using digital store websites to actively search for 'my favorite genre' and then carefully perusing deep into the offers? Or are they just going there to buy the latest tune from artists they're already aware of? And even if they are perusing deep, what are the odds they're going to find my hidden gem of an album among the 15,000 other results? I'm not saying they're not - I have no information one way or another. I'm really asking the question - are digital stores actually very good discovery tools for new and emerging artists? If so, then, yes, that's a major benefit.

However, other benefits of being present in digital stores have been presented.



All excellent points, thanks. The question then becomes whether theses advantages outweigh the store fees. Given that some stores are as little as 15%, I can easily see that being much more than offset by the freedom to focus on music creation and fanbase building. In other words, even if it turns out they're not the best discovery tools, there are other compelling arguments in their favor.

But that leaves us still beating the discovery horse - none of those benefits of the stores matters if we're not discovered.



Nail hit on the head, I think.

Not long ago most people's primary discovery medium was radio. Maybe it still is, but my little album is never going to get mainstream radio airplay. But now we have streaming - where both people and machines compile playlists by genre and interest - and here there is a small possibility of ending up on a playlist, being heard, and thus discovered by someone. Again, I don't know what the real life odds are. You're still artist x out of Y, where Y is a very large number. Someone will reply that any chance is better than the zero chance if you're not there. Then the question becomes whether there are any downsides to being on the streaming services that outweigh the small chance of being discovered. For example, if 50 streaming customers discover my music, but being on their streaming service means they never buy any of it, and the per-play rates mean I earn 50-cents from their plays, then the value of that discovery could be questioned. I would have been better off having just 5 people discover me in a medium that encourages purchase. OR, do those 50 early-adopters serve to spread the word to a few hundred others who DO end up buying something? And maybe they spread the word to a few thousand others?......... Hard to know. Certainly that's how terrestrial radio always worked.



Social media, self-promotion, college radio, bloggers, live shows.....all those other ways to get yourself known. A lot of work. Same question - effectiveness, cost/benefit. I put together a band website, have music available there to listen to, encourage people to join the mailing list and engage with them. Go out there and try to bring some traffic in. Does this produce results that so grossly outweigh streaming discovery that streaming seems pointless? Or do they produce similar results? Or do these self-promo activities require sooooooo much time and effort and produce so little that this is in fact the nearly pointless activity?

OR - are the two complementary? Does being able to say "Check me out on streaming service X" on your website add just the cachet of validity that tips visitors into buying? Inversely, does having an active self-promo campaign and resulting web presence convince streaming discoverers that you're for real, with the same result? As suggested:



Whew - need a breather to take stock of it all.

I think you've brought up some really good points, and illustrated the minefield that is the music industry today.

The reality is that most independent artists are not going to make a lot of money from sales of music alone. It will require sync deals, touring, merch, YouTube monetization, etc.

Then again the question is, what is the end goal? If you plan to stay indie in the true sense (no label, no label distribution), then you are probably ok with bypassing digital distribution channels, and selling off your website directly, or even doing both.

If your goal is to seek out a music label, then I'd suggest making sure that everything counts towards your visibility, reach, and charting.

You bring up an excellent point regarding streaming. Artists hate it from a financial perspective, labels love it, streaming companies love it. There's money there, it's just not filtering properly to the artists (no "trickle-down" economics here ;-). When and if the laws change, that will hopefully be a much different story. For now, it is what it is.

It's still hard to break through all of the noise without label support. They have vast promotional networks and relationships in play that the average artist will never have access to. They have money that the average artist will never have access to without them. Video support, tour support, terrestrial radio, marketing; They have all of those support systems. However, it's a double edge sword as we are all aware of.

The best thing to do IMHO is go as far as you possibly can as an independent artist, get the most amount of fans and followers you possibly can, tour tour tour, and then look at seeking label support. You are then in a much stronger position, and more likely to get the support you need on friendlier terms to you. Doesn't always happen that way and it may not, but if the goal is to make a living as an artist, it may be required.

Of course this is assuming that you have great music that people want to listen to, and are compelling as an artist.
Old 27th October 2016
  #47
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Clarification, please: If I'm the one driving traffic to my content on digital stores, then whatever traffic my music enjoys is traffic I drove there. So what's the advantage of being there instead of driving that same traffic to my own site?

Or, asked the other way around - if I'm a little nobody, is anyone really discovering me on iTunes or any of the other online stores? I mean, are people really sitting there browsing all the bands in their favorite genre, auditioning tunes, and pressing 'buy'? At least, in any significant numbers? And are they really going to find me, artist number 8,356 out of 20,000? (Full disclosure - I do that, and have bought some music I discovered - but I cannot assume this is commonplace. Maybe I'm just one of a very few.)

Or asked another way - imagine your net on a digital store is 60% after store fees and payment processing fees. But on your own website it's 90%. To make the same total revenue, you need 1.5 times the sales on the store. When you're a total unknown, is the mere fact of being present in stores going to give you 50% more traffic, that you didn't generate yourself?
There's nothing stopping one from having direct sales via his website AND having his product in major online stores as well as streaming (if desired). Hell, you could even additionally have your own 'HD' store selling high sample rate/24 bit FLACs via Bandcamp.

It seems to me if you want to maximize sales, you need to have your product in the stores that people are comfortable and familiar with -- and that's places like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play. Additionally, while there's still much argument about streaming among the DIY crowd, a lot of mainstream artists -- including many who seemed deadset against streaming 5 or 10 years ago -- have realized that it is often revenue that you won't get if you're not there.

And, with regard to mobile... like it or hate it, most browsing is now done mobile. Sure, 'quality' browsing may be the province of the desktop for many -- but many others don't even have a desktop computer and likely never will again.

Mobile IS (or at least usually is) a big PITA to deal with as a web developer -- and, to be honest, that's one of the things driving the adoption of Wordpress for individual sites and the use of various code frameworks for large site development -- developing sites that work well across platforms requires exception handling for a the wide variety of browsers and devices people use -- and for the format requirements strongly suggested by entities like Google.
Old 27th October 2016
  #48
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Wow - I have to second Mr. H Havoc's sentiment - what a great quality discussion on this topic. Thanks everyone.

Now, not to be intentionally obtuse, but let me try to sort out the many angles being discussed here. We started off talking about Wordpress sites, and are now talking about social media campaigns, digital distributors, digital stores, and streaming services.

Absolutely true - because eBay has lots of people actively searching for 'ssl compressor' and then carefully perusing offers.

But there is my question - ARE lots and lots of people using digital store websites to actively search for 'my favorite genre' and then carefully perusing deep into the offers? Or are they just going there to buy the latest tune from artists they're already aware of? And even if they are perusing deep, what are the odds they're going to find my hidden gem of an album among the 15,000 other results? I'm not saying they're not - I have no information one way or another. I'm really asking the question - are digital stores actually very good discovery tools for new and emerging artists? If so, then, yes, that's a major benefit.

However, other benefits of being present in digital stores have been presented.

While a lot of sales on eBay are the result of people heading straight to their desired item, a huge amount of the sales generated on eBay are the result of browsing or shear coincidence. I never went to eBay with the intention of buying a Lexicon 224XL, but it still ended up in my rack. Likewise, a lot of people who simply went to eBay to buy a compressor (maybe an API 2500, or a Focusrite Red), ended up with an SSL in their rack.

I have no idea how many people actively search iTunes or Bandcamp, but in the same vein it is impossible to predict how many people will ultimately end up on your own website too. The metrics of converting leads and potential customers into sales is an exhausting thing to consider. Music sales are tough to generate in any circumstance. You are up against labels with lots of money and global distribution and marketing platforms.

That is why the discussion MUST include social media, digital stores, etc. Even search engine optimisation, the correct use of meta descriptions and tags. Correctly structured data, mailing lists, cross promotions, PR of any kind (album reviews, blog articles, anything). That is precisely what your competition is doing to generate sales, so you MUST do it if you want to compete.

Not doing it, means your music dwells at the bottom of the heap of internet music... largely never seeing the light of day. And that is also why capitalising on websites like iTunes and Bandcamp are crucial. Putting your music in the path of as many people's journeys across the internet as possible is a must, particularly when it comes at zero upfront cost. Zero upfront costs are amazing. The best. Because the rest of the marketing tools can and most likely will cost a fortune with mixed success.
Old 28th October 2016
  #49
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDStudios View Post
...I have no idea how many people actively search iTunes or Bandcamp, but in the same vein it is impossible to predict how many people will ultimately end up on your own website too. The metrics of converting leads and potential customers into sales is an exhausting thing to consider....
I found a few resources on the topic of where people are discovering music these days:

Nielsen - Music Discovery Still Dominated by Radio, Says Nielsen Music 360 Report

Mashable - How We Discover New Music Today [INFOGRAPHIC]

TechDirt - Where Do Teens Discover New Music? YouTube

Interesting to note that while 68% of teens listen to music on Youtube, only 7% say it's where they discover music. I read, but cannot re-locate, an article on the subject wherein a dad laments that his teenage daughter listens the same 7 or so popular songs ad nauseum on Youtube, completely ignoring the discovery capabilities.

So, ok, most people are still discovering music through the radio, and indie artists will never be on the mainstream radio. So, we have to just turn our attention to those discovery venues that are accessible to us. Next two on the list are word-of-mouth, and Youtube. Curious that streaming services and, notably, digital stores, aren't even on the list - but this is 2012 data - the stone age.
Old 28th October 2016
  #50
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
...And, with regard to mobile... like it or hate it, most browsing is now done mobile. Sure, 'quality' browsing may be the province of the desktop for many -- but many others don't even have a desktop computer and likely never will again.

Mobile IS (or at least usually is) a big PITA to deal with as a web developer -- and, to be honest, that's one of the things driving the adoption of Wordpress for individual sites and the use of various code frameworks for large site development -- developing sites that work well across platforms requires exception handling for a the wide variety of browsers and devices people use -- and for the format requirements strongly suggested by entities like Google.
Agreed. I think it's a strong argument not only for WP, but for the hosted solutions like Wix as well. For in the order of $20 a month I have a team of web pros ensuring my site is as up-to-date as possible regarding mobile and cross-browser compatibility. Yes, I've come around.
Old 28th October 2016
  #51
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
Agreed. I think it's a strong argument not only for WP, but for the hosted solutions like Wix as well. For in the order of $20 a month I have a team of web pros ensuring my site is as up-to-date as possible regarding mobile and cross-browser compatibility. Yes, I've come around.
To be sure. If you're getting what you want and need out of a Wix site, $20/mo isn't outrageous and they provide a lot of built-in solutions.

(I've never set up a Wix site but I have done some work on an existing Shopify site and I will note that with such managed solutions, the more they 'manage,' the less flexible they are and the more complicated dev and support can be. I found working with Shopify to be more difficult than coding from scratch in many ways -- although certainly part of that was learning [yet another] content management system with its sometimes unique approaches. Now, once one learns their rather interesting approach to doing common e-commerce functions, it seems like that knowledge could would help with other Shopify sites -- but from my limited experience it also seems like some Shopify developers come up with some 'interesting' approaches of their own to trick the Shopify system in to doing what their clients want. Like so much else in software development, the more your platform 'does' for you, sometimes the harder and more creatively you have to work to get it to do it the way you want it.)
Old 28th October 2016
  #52
Lives for gear
OK, so reviewing and listening to the words of the wiser and more experienced, the consensus best approach for a fledgling artist appears to be:

1. Get a website - and use either Wordpress (ownership & flexibility but steep learning curve, labor intensive and updates on owner) or a hosted website builder solution like Wix (no programming & pro updates, but less flexible and not owned)

2. Get into Digital Stores - sign up to an aggregator and get into as many digital stores as reasonable;

3. Get onto Streaming Services - also usually via your aggregator

4. Get onto Youtube!

5. Hope for some passive discovery - through store discovery tools, streaming playlists, and Youtube

6. Promote, promote, promote for active discovery - use social media, blogs, live performance, etc. to drive discovery

7. Capture & Build Fan Base - direct traffic from 5 & 6 to your website as much as possible, try to build fan lists, engage with them, to build fan base. Own these connections.

Which all sounds very sensible, and thank you to all for helping illustrate the good sense in it all.

My one reservation is the irony of it. Apparently the best strategy for success in the Indie era, having escaped the tyranny of the big machine of the big corporate labels and their distribution channels, is to fully embrace the big machine of the big corporate internet service providers and their distribution channels.

Mind you, I suspect that's the same as it ever was in most things - obsessively indie & unknown, or rationally indie and successful.
Old 28th October 2016
  #53
Lives for gear
 
Squawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
OK, so reviewing and listening to the words of the wiser and more experienced, the consensus best approach for a fledgling artist appears to be:

1. Get a website - and use either Wordpress (ownership & flexibility but steep learning curve, labor intensive and updates on owner) or a hosted website builder solution like Wix (no programming & pro updates, but less flexible and not owned)

2. Get into Digital Stores - sign up to an aggregator and get into as many digital stores as reasonable;

3. Get onto Streaming Services - also usually via your aggregator

4. Get onto Youtube!

5. Hope for some passive discovery - through store discovery tools, streaming playlists, and Youtube

6. Promote, promote, promote for active discovery - use social media, blogs, live performance, etc. to drive discovery

7. Capture & Build Fan Base - direct traffic from 5 & 6 to your website as much as possible, try to build fan lists, engage with them, to build fan base. Own these connections.

Which all sounds very sensible, and thank you to all for helping illustrate the good sense in it all.

My one reservation is the irony of it. Apparently the best strategy for success in the Indie era, having escaped the tyranny of the big machine of the big corporate labels and their distribution channels, is to fully embrace the big machine of the big corporate internet service providers and their distribution channels.

Mind you, I suspect that's the same as it ever was in most things - obsessively indie & unknown, or rationally indie and successful.
Yup, sounds like you've got the overall picture. One other thing I'll point out. There's been more than a few times when I've been at the studio and label offices where they've been playing music, and I'm like "hey, who's that, sounds very cool", and the reply has been, "oh it's someone's apple music playlist called "Jimbo's Indie Future Pop Metal Polka Playlist" (or whatever) "let me see what artist and track it is"...

Food for thought
Old 11th September 2019
  #54
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicus View Post
I don't have an answer, but might I suggest that the question asked appears to actually encapsulate two questions:

2. Is making such a website do-able for a non-developer in Wordpress?
Yes. It is very easy. It took me a total of 3 days to create my home studio site using WP. It's very flexible and there are tons of resources available for those wanting to get started. High recommend.
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