Digital music sales are overtaking their physical counterpart by an ever increasing margin. The majority of music listeners use a variety of streaming platforms to enjoy their music and this has caused a fundamental shift in the music landscape. Although physical albums are still a thing, they’re becoming less popular over time due to the sheer number of streaming platforms and the ubiquitous nature of music on the internet.
This shift in landscape has opened up a new market for independent and signed musicians alike. You no longer need to go the traditional route of signing a deal, relying on radio play and industry execs to get your music heard and in turn generate revenue from it. Now all artists are able to build their following online and capitalise on this by selling their music on several of the popular online streaming platforms. If you are an artist thinking about making money form your music, here’s a quick run down of the different streaming platforms available to you right now.
If you are a registered distributor, you can submit your tracks and albums to iTunes directly and get all of the profit from the sales. iTunes works as a retailer, and the standard price they charge for songs under 10 minutes is USD $0.99, and for albums, it’s $9.99.
From the sale, iTunes keeps 30%, so $0.29 per song and $2.99 per album sold. Which would give you a profit of $0.70 and $7.00 respectively.
To be able to sell your songs you need to fill an application for iTunes Connect, but as said before, it’s for established distributors with at least 20 albums in their catalog with a U.S. Tax ID. If you’re an independent artist trying to directly sell your music through iTunes, read the TuneCore section of this article.
Bandcamp is another online music store that also works as a platform to promote artists, mainly independent musicians. With them, you decide how much you charge for your songs and albums and can even give them for free in exchange for other things like users’ emails.
You can sign up for free and get your site and start uploading your music immediately. Fans will be able to listen to your tracks for free, and if they decide they like it they can buy it at a price set by you, they’re even able to pay extra.
Bandcamp will only take a percentage of sales, 10% for merch products and 15% for music that is reduced to 10% after you make USD $5,000. The processing fees are not included, which are usually between 4-6%. Your payment is done directly to your PayPal account 24 to 48 hours after the sale of digital, and immediately if it’s merch.
TuneCore and Digital Music Distribution Services:
Sites like TuneCore and CDBaby offer artists a way to publish their songs in many online music stores, making it easier to have your tracks almost everywhere, but they do charge for this service.
TuneCore charges an annual fee, $29.99 for an album (increases to $49.99 each following year) and $9.99 per single. In exchange, you get to keep 100% of royalties, so if a track is sold in iTunes, you keep the $0.70. Payment can be through checks, PayPal and EFT.
CDBaby charges a one-time fee of $49 per album and $9.95 per single, but they do keep a 9% of royalties, granting you $0.61 per song in iTunes. Payment is made through Payoneer.
Because stores like iTunes report a month’s sale with a 2-month delay, it can take three months to receive your sales money.
Spotify and Streaming Services
Streaming music services are continuously getting bigger, but so far, they haven’t proven as sustainable platforms for artists. The upside is the popularity, the downside is you’d need millions of streams a month to get a decent profit.
The Final Verdict:
There are many platforms to make money from with music, a combination of 2 or more like Bandcamp and TuneCore can get your music on all available platforms and return almost if not all royalties if you’re an independent musician.