If you take a look around my house you’ll see 1000’s of CDs stacked high on shelves. These are the little plastic discs that informed so much of my musical knowledge and style. Similar to books, I’m comforted in having these discs at my disposable to break out at any time.
While I don’t regret buying any of these albums, I do sort of regret the format I bought them in all these years later. Currently the number one way to consume music is digitally, whether that be through Apple Music, Spotify, and even YouTube.
Many students have asked me how to get started selling their music online. There are a myriad of ways to do this right now, including going with a distribution partner, but the way I want to show you today is how to do it on your own. Before we get started I am not affiliated with Bandcamp, but I have been using their service since they first launched at the end of the 00’s (and I really love it).
Four reasons to start selling your music on Bandcamp
I’ve found so many different indie artists I like through Bandcamp. They’re one of the first places I go to find new and exciting bands. A lot of my students wanted to try and start selling their music online, and I always recommend using Bandcamp. Which leads right into my first reason you should start using it.
Setting your own price and choosing formats
Some artists are hesitant to sell their music online. Either they don’t have confidence in their product or they don’t know what to price the album or EP at. One of the great things about Bandcamp is that you can set your own price for albums. You can go all Radiohead and set a “pay what you want” model, make your album free, or set a minimum price (i.e. $5 or more).
The service and app also lets listeners listen to your album in advance of buying it. If they really appreciate it, they can go ahead and purchase the full thing, and they can purchase it in multiple formats. You can offer up MP3s, lossless FLAC files and much more.
Bandcamp has paid out over 200 million dollars to artists since launch, so people are buying music still, and will generally pay more than the minimum price to help support musicians.
Physical merch alongside digital
Another reason you should use Bandcamp is that it allows you to put physical merchandise alongside your digital albums. If you want to sell a copy of your new hipster cassette and bundle it with the digital album, you can. If you have t-shirts, USB keys, and even concert tickets, these things can all be sold through your artist page.
Some listeners might already be hearing your album on streaming services, but providing another place to sell your merch, in addition to on your band’s website, is a smart way to make sales. You can also offer listeners coupon codes for discounts, so you can run sales throughout the year.
Subscriptions are all the rage right now. From streaming services like Apple Music, Netflix and HBO to apps (like the one I’m writing this post on), so many businesses are going with subscription models. Thankfully, Bandcamp introduced a way you can have your listeners ‘subscribe’ to you throughout the year.
What does this mean for you and for your listeners? You could offer your entire back catalog, and whatever new music material you had come throughout the year, plus discounts on merch, and more fun stuff for one yearly subscription price.
They key here is to release exclusives and great content throughout the year for your subscribers so they subscribe again next year! Subscriptions also will show you your true fans. If a listener is willing to subscribe to you, they’re more likely to purchase something else from you, like a t-shirt or ticket to your show.
Community and getting yourself heard
Bandcamp has a community vibe to it. Lots of artists are putting their albums there, gaining new fans, and more, which something like the iTunes Store doesn’t have yet. Plus allowing your listeners to give them a chance to listen your album helps build trust that your album won’t be a bad purchase.
Most importantly out of any tip on this list is that using a service like this helps you have a home for your music. There are no gatekeepers telling you what and what you can’t put on the service. Try different things like releasing EPs, full lengths, and more.
You could have the most incredible album in the world, but if there’s no way I can hear or buy it, what’s the point? Using Bandcamp and a little bit of hustle in free marketing (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) will give yourself an opportunity to be heard.
What are you waiting for?
Ok, so that may have been more than 4 reasons you should get on the service. Selfishly, I’d love to hear your album on there, as I’m always looking for new, great music.