I dislike iTunes. It’s bloated, slow, needs constant updating, and most importantly is ripping off the independent musician. Yes put your music on iTunes, but let’s have a look at my top 5 reasons to focus on your own store.
iTunes is the king of retail music, with more than 70% market share at the time of writing this post. And let’s face it it’s the first destination for many when they look to buy music. But for independent musicians, who rely on word of mouth and social sharing to gather an audience, why would you send them to iTunes when you could send them to your own store to collect the full profits?
I asked the digital director at Universal that very question some 2 years ago, and they said they’d prefer to send people to iTunes. My jaw smashed through the floor.
Let’s dissect iTunes and get you thinking about your own direct strategy.
1) iTunes takes 30% of your profit
Apple makes a fortune on doing very little. An independent musician loses 30% of their profit to the retailer iTunes, but you also have to deal with a digital distributor in order to get your music into iTunes in the first place. These digital distributors like CD Baby and TuneCore will charge you a yearly fee and in most cases charge you a % of your profit also. You could be losing up to 50% of your potential profit just by directing people to iTunes to buy. For a comparison of digital distributor’s you might want to check out my ebook (for the price of a coffee).
2) Sell Merchandise, packages, digital downloads, physical CD’s
iTunes sets the prices and has a limited range in terms of product variety. Your store on the other hand is completely open to your imagination. Just yesterday I went onto Jenny Biddle’s e-store to see the products she had on offer, and already she had bundled CD’s for a special price, discounted other CD’s, and included T-shirts. That was 1 day after the store was completed!
3) Thanks for purchasing let’s keep in touch
When your fans buy from iTunes, you lose the ability to get in touch with them. Personally I love knowing what people think of my music, and I often follow up after a sale to ask ‘do you like it?’ Building this relationship with your fans helps differentiate you as an artist, but most importantly it allows you to market to them directly when you are touring or have a new release. With iTunes a sale is just a number.
4) Why record in HD and sell in SD?
You’ve just spent hours perfecting your recordings, using the best microphones you can get, and painstakingly reviewed every single sound byte and then you let iTunes sell it to your fans in crap quality? Why not sell the music in the highest format possible and preserve those sound bytes for those that adore quality sound. Don’t believe me? See what Neil Young had to say about it.
5) Warm Fuzzies
I always check if I can buy from an artist directly before going to iTunes. It gives me warm fuzzies when I buy directly from an independent musician. I feel good that most of the money is going to them, and I feel like I’m supporting their cause. More warm fuzzies I say.
Let’s build an e-store
For those that already have a website, putting an e-store in to sell your music and merchandise is now relatively simple thanks to WordPress and a few nifty shopping carts. The average user would struggle to get this installed, however we’ve being putting shopping carts into musicians sites recently for as little as $150. You’d only have to sell 8 CD’s at $20 to be in front.
Most of these e-stores link back to Paypal, who take a very small margin. Now that Paypal has gone mainstream (thanks Ebay), most consumers are more than happy to purchase via Paypal, direct from the artist.
The functionality of the stores is superb with the ability to:
– Bundle products together
– Sell Digital Downloads
– Add shipping to an order, or to the individual product
– Offer sales and upsells
Here are some examples of e-stores we’ve recently built:
Can’t afford an e-store?
I highly recommend Bandcamp for those that can’t afford an e-store. For more information on Bandcamp check this post out.