Innovating music revenue: New ways artists and bands make money online.

by Matt @ Kurb on May 26, 2008

In order to help everyone to better understand the ways people go about creating an online income, I wanted to provide a simple list, complete with a simple explanation of each method. I will also try to point you toward some resources that you can use to dig deeper into creating online income.


It’s not a horse race!

Research, try different things out, innovate in ways that will work for you and your unique proposition, push forward with that, and drop the things that take effort and resources that aren’t working!

But if you got a hundred different ways to make a dollar every day well you’re not doing too badly in the music industry. In fact you’re doing great cos than you can make 100 into 200 or you can make $1 into $2.

Again, it’s all about innovating and getting to the heart of where and how value is created for the user or purchaser.
#1 – Starting a Blog

Blogs are informational websites that people use to share information. The basic idea here is that the sharing of free information can bring visitors to your website, and you can in turn make a profit from that traffic. Most blogs will show the latest articles (known as posts) on the homepage, making it very easy for people to find the latest information that has been shared.

People use a variety of methods to bring traffic to a blog including search engine optimization, social media, paid advertising, email marketing, and press releases. Recently there is a growing trend of bloggers using traditional media such as television and radio to gain exposure to their blogs, but in all honesty this is only happening for elite level bloggers.

To make money with a blog, people use a variety of different methods including selling advertising space, products, and services. Many other blogs make great money by using affiliate marketing, which is selling products for others in exchange for commissions.

This method is a great way to go, especially if you want to start casually. You can start a blog with no pressure, and allow it to build up over time.

Musicians tip: Musicians can use their blog not only to communicate with fans and draw in new ones but can also create authority, trust and rapport in a wider community by discussing issues of interest to the musician and the lifestyle associated with the music the community is built around.


#2 – Starting a Content Website

This method uses the same basic idea as idea #1. You will use free content to attract visitors to a location where you can sell advertising and products, and create exposure for your brand as a musician and music community authority.

Technically, a blog is a content website, but for the purpose of this guide, ‘content websites’ are the traditional content sites that aren’t blogs. A popular choice amongst webmasters is of course lyric sites.

You got a website with lyrics for 2 million songs?

That’s a lot of search volume.

That’s a lot of advertising space.

You may be wondering to yourself what type of content people use to create content websites. These sites can be built around literally anything, but many of them review products and services or report on news specific to an industry or niche.

Like idea #1, people use a lot of different methods to bring traffic to content websites, such as search engine optimization, social media, paid advertising, email marketing, and press releases.

Musicians tip: As a musician, always think about your niche. You a black metal band and got a lyrics site for every black metal song ever written? And every one of the thousands of pages has a link to your website, your blog, your myspace and an add for your album linking back to your cdbaby and itunes sale pages?

Yeah um that’s gonna HELP with your internet promotion. Help A LOT.

Of course building,  maintaining and administering a monster content site could become pretty much a full time job in itself.

#3 – Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is the process of promoting products for other people and companies, in exchange for commissions. For example, let’s say that you have a site that provides people with home loans. I could sign up as an affiliate and then push people to your loan site. When people get a loan, you will make some money and will pay me a commission. I would be the affiliate marketer and you would be running an affiliate program.

There are thousands of different affiliate programs that you can use to make money online. Here are some examples of some of the more well known programs:

  • eBay – eBay’s affiliate program pays you commissions when you get people to sign up for eBay, and also pays some commissions if the traffic you send ends up buying something on eBay.
  • Amazon – Amazon’s program pays you commissions for pushing people to Amazon. You earn a commission when a person you pushed to Amazon buys a product. Amazon commissions start at 4% and go up from there and depend on how many conversions you can get.

Affiliate marketing is often combined with a few of the other ways to make money online. For example, bloggers often use affiliate marketing to make money from their blog traffic. List builders (see list building section) use affiliate marketing as the primary method of making money with their lists. They will usually send their list an affiliate offer (an offer to buy a product or service) around once per month (sometimes more or less often).

Musicians tip: Affiliate marketing, when you’re ultra clever and have already established a loyal fanbase of 1000+ subscribers represents major opportunites for reasonably established artists to make money in the future that creates value all over the place. Really exciting area for the future.

There’s so much scope. Remember there are affiliate plans for so many things.

Offers can be

novelty – as in a different kind of product associated with the theme of a release or band related news item.

niche – I mean if youre in a punk or emo or metal band with a distinct culture around the music you’re going to be mad not partnering to make fashion items and accessories available as an affiliate. I think any niche can come up with specific high value products tailored to the audience.

trust based – this was something I posted before. When you have an affiliate offer that actually costs nothing, you can ask your fans to sign up as an act of good faith. In my previous example, affiliates were being paid $US1.50 for every sign up to a free ecard service. Get a large teenage or any loyal kind of following and youre going to be printing money.

Value based – There’s not only value for niche related products what if you affiliate with a product that’s just . . . a good product? What if I told everyone to set up skype and make 3c a minute phone calls around the world with a $30 USB handset and I collected $4 for every handset sold through my link?

Some items run commissions as high as 50% (why do you think internet marketers are so keen to sell you penis enlargement pills?)

#4 – List Building

List building is one of the more aggressive and powerful ways to make online money. The method combines amazingly well with affiliate marketing, and most good affiliate marketers rely heavily on building lists to scale up their businesses.

A good list builder will usually set up a site specifically to capture names and emails. You have probably done a search in Google to find a page that offered you a free product. All you have to do to get the free product is type in your name and email, right? By downloading that free product, you will probably be signed up to be on that marketer’s list. He will then be able to communicate with you in the future and will send you and everyone else on the list offers. A certain percentage of the people on the list will take advantage of those offers and this will get the marketer paid.

Good list builders will come up with ways to help the people on their list, which will keep them on the list for a longer time period. They are able to create a win-win. Over time, their list grows larger and larger which provides them with larger and larger income. Good affiliate marketers sometimes end up with millions of names.

To build their lists, list builders usually use a service like Aweber, which helps them to create forms to capture information, and stores the names and emails in a database for future communication.

List building combines with quite a few of the other methods, including blogging, affiliate marketing, lead generation, and starting an online service business.

Musicians tip:  That’s what it says. Your mailing list is SO important now!!! You think giving your mp3’s away free is a silly idea if you can build a fan list of 10,000 people who have connected with your music and trust you?

And just think, when it grows that big and you’ve gained trust with all these people . . . I think your music career will be in rude health!

#5 – Lead Generation

Generating leads can be an extremely lucrative way to create money online. Mortgage leads, for example can be sold for more than $40 per lead, with no promise of conversion.

Usually the process of lead generation involves setting up a site to bring traffic, and then funneling traffic to a page where the visitor requests more information about a product or service. In the case of mortgage loans, the visitor would request more information about a loan. The marketer doing the lead generation (the person who created the lead) will then sell the information to a mortgage broker or company, who will in turn call the lead to try to get them to get a loan.

There are literally hundreds of different industries that rely on lead generation including:

  • Loans
  • Finance
  • Weight Loss
  • Real Estate
  • Credit Cards
  • Cell Phone Plans

Savvy marketers will set up businesses that capture leads in these and other industries and can make some truly killer profits.

Musicians tip:

Yeah I don’t know too much about this one. Affilaite marketing can be done smart by a band.

This kind of thing – mortgages and weight loss – im not sure will be healthy for your brand as a musician pushing this kind of stuff even if

Hey I don’t want to put you in a box but I mean – are your fans mainly fat people looking for houses? Cos if they are you could be doing alright!

#6 – Starting an Online Service Business

Those who become good at generating leads will often transition into creating their own service businesses. They usually realize that while they are able to make good money selling off leads, they could make more by creating businesses for the leads.

For example, a marketer may create a site at some point that provides people with good information about finance. They then go through the lead generation process to create and sell leads to an experienced financial planner. This goes great and the marketer makes great money, but eventually realizes that the financial planner makes a lot more from those leads than he does.

At that point, the marketer will often find a financial planner to partner with, or will become a financial planner himself. The leads are already there so the transition isn’t too complicated.

Selling services online usually takes a few simple steps:

  • Bringing traffic to a website
  • Generating a lead
  • Selling to that lead

Since the first step in the process is bringing traffic to a website, the method is often combined with other ways to make money online including blogging and list building. Many times, people that use this method will also purchase a good amount of paid
advertising, as long as they are able to convert that traffic into clients.

Musicians tip:

Again this is highly refined depending on what skills you have outside of your music – and I should know, because it’s my game!

Don’t step on my toes and decide you’re going to become an internet music marketing guru too! haha

As a marketing and promotions guy, this technique is a cornerstone of my success – having used the concept in theory to create lucrative innovations several times and I will continue to do so for that reason.  

For example – aside from kurb promotions itself most obviously – I’ve just started a new business went back to my part time job in university telling dressing up and telling pirate stories at kids parties because I already had the marketing and business skills, I just needed to find an expensive unique high end high value service or product I could deliver.

So yeah, if you have a kids birthday party coming up, I only charge $150 per hour!!!

DON’T FORGET: this also applies to licensing as a service!!! You might want to think about creating a page or section of your website solely addressing and soliciting for licensing enquiries.

#7 – Creating Products

Those that make the most money online are often those that create their own products. These products are often informational and can be downloaded by the purchaser.

For example, a savvy marketer will do research and then create an information product that will teach people how to lose weight. The product will probably be sold as an ebook or as a site that has a paid membership. The marketer will then use a variety of methods to bring traffic to the site including affiliate marketing (the marketer will recruit affiliates), paid advertising, list building, and sometimes blogging.

Since an informational product costs basically nothing to deliver, there is often great money in creating this type of product. I would highly recommend getting some experience before using this method because there’s a lot to it.

Musicians tip: No brainer. You’re a musician, you sell music. Recently I’ve put a lot of emphasis on innovating your product line but that needs a whole post.

You’re not going to sell a whole bunch of copies of your CD’s any more. You will sell some cd’s. And if you’ve got say

500 other products and different price points and value propositions

You’ll probably sell a fair few of those, too.

I personally will be looking into the ebook thing, maybe when you’re taking a little time out to think about innovating, you might too.

#8 – Setting up an Online Store

The old fall-back is creating an online store that sells tangible products. Some people will buy products at wholesale and sell them at retail for profits. Others will drop-ship, which is the process of selling a product before you buy it. You hold a list of what you can buy products for and sell them at an increase. Your supplier will then ship the product for you.

This method is often combined with many of the other methods including list building, lead generation, affiliate marketing, and creating products.


Musicians tip:

I’m also huge on this – although I don’t see it as a big long term money spinner like affiliate marketing to your mailing list could possibly become, there’s no reason why with a lot of targeted traffic, especially if you’re active in a very obvious niche, you cant pick up more of those lovely little long tail earnings.

Bruce Warila @ mentioned in a blog about how to consider the concept of “competition” in the music business.

Your fans may have already bought your album! Does that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be interested in more stuff that you’re probably in an excellent position of trust and authority to recommend.

Get it right and you not only pick up th e commission but that’s right – your authority and trust within your little niche community continues to grow.

You see we’re living in an era where there’s so much information that trusted sources for high quality content are going to in the position to create a lot of value.

As soon as Dubber @ started his liquid crunch store I knew there was just a little bit of a push toward innovative thinking going on.


Dubber often seems to do these things – such as putting ads on his blog – more than anything to illustrate how rewarding and valuable these propositions can be in the wider context of the music related products, services and value you provide.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

spidertwon 05.27.08 at 11:47 am

yea man great work here i hope to visit my blog

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