Sell Music Directly from Your Website

Thanks to constant tech innovations, there are now a million ways for the independent artist to distribute music digitally. We’ve looked at services like Tunecore and CDBaby that will get your music to many of the major players in digital music sales. And now there are a bunch of ways for the artist to sell music directly from their websites, and enables fans to do the same, with little to no start-up costs. Awesome.

There’s a good introductory article on this topic by David Rose at Know The Music Biz’s Blog. He did a quick survey of his top 10 bands and found that many of them still don’t allow fans to buy mp3’s directly from their websites, myspace profiles, etc. His point being that this just makes it one step harder for people to become your fans. Sure they can go to iTunes, but you might lose some potential listeners that don’t want to bother loading iTunes, etc.

David points to a few services that will allow artists to set up their own webstores for mp3 downloads. These are: Musicane, Hooka, Easybe, and Nimbit.

I’ve checked these out and listed below are some initial thoughts on each one, based on my own requirements as a musician with very limited resources and not a huge fanbase. Most artists aren’t really going to sell that many downloads, no matter how good the music is. So getting free technology is key to making direct music sales worthwhile.

Musicane MP3 Webstore
Musicane MP3 Webstore

Musicane is in beta, and their user interface could use some improvements. But the site’s simple and reasonably elegant layout is nice, as is the design of the embeddable mp3 store. They seem to have some big-name artists using Musicane, which may or may not mean something. Musicane takes 30% of sales, and you keep 70%. Paypal enabled.

  • Musicane’s service is free to use
  • You upload your tracks, copy the “Musicane” code and embed it in any web page you want.
  • You can designate a commission percentage, and enable your listeners to embed your music on their webpages. This is a cool way to get them to participate in your success and maybe make some spare change in the process.

Test Run
I spent a while creating a Musicane for my new EP, Bbelief, and the process took much longer than it should, based on some site bugs and user interface gaps…But I think it’s promising…

Hoooka Indie911 MP3 Webstore
Hoooka Indie911 MP3 Webstore

Don’t judge a book by its cover, but I usually do anyways. The layout and design of this tool just turns me off. They say that their embeddable mp3 seller can be skinned completely to match your custom site, but the custom Hookas I looked at still suffered from a generally tacky design. They made all the music sites look amateurish. And the company name, “Indie911,” seems geared towards hobbyists and tools.

Hooka does, however offer 80% of the sales revenue, taking only 20% for themselves.

Easybe - a 1-2-3 Music Store - Sell Music Downloads
Easybe - a 1-2-3 Music Store - Sell Music Downloads

Unlike the tools above, Easybe is not web-based software that just outputs a code for you to use. Easybe lets you run the whole operation yourself, and is essentially a php-based software solution that you implement and manage yourself. It has advanced features like email list management and tracking, and enables unlimited operations, theoretically.

Easybe requires $68 upfront for artists, and $168 for labels. Since I’m an indie artist and may not even sell $68 worth of music anytime soon from my website, this is not an option for me. If I start doing high volume sales, this would be cool, because it offers better marketing tools and, beyond the upfront fee, you keep all revenue for yourself. Nice. So if you sell thousands of tracks and don’t like sharing the pie, this could work for you.

Nimbit Digital Music Downloads
Nimbit Digital Music Downloads

Nimbit is kind of a hybrid of the above, because it offers both free and paid versions of the service, with some sophisticated and large volume tools to sell not only mp3 downloads, but merchandise and tickets.

  • The free service enables you to embed your mp3s for sale on any webpages, and your fans can too.
  • The company will even skin your Nimbit seller for you, for about $100.
  • Nimbit can also get your tracks into iTunes, Rhapsody, and several other popular online distributors.

Test Run
Nimbit’s service centers around the OMT, or Online Merch Table, where an artist can sell anything they wish. For the FREE service, you can sell digital downloads, and are limited to the default skin for your OMT. But the user interface is much more robust / thorough than Musicane’s, and seems much further along than Musicane. They offer a wider array of services, too. While I don’t love the look of the OMT (I wish it were smaller and not so high-tech looking), it works and seems to work well. I embedded it on my Bbelief page. When I installed the OMT app on my Facebook page yesterday, it said that there were 9 total users of that app. So, clearly these apps have not reached widespread use…

Nimbit mails checks to you, which seems old fashioned. It would be better if they had some Paypal and ACH transfers…

Your Turn

Are You Using Any of these MP3 webstores on Your Sites? Let Us Know in the Comments Section…

21 thoughts on “Sell Music Directly from Your Website”

  1. Nice post Brian. Thanks for providing additional details on each of these services. It’s always great to hear an artist’s perspective on actually using tools like these.

    Keep up the great work!

    David

  2. Hopefully we can get all sides of the coin here…the developers, the artists, the techies, the fans…

    Thanks for your good article, David!

  3. Thanks for reviewing our company.
    Our nimbitOMT facebook application hasn’t had a lot of traction but the same application on MySpace has taken off this month.
    (Went from 21 users to 600!)

    In addition to the nimbitOMT, we offer nimbitSkin, a full blown skinnable webstore with a branded checkout. Perfect for a main web store. Both Skin and OMT run off the same catalog management and on the fly editing as well as pricing.

    FYI: Nimbit’s commissions run from 8.75% to 20% so you’ll always make at least .80 on the dollar. You can price tracks as low as .49 or put them up for FREE. The nimbit platform also includes central content management tools and expanded online distribution (iTunes etc…) all in one place.

  4. Hey there, thanks for including indie911 and hoooka in your reviews here. We are planning to make some changes to the tools, but it will be a few months.

    I would encourage you to have a look at the other things indie911 offers – such as film/tv licensing program (http://www.indie911.com/submit)
    and our video (http://www.indie911.com/indie911) to get a sense of all we have going for indie artists.

    Our artist services company is here: http://artistservices.indie911.com/


    Justin Goldberg
    indie911 networks |( 310.943.7164| M 310.873.8997| F 310.919.3091 * justin@indie911.com
    8949 Sunset Blvd, Suite 201, West Hollywood, California 90069 USA
    

    MANAGEMENT: http://www.measurementarts.com
    ARTIST SERVICES: http://artistservices.indie911.com/
    HOOOKA MUSIC COMMUNITY: http://www.indie911.com/indie911

  5. Thanks Phil for the additional info. Those additional features definitely suggest a great amount of scalability with Nimbit for an indie artist.

    I like how the basic OMT is free, which allows low-volume musicians to still participate. And because the OMT is not just for MP3s, it can be expanded and branded as justified by the artist’s growing success. But those things do come with a cost…

    There were some interesting comments at Hypebot not too long ago about the costs v. benefits of the expanded features…

  6. Hi Justin, your comment was trapped in the spam queue and I didn’t notice until now…Sorry! I did see that Indie911 has a bunch of different services, so hopefully in the near future I will check some of them out and give my 2 cents…

  7. great post, do u know anyone that’s getting a regular check from nimbit ? all these services sound great, but the most important factor is : when it’s time to get paid, will they and/or can they write the checks ? snocap failed terribly at this…
    also, speak for yourself about paypal, i’ve heard some real horror stories about them; because they’re not a bank, they can freeze your money for months at a time

  8. As far as these music services that are in the “start-up” and growth phases, I don’t know of people not getting paid.

    Perhaps some users care to share their experiences? Is money changing hands?

    BTW – I’ve never had a problem with Paypal, and have always found it reliable.

  9. From a post, I made,

    http://www.clousfamily.com, I’ve tried several, and picked Amiestreet, for the moment, because they “sound” the best, but the payout model is the most radical… if I find another that plays and pays better, I’ll likely switch… but I like Amiestreet’s customer service, they’ve been great, and their model is attracting named bands — I had 223 downloads in 2 weeks, the first two weeks, so I felt like it was reporting things to me, and that was more honest than charging me to try to sell their site to my fans… their transpency, and answering questions I had quickly made it feel like a great relationship, even though… they get the first $5… 🙁 Still, if it’s successful, cool… in the meantime, they are playing bandwidth, hosting, upload/downloads… etc. it’s a win for them only if people actually DO by music, and the more successful folks are supporting my efforts — that’s very kind.

    Music is the focus…

    I don’t like you, have a huge number of albums, up to only 7 now, but with this and that — to expect the artist to pay for features, is crazy.

    If the music is good, the site design good… it’s still hard to compete with free — and Itunes, where 80% of the market is now….

    I’ve started to look at selling via Createspace.com, part of amazon, etc. but yes, they want a huge amount of the deal, and don’t play the full song — Amiestreet does… and it’s back to will people rip off the independent artist or not…

    Nimbit called me, the artist rep tried to sell their services, but the math doesn’t add up but for them…

    Here’s the winning business relationship,
    artist + vendor/distributor + fan

    The Internet appears to squeeze out the prior
    artist (+ record label + lots of others)…

    Some would even say that it is now just

    artist + fan … but outside of live music and a hat, that’s not true. Venue owners, etc.

    The internet/isp/and web hosting at the very least impact the user experience. Selling or listening, they shouldn’t be ignored.

    I wanted Nimbit to give free songs, in exchange for an email address… but that’s a feature I have to pay for — well, sadly, I can’t, but on the website/social networking site, I’m getting it anyway… so how well does the player work to sell music? To play it?

    Cdbaby, which has a ton of content isn’t developing these tools, but the hungry new ones are — some can work with Cdbaby, like Amiestreet, and I think be successful for Indies, where co-operation is key… or try to replace it … and good luck!

    However, Magatune’s model, a virtual highly edited listing of music they like isn’t available as a channel for every musician… it calls for lots of planning.

    Love the blog,

    Scott

  10. Audiolife is another great company that empowers artists to create virtual storefronts and sell products directly on their site, blog, or social network. The great thing about it is that it’s completely free to set up.

  11. When went to the Musicane site I was immediately redirected to a bogus anti-virus scanner. I think I was able to close the browser before anything was sent to my computer. I’ll be doing a full scan after I write this. Anyway, thanks for the great info on Nimbit!

  12. Hi Peter. Thanks for writing. What follows is a brief rant of personal observations. I have no experience with Audiolife, so I’m definitely interested in hearing whether people have had much success with it. I’ve used several services in the same niche, and my general “feeling” is that the entire model is a losing enterprise.

    With sites like Nimbit, Musicane, and from the looks of it, Audiolife, you can have some great technology that allows any crappy musician to have some incredible tools to conduct all sorts of online “business”. And since my interest in music marketing has morphed primarily into the tech side of things, I can really appreciate these turnkey, embeddable solutions that people are putting out. Each empowers artists like never before, in different ways. From my very brief scan of Audiolife’s site, they look to be similar. They’ve extended the functionality ever further, but still depend on artists to actually sell things to make their money. They operate on a commission basis, meaning if artists aren’t selling music and merchandise, then they don’t make any money.

    In my narrow experience, no one wants to pay for music anymore, and no one cares about the merchandise of some unknown artist. Especially in today’s era of American Idol and Facebook, where everyone wants to and can be a celebrity in their own way. A company like Audiolife may be able to stay in business by taking a tiny piece of a tiny piece from the millions of amateur musicians out there. But for these amateur musicians, whether they choose Audiolife, Nimbit, or Santa Clause isn’t going to change the lack of demand for their “products”.

    So, my long-winded advice is to consider whether you can create demand sufficient enough to warrant the time and energy in setting up an online merch widget.

    I took a look at your website and it looks like your music does well in the licensing arena. If I were you I’d focus my efforts on that, since there’s more dinero to be made that way these days.

    Best of luck!

  13. I purchased easybe 123..I hate it… no support from seller.
    If your product is faulty and wont work as they describe, don’t expect help…I would love my money back…

  14. Since I posted, I’ve been paid, from Itunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Amiestreet, etc. I don’t think people go looking at random to a person’s website, I think Itunes, and the others… and as they get recommendations from friends. I’m hoping to find someone who puts my stuff into Itunes for a cut, with no money up front… as it does seem to take a long time to break even 🙂

  15. purchased and paid via paypal for easybe 123 and have not heard in the least from them, no download link, no email/contact of any kind, i’am not sure if they are still in business or not,,, anyone know how long i should wait for contact before filling for refund via paypal ?

  16. finally recieved the zip file by email after file of a complaint to paypal, winzip refuses to unzip one of the files, any insalled and entered a dozen albums with samples and pictures, well all seemed as if it might work until purchases were made and this program sent emails to clients with only their name in the email and nothing else, no link to download their mp3 .. nothing,,, support request or refunds continue to go un-answered by easybe ,,, so $168..00.. hours of setup and integration into web site .. rip CDs make samples . scan label input well now you see why i cant even give a + review at all,,

    if any one using this scrip and has it working 100%, leave responce and i will contact and pay for your help!

  17. Jimmy it is possible that your problems with the download e-mail are the same as mine – I discovered that the download links WERE there, but as the e-mails were over 600 pages of mainly blank space, it was nearly impossible to find them. Easybe sent me a new template for the download e-mail, which worked fine initailly, but every time I check the template on the admin page, it has added blank lines, and appears to grow unchecked. I am trying to get a response from Easybe as to what might be causing this, & will post here if I get a solution.

  18. Easybe is a ripoff they do not have any customer service and will not give you a refund for this defective product Do not buy this software. They will not contact you back if you have problems. Stick with a service

  19. While the article offers several good solutions, it doesn’t seem to cover the case of the artist who doesn’t already have website, and would like to have his/her own site from which it’s easy to sell downloadable files (any type of file, but obviously audio files in this case). MadBeeTech at http://www.madbeetech.com is good for that. Your own dot com site to promote your band/music, and to automate the sale of downloadable files. Cheap too – only about 5 bucks a month. Cool stuff like automated downloadable file selling, accepting payments by PayPal or credit card without needing a merchant account, etc. The mentioned host MadBeeTech is just one such service – google something like “sell downloadable files” for other hosts that offer similar services.

  20. I have a children’s album that I would like to sell on my personal website that has other services that are somewhat related. I am hoping that someone might be able to look at what I trying to do and tell me of these programs that are mentioned above, which one would best meet the criteria I am mentioning. I read through all of the comments here and my head is about to explode as I am not a tech person. Not trying to be lazy but just don’t get all the lingo.

    1) I am interested in just selling to my already formed client list. I use intuit for my website and I update the site/add things to it myself. So, while in the future I many use something like CD Baby I would first like to profit in full (or as close to it as possible) since I already have people who will look at these songs when I market them to my existing email/Facebook client list. Why give one of these sites their business when I already have their business is my thinking. I will use them (and allow them to take a cut) once I have exhausted my immediate client list.

    2) I am willing to pay a little bit up front but since I’m not looking for marketing and merchandise sales, I just would just like to be able to sell my songs on my site (I already have a paypal account) and that’s it. very basic.

    Thank you for any input. I greatly appreciate it.

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