How to Market Indie Music Online


Independent music artists received more Grammies in 2009 than major label artists, setting the stage for new opportunities that bypass the traditional route for selling music. In a new era of do-it-yourself marketing, the independent musician can now enjoy a career that revolves around selling digital downloads. In 2008, iTunes became the number one music retail outlet in America, and with the arrival of TuneCore, any independent artist can now sell their original music online. The online model for selling digital downloads has outdated the high cost barriers of the previous century that kept independent artists from pursuing careers in music.

Things You'll Need

  • Original music
  • Licensing
  • Copyright
  • Tunecore account
  • Go to U.S. Library of Congress's website and register for copyrights on your songs. Although it may take weeks to get confirmation, this is a formality that is only necessary to prove when your work was first registered. Your work is technically copyrighted upon its completion. Also, let your performance rights organization (ASCAP, BMI, etc.) know about your release.

  • Visit and sign up for an account. TuneCore is a website that distributes your original music via digital files to online retail outlets such as iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic and others. Upload your music and artwork to the site and wait for confirmation that your music is ready to sell online.

  • Make lists of online music reviewers, promoters, webcasters and other music entities. Research these websites and compile contact information for each of them. Use these contacts to build an email list. Join one of the many email marketing services online or start your own. Request permission to send full song files or samples of your music to them once your music is for sale online. Send press releases about your musical release to online news publications.

  • Join social networks such as MySpace and FaceBook and add as many friends as possible. Let your online friends know about your music. Emphasize what makes your music special. Try to get others to comment on your music so that the word spreads to other people outside your networks. One way to do this is to agree with other artists to comment on their music if they comment on yours.

  • Build an online profile that you can present to larger media outlets such as college radio stations, public radio, terrestrial and satellite radio. Once you can get the attention of these media outlets that agree to play your music, you may see lucrative results in your online music sales. While major labels need close to a million buyers for a CD release to break even, digital download sales require a much smaller fan base to be profitable. For example, if only 1,000 fans buy every song on a 12-song digital download album, there is strong potential for five figure profits.

Tips & Warnings

  • Develop relationships using classified ad networks, offering to swap comment postings on message boards.
  • Put as many songs as possible online for sale.
  • Write songs that have unique subject matter and promote those songs to organizations that may be looking for theme songs for their marketing campaigns. Offer free downloads to help develop a fan base.
  • Not all independent musicians will experience the same results if they follow these steps. The music itself must meet a demand and serve an existing market.

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  • Photo Credit photo by Alex Cosper
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