Music Marketing Author and Course Instructor

Blog Post
How to get your music on iTunes

Posted on 2/4/2008

With everything that is happening right now with the Copyright Royalty Board and the new mechanical royalty rate discussions (which will be the first time ever that rates are set for digital products such as digital downloads, subscription services and ringtones – more here from Eric Beall), I thought it might make sense to talk about how you, as an independent musician, can get into the digital music retail game. I did a quick interview for CNN/Fortune last week on the topic of digital distribution, which is a fair enough primer on the basics. Text is below, and shortened interview can be found here.


The good news is that a lot of what independent labels did for artist in the past can now be accomplished by the artists themselves. Distribution is key among the tasks that in the past were monopolized by labels and are now open to almost anyone through forward-thinking online distributors. Two companies in particular have empowered artists to get their music on iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, and the other online retailers: CD Baby and TuneCore. Essentially these online distributors do exactly the same thing  they have direct relationships with the digital retailers and provide a bridge to get your music into the stores. However, they operate slightly differently. CD Baby charges a small fee (currently 9%) for every sale that generates online. Tunecore charges no fee on sales, but instead charges a one-time fee, per store, per album for delivering the music, and one-time charge per song you upload (both charges are currently $.99), plus a $20 annual fee. You'll need to run the numbers to see which one works best for your particular situation. There are other online distributors popping up all the time, but these two are the most established and have a proven track record of success.

One important factor to note: distribution follows marketing. One does not market their music by getting on iTunes. The key is to generate interest outside of these retailers and to drive folks to the outlet so they will buy your music. This is best done though a fully integrated marketing campaign that focuses on effective traditional outlets, and also takes advantage of the marketing outlets and technologies that are now available to the independent musician (Internet marketing is a big part of this, of course). Quick advice: be sure to have your own Web page to start (do not make the mistake of only having a MySpace page), and tour, tour, tour. Of course, checking out my Music Marketing 201 course wont hurt either. 

Blog Index

Interview with Don Passman
    posted 11/18/2009

Clay Shirky on Social Media
    posted 8/6/2009

Covering an Entire Album in a Day
    posted 6/18/2009

Goodbye Jay Bennett
    posted 5/26/2009

This Old Argument Again
    posted 5/22/2009

How to Get Your Music in TV and Film
    posted 3/24/2009

Mother of All Funk Chords
    posted 3/12/2009

Changes at Touch and Go
    posted 2/19/2009

Estelle Bennett – Ronettes
    posted 2/16/2009

Radiohead at the Grammy Awards
    posted 2/9/2009

Apple and the Replacement Cycle
    posted 1/25/2009

Lessig on Colbert
    posted 1/10/2009

Using uStream to Host a Webcast
    posted 11/19/2008

Top 20 Online Promotions for October
    posted 11/8/2008

Talk About Leveraging New Technology!
    posted 10/14/2008

How To Sell Music On Your Website
    posted 9/8/2008

The Word of Mouth Manual Volume II
    posted 7/21/2008

SXSW Interviews
    posted 4/19/2008

Record Store Day
    posted 4/17/2008

    posted 3/16/2008

Why I am a fan of TuneCore
    posted 3/4/2008

How to get your music on iTunes
    posted 2/4/2008

The Trouble with the Future of Radio
    posted 12/3/2007

More losses at Big Box retail
    posted 11/25/2007

The (growing) Cost of Doing Business
    posted 10/30/2007

iTunes drops price of DRM-free music
    posted 10/17/2007

Instant Music
    posted 10/10/2007

Very Legit iTunes Rival
    posted 10/1/2007

Quote of the Year
    posted 9/21/2007

Prince and the Devolution?
    posted 9/14/2007

Does Street Date Still Matter?
    posted 9/13/2007