How Selling Music Online Can Fuel Physical Demand

This is a guest post by Nick Lewis. If you have music advice to share with Independent Music Advice readers, please check the Guest Bloggers Wanted page for info on how to write for us.
How Selling Music Online Can Fuel Physical DemandDigital distribution has opened up countless new opportunities for musicians of all types. It has allowed artists to be (metaphorically) shelved alongside major label releases and those of their heroes on an equal footing. That’s not to say that physical releases should be ignored though, and actually, a well thought out approach to selling music online can actually aid in getting you physical sales. In this article I look at why you should sell your music online before releasing a physical single or album.

Minimising Risk With Digital Singles

The big difference between digital and physical distribution is the up-front costs. It is relatively cheap and easy to get your music available worldwide on iTunes and other online music stores. A physical release on the other hand is a lot more pricey, with the cost of manufacturing and cover printing (amongst other things) considerably adding to the capital required to do it. This makes it much riskier then selling your music online.

However, although digital sales are growing, when it comes to albums they are still eclipsed by CD sales by a considerable margin. And although the vinyl market is small, it is still one of the only consistent growth areas of the music industry at present.

The main advantage of selling music online before deciding to sell a physical product is that it gives you some idea of how much demand for your music there is. This can help you make decisions on how many copies to press up, or whether to take the risk at all.

Online Music And Building Demand

Public relations can only be done effectively when there’s something to promote. A digital single or EP release gives a hook for a public relations and marketing campaign to operate from. Before your physical album release, releasing a couple of digital singles lets you (or your PR agency) build up relationships and interest with bloggers, journalists, DJs and yes, fans. All of these people can be used to help promote your album when it comes out…

If you stay organised and take these digital singles seriously, you could end up with a sizeable mailing list both of industry types and new fans. At the very least, anyone who’s bought your single and has it on their iPod will remember you exist by the time your physical release comes out, and hopefully buy it.

Physical Music As Premium

Perhaps through your digital releases you’ve figured out that there’s only enough demand for a limited run of physical product. In that case, it’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of tiered pricing, something that is becoming increasingly common practice in an industry desperate to take advantage of the higher margins afforded by ‘luxury’ products.

Do a small run of 100 – 500 CDs or vinyl records to support your digital release. If you’ve gained enough exposure from your preceding singles, you might be able to sell them all just to your mailing list.

Selling music online has levelled the playing field for independent musicians, but it also opens up greater opportunities in physical distribution as well – not least in providing a track record for physical distributors to make decisions on.

About The Author:
Nick Lewis is writing on behalf of Zimbalam, a site who pays 100% royalties to musicians selling music online via their digital distribution services.

3 thoughts on “How Selling Music Online Can Fuel Physical Demand”

  1. I have discovered selling music online can definitely fuel physical demand and vice versa. You need to be active online and physically, as fans expect to be able to access your music either way. Anything less seems to make you look like a novice these days and could mean your work gets passed over.

  2. I totally agree with the above… Online releases, including remixes I did for other record labels really helped me brand myself and gain exposer & trust from my fans. I then packaged a couple of my original music that I have been releasing since last year online in a physical cd and I sold 50 copies in 1 week.

    & Now there’s a demand for the cd and I partnered with other 3 people who were also part of the releases, we are going to print more CDs and host gigs. This is why I agree with the above because I know works.

    Really great post, this is informative stuff!!

  3. Nice, thanks for sharing your experiences with us SGZ!! See guys, it does work. Now you just have to put the work in to make it happen!

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