A Guide to Opening an Online Store for Musicians and Music Practitioners

by | Dec 15, 2016 | Uncategorized

Hey, gang! This guest post comes to us via Kayleigh Alexandra at MicroStartups.org.

Have you ever thought about launching your own online store? Are you looking for more flexibility in the ways you sell your music and merch?

Then have a read through this post, as there are a lot of great tips.

As a musician, you probably already know that honing and perfecting your craft is only half of what it takes to become successful. Getting your music out there and into the hands and ears of the public – via marketing and promotion – is just as important, allowing you to build an audience and earn money through sales of your songs and merchandise.

Perhaps you already use a microsite platform such as Bandcamp (read the Music Entrepreneur HQ explanation of Bandcamp here) to promote your work, but you’re keen to take it to the next level with an online store of your own. Having a clear and obvious destination for your fans to be able to access your work is a key part of building your profile as a musician, as well as making money. Whether you make music or you’re a teacher selling online courses and training, an online store is the ideal hub from which to operate.

Setting Up Your Online Store

Using a hosted online platform like Shopify, you can create an attractive e-commerce platform in a matter of minutes, choosing from a range of customizable themes and designs to reflect your band’s style and personality. There are designs created specifically for musicians’ needs, and by including apps such as Merchify, you can up the sales with apparel and band merchandise.

The beauty of selling directly to your fans and followers through your own online store rather than a music marketplace is that not only do you avoid paying fees on sales, but you also gather useful data. You can find out more about your fans – who they are, what they like, their demographics – and you can also collect their email addresses, so you can keep them updated about upcoming tours, new tracks and special offers with a regular newsletter.

What To Add To Your Website

As you create your band’s online store, think about what your followers will want to see. Here are some areas to consider building out on your site to keep visitors engaged:

  • An events calendar: this is where you should display all of your upcoming shows and gigs so fans know when and where they can attend
  • A blog: this is a good place to air your thoughts and opinions, talk about your experiences and give your fans a taste of what’s going on behind the scenes
  • Media: plenty of images and videos will bring your site to life and give visitors the best impression of you and your music
  • A community forum: this is a great way to give your fans a platform on the site to interact with one another and share their interest
  • Social buttons, RSS and email signups: make sure there are plenty of ways for your fans to share and find out about your work

How To Sell More Products

When it comes to the main section of your website – the store itself – remember that less is more. Not in terms of the number of items (you can sell as much as you want), but rather the layout and design of the page. A site  that has too much going on – a popup here, an advert there – can be off-putting for visitors and leave them without a clear, straightforward path to purchase. It’s a good idea to break up the store with different sections and filters, making it easy for fans to find what they’re looking for. You should also pay attention to the presentation of your products. Consider the following:

  • Images: you should have at least two or three images for each physical item, preferably showing the product from different angles. The customer cannot pick up and inspect the item themselves, so high quality imagery is important
  • Descriptions: why should your fan buy this product? What makes it so great? Unique product descriptions are important – not only are they your sales pitch, but they also improve your SEO ranking compared to little or no copy
  • Reviews: assuming that the products you sell are good quality and there’s no reason for customers to be unhappy with them, consider adding a “leave review” feature so that customers can give glowing feedback

Everyone that visits your site is a current or potential fan, so make sure that you offer a little something for everyone – whether it’s a freebie here, a shout-out there or a signed CD up for grabs. Digital items can be sold just as easily as physical products, so think outside the box.

Be Social

Lastly, make sure that there is a way to get in contact through your website. If people are going to be spending their money with you, they will want a way to get in touch if they have any queries. Whether you have a formal contact form or a simply a “contact us” button that links with Facebook Chat, it’s being there for your fans that counts.

To give yourself some inspiration as you build your music website, take a look at the likes of Paolo Nutini, Bruno Mars and Norah Jones’ online ventures.

Are you thinking of creating an online store for your band or music business? What’s been holding you back? Let us know about your own experiences selling music and merchandise online in the comments below.