Is the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program Still Worthwhile for Musicians?

Is the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program Still Worthwhile for Musicians?

For a long time, I’ve been a proponent of the Amazon Associates affiliate program, especially for musicians and newbies.

There are countless products on Amazon, and you can earn commissions on just about anything as an affiliate. In that sense, it’s a great catch-all solution.

But recent changes are starting to make it less and less viable. Why is that?

Check out my latest video on what has been happening with Amazon Associates.

Subscribe to the Music Entrepreneur HQ YouTube channel

Weekly Digest: December 18, 2021

Weekly Digest: December 18, 2021

David Andrew Wiebe, October 2021Hey creator!

And there’s always more where this came from

Must-Have Resource

The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition Kindle and paperback editions are now available. The hardcover edition is coming soon.

The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition

Final Thoughts

Thank you for your creativity and generosity. I’m rooting for you.

How to Earn an Income Promoting Other People’s Products as an Artist

How to Earn an Income Promoting Other People’s Products as an Artist

I’ve been an affiliate for various products since 2011. In that time, I’ve earned thousands of dollars in affiliate commissions.

And that’s what it means to earn an income promoting other people’s products – being an affiliate.

Although I do want to share my experience here, you shouldn’t necessarily look to me as the poster child for successful affiliate marketing ventures.

See, if we’re willing to remain open minded, there’s a great deal we can learn from other industries, niches, and markets. As I’ve shared many times, I take it on myself to follow my interests and passions, study, and bring key takeaways and insights back to you.

So, forget what you know, or what you think you know, and let’s look to the summits of affiliate marketing for just a moment…

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income

In my early days of internet marketing, I learned a great deal from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, who became known for publishing monthly income reports (although that alone was not the reason he rose to prominence).

It would seem he’s fallen out of the habit of publishing income reports in the last few years, but one of his final monthly income reports shows over $100,000 in affiliate earnings alone. That’s six-figures in a month, not in a year.

John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire

Pat Flynn of Smart PassivPat Flynn of Smart Passive Incomee Income

Soon to follow in Flynn’s footsteps was now infamous daily podcaster John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire. Dumas posted over $12,000 in affiliate earnings in his November 2021 income report, with a gross income of nearly $200,000 from other products and services. Again, that’s what he earned in a month, not in a year.

Those two case studies demonstrate just how powerful and amazing affiliate marketing can ultimately be.

Can You Really Earn an Income as an Affiliate?

I don’t want to create the impression that making mad stacks as an affiliate is somehow easy. Generally, becoming an affiliate means driving a lot of targeted traffic to your content – reviews, comparisons, resource roundups, things of that nature. This, so far as I’m concerned, is the most ethical, and powerful way of driving affiliate sales.

Pretending that you enjoy the product when you don’t, spamming your email list and social media profiles with affiliate links, making deceptive marketing claims… all that stuff is, for a lack of a better term (political correctness be damned), stupid.

You know what is fair game for musicians, though? Doing a rig rundown video and sharing affiliate links to the products in the description. Telling a story about your favorite guitar and letting people know where they can get theirs. Talking about your favorite video game and linking it up so your audience can find it easily and conveniently.

When you look at it like that, sharing products is a value add and a low-pressure sale.

I have never advocated musicians become full-time affiliate marketers or to even expect the world from affiliate marketing. Even the top earners, like some of the entrepreneurs mentioned earlier, put significant time and effort into creating content and promoting affiliate offers.

But as a musicpreneur, you should develop awareness for every income opportunity available to you. Personally, I regularly go through the process of identifying opportunities, selecting the ones I want to focus on, and ensuring my schedule is consistent with the pursuits I’ve committed to.

As a musicpreneur, you should develop awareness for every income opportunity available to you. Click To Tweet

And, as I pointed out earlier, I have earned thousands in affiliate commissions over the years. At times, it has been quite substantial, but most of the time it has remained solid mailbox money for me. And what is a career in music if not the accumulation of mailbox money?

Is Affiliate Marketing Too Old School to Work?

No, nothing could be more ridiculous.

Some experts claim it’s too saturated, or there are too many people doing it, or “users are smart and know what you’re doing when you review and link up specific products.”

Quite to the contrary, if you hit the right vein with SEO, you can earn a solid income on the back of your recommendations. Just make sure your recommendations are accurate. Cover the positives and negatives of the products you’re promoting (meaning – you should try the product for yourself before promoting it).

As an artist, don’t focus on driving sales. Instead, include affiliate links where relevant and appropriate, and let the sales flow on their own.

Quick reminder – you can now pre-order the Kindle edition of The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition (just in time for the holidays). Don’t get left behind – be the first to get my latest work into your hands!

Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business

Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business

Before you hate on me, there’s one thing you should know – I signed the petition!

I’m 100% behind the principle of the cause. It would be great to see one cent per stream versus the non-quantifiable decimals they’ve been trying to pass off as compensation.

Sadly, I think the musician community’s focus has been misplaced. All I hear is Spotify this, Spotify that.

Yes, it’s important. But not that important.

Especially compared to some of the things I cover in this post.

Fight for Dollars, Not for Cents!

Many musicians say money isn’t important.

But if that’s true, why are we fighting over cents rather than dollars?

You do know that you can still make $5 to $20 selling your releases, don’t you?

And if you’re going to put the same amount of effort into promoting something anyway…

WHY promote your music on Spotify for mere cents? Especially when you could be making dollars?

Musicians need to wake up and realize ONE THING – that their fans aren’t them!

We’re talking about grade school kids that want to find their identity, feeling like they don’t fit in, combating anxiety and depression…

We’re talking about college kids that want to party and rock out because they aren’t ready to be adults just yet…

We’re talking about adults that sit at a desk job all day daydreaming they were somewhere else doing something else…

THOSE are the people your music is for. And, surprise, surprise, they might just have more money than you do.

Look – I know women aged 25 to 45 that don’t bat an eye dropping $100 per day on food and entertainment. Food for thought.

Now I GET that people don’t always buy what’s readily available for free. We do need to approach the sales process a little differently than we used to. But let me get to that.

So, What’s Your Solution?

If you’re a listener of my podcast, then my answer here is going to be “you’re joking, right?”

The New Music Industry Podcast has over 200 episodes as of this writing, and I’ve talked about dozens (if not hundreds) of alternative ways you can monetize your music. It’s kind of what I’m known for actually.

Here’s a small sample (and I do mean small) of opportunities just waiting to be tapped.

The first is bundling and packaging your music:

The second is setting up a membership site/fan club:

The third is making money from affiliate partnerships, a topic I’ve covered here on the blog in detail:

I shared FIVE ways you can make money as a blogging musician in this episode:

And the sales funnel approach – which has its pros and cons –  is quite popular among musicians as well. John Oszajca shared eloquently on this topic in episode 147 of the podcast:

Need I say more?

There are a TON of ways to make more money in music, and most of them represent a better opportunity than making a cent per stream.

Have Fun While it Lasts

Kanye may have been right. Maybe Bush doesn’t care about black people.

But it sure doesn’t seem like the government cares about artists, independent musicians, or small business owners like me, either.

What do I mean?

Have a read through the following. These are some of the REAL issues independent musicians and businesses are facing. This is what we’re up against.

But be forewarned…

If you read what follows, you might not sleep tonight.

Remember – all this stuff IS coming, and you can read all about it if you go digging for it.

COPPA

YouTubers are having a rough go of this whole COPPA thing, and some are caught in the middle of the mess, with their living on the line.

To be perfectly fair, this child protection act has been around for a long time, and for good reason. Children should not be able to access or view content that’s inappropriate to them.

What’s 100% hypocritical about this is that anyone can easily access pornography at the click of a mouse – child, adult, senior, or otherwise!

But before another YouTuber whines they’re going to lose their poo – because they draw adult-oriented cartoons, and that makes their content incredibly ambiguous – I agree. YouTube needs to sort some of this out before they start acting like the righteousness police.

COPPA isn’t unimportant. The way it’s been implemented, and what has resulted from it, especially on YouTube, seems draconian.

Censorship

You can’t convince me popular social media platforms aren’t actively censoring people.

I’ve literally seen Facebook censor one of my friend’s posts!

I get it. Many of you are crying, “Awesome! We don’t want to hear from those crazy flat earthers anyway!”

No, censorship is quickly evolving beyond what some consider “fake news”, which has become impossible to quantify or verify, when you understand that every event that occurs is seen differently by every human being. And the way media makes money is by getting you to click on that controversial headline.

It’s getting to the point where voicing an opinion that doesn’t conform to the majority is actively ridiculed, suffocated, and even shadow banned.

What’s wrong with opposing views? Hasn’t humanity thrived, especially intellectually, on inquiry, discussion and debate?

If it furthers humanity, then I’m all for people speaking up!

Want to keep building that fan base on Facebook or YouTube? Better not go against their agendas and stances on anything. Otherwise they will ruthlessly demonetize (love how demon is in the word) or delete as they see fit.

Net Neutrality

For all of those who thought they were being clever by using virtual private networks (VPNs)…

Net neutrality has been a heated subject for many years.

Basically, it’s the idea that internet service providers (ISP) should treat all internet communications the same, without discrimination based on user.

What’s that I hear?

Personalization? Localization? Remarketing?

That’s right. Your ISP is already feeding your bias.

Imagine a future where the visibility of your music and website is even less than it is today…

Where it’s no longer just about cutting through the substantial noise created by your competition…

Where it’s no longer about clever marketing tactics…

But where it’s virtually impossible to get your music in front of certain users because there is no neutrality.

Fun future to look forward to, isn’t it ?

Internet = Facebook (or Google, or Amazon, or Apple…)

Another harrowing reality we might need to face is that in the future, the internet might be Facebook or Google or some other big company.

They’re talking about this on a podcast I listen to – PNR With This Old Marketing – so you know it could happen.

I like the internet as it is. I like being able to set up websites. I like being able to promote my business to interested customers.

But no, at some point, things may no longer be as they are, because when you open a browser window in the future, there will be no URL bar, and every “page” we visit could be Amazon.

A place where I have no choice but to pay to play if I want to run any business. A place where I’ve got to obey by a stringent code of conduct or I am booted (also see above).

Same will go for all of us.

Conclusion

As usual, I’m probably going to come across as the contrarian or the jerk in this post, but some things need to be said. And if I’ve got to be the one to say them, so be it.

What we must recognize is that there are more critical battles to be fought.

Technologies, laws, regulations, and restrictions will be rolled out without our consent and you can’t convince me that it’s somehow in our best interest.

When these things do happen, our very way of life will be challenged, never mind the way we monetize our art.

But for the time being, there are MANY ways to generate revenue that don’t revolve around making cents on Spotify.

Better have fun while it lasts…

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.

Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Musicians

Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Musicians

I recently got to thinking about how easily musicians miss opportunities to make money. Not that money’s everything, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Especially in times like these.

Live streaming is all well and good, but it might not cut it in terms of trying to make up for the giant hole gigging left for many (although live events should make a return soon).

So, I figured I would cover another powerful way to earn an income online.

If you’re smart about it, you could incorporate it into your current activity without too much friction or hassle.

Today, we’re going to look at affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is basically the act of promoting other people’s products for commissions.

If you were promoting a $100 product, for example, and you were promised a 25% commission, you should be earning roughly $25 on every sale.

I say “roughly” because fees can add up, whether it’s processor, PayPal or bank fees. But considering the potential upside, that’s not bad.

Here, we’ll get into:

  • The upsides and downsides of affiliate marketing
  • How to choose what products to promote
  • How to get started
  • How to promote products and earn commissions
  • Best practices
  • Whether affiliate marketing works

Upsides to Affiliate Marketing

The primary advantage of affiliate marketing is that you can earn money on products you didn’t have to create.

Having published two albums, two EPs, six singles, two eBooks, five books (and a great deal more,) I’m quite familiar with the man hours involved in developing a variety of products.

The Music Entrepreneur Code

While here, would you consider pre-ordering my new Kindle?

Even more work is involved if you’re thinking about making a sales funnel (i.e. lead magnet, tripwire offer, higher priced offers, etc.). The app you use to build your funnel could prolong the process even more.

Contrast that with affiliate marketing. You can promote a product you didn’t have to put any man hours into and start earning commissions as soon as your affiliate account is set up.

You can also use your existing marketing channels (website, email, social media, etc.) to promote products.

If you need a little inspiration, check out this quote via Bo Bennet:

Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires.

Downsides to Affiliate Marketing

As you can see, there are many upsides to affiliate marketing. But every rose has its thorn, right?

Every rose has its thorn

(I know, I know.)

Here’s the thing…

You’re not in control of the products you promote. The creator may discontinue the product or affiliate program. It may become irrelevant. Their product may get pulled from virtual store shelves. They might raise or lower the price, affecting your commissions in the process. Anything can happen.

If all your eggs are in one basket, you could lose all your earning at a moment’s notice (which is why it’s good to diversify).

And, should you encounter such a scenario, you may not get paid for units already sold. You may even get chargebacks (it sucks losing money you worked hard to earn).

Additionally, if you don’t abide by the terms of the provider, you could lose your account.

Finally, although you can earn commissions on the products you sell, you’re never going to earn 100% on something you didn’t create. Sorry.

How to Choose What Products to Promote

Basically, you can promote whatever you want. But just like The Beatles had haters, trying to appeal to everyone is a losing battle.

Just like The Beatles had haters, trying to appeal to everyone is a losing battle. Click To Tweet

I would recommend promoting products you understand, personally use and would happily recommend to others. That’s the best way.

Your seal of approval is worth more than you might think.

If you recommend good products and people love them, you’ll build a stronger reputation. If you recommend everything under the sun and your followers end up returning a bunch of products, they’re probably not going to come looking for recommendations again.

As for what products to choose, consider the things you already use every day. Musical gear is a good example.

Music gear

Whether it’s guitar strings, drumsticks, accordions or otherwise, there’s a good chance you can promote it and make money.

For most musicians, this should prove a good starting point.

How to Get Started

I feel the best way for beginners to get started is by joining Amazon Associates.

Amazon associates

You know Amazon, right? They’re only the #1 eCommerce behemoth in the world. You probably shop with them already and may even have a Prime account.

Amazon is home to a ton of products, not just books. They have thousands of products in these categories and many others – arts & crafts, automotive, electronics, home & kitchen, toys & games…

So, finding products to promote is easy.

For instance, one of my favorite guitar amp heads is the Peavey 6505 MH mini head, so once my Amazon Associates account is set up, I can simply search for that product, grab the link that Amazon gives me, and then share that link with my audience.

Peavey 6505 MH mini head

(And, by the way, I’ve already done this very thing.)

You can hear me using this amp in this demo:

And, just in case, here’s my affiliate link for the mini head (if you purchase anything through this link, I may earn a small commission at no additional charge to you).

Anyway, I know I made it sound easy, but sales are not guaranteed by any means. Generating revenue typically requires tons of traffic. But you also aren’t required to climb Mount Everest to start earning commissions.

Sadly, there was an article that recently said Amazon would be reducing their commissions on certain products. This is the bread and butter of an affiliate marketer, however, so get used to it. We’ve all got to roll with the punches.

The good news is that there are tons of companies with affiliate programs, so opportunities aren’t in short supply.

This is a beginner’s guide, however, so I won’t be getting into other affiliate programs here.

How to Promote Products & Earn Commissions

Now that we’ve got a solid working foundation, we’re ready to start promoting.

Here are five simple ways to start earning juicy affiliate commissions:

Share Your Link on Your Blog

It’s best if you mention products in the natural flow of content instead of forcing them in.

But when you’re writing about your latest stop on tour and mention your favorite multi-effects pedal, that’s the time to link it up.

Affiliate text links

We promote plenty of products on Music Entrepreneur HQ.

Just don’t share your link out of context. Don’t start talking about what you had for lunch and then sneak in your affiliate link promoting something entirely unrelated.

Share Your Link on Social Media

If it makes sense, you can share your affiliate links on social media.

Again, as with sharing on your blog, you don’t want to spam your followers or post deceptive links, as this isn’t going to help you earn a thing.

But if something naturally comes up in the flow of the post, share away.

Share Your Link in the Description of Your YouTube Videos

Know it or not, many YouTubers are affiliate marketers. These days, they depend on sponsorships more than anything, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart when it comes to creating multiple sources of revenue.

YouTube description link

Hmm… something fishy going on here.

Think of it this way:

You’ll be doing your viewers a solid by including links to products mentioned in your video in the description. It’ll make them easy to find.

Create a Resources Page

Many marketers and entrepreneurs, such as Chris Ducker and Pat Flynn have resource pages on their website.

You could just as easily call these “money pages” because they only feature links to products and services the business owners have the potential to make money on.

I like the sound of “money pages” myself.

You can do the same. While you might call your resources page something else, there’s nothing stopping you from making one.

Here’s an example of what a resource page might look like:

Resources page

Make Product Reviews

Making product reviews can take a lot of time, and if you ever wanted to become a full-time affiliate marketer, you’d need to produce a ton of reviews.

Either way, one of the main ways, affiliates earn money is by making reviews for their favorite products. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a blog post, podcast audio, video or otherwise. All forms of content are fair game.

Affiliate Marketing Best Practices

Search engines (like Google), email service providers (like MailChimp) and even some users don’t always look kindly on affiliate marketing (you can’t please everyone).

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t overdoing your affiliate promotions:

  • Abide by the terms and conditions. I know that no one reads this stuff, but if you start earning some serious money and get your account banned by the provider (because you ignored their terms), your life is going to suck. So, do things by the book.
  • Let your users know when you might earn money on a purchase. Say something like, “if you purchase through this link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you” (you saw me do this earlier). But if you know you’re going to be adding links everywhere, you should have a notice in the sidebar, footer or somewhere visible.  I’m not an attorney, so if in doubt, please consult a qualified professional.
  • Use a link cloaker. I like to think of this as a link shortener rather than a cloaker. If you’re using WordPress, check out a plugin called Pretty Links. If not, there are plenty of great catch-all solutions like Bitly. You can turn your affiliate links into something short and easy to remember/type in.
  • Never spam. Just don’t do it.

Does it Work?

Hell yeah!

I don’t intend to show off all my earnings or affiliate relationships (not that they’re a big secret), but you can see I do okay (and I do mean okay, not amazing) with Amazon Associates:

Affiliate commissions

Final Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing for Musicians

What I’ve shared here is just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s so much more you’ll want to learn if you want to be great at affiliate marketing, such as content distribution and syndication, SEO, advanced marketing tactics and more.

So, if you enjoyed this guide and would like to learn more about affiliate marketing…

Please leave a comment below and let me know!