Mj Wilson Photography – Internationally published, female photographer for Fashion, Lifestyle Portraits, Events, Luxury Goods, Weddings, Music, Models, Actor Headshots, Corporate

Predicting Trends: Selling Online

As I’ve already posted before, I don’t watch a lot of news shows nor do I read a daily newspaper. I gleen information from all over the place, and I get it in bits and pieces and retain and apply it, as it pertains to me and/or my business ventures.

I have a new “prediction” that I’ve felt coming for awhile now. Since “traditional” business start ups are almost obsolete and with our economy in the shit state it’s been in, for the past few years, (and with no let up in sight,) I’ve been telling people that selling things online, is going to be what everyone will have to do, no matter what their occupation is.

When I was at the gym last week, I was listening to songs on my mp3 player and happened to look up at the Fox News ticker. I saw one sentence that grabbed my attention: Music sales are up for the first time since 2004*.

That one statement is very pertinent as it has confirmed what I have been thinking about and helping others to accomplish already.

The first half of this year, I came back in contact with several musician friends that I knew from the past. Through emails or phone calls, the conversations came around to asking if they were doing the same things as they did in the past, with regards to their music, (i.e., recording, playing out, doing session work, etc.)

Randy Gun, plays out a few times a year, but hasn’t recorded new music, of his own, in a long time.

Kevin Lee, plays out pretty steadily and keeps churning out CD’s of his music. I was surprised (and pleased) to see that he has a basic website where he can sell his music and provide fans with information about himself and his band. We will help him upgrade the look of his site in the near future.

Jeff Thomas had a website for his music, for a time, but it became too much for him to take care of, and update, so he let it slide. He plays out on a daily basis and is getting tired of the constant running around. He is ready to “set up shop” online and try to market his music that way. We are starting with a photo shoot in New York and building his website after that.

After reconnecting with these guys, I searched through my closets and boxes and found all sorts of treasures, that I had received from them over the years, and throughout their music careers, like demo tapes, 7” singles, albums, band promo posters, guitar pics, T-shirts, record sleeves and even rolls of film, that I had taken of them.

I started scanning my images (we shot real film back then), so I could post them on my blog and share them.

I got creative one night and took some of my images and created a Slideshow set to Runaway Child (Minors Beware) which was one of the songs that Randy’s band had put out, as a 7” single. I had no idea how the Slideshow/Music Video would turn out, but it’s been so well received that I have now done multiple Slideshows, to songs by different artists, and I even have my own YouTube Channel now.

I even ended up finding old movie film footage that I shot as an “homage” to one of our favorite songs, Perfect Wave, by The Peter Dayton Band. That song had not been available online anywhere, until I posted it with my movie attached to it. That one song has received 10 times the response of the others, getting almost 200 hits in less than two weeks time! People have actually written me emails, “thanking me” for putting some of this music online, since it hadn’t been available anywhere else. (Since then I’ve “met” Peter Dayton online (who I didn’t know personally before), and he gave me permission to use his music how I saw fit! He got a kick out of the fact that I had created something using my images/movies and his music.)

In my emails and conversations with Randy & Jeff, (who didn’t have websites), I asked if they still wanted to do session work, or play out more, and of course their answer was “Yes”. Since creating websites is so easy for me to do, I told them I would help them build a website and blog for themselves, because I strongly believe that in this day and age, you need to develop a brand for yourself, (whatever it is that you do) and get your name out there, or no one will know you exist.

I started with Randy because I had some really great photos to use, and I knew I could build a strong web presence for him, around those images.

Randy was hesitant at first, about starting such a big project like a website, but I know the idea has grown on him. All he asked me for initially, was to take his solo music and get it on YouTube, with a Slideshow of images, like I had already done with his band’s songs. Once that was done, it easily provided links between YouTube, my website/blog, and then his website/blog, which in turn drives traffic to all our sites.

As Randy’s website has progressed and taken shape, the idea of it becoming a reality has made him more enthusiastic about it and he has come up with some requests of his own, of what he wanted to see on the website.

Since I am very good at details and all things administrative as well, I also took care of registering Randy’s music on Discogs (which is no easy feat, since your submissions have to be “voted” on, in order to be accepted into that music database.) Some people wait months to have their submissions voted in. It took me less than a week to get Randy’s submissions approved.

Randy mentioned one day that he has always wanted to sell his music on iTunes, but knew he would never get around to doing it himself. Taking care of that for him, took me less than a day. I got him signed up on CDBaby, where he can sell his music and who also pushed his music through to the big guns like iTunes, Amazon.com, Rhapsody, etc.

Once Randy was signed up to start selling his music online, it took less than three days to get the links from iTunes and the other download sites, so his music went “live” on his website, blog and Facebook pages by the end of the third day. The Music Players and product links supplied from both iTunes and CDBaby make ordering very easy for customers, and is a wonderful, professional touch to add to his website.

Best part of it all? Randy had his first music sale, the very day his iTunes player went live, and he has had several sales since then.

I didn’t even expect that to happen so quickly, so it was a pleasant surprise for both of us.

One of Randy’s singles was also chosen as a “Featured Song” on CDBaby’s New Releases page.

Needless to say, Randy is now very interested in getting more of his music online. He has already found master tapes, of previously unreleased songs, which will hopefully make it to his website and iTunes very shortly.

In my “travels” of getting his music online and building his website, I have met many old fans of his, who asked me, to ask him personally, “when” he would be releasing new material! That is the greatest compliment for a musician, to hear that fans are “waiting” for more of your music to be released!

Randy and I have been brainstorming recently about what else we can sell on his website, such as T-Shirts, the Music Slideshows, photos, etc. All these types of “branded” products, can easily be sold from your own website, to promote yourself or your band.

I guess timing is everything and it’s a good thing that I am able to help Randy and Jeff get their websites up and their music online because according to the articles I read today they said that digital album sales are part of the reason that music sales are up because digital sales alone are up 10% over the midyear point in 2010, and have increased 11% so far this year.

The websites, blogs and videos I’ve already created for Randy, Jeff and Kevin have generated renewed interest in their work, and even specific requests for more music, along the same lines, of what they created before.

This kind of interest, website traffic and hits on YouTube are now allowing them to take advantage of creating and selling the music that is important to them, and being able to share their music, with a much larger audience, than they ever could have in the past.

Some are even taking this renewed interest in their music and trying to get old bands, back together, with the express purpose of recording new music together, to sell online. The possibilities are really endless at this point in time, with what they will be able to do with their music.

For skeptics who think that selling a song online for only 99 cents isn’t worth the trouble to do, according to Billboard, Eminem’s Recovery Album is the first album to sell One Million Downloads! One million x .99 cents = a lot of money!

If you are a Musician, and want to get a creative, custom-designed website for yourself and/or your band, and also need help getting your music registered, digitized and online, Contact Me for information and rates, on how I can help you get those services taken care of quickly, so you can start building your brand and selling your music online.

And please, make sure you have awesome, professional photos that showcase you and/or your band, all over your website! I also travel worldwide for Photo Session Bookings.

Remember that people do judge you, by what they see. If you want to be regarded as a professional (in anything you do) make sure your website showcases you and your work in the most professional way. Just having a “free” template website, on platforms that appeal to the masses, is not going to make you stand out as an individual, in any way, shape or form.

You have a worldwide audience now for your music. Make your audience’s experience with you, when they visit your website and/or blog, a memorable one, and an experience that they want to come back to, again and again.

Don’t wait even one more day, to get involved in your music again. Take the steps now, to bring your creativity and talent onto the Internet, where the world can find out more about you and your music.

Just like Randy did.


* Related articles:

LA Times Music Blog – Nielsen SoundScan 2011 midyear report: Music sales up for a change

Tech Crunch – Say What? Thanks To Digital Music, Album Sales Up For The First Time Since 2004

Billboard – Eminem’s ‘Recovery’ First Album to Sell 1 Million Downloads, Adele Probably Next

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