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Sell Your Music Online, Part 2
by Christopher Knab - Fourfront Media & Music - November 2002

Back to The Academy

Editor's Note: You'll notice this article is VERY old... from 2002! Much of the information in the article is quite out of date. We plan a major update to this article by June 2010, so be looking for that. In the meantime read, enjoy, and take it for what it is. There's some good info in here, but some pretty old info too...

This month I am wrapping up my
survey of sites on the web where you can sell and promote your independent music. The way this was put together is this. I visited each site listed here, and cut and pasted THEIR OWN descriptions of what they have to offer you. So, this is becoming a very large directory of what is out there, and what these companies say they can do for you. Your job is to check them out and see if one or all should be part of your online distribution and sales plans.


Christopher Knab

Vitaminic helps you discover new music groups who have chosen to put their music out on the Internet in MP3 format and you can get in touch with them. The Vitaminic directory is compiled in order of musical genre and it gives you some information about the band or artist together with some links so that you can listen to their music. If you don't know about MP3 and want to find out more, have a look at the section that explains where to start. In the Software section, you'll find programs you can use to listen to, create, and manage music for the Internet. In the hardware section you'll find a description of all the new equipment for playing back MP3 music. As well as the directory on the Vitaminic site, you'll also find the charts with the tracks most often downloaded, interviews and special reports about musical events. The News area contains all the latest about MP3 digital music. To get all the latest news about the site, just sign up for the Vitaminic Newsletter.

If you're a musician, Backstage is the area reserved for those who produce music and wish to transmit it and sell it online. With Vitaminic, any band or artist can now sell their music. All you need is a computer linked up to the Internet. If you register with Backstage, you can create your own pages, upload your tracks and sell them over the Internet.

Backstage Services
What can I do Backstage? Here's a list of services for all those who play music. Keep an eye on it because there'll be new ones all the time:

Registration in the directory.
Choose which category you want to be in, introduce your band, upload at least one promotional track you want to broadcast free of charge to Vitaminic users and your band will be included in the Vitaminic directory.

Your band's homepage.
You can create a page, putting in information about your band, including biographies, your logo, pictures, members, anything you need to introduce yourselves and describe your music.

You can also include a sentence and a picture which will be shown at the top of the homepage and on the top-level pages of the musical categories, in order to increase your band's visibility.

Broadcast and sale of music.
You can upload your band's tracks so that they can be transmitted in RealAudio. Visitors to the site will be able to download them in MP3. For each track, you decide how you want to distribute them: promo, protected or for sale. A promo track can be heard and downloaded free of charge by visitors to the site; a protected track is like a promo but you need to register with the band's fanzine if you want to download it. You can also sell the tracks: you decide the price.

Site statistics.
You can check to see how your Vitaminic page is getting on: transmissions, downloads and sales.

Translation of your information.
Vitaminic wants you to increase your popularity abroad: just translate your information, and we'll put it onto the fast-growing Vitaminic web sites all around Europe.

Is their a relationship be between IUMA and Vitaminic?

On March 23, 2001,
IUMA was purchased by Vitaminic. As a result, we were able to re-hire the core staff, re-launch the IUMA web site, and continue doing what IUMA does best: providing the best resource destination on the web for unsigned artists to promote their music.

Vitaminic is the leading digital music distributor in Europe, with relationships with hundreds of labels and almost 25,000 signed and
unsigned artists. Over the next few months, we'll work to figure out the best ways for our communities to work together. In general, IUMA artists can look forward to greater promotional coverage over in Europe, as well as closer contact with the large number of the labels in the Vitaminic label network. Stay tuned for more details!

The one place to post your music where actual musicians are watching out for you - not weasels watching the numbers. You have your own URL with your band name first. And a custom web page where you can post all your band info and MP3s, sell CDs, create message boards, fan lists, and of course, get e-mail from your fans - all Free.

The IUMA mission is simple - for every artist with a record deal, on FM radio, or in Tower Records - there are a thousand talented artists chasing that dream and a million new music fans who will never get to hear their music. We're changing all that - bringing these artists and fans together, getting the music out and giving new music fans a cool new way to discover new music.

Using the site is easy. Go to the home page, find a genre of music you like, and start listening to new music. You can sample it in Real Audio and then pull the MP3s when you find something you like. You can also visit Artist's IUMA web site and interact with the artist through email and message boards. If you've got work to do, we suggest you launch IUMA Radio and let your favorite genre play in the background while you work.

At the heart of it all, IUMA is about letting the music speak for itself, and letting the artist speak directly to their fans. We remain committed to the independent musician and will continue to bring you the future of music.

For now, IUMA and Vitaminic will continue to run as separate web sites. However, as we integrate with Vitaminic over the next several months, we expect to be able to offer IUMA artists greater European exposure through the Vitaminic network.

Q: I am a StarPolish artist, and see all of these great artists being featured on the site. How can I be one of those artists?

A: Currently, there are 3 ways to be featured on the site, all of them begin with making sure you are indeed signed up as a StarPolish Artist, which is free and easy, and have properly created your artist page (start at www.starpolish.com/account). At that point, you will have access to these 3 outlets:

a) The Buzzing Artist section, within the Features section and also at Buzz. To be a Buzzing Artist, you must submit a success story (that hopefully capitalizes on advice you learned from StarPolish, but isn't limited to such instances) to mybuzz@starpolish.com. Two artists are chosen per month for this section, and the winners and their stories will also be featured to our A&R and Attorney Panels for consideration.

b) The Critics Corner/Discover Music section on the homepage and within the artist section. All StarPolish artists may be reviewed at any time by any of our critics, but to better your chances you should write them an email personally, and explain why and where you should be reviewed. Do not list links to mp3.com or other sites, make sure your music is available on StarPolish. The critics who wish to be emailed list their email addresses on their
profile page.

The CD Store. To be featured here, you must be selling your CD through the StarPolish store. If you would like to be featured, you can plead your case to info@starpolish.com and we'll try to accommodate.

Q: I am a StarPolish artist and would like to put my songs up on my StarPolish page, but am not technically savvy and have no idea where to start. Can you help?

A: Sure can! Take a look at our digital audio primer in our advice section: Read through that section, and make the decision on whether you want your song to stream (be instantly listenable, but not able to be saved on a hard drive, somewhat like radio) or DOWNLOAD (higher quality, but able to be saved and therefore burned onto CD or traded online, etc). Then it's just a matter of ripping (digitizing your audio) the songs off of your CD and then converting the .wav (pc) or .aiff (mac) files to a smaller compressed format that can be tossed around on the web. If you would like to stream, real audio is currently the format of choice, although you can also do Quicktime and Windows Media encoding. I would suggest going to www.real.com and looking at ways to encode your file into a real audio file. For downloading, mp3 is still the way to go. We personally use Audio Catalyst by Xing to do our encoding here in the office, but there are a variety of programs that will do an outstanding job

Q: I would love to have my music reviewed by the panels of industry veterans represented on your site. How can I do that?

A: The A&R Panel members regularly scour the StarPolish community in search of new talent. They recognize that it is a goldmine of up and coming artists, and we receive requests for individual artists' contact info all the time coming from our A&R panel. However, because of the number of artists in the StarPolish
community, we cannot make available the contact information of our panel members. There are ways to guarantee yourself to be heard by the panels, like winning contests or being featured as a Buzzing Artist (see question #1). Sign up for the
StarPolish Newsletter and
stay tuned for your all of the opportunities as they are announced.

JavaMusic provides the ultimate connection between independent musicians and their global audience. How? Through empowerment. We empower Artists by giving them all the resources necessary to build their audience to its full potential. And we empower Fans by leading them to these artists and giving them all the knowledge necessary to choose "the Next Music."

What is the Next Music? Well, it is much more than the latest trend pitched by MTV, Rolling Stone or commercial radio. It is music that fans will choose for themselves by finding, absorbing and critiquing all the material that is available to them from around the world. Empowerment is the key ingredient in determining the Next; it ensures that artists know how to deliver their music to a global audience, and that such a global audience knows where and how to
look for unique and exciting new music.

JavaMusic provides a single, user-friendly destination where both deliverers of the Next Music and discoverers of the Next Music can meet. This is where all music lovers will "Engage the Next."

For JavaMusic to help its users create the next wave of music, it must offer a convenient, one-stop shopping experience for both independent artists and the indie record labels that also use JavaMusic’s services. To this end, we provide distribution, traffic and networking opportunities that truly are global.

Some companies tout their "global" reach simply because they are based online and the Internet is accessible everywhere. But JavaMusic thinks globally and operates globally. We already have many Asian distribution points, and we gear campaigns toward Asian markets as well as the European markets, where we will be distributing CDs soon. Thanks to this extended reach, prospective buyers in these locales will never again have to worry about severe
exchange rates or international shipping charges that are greater than the actual product cost!

Artists and labels that upload music and place CDs for sale on JavaMusic will also experience a significant boost in online traffic. The number of people who view an artist’s name and are exposed to downloadable music and artist information greatly increases with JavaMusic’s specialized audience focus. This focus also makes it easy for users to network with music lovers just like themselves, whether artists are contacting similar artists to discuss swapping gigs; or fans are trading notes and selling each other’s favorite JavaMusic discs at their Virtual Retail Stores.

The Virtual Retail Store, or VRS, is one of the many ways JavaMusic helps users proactively engage in the pursuit of the Next Music. This new affiliate program encourages both fans and artists to own and operate their own personalized, online CD store. These users are already talking up their favorite JavaMusic artists -- now for zero investment and with very little effort they can continue to spread the word while earning an extremely generous commission in the process.

If artists do not yet have a CD to sell, JavaMusic can present them with the most competitive prices in top-quality CD manufacturing. For under a dollar per disc, artists can produce 1,000 albums with all the elements of a professional release: jewel case with clear tray, 3-color print on CD, 4-panel insert, tray card and shrink wrap. If the idea is to present music to the pros while spending as little cash as possible, there are plenty of other cost-effective options available. One of the more popular routes our artists take is to order a short run of custom-recorded CD-Rs; the discs feature full-color thermal printing that easily rivals the sleek look of regular screen-printed compact discs.

Visitors of JavaMusic may also stop by the CoffeeShop for recommendations on the hottest JavaMusic artists, or they can shop for best buys among the apparel, memorabilia and must-read books that are available on the site. Another motivating CoffeeShop feature is the "Featured Product" artist section that promises extra exposure for those artists our A&R staff has reviewed and recommended.

Other services JavaMusic offers: a one-stop indie music solution provider:

  • JavaFM grants yet another opportunity for artists to reach their potential audience by streaming live music from all genres 24 hours a day.
  • Our premium Espresso Service offers maximum exposure, visibility and income to members by providing them 10 CD-Rs of their music, a 5% discount on disc replication, free email promotion, and up to a $.04 boost in download royalties.
  • We offer the best quality and prices for CD duplication and apparel and accessory manufacturing.
  • JavaMusic also provides specialized advertising assistance, as well as professional graphic design services that make the promotional process much simpler.

Together with artists, fans and other artist-friendly individuals and corporate entities, JavaMusic will transcend borders, boundaries, cultures and language to help redefine popular music and "Engage the Next."

AMPCAST.COM web site arose from the growing needs and changes of the musical community. Founded in 1998, AMPCAST.COM is dedicated to introducing and exposing new musicians and bands as well as providing a forum for the promotion of more established musical artists.

Where We Are Today
Today, Ampcast is the place for artists to start their Internet adventures and the place for fans to discover new music. We are very proud to service thousands of dedicated musical artists by providing them with the tools necessary to expand their audience, distribute their digital music, sell their CDs and make more money. We are happy to have introduced new music to millions of fans by providing them with a community and a platform to do so.

We have outlasted the Internet bubble burst through shear determination and independence, and are eager to continue reshaping the music industry by utilizing the internet.

What We Offer: For the Artist
You can establish an online presence through Ampcast.com that serves as a promotional tool for your band, a distribution mechanism for your music, and a revenue generator for your pockets.

  • A one-off CD program that delivers "retail ready" CDs with NO UPFRONT COSTS.
  • You can design your Ampcast web site using customized HTML.
  • A simple royalty system that pays you for every download.
  • You can communicate with our very responsive artist support team.
  • We have a non-exclusive agreement; you keep the rights to your music.
  • Your songs will be uploaded and approved through our ultra-easy, and super fast system.

For the Fans
Search our virtual shelves of thousands of artists, CDs, song titles and videos; a way for you to broaden your musical horizon, and discover fresh talent. CDs are sold at discount prices as determined by the ARTIST and you typically can't find these in stores. You can be a radio programmer by making your own playlists and having them available to the Ampcast community. You have access to a convenient tracking and reporting system of your listening habits so that you don't forget what you have listened to. Participate in the community by rating music, making CD compilations, meeting other fans with similar interests and much, much more.

What we offer:
Audiogalaxy is a community of music fans and artists. Fans visit Audiogalaxy to read reviews and sample new music, discover up-and-coming artists and explore new genres and styles. Musicians can post their music, images and info, host a web page, receive feedback from reviewers and fans and get the exposure they'vebeen craving. And the best part is…IT'S ALL FREE!

Audiogalaxy offers 25 MB of free web space to musicians for MP3 files, band images and a web page. All content (music, images and html) is acceptable as long asit is related to your band (exceptions are pirated material and software). Every MP3 you upload to our site will be available for users to download, rate and discuss. We also have daily spotlight features of bands on Audiogalaxy that run on the front page as well as within each genre section. With over 80,000 hits per day, you canbe assured that your band will receive some newfound exposure.

What is included in each Band’s listing?
Each band’s listing is comprised of several elements. The band’s picture is a link to their web page. Clicking on one of the subgenres listed beneath the bands name will produce a list of more bands of that style. Clicking on the song titles will start downloading or streaming the song to your computer. Clicking on the “comments” button allows you to read and leave comments about the band, with the number in parentheses indicating how many comments that particular band has generated. The Review button will take you to the Audiogalaxy review of that band.

General Info
a. How do I get my band onto your site?
Go backstage to create an account and directory on Audiogalaxy.

b. Is this legal?
Yes, if you are the sole copyright owner or have the expressed permission of the artist, you are free to distribute your music as you please. Distributing copyrighted material without the artist’s and/or label’s permission is illegal and all account holders who attempt to do so will be banned.

c. Am I giving up rights to my music if I post it on Audiogalaxy?
NO! We provide a forum for artists to showcase their music and gain access to a larger audience. We do not force the artist to sign any waivers or binding documents. We will not distribute your music in any physical form (CD, Cassette, LP, etc.), and do not profit from any artist on the site.

d. Am I allowed to sell my CD/Tape/Demo on Audiogalaxy?
Artists are free to sell their music on their Audiogalaxy web page. Sales through means of private distribution are perfectly acceptable. We will not distribute your music in any form, except electronically.

e. Will the information I provide be kept confidential?
Yes. Audiogalaxy does not distribute the personal contact information you provide to anyone. It is used strictly for internal purposes.

Being a band on Audiogalaxy
Joining Audiogalaxy is a two-step process. The first step requires a working email address and other basic information needed to set up your account. Next, a password will be mailed to the address you provided. With this password you will login to our system to provide more detailed information about your music and upload your files. The Audiogalaxy sign-up process has been streamlined to be as painless as possible. If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to send an email to bands@audiogalaxy.com.

The Orchard
What is The Orchard?
The Orchard is one of a kind! We are dedicated to giving independent record labels and artists access to the same distribution opportunities the Major Labels have enjoyed almost exclusively for years. The Orchard makes the music of independent artists available, side by side with Major Label albums. We are an entertainment company that has grown in just three years time into one of worlds largest suppliers of new music. Currently we account for about twenty percent of all product released in the United States each week. Through agreements with the nations largest one stop distributors, we are the leading and most dominant provider of independent and global content to all of the major on-line stores including, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Borders.com, CDNow etc..., as well as traditional retail.

How does it work?

1. The Orchard charges a 30% distribution fee. As a distributor, we sell things wholesale so that retailers can mark them up. The 30% applies to the wholesale cost. If there is not a fixed wholesale cost, we charge 30% of the total amount of money received by us.
2. The Orchard charges a fee of $90 to join.
3. The Orchard accounts and pays quarterly. We accumulate the money paid to us each quarter and pay 90 days following the end of the quarter. As a distributor, we do not get paid the moment someone purchases your product so we can't pay until we receive the money.
4. The Orchard accepts product as consignment merchandise. WE DO NOT BUY PRODUCT.

How can I get the ball rolling?
Simply send a blank email to join@theorchard.com. You will automatically receive a copy of our application form and agreement. Print the form, fill it out, sign it and send it along with 30 copies of your release and the appropriate payment to our New York address:

Attn: New Product- The Orchard
133 5th Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10003

What happens when you ship all of the initial shipment of CDs that accompany my application?
Once your stock level has dipped below a certain level, you will receive a request for reorder. This message will note the artist, the title of the release, the amount that we'd like to reorder and a reorder number. It is important that you act promptly after receiving a reorder request and inform us if there is any unforeseen delay in getting the reorder to us. Too lengthy a delay may result in our distributors canceling an order. When sending this reorder shipment to us, please ensure that the reorder number is written clearly on the outside of the box.

When we reorder it does not necessarily mean that product has sold. It simply means that we are anticipating future demand. We do our best to manage this complicated process and it's a difficult juggling act. On one hand we don't want to hold too much product that isn't moving. On the other, we don't want to not fulfill orders because we didn't have enough.

Will I get confirmation that anything that I send to The Orchard has been received?
You will be sent a receipt via email of any product that we receive. It is an extremely good idea to make a note of the tracking number of your parcel before it is sent.

What if I decide to no longer use The Orchard for distribution?
Leaving The Orchard distribution system means modifying theOrchard Agreement. The process starts by faxing or mailing a signed letter, to the attention of Deletion Notices requesting a deletion. Please list the artist(s) and release(s) you wish to delete, as well as a valid shipping address for us to ship your product to (no P.O. Boxes). If The Orchard accepts the deletion request, the Orchard will fax back a letter ending the Term of the Agreement. This letter must be signed by both parties.

The deletion process creates costs for The Orchard that includes shipping charges and restocking fees. In addition, a considerable amount of time is required to notify retail accounts, manage the return of unsold product and prepare the final accounting. There is a $250 fee for filing a deletion notice.

During the deletion process your account will be frozen for at least 180 days or until there is a full quarter without returns. At the end of the deletion process, all product in inventory will be returned and a final accounting of the product will be rendered.

What exactly does the Premium Artist Service include?
BeSonic AG introduced a new Premium Artist Service for artists on the 27th November 2001. This is an optional service. It offers the artist additional features and opportunities to present his or her music evenmore professionally, and promote it even more effectively than before.

The Premium Artist Service provides you with a whole range of advantages allowing you to present your music more professionally and reach your audience more effectively online than ever before.

Unlimited number of titles
Use the freedom to host as many songs as you like on our servers. For example, you can present a different compilation of titles every week, offering more variety.

On the Site
No advertising banners on your homepage - You are your own master on your homepage. The only thing plugged here is the music. The liberty to design your own homepage (different layouts, colours, HTML) - Use your skills (or those of a friend) to make your homepage express something really individual. Make yourself visible above the vast mass of other artists and get yourself more noticed. Graphic emphasis (with a photograph and text) in the new artists'catalogue - A very important place if you want to be found. Visitors flick through whole genres here. An expressive picture and an inviting piece of text will lure lots of visitors to your homepage.

Hi-fi streaming
Visitors can now listen to your music in full hi-fi stereo quality, and be impressed by it. This enables them to appreciate all your acoustic precision work.

Priority activation
Premium Artists' songs are given preferential treatment. Your songs will always be available. In preparation: Individual record sleeve design for your artists' CDs, and considerably lower prices for each CD. In this way you can even order the most limited edition for your next concert - at a good price.

Can I still present my music free of charge on BeSonic?
Yes. The BeSonic service is still available free of charge, subject to a limit on storage space. In the Future, BeSonic wants to carry on offering young talents an opportunity, reducing the initial obstacles. However, against the background of the situation described above, we can only continue to accept those songs that – in our opinion – are suitable for publication in the context of our music service, based on our experiences in recent years.

Does that mean "pay or leave"?
No. All tracks offered by BeSonic (still more than 80%) will still be hosted free of any charge (!) and in the usual manner. It would be nonsense to stop good music from going anywhere. All it means is that we are takingfirst steps to limit access for "poor music attempts" and those tracks that got "lost on the shelf". All artists should definitely wait for a mail announcing which songs Besonic wants to publish. But don't panic! It's not as bad as it sounds.

Mixonic is the first and only CD duplication and distribution
company with an entirely web-based ordering and distribution process, we open up all kinds of new ways to help you in the music business. You can use our services anywhere, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We make it easy!

You can use mixonic to order short runs of your CDs, which you can sell or distribute yourself. We have the best prices, the best quality and the best delivery times in our class. Order just what you need and have it shipped to your home - or we can ship it direct to your venue if you are on the road. You'll never run out of CDs again! Just click the "duplicate CDs" tab above to learn more.

Tired of lugging around CDs? Instead, just direct your fans to your
Mixonic selling page so they can order your CDs online. All you have to do at your concerts is hand out the web-address on a card. And, you can link the selling page into any other website, including you own. We'll manufacture each CD as its ordered and ship it directly to your customer. No up front money out-of-pocket...you'll get a check for your proceeds at the end of every month!

Selling pages keep your CDs Fresh! You can post your latest music the moment it's ready. You can even post a live concert for sale within minutes of a performance, and start selling CDs immediately!

Make demos with only the cuts you need. Load up all your finished
cuts into your secure library at Mixonic and order custom CDs for each pitch you make. You'll never have to say "just listen to tracks 5 and 12" again!

Change your content as many times as you want, even on the fly. The CDs you order are stored in your account. When you have better tracks or new ones, just switch-out the old ones.

Make custom CDs for special promos or for each gig. With Mixonic's
on-line cd designer, you can customize your CDs to the venue where you want to sell them, giving them "souvenir" quality that will boost sales.

Bring back the CD single - lots of them!

If you have a big catalog, use Mixonic to make all kinds of
compilations in limited runs or on selling pages for different niches in
your audience. For small labels, use mixonic to make monthly artist compilations. Do them in limited small runs and watch them become collectables in a few months.

Our “starter kit” is an easy way to record your content and send it to us.

The kit includes:

One blank 74 minute CD-R to burn your master (printed with a full color sample label).
A postage paid return mailer. After receiving your content, we'll post it to your online library and notify you by e-mail.


So, there you go. I have done a lot of work for you, as far as giving you 'from the horse's mouth' what these web music distribution companies have to offer. Now, the real work begins. But remember, you must decide which of these company's best suit your online music marketing needs. I am not recommending that use all of them. Take it slow and easy at first and add a new Internet marketing company to your mix, as you feel comfortable doing so.

I have been saying for years now that the Internet is the future for independent musicians. All I can do is try to get you fired up about how many opportunities there are for you to promote your music. However, I have never felt more confident about the power of the web to kick-start a music marketing campaign then I do now.

Please note, there are several other websites and companies that may help you get the word out about promoting and selling your music over the Internet.
www.muze.com, www.soundbuzz.com, and www.peoplesound.com (purchased by Vitaminic) may be worth your while as well, but I concentrated on the sites I did, because they seemed to me to be the most successful for indie musicians. If you find them useful…great.

If you would like some first-hand feedback from a musician who knows what companies are best at selling and promoting music online, I would suggest you go check out David Nevue's website
www.musicbizacademy.com . David has been using many of these companies with various degrees of success, and he might be a good jumping off point for deciding which company to try first.

Web marketing is only a part of your entire music marketing. Online activities must go hand in hand with your offline touring, publicity, radio, and other distribution and sales activities in the 'analog' world. But I sincerely believe that many of the companies I have introduced you to can go a long way to establishing and promoting you as a successful entrepreneurial musician in this new millennium.

Let me know how things are going!


Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: chris@chrisknab.net

Chris Knab's new book,
'Music Is Your Business' is available NOW from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.

Visit the
FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.

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