Trent Reznor recently wrote about what to do as a new artist.
Here are my comments:
This is great advice. I’d like to take it a bit further re: specifically how to do this technically. Musicians tend to depend on 3rd party sites to do everything but they lack the control and don’t have their own ‘home base’. Many of these sites bite the dust every week.
Build your own website. I use wordpress (free), which makes it easy to make changes and you can find a nice theme or have someone tweak it for fairly cheap (post a small project on elance.com for example). You can host wordpress on hosts like godaddy and hostgator, and they provide basically 1 click installs of the software.
Get an email autoresponder service. I use getresponse.com. You put a form on your webpages to collect emails. This allows you to set up a series of automatic follow up emails (an email per week for example) or broadcast (send email whenever you want). Don’t rely on regular email as you will amass hundreds or thousands of email addresses and you want to avoid getting blocked by spam agents.
Sell digital goods – you can do this manually by using paypal (free but they take a small transaction fee) and sending people the link to the download. But over time you may want to get a shopping cart to handle payments and digital delivery. I use 1shoppingcart.com. When someone buys they also get added to an email list so I can build a ‘list of buyers’ which are much more valuable financially than freebie seekers. Your funnel is moving people from a free signup (to get your mp3 for example) then to a list of buyers, then larger upsells over time.
Sell things related to the music. I sell guitar lessons via a membership site (7 video courses with live Q&A streaming video sessions each month), downloadable courses, webcam guitar lessons and email guitar lessons. Don’t just focus on gigs and merchandise for making money.
Affiliate products – you can offer related products to your list (and get a piece of each sale), as long as they are helpful and you don’t abuse this too much. You could even test gear like guitar pedals, guitars, drums, etc and provide a link to sites like musiciansfriend/zzsounds that will give you a cut of the sale (tracked via the URL you provide to your list).
Adsense – While I’m not a huge fan of advertising, once google bought youtube and allowed me to do ‘revenue sharing’ with my videos, I now make $100 every month or two with only 32 videos (my vids have about 500,000 views at this point).
Finally, these are not very technical tasks. Much of it is simple cut and paste jobs (email form, shopping cart button, etc). You can easily outsource this to a techie for dirt cheap if you want.
My 2 cents.