5 Sales Tips for Independent Artists

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Sell your music better and you’ll have resources to make more music, better-sounding music, and get more people to hear it. Here are five tips to help you generate more sales:

1. Believe In Your Product
It’s difficult to look someone in the eye and ask them to buy something that you don’t believe is a good deal for them. If you’re trying to sell a CD to someone for $10 that you believe is worth $5 then you’re going to have a hard time selling it. The idea is to focus on ‘giving’ them something that’s valuable to them at a fair price. You can always tell when someone is just trying to ‘get’ something from you. Don’t underestimate the intelligence and intuition of your fans. Nothing is more powerful in sales than the truth. The first step is creating a product that you believe in. Your belief and enthusiasm will shine through.

2. Examine Your Beliefs About Sales
Sales is really just about connecting people with things that are valuable to them. If you have other feelings that make it difficult for you to sell then you might want to examine your beliefs. Try this: Get out a piece of paper and write the words “People who sell are…” and then write down the first 10 things that come to mind without censoring your thoughts in any way. The first step to changing your beliefs to something more empowering is to become aware of what your beliefs are. You may have had bad experiences in the past or inherited beliefs from your parents that are holding you back. Once you become fully aware of what you believe you have the power to choose and adopt more powerful and supportive beliefs.

If you have a hard time promoting or asking people to buy things from you then you’re going to be severely handicapped in your efforts to make money with your music. If you get these first two right then this should get much easier.

3. Have a Clear Pitch
You need to be clear in your communication from the stage, on your website and beyond. Ex. “We have CDs and T-shirts in the back. Go see Tina – she’s right over there.” Have clear and clean linked images on your website where people can purchase your music and merchandise. Remove obstacles and make buying easy.

4. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Sales are not usually made on the first pitch. Tell people more than once that you have CDs and merch for sale. Make your mailing list a priority and put clear purchase links in all of the emails. Selling as an indie artist is not a one-shot deal. You’ll need to build repetition into your strategy and you’ll need to…

5. Build Relationships
Sustained success as an artist isn’t about tit for tat, it’s about giving as much as you can to as many people as you can for as long as you can. It’s about real relationships with people who you care about and who care about you. You don’t need everything to happen for you right now. If you continue to take care of the first four things on this list while building relationships, you’ll be playing the game to win for the long-term.

14 thoughts on “5 Sales Tips for Independent Artists

  1. Hello just wanted to give you a quichk heads up.

    The text in your contrnt seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
    I’m not sure if ths is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post
    to let you know. The design and style look great though! Hopee you geet the problem fixed soon. Thanks

  2. Woow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show
    up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to
    say great blog!

  3. Dear Sir,
    I have been writting songs for many years, I came close to “making it ” many times. The biggest problem I have found is KNOWING if the the song is commerial. Jumping on the band wagon just as the band wagon changes. I preformed full time for 15 years and could get audience reaction easily. People who don’t preform really don’t have professional advice for their music….maybe you could find some sompanies that are willing to unbiasly
    availuate songs by mudicians that arn’t preforming.
    Jim Bearce

    1. Hey Jim, there are companies like TAXI who offer critiques by professionals as well as sites like Broadjam.com who offer peer reviews.  It’s a tough business because a lot of people are really just seeking validation and don’t actually want to change their music, so I’d encourage you to check them out with an open mind.  The more feedback you get and the more honest feedback you can handle the better calibrated you’ll be to where your music stands.

  4. Great article, this definitely made the idea of selling music a lot easier. For all the independent artists out there looking to get a development deal Music180 is hosting an online seminar for artists with Lucas Keller of The Collective called “How to get a development deal”. It should be really dope, you can check it out at http://blog.music180.com/?p=1764 or just check out the Music180 website at http://music180.com.

  5. Hijacking a discussion forum for shameless self promotion seems to be the way to go these days. For me, it’s a big turn-off. After all, if you’re hired to play at someone’s wedding, do you interrupt the ceremony to announce that “the band that just played the processional has CDs for sale – just see us after the kiss – OK, you can now get back to the vows …”? Well, would you? There’s appropriate, and there’s inappropriate, a time and a place.

    There again, maybe I’m just not shameless enough to opt for the “everywhere, all the time” approach to marketing (like teahead’s former self?), which is why I’ll never make a fortune at music (or anything else). But my reputation among the relatively small number of people who do in fact know me and my music is one with which I’m very comfortable. And that counts for a lot.

    1. There’s certainly a time and a place.  I certainly don’t encourage indiscretion.  There’s also no virtue in not offering your music when it’s appropriate.  

  6. Definitely good thoughts to set a nice base for selling from. I recently released a single about the Gulf of Mexico that’s a free download in exchange for an email address for my mailing list (like all of my digital releases), and after announcing it on Facebook and Twitter only once, I feared announcing it again in case I came across as one of those sales people that I don’t particularly care for. After reading this, I realize my own perceptions of sales has held me back on numerous occasions, but I’m still trying to find that balance between repeating a ‘pitch’ and being annoying. Thanks for clearing the path for me a bit!

    Meet Me at the Gulf of Mexico

  7. Great article, as an artist I despise the process of selling my music. But, I also want people to hear it. Here is my pitch:
    ‘Impassioned indie rock in the classic style of Morrissey and Elliott Smith’
    I am currently giving away a free mp3 download of my new song ‘Silver Sky Blue Ocean’ on my website: http://www.peterbuzzelle.com

    I believe in my music!

  8. This was extremely insightful. Very much so, that I will share it with my hip hop group by the name of Ben-Sity. We have an album on iTunes by the name of “The High Five Club.”

    We have a mix tape, Back to The Basics which drops on the web Sept, 21 2010.

  9. This was extremely insightful. Very much so, that I will share it. With my group (Ben-Sity). We have an album on itunes my the name if “The High Five Club.” “Back to the Basics coming Sept, 21 2010.

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