Music Download Services
January 17, 2006 6:52 AM   Subscribe

A friend has a band, the band has CDs, the band want to sell digital downloads of the music on those CDs. Is there a web site that offers some kind of service to help with the problem of payment processing and hosting the files? They already have their songs in the iTunes Music Store, but they also want to offer them from their own site. This would let them keep a bigger chunk of the price paid, and offer the songs to people not served by iTMS (for geographical, technological or ideological reasons). They might be willing to use plain mp3s, without DRM, if this is what's needed to offer the songs on their site.
posted by sd to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
Take a look at CD Baby Digital Distribution, they only keeps a 9% cut.
posted by voidcontext at 6:57 AM on January 17, 2006

Not quite hosting from their own site, but it does help get them to a wider audience and to places that don't have iTMS.
posted by voidcontext at 7:05 AM on January 17, 2006

Ya I think CD Baby or Itunes is really the only way to go if they want to get paid.
posted by radioamy at 8:20 AM on January 17, 2006

CD baby only takes a 9% cut of the wholesale price paid by various retail music services they sell to, but those services are taking their own cut. Still, it's probably worth doing if they haven't already since it gets them rather broad distribution.

Is this a band that is interested in touring? If so, they are probably better off not worrying about DRM as shared MP3s of their music will only increace their audience and their potential revenue from touring and merch. (they should be sure to keep track of zipcodes of purchasers so they know where their audience is)

They can still sell MP3s and just use PayPal to handle the payment processing and accept donations from people who may have received the MP3s via other means and want to show their appreciation.

If they want to use "social DRM" it might work to custom tag each download with the purchaser's e-mail in both the text comments and and on the album art. This isn't difficult to circumvent, but it would discourage casual promiscuous sharing.

They should also consider shipping some sort of physical artifact to those who pay. Stickers are cheap and easy to mail and some people still really want a CD.

If they do distribute un DRMed MP3s they should maximize their use of tag metadata so that people can find them and anything else they are selling. I learned a few things about how best to tag MP3 for a casual audience when I helped with Harvey Danger's free album experiment. E-mail me if you want details.
posted by Good Brain at 8:21 AM on January 17, 2006

BTW, CDbaby isn't the only service that will wholesale music to retail music services, though unfortunately I can't think of the name of the other service I read about.

Another option might be Payloadz
posted by Good Brain at 8:26 AM on January 17, 2006

There is always the possibility of their hosting their own site. If the band already has a website then then the odds are the hosting company can support mysql/php. If not then this can be purchased inexpensively - my hosting costs less than GBP 20 per year.

You can then instally a free ecommerce engine (personally I would recommend Zencart but there are many others). Create each track as a downloadable product. Of course they can add t-shirts, tickets, etc.

Finally they will need somebody to handle the money. Paypal, etc will do the job and readily integrate with the shopping engine. They will take their cut of course.
posted by rongorongo at 8:27 AM on January 17, 2006

No personal experience, but I've heard good word of mouth about emusic.
posted by purephase at 10:19 AM on January 17, 2006

I concur with Good Brain about Payloadz if you want to sell directly from your site, they are like any other store/distributer and take a % of the sale price. If they are looking for larger distribution they could try IODA who distributes to a wide range of music e-tailers and like payloadz, charges no setup fees and takes a % of sales.
posted by mule at 2:56 PM on January 17, 2006

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