How to DIY distribute an album on the internet?
June 19, 2008 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Is there any sort of code available / software / how would I design a digital download distribution model for an independant band?

My band is releasing our first full length this month, and we're keeping everything as DIY as possible (we recorded / mastered the thing, we did the art, and we're going to be doing the promotion / pressing of it for the most part). We are going to have physical copies available for purchase at shows, but we want to have people be able to buy and download the FLACs and JPGs of the album art from our website. We don't want to use iTunes or any other established solution, because we're going to sell the thing for cheap (3 bucks) and any sort of profit we'd make from it would probably go right back into paying for iTunes and such. We'd just set up a Paypal donation thing and then send people to a download link, but we're afraid that people will just send the download link to their friends (we're aware that all music on the internets gets shared, and we're fine with that, but we don't want to make it THAT) easy.

Is there any solution that we can use where people can Paypal us 3 bucks and then somehow be directed to a unique download link or site, without us having to manually send it every time someone buys the thing? Or any better solution / existing infrastructure we haven't thought of?
posted by Mali to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've been happy with E-junkie, which offers PayPal as a payment method. It's $5/month, but they have a free service equal to their basic plan if you meet certain requirements. I can't seem to find the page explaining what that is, but I know my school has the free plan, so it's out there somewhere.
posted by niles at 6:04 PM on June 19, 2008

Are you set on it being a download? You could use some of the Print on Demand places such as and they'll make a copy when someone orders it. You do have to charge at least what it costs to make it, and that's $5.50 over there. But it is a CD sent out whenever someone orders it.
posted by theichibun at 6:37 PM on June 19, 2008

I assume you could do roughly what NIN does with their downloads. Someone paypals, when that processes a unique download link is created server-side, they get that with the warning that it's only valid for the next 24 hours, have a cron script on the server kill of those types of links older than 24h.

I feel as if that's not too tricky of a proposition, it'd take me no more than a month.

And somebody who knows what they're doing with web programming a lot less time.

I would suggest against PoD stuff: anecdotally, I was annoyed that a band I like (Cloud Cult) insisted on sending me a physical cd along with my download - waste of resources. Gimme mp3/Flac.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2008

Forgot to say, congratulations on completing your album!
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:50 PM on June 19, 2008

I doubt this this helps you at all, but I'd recommend that you both offer the actual physical CD sale online and when someone buys it give them a link to download MP3s of it right then. I wish more bands would do this.
posted by mge at 6:52 PM on June 19, 2008

Some people like CDs, and some don't. I do. It looks like Lemurrhea doesn't.

I'm not going to say that you should or that you shouldn't burn CDs. But what I will say is that you should pay attention to what your listeners will want and try not to alienate either group.
posted by theichibun at 7:06 PM on June 19, 2008

Things to check out:

The Brad Sucks Digital Download Store (I use this myself to sell MP3s and FLAC files)


Both use Paypal to process payments.
posted by scottandrew at 11:14 PM on June 19, 2008

The Brad Sucks Digital Download Store.

If you do eventually decide that you want to do the iTunes/Amazon/Rhapsody/etc digital distribution route, CD Baby and Tunecore are options. However, for an EP or album that you are selling for $3 on your own site, the cost may not be worth it. But FWIW, CD Baby charges $35 per album to sell CDs and digital distribution to all digital download services, and takes 9% of digital distribution income. TuneCore does not take a percentage of sales, but charges $0.99 per track, $0.99 per store per album, and $19.98 per album per year storage and maintenance.
posted by andrewraff at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2008

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