Anyone can sell their music on iTunes—if they want to pay iTunes 30% of their sales. Plus, those who aren’t signed to a label have to pay another chunk to a service like Tunecore to get their music listed. However, there is another way to sell music that the new "middle class" of musicians is choosing: direct-to-fan sites.
The two biggest such sites—Bandcamp and Topspin—both give you a personal online store to sell digital downloads, physical music formats and merch, as well as custom bundles of all of the above that you package and sell at your own prices. Bandcamp takes a percentage of the sales (although much lower than iTunes), and Topspin charges a monthly fee.
Check out the comparison chart and our thoughts below, then decide for yourself how you'll take charge of selling your art.
Whether you're an aspiring pro, semi-pro or already doing quite well with your music, then either Bandcamp or Topspin could suit your needs. However, the features and client rosters seem to suggest that Topspin skews more to the big-time artists, while Bandcamp provides a haven for independent labels and artists.
Not only does Topspin seem to attract the bigger names—such as Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, Zedd, Ellie Goulding, Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Eminem and many more—but its big differentiators from Bandcamp are in-house fulfillment of physical orders—something that makes more sense the more merch you sell—and email marketing campaigns. Both services let you build your email list by sending out free download links over email, but Topspin also lets you design and send custom email blasts. The size of those email campaigns is a big part of Topspin's higher price tiers.
**Bandcamp revenue share details: Bandcamp takes 15% of digital music sales (which drops to 10% if you sell $5,000 in a year) and 10% for merch (including physical music sales like CD and vinyl). The 10% on merch applies only to the first $100 of a purchase. Your money from sales goes into Paypal. ***Bandcamp Pro is $10/month and adds download codes to give out, private streaming links (for press, colleagues, etc.), batch uploading, more detailed stats and Google Analytics integration, your own domain name, and more.
On the other hand, Bandcamp lets you get started for free; you don't pay anything until you make sales. Just upload one mastered, uncompressed file (WAV or AIFF) per song, and Bandcamp converts it to MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis and other formats for the fan to choose. It also gives you more features at the basic level than Topspin does, such as Soundscan reporting and pre-ordering.
How would you choose to sell your music online?
*Both services let you fulfill orders personally or through third parties, and Topspin offers in-house fulfillment if you choose (at an added expense). While Bandcamp doesn't offer fulfillment, it gives you online tools like shipping labels, packing slips and tables that show all the order information, which you can share with any third-party fulfillment partners.
†Topspin's Artistlink promotional service lets you promote your music on Beats Music, promote and sell your merch straight from Spotify while fans are listening (if you're on Spotify) and get a band page at MTV.com or CMT.com and submit yourself to appear at MTV events and on MTV shows. An Artistlink API lets developers build artist apps using the artist's metadata.
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