Back in 2018 SoundCloud, the platform used by millions of independent musicians, has announced its direct monetization program called SoundCloud Premier.
The program isn’t anything new per se, but so far it had been available as an invite-only beta. Since then all qualified artists can make use of it.
While the Premier program has opened new possibilities and making money on SoundCloud in 2021 is easier than ever, it has some significant limitations.
First, it’s only available to a set of qualified artists.
To qualify, you must be a SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited subscriber. Your tracks have to be 100% original and have at least 500 plays in the past month from countries where SoundCloud subscriptions and advertising are available.
In other words—even if your tracks get listened to millions of times every month, you won’t be able to qualify and make money with your music if your listeners come from countries that are not on the list.
Second, your income will depend on SoundCloud revenue.
The SoundCloud Premier payment system is based on how much SoundCloud makes from advertising and paid subscriptions. If SoundCloud makes good money, you earn more. If their income decreases, so will yours.
And third, you’ll only get a 55% revenue share.
That is, if your music makes $1000, SoundCloud will keep 45%, and you’ll receive the rest, which is $550.
The significant cut that SoundCloud keeps doesn’t make the new program sound that profitable anymore, does it?
Well-known artists with established fanbases can make more money by selling their music in other ways, while for new musicians the money they’d make from SoundCloud Premier may not be worth the hassle.
How to better monetize SoundCloud
Besides using the Premier program, there’s a better and more profitable way to monetize your music:
You can actually sell your music on SoundCloud.
Thousands of independent artists use SoundCloud not only to showcase themselves and grow their fanbase but also as a medium between their music and the external site they use to sell it on. By adding links to your SoundCloud profile, you can take your fans to your online store where they can purchase the tracks they like.
While the Premier program requires qualification and only works in certain countries, this way of content monetization is available for everyone. Not to mention that artists don’t need to share their profit with SoundCloud.
Artists have been using this approach long before the Premier plan was introduced, and it works. Coal Harrison aka The Kount is a successful instrumentalist and a beatmaker with 25k+ followers on SoundCloud. This artist uses SoundCloud to share his music, as well as to promote his drumkits and remixes that he offers for sale on his store.
How to start selling your music on SoundCloud
You can start monetizing your music on SoundCloud in three steps:
- List your products for sale on Sellfy.
- Add links to your SoundCloud profile.
- Use other channels to promote your store and boost sales.
Step 1: Create your Sellfy store
Sellfy is an e-commerce platform that’s known for its straightforward interface and built-in marketing tools (we’ll talk about them later!). With the help of Sellfy, you can make your tracks available for sale in a matter of minutes.
Go to Sellfy.com and create your store. To do that, you’ll need nothing more than an email address and password. There are four Sellfy subscription plans available, including a free one. There’s a 14-day free trial to get a better feel of Sellfy and then you can choose the plan that fits you best.
Once you’re in, you can add a product for sale. Start by navigating to the PRODUCTS section. Select “Digital products” and click on ”Add new product”:
Upload your product – a song, album, sample, drumkit, or whatever you want to sell – and then add information about the product, including its name, description, and price. Finally, upload your product preview image and hit ”Publish”.
Since you’re creating your own online music store you’ll want to make it one of a kind. Luckily, Sellfy stores are completely customizable. Just browse through the store editor and make the appearance of your store match your brand so that it looks exactly the way YOU want it to.
Your product is now available for sale!
Now, before you start promoting your listing, you must first make sure that you can accept payments. There are two options – PayPal and Stripe (for card payments.)
To accept payments through PayPal, just go to ”Payment options” and type in the email address you use for PayPal.
To accept card payments, you must first create a Stripe account, then connect it with Sellfy. Read how to create a Stripe account and get API keys for your Sellfy shop here.
When your product is added and you can accept payments, the next step is to promote your listing on SoundCloud.
Step 2: Add links to your SoundCloud profile
There are three places on your SoundCloud profile where you can add links to drive traffic to your Sellfy shop:
- Links in your track description
- A buy-link
- Placing the link in your bio
Add a link in your track description
Linking in your track description is a common and effective way to drive traffic to a website. It’s the perfect spot to link from – if people like what they have just heard, you can take them straight to your shop where they can purchase your work.
Here’s how to add a link to your track description:
When uploading a new track, just paste a link to the product in the ”Description” window. You can also add a link to your previously uploaded tracks. To do that, just open the track and click ”Edit”.
Add a buy link
The buy link is a button that’s placed under tracks in your catalog. When listeners click it, they are taken to another site, like Sellfy, where they can purchase the particular track.
To use the buy link option, you have to be a Pro Unlimited user—this plan start at €8.25 per month when billed yearly.
Here’s how to add a buy link and get paid on SoundCloud:
When uploading a new track, go to ”Metadata” and add the buy link to your product, as well as your buy link title. Feel free to test different buy link titles, such as Buy, Get or Purchase, to test what speaks to your audience best.
You can add the buy link to previously uploaded tracks at any time. Do that by opening the track and clicking ”Edit”. Then, update your metadata.
Add a link in your bio
A link in your bio is for listeners interested in you as an artist – for those who’ve opened your profile to check you out. People who’re willing to find out more about you might be your biggest fans. Thus, the link in your bio might be with the highest conversion rate – try and see!
Here’s how to add a link in your bio:
Go to your profile settings and click ”Edit”. Add a link in your Bio section and click ”Save changes”.
Step 3: Use other channels to promote your shop and boost sales
SoundCloud is a great channel to promote your shop and drive sales. In fact, data shows that SoundCloud listeners are 62% more likely to buy what the artist is selling than on other platforms. That, however, doesn’t mean you should ignore other social media and marketing tactics.
Here are two more ways to promote your shop and the products you sell:
- Use other social media to increase traffic
- Use Sellfy’s built-in marketing tools to boost sales
Use other social media to drive traffic
SoundCloud with over 175 million monthly visits is one of the largest music streaming services in the world.
But instead of putting all your eggs in the SoundCloud basket, look at it as one of the options to get the word out about your music. Besides promoting your tracks on SoundCloud, you can also sell your work on Instagram and Youtube.
Take the music producer OZ (@ozmusiqe) as an example:
Besides uploading his work on SoundCloud, the artist uses Instagram as another channel to promote his work and gain visibility. OZ not only uses Instagram to engage with his audience but also to promote his drumkit, which is available for purchase on his Sellfy store:
In other words, by using several social media platforms simultaneously, you have the chance to reach wider audiences and gain bigger visibility. That, incidentally, may help you earn more money with your music.
Use Sellfy’s built-in marketing tools to boost sales
Another way to increase your sales is to use different marketing tactics. Sellfy offers a bunch of built-in tools to help sellers maximize their sales, including:
Discounts are a great way to convince your hesitant customers to make a purchase. A discount or promo code might be what your customers need to close the deal if they’re undecided on making a purchase. Special deals and promotions are also a way to please your existing customers and increase their loyalty.
Upselling is a sales tactic where the customer is persuaded to buy an additional item to the one already in their cart. For example, if a customer buys one single from your album, you can offer him/her to buy another one from the same album. Stats show that if offered to buy an additional product, 60-70% of customers say yes.
- Email marketing
Personalized and thought-out emails are probably one of the most efficient ways to communicate with your customers. People who’ve subscribed to your newsletter have explicitly shown their interest in you and the music you sell, so these people might be your most valuable audience. Artists use this feature to inform their followers about new product launches, product updates, and sales.
- Pay-what-you-want pricing
Offering some of your freshest arrivals with the pay-what-you-want pricing model is another way to promote your music. Of course, there will always be people that will take advantage of that model without giving you anything back. But, you’ll also get some hardcore fans who are ready to pay more—so let them!
Bonus: Grow your music business by selling merch
We are living in the era of custom merch and print on demand. In fact, having your own merchandise has become the cornerstone of successful marketing and a way to demonstrate what your music actually represents.
With Sellfy’s print on demand, you can easily create and sell custom clothing, home decor, and accessories along with your albums, songs, beats, etc. With the same easy setup, analytics, and promotion tools that you already know.
Instead of spending time on maintaining different solutions, you can now be laser-focused on growing your business.
All you have to do to create your own mech line is:
- Choose a product to sell
- Create a design in our easy-to-use product editor
- Start selling
Once you make a sale, the order will be automatically sent to production and then shipped worldwide directly to your customer.
You won’t have to pay extra as POD is available on all plans. You’ll only be charged after your customer orders something from you.
Wrapping it up
Even though the SoundCloud Premier program provides artists with a new way to monetize their content on the platform, selling music online will continue to be the most profitable way to make money with SoundCloud.
By making your work available for sale on Sellfy, and then linking to your shop from your SoundCloud profile is probably the fastest way to start making money with your music. Use other social networks and marketing tactics to drive traffic and maximize sales, and start making a living doing what you really love!