SoundCloud, the platform used by millions of independent musicians, has recently announced that they’re opening up 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. Now, all qualified artists can make use of it.
While the recently launched program will open new possibilities and making money on SoundCloud in 2020 will be easier than before, it has some significant limitations.
First, it’s only available to a set of qualified artists.
To qualify, your tracks have to have at least 5000 plays in the past month from countries where SoundCloud subscriptions and advertising are available. These countries are United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, and New Zealand.
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 does 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 fanbase 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 monetize SoundCloud – the better way
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. By simply adding links to your SoundCloud profile, you can take your fans to your online store where people 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. Austin Marc, producer and DJ from New York, is a great example. This artist uses SoundCloud to share his music, as well as to promote his drumkits and remixes that he offers for sale on his Sellfy 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.
Once you’re in, you can add a product for sale. Start by clicking ”Add new” from your dashboard and choose to add a digital 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”.
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
- Links 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.
Short Round is an artist who sells samples. People can listen to his samples on SoundCloud, then click on the link in the track description and buy the pack on his Sellfy store.
Here’s how to add a link in 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’re 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 or Pro Unlimited user – these plans start at €5.25 and €8.25 per month when billed yearly.
DKVPZ is a successful artist with over 22k fans on SoundCloud. The artist uses the buy link feature to sell his tracks, drumkits, and other work through Sellfy.
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 users is one of the largest music streaming services in the world. However, this number is relatively small when compared to other social media platforms. In comparison, Youtube has 1.8 billion monthly users, Facebook has 2.23, while Instagram – 1 billion.
So, 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.
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!
Krista is a writer at Truesix.co with several years of experience in digital marketing and e-commerce. In her free time, she runs her own online store Genecie.com and travels to places far, far away.