Marketer turned viral audio specialist: how Austin became one of the most streamed classical composers in the world

By Jeremy Baldacchino read
20 Jun, 2023
Marketer turned viral audio specialist: how Austin became one of the most streamed classical composers in the world

Austin is a classical composer, audio specialist, and music teacher best known for selling sheet music online and creating viral TikTok and Instagram audios. 

Austin first started off writing music for people’s comments on TikTok during the pandemic. His quick growth eventually led him to work with influencers as well as have his music featured on the social media accounts of the Discovery Channel, Science Channel, and Animal Planet.

Austin’s music can be heard on Spotify (1.8M+ monthly listeners), on his YouTube channel (43K+ subscribers), and on his TikTok account where he has the largest social media following (141.3K+). He’s also active on Instagram where he has 23.2K+ followers.

Check out Austin’s YouTube channel

Austin found Sellfy when was looking for a simple way to sell sheet music online. Sellfy’s ease of use and built-in marketing features were exactly what he had been looking for, so he signed up and launched his store.

Read on to learn more about Austin’s journey and how he became one of the most streamed classical composers in the world.

How do you define yourself as a creator and what is it that you do?

I’m a classical composer and a teacher who sells sheet music online. I got started on social media during the pandemic, specifically targeting audio, before I built my Sellfy store.

I started off just writing music for people’s comments on TikTok. They would comment things like, “write this song about what falling in love feels like”, or any different narrative. And, then I would write to that.

Tell me more about how you got started.

So, about two years ago when the pandemic started, there was a very high demand for music to be linked to content. More and more social media content was shifting towards TikToks and Reels, which required music to fuel the trend. 

Everything became trend-based, so the demand for audio went up. But, the supply was very low. So, I saw an opportunity to create music for the social media accounts of brands like the Science Channel, Discovery Channel, and Animal Planet.

I also worked with influencers to spark trends. And, I found this as a powerful tool to promote my music on Spotify, which is where I make most of my income. 

But, from working with my audience, I saw that sheet music was one of the things that people were asking for consistently. 

So, there were two options: I could either post sheet music transcriptions on Muse Score or build my own store and compete with Muse Score in the search engine rankings.

The benefits of Muse Score are the traffic and the SEO, but they take a 50% cut of your sales. But then, on the flip side, the challenge with a store is whether it will bring in enough traffic for me to rank high and get discovered.

Because, a lot of times, my audience will see the song trending on social media, and then they’ll type it into Google or YouTube. And, those are the two places I feel bring traffic to Sellfy. So, I need to be able to rank on both.

And, it took a couple of months, but over time, I adjusted the SEO on my Sellfy store. I looked at what keywords were being searched the most so that I could use them in the title and the metadata. That was enough to boost my store up to the top three results.

So, now, I get around 20–30K visits a month. 

Why did you choose Sellfy?

I wanted it to feel professional. 

And, I just needed it to be very simple so that when people are typing in a keyword, they can find the product they’re looking for, get previews, click and buy, and then get a download link. 

Austin’s Sellfy store – Austin Farwell Sheet Music

I also like that the system grabs their email so that I can retarget them later. These are all the features that I wanted. With Shopify, for instance, I’d have to put in the work and build it myself.

I actually tried another company before Sellfy and it was just too complicated for me. So, what drove me to Sellfy was how easy it was to get started. Sellfy worked perfectly for my needs and it seemed like there was a good setup for digital assets on there.

Another thing I really love about Sellfy is the smooth checkout process. 

What’s your favorite Sellfy feature?

Sellfy tracks all the different types of traffic going into the store, and it tracks all the conversion rates of each source. This is really interesting data for me because it helps me figure out where to invest in. 

I’ve had something like a 6% conversion rate from YouTube as opposed to 1% from TikTok. I don’t think I would’ve gotten that data from other platforms.

And, it’s important for paid ads too. I need to know what that conversion rate is to see where I should place ads. 

I think, in the future, I could start putting paid ads on Google if I feel like there’s an opportunity there, or maybe on YouTube as well.

How has Sellfy impacted your life and business?

I think it has added to the entire experience for my audience—I’m really happy to be able to give them the ability to learn my music. 

Initially, I was just a composer and a musician. And, now, I’m turning into a teacher and it has changed the whole narrative of what I am. It’s really meaningful to me.

Are you a full-time composer now or do you also work any other jobs?

I work for a marketing agency, but it only makes up maybe 10% or 15% of my income. I keep my marketing job just to keep my sanity because I can’t write music 24/7. It’s very draining. So, I do data analytics for brands like Microsoft and Intel.

Let’s talk about marketing. Do you use any specific strategies to promote your music?

I usually get discovered on Instagram and TikTok where people will see my name as well as the name of the song. And, I use YouTube to catch a lot of that interest. 

A look into Austin’s TikTok page

And so, on YouTube, I have visual tutorials that resemble Guitar Hero, except you don’t get the complete experience of learning the song. It’s just a preview. But, it still gets the audience that might be interested in sheet music. 

Having preview images and videos is important because it’s almost like a trailer for the product. It gives people confidence that what they’re getting will be perfect. 

So, on TikTok, I’ll create a 30-second preview clip of a song. And, if people wanted to listen to the rest of the song, they’d have to go to YouTube. I think creating a need for people to shift over to another platform is really important.

I also use the same tactic on my Sellfy store. And, I make it extra easy for people to buy because I mention in the product description that if this isn’t 100% perfect, you get a full refund.

How did you make your first sale happen?

I wrote a song, I Miss This Time, and it started going viral on TikTok at the end of 2020. I got a ton of messages about sheet music, but I don’t know how to write or read sheet music.

So, I hired a team for that and also set up my Sellfy store around the same time. I was making around $800 a month, and it was all from just the sheet music of that one song.

What’s your best-performing song on TikTok?

New Home is my best-performing song. It went viral in May 2021. I think around 50,000 people used it, including big brands and influencers.

After all, there’s a reason why I started on TikTok asking influencers to engage in that way. And, it has a lot to do with the algorithm.

New Home by Austin Farwell

Tell me more about TikTok’s algorithm.

So, TikTok’s key factors are average watch time and post engagement rates like shares, likes, and so on.

If you can get the audience to stay at least 15 seconds on a video, and if you can get them to share it or save the audio, then the algorithm will push your content higher.

I have to take something that’s mundane like piano music and make that compelling to the average person. So, this is why I ask my audience to comment on their experiences of things like loss, falling in love, etc. 

People comment a million different things. So, that’s one way I’m connecting my content to people’s shared experiences. When people are commenting, the video keeps playing in the background, increasing my watch time.

And, what about Instagram’s algorithm?

On Instagram, the algorithm is a little bit different. Instagram is more of a network of your friends. On TikTok, people are following people they don’t know. 

So, the way I’ve grown on Instagram is by adding music to the audio libraries and then messaging them to link my profile to all the audios. 

So, I’ll have like 200,000 people use a sound for Reels. And, if they go to my song page, then my profile will be linked there.

What’s your favorite part about running an online business?

The passive income is the best part. It’s the freedom that you get if you’re creating an online business.

And, what’s your least favorite part?

I receive a lot of messages on social media, which can get overwhelming at times. It takes up a lot of my time, but I try to reach back to everyone. 

For example, today, I responded to 200 comments. It’s fun when people like your music. But, then people are getting angry that you’re not messaging them.

Then, there are other negative aspects like more criticism in the comment section or generally just people knowing you so you can’t really like hide as much.

What lessons have you learned while creating your online business?

One lesson is protecting your digital assets. People will not credit you properly. And, learning how to target that is another lesson. It’s very easy for someone to buy your product and then create their own store, resell it, and cut your profit.

And then, all the lessons of figuring out the algorithms behind platforms and learning about people and what they’re looking for, and the million different ways that you can monetize your audience.

Oh, there’s a lot. I’m just thinking about all the money that I missed because I just didn’t know. For example, I could have been launching courses way earlier. 

And then, also, I wasn’t registering my songs properly. So, I think I missed out on about 100,000 last year, just from not registering my songs globally.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I think I’m going to go more and more in this direction of teaching online.

I’m also shifting towards working with a startup VR company that’s partnered with Facebook. You put on your VR headset, look at the piano, and any song that you want to play streams down visually. It’s called Magic Keys. I think this is the future of learning piano.

Wedding Ballet – Austin Farwell on YouTube

What advice would you give to someone who is at the very beginning of their journey as a creator?

I’ve noticed this problem a lot with creators where they think people just care about them naturally, so they’ll create a vlog and creators will think that they’ll just watch it. Or, they’ll create cooking courses or whatever, and it’s about them.

If you shift your thought process into what you can provide for your audience, and how to create content that will help them and provide value, you’ll have more success.

And, also, testing. So, for example, instead of posting three pieces of content in one day, see which one does the best. Remove the other ones and just keep that one and then iterate that process over and over again.

That’s how I do it. I’m testing multiple pieces of content, figuring out what works, and then optimizing the best-performing content. So, that way, you’re putting out the best content you can.

This also includes listening to your audience and seeing what they want and catering to that.

It’s all about adding value. So, whatever product or service you’re creating, it has to be centered around adding value.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Austin Farwell
Composer, Musical Artist

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Austin Farwell
Composer, Musical Artist