5 Tips for a Better Looking Artist Shop

Set Your Store Apart.

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Selling direct to fan has quickly become a “best practice” for independent artists. Whether you’re offering your back-catalog, branded merch or pre-sale bundles for an upcoming album - operating your own store allows you to keep more revenue and all of the fan data.

So what can you do to improve the look of your shop and better engage fans? We’ve found 5 examples of Single powered web stores that rock. Our hope is that you can apply these strategies to your own shop to increase conversions and push your career forward.

1) Landing page

Our first recommendation for a better looking artist shop is to implement a custom graphic landing page. This is what a fan first sees upon navigating to your site.

Not only does this give you some creative freedom for your fans’ first impressions - it gives you an opportunity to funnel fans to an action you’d like them to take. In the example below, Stick Figure used this landing page to direct fans to purchase pre-sale bundles for their new album, “World on Fire”.

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2) Product Variety

Sure - you can sell a t-shirt and hoodie branded to your new album. But this isn’t pushing any boundaries. Big K.R.I.T. attached his new digital album to tons of different products within his shop - including a skate deck, beer glass, umbrella, puzzle, water bottle, fanny pack, mini bat and more.

While printing custom skate decks may not be possible for the average independent artist, you can learn from Big K.R.I.T. and come up with innovative merch ideas to appeal to different segments of your diverse fan base.

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3) Choose a “Store Concept”

Getting creative will not just improve the look of your artist shop, but the entire experience of purchasing from you. The idea is best shown through the example of “Lana Del Rey’s Fucking Surf Shop” online pop-up.

Instead of just branding the shop as her artist name, she went with an entire surf shop design. Each of the products reflected this concept, including a beach towel, “Venice Bitch” crop top, vintage beach postcards, a surf-shop patch and more. Brainstorm some ideas to base your store around and set yourself apart!

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4) Use Album Art Imagery

If you’re having trouble deciding on a look for your website - you can always “steal” some creative direction from yourself. Pull up your album cover - is there an image or idea you can use in your shop? Take Witt Lowry as an example. The cover of his latest album shows a cartoon version of himself walking through a forest. So this is exactly what he used as the hero image on his site.

5) Sell digital music using Single’s album product template

Everyone is used to the “iTunes” experience of purchasing music, including 30 second previews and the ability to buy tracks individually. What if you could use that same functionality in a store that you own - where you didn’t have to give iTunes 30% off the top?

This is exactly what we built, and you can see it in action in the example below from the LAW Records store. Or if you want to try out purchasing music to see what the transaction looks like from the fan perspective - try out our demo shop.

Looking for more tips to improve your online store? Check out the rest of our blog. Haven’t tried out Single yet? Find us in the Shopify app store!

Indie Label Spotlight

Single Music x Independent Record Labels

Our tools are for everyone. They work for the smallest of independent artists, but are powerful enough for some of the largest artist shops in the world. Not only that - but we also work behind the scenes in independent label shops.

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Today we’ll talk about some different ways that labels use Single to make managing their e-commerce as simple and straightforward as possible. We’ll run through different examples of labels using Single to sell pre-sale bundles, their digital back catalog, to market using BoostLinks and report records to SoundScan. Even if you don’t run an independent label, learning how our tools are applied in different situations will give you ideas to improve your own artist web store.

Pre-sale Bundles

Creating music + merch bundles for fans to pre-order is one of the best ways to build up excitement for an upcoming release. And when labels like Acony Records use Single, they can run simultaneous bundle campaigns at the same time. Setting up different “shops” under one label Shopify store is as easy as creating “artist” collections and mapping those to the main navigation bar. Take a look at the OH BOY! Records storefront for Kelsey Waldon’s new record - White Noise/White Lines:

This makes fans feel they are visiting an artist-specific shop, but allows sales to remain under the label umbrella. As with many parts of the Single experience, digital music is delivered and reported automatically - which makes running multiple artist pre-orders as easy as taking a few minutes to set them up.

Digital Back Catalog Distribution

In addition to selling pre-orders directly from the label storefront - labels can choose to offer their entire back-catalog in digital form through Single. Instead of directing fans to iTunes, labels should send fans to their own storefront - where they keep more revenue and all of the data surrounding sales. This is exactly what independent reggae label LAW Records did:

Selling digital music through Single allows fans to purchase music in the highest quality possible. After the Single team uploads all of the label’s music and creates each release, we encourage labels run a promotional campaign: Our entire catalog - available in lossless quality for the first time ever.

BoostLinks

The marketing service we launched earlier this year helps anyone grow their following across the web. And because a BoostLink subscription allows for multiple campaigns to be run at the same time, it’s all the more powerful for labels. They can create artist-specific BoostLink campaigns and attach them to the respective artist’s products. Check out some examples of BoostLinks created by our friends at 100% Electronica:

As you can see in these BoostLink landing pages, this is also a great opportunity to market the label’s channels. Whether they have a Twitter, YouTube channel or even a Spotify playlist - a label should build their following on the platforms they care about most.

Physical Reporting

And finally - our friends at Smartpunk, Stay Sick, Brutal Panda, Art Is War, 1126, Pirates Press Records, Urban Yeti, Black Mesa, Dais, Peckings, and Dine Alone are great examples of a label shops using our physical reporting tool to submit tons of physical record sales to SoundScan. This is an easy set-up - just quickly “tag” records from your shop and we will report them every day, completely behind the scenes.

Powering your label shop with Single music gives you access to the best tools on the market. Our support staff can assist with digital uploads, physical album tagging and fan-side digital support. We’ve focused on building automation into each of our services, so our clients can focus on the complexity of running a label - and leave the time-consuming tasks to us.

Interested in using Single Music for your label shop? Find us in the Shopify App Store!

Mobilizing the TOOL ARMY

How OneLive & Single Music Helped TOOL Land a #1 Spot on the Billboard 200

On June 6th, Maynard James Keenan of TOOL officially announced a new album. Considering the band’s 12 year hiatus - TOOL fans were thrilled.

Flash forward to the 5th of September, almost a week after the long anticipated release date of Fear Inoculum, TOOL’s new album. Taylor Swift was dominating the Billboard Charts following an unprecedented pre-sale campaign leading up to her August 23rd release date. With her week two sales forecasted to be upwards of 200,000 - TOOL needed to act fast to earn a number one spot.

Sell Direct

But they had just the plan. The TOOL team, with major merchandiser OneLive, scheduled an additional 25,000 copies of a special CD pressing of Fear Inoculum. These would be sold in an 11 hour flash sale, directly to fans from TOOL’s own web store, in the final hours of the week 1 chart.

And by “special” we mean a CD offering unlike any other. As if the long-awaited album wasn’t impactful enough - they created an entire audio-visual experience within the product packaging. Included in this $45 CD tri-fold package was a 4” HD rechargeable screen with exclusive video footage, a 2 watt speaker and a 36 page insert book. For die hard TOOL fans, this was an absolute must have.

But there was problem. Sales are submitted to the official Billboard Charts upon fulfillment to customers, rather than at the time of purchase. As the CD’s wouldn’t be shipped until late September, this meant these sales wouldn’t be included in the first charting week.

Enter Single Music

Even though the CD’s wouldn’t be ready - digital music is fulfilled instantly. OneLive partnered with Single Music to attach the digital album to each of the 25,000 CD’s - which were sent to fans immediately after completing the purchase.

And to everyone’s amazement - this instantly fulfilled digital album could be downloaded in a lossless format.

To put this in perspective - those who downloaded the album from iTunes, a service that has dominated the digital music sales space for over a decade, received a compressed version of the new record.

By 11 PM on Friday, 25,000 albums had been successfully delivered - in time to be included in the first week’s chart. A few days later, Billboard announced that TOOL had successfully overtaken Taylor Swift for the #1 album on the Billboard 200. This marked the biggest rock album week one in over a year.

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Not only did Single help TOOL, we ran digital campaigns for 2 other top 5 Billboard 200 artists this week, Lil Tecca and Lana Del Rey, as well as the frontrunner of the Reggae Charts - Stick Figure.

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Single also powered a digital / bundle campaign for artist Witt Lowry, who earned a #1 spot this week on the R&B/Hip-Hop Album Sales Chart for his record “Nevers Road”:

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And we can’t forget about our up-and-comers. We ran digital bundles for Wage War, who landed at #10 on the “Emerging Artists” chart:

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To learn more about the ways that Single can work for you, check out some of our past blogs. And as always, our digital team is standing by to chat about how to make your next release a success.

Cascading Releases as a Marketing Tool

Long Live the Music Album

It’s true that we live in a hit driven world - with singles dominating the Hot 100. But if individual track releases aren’t building towards an event in an artist’s career - like an album release or tour announce - the artist’s popularity fizzles out as quickly as the track falls off the charts.

With the amount of noise in the industry today, artists must build excitement around significant events. At Single, we believe that the album cycle and narrative surrounding a release are more important than ever. We’ve built a whole suite of tools that can be used together to maximize the impact of an album release.

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Today we’ll highlight one small part of our toolbox: instant grats and cascading releases. These are tracks off of an album that are delivered in the days and weeks leading up to an album release. As with many of Single’s services, delivery of these tracks is completely automated. All you have to do is “set and forget”.

But before you do…

Music is delivered to fans via an emailed download link. As tracks are released leading up to an album street date, fans receive an email for each track - which presents a valuable marketing opportunity. Using our new promotional tool, BoostLinks, you can embed a link to pre-save your album within the delivery email of your grat tracks. Take a look at the example below:

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Marketing, Not Overwhelming

There’s no doubt that people already receive more promotional material than they can process. As an artist looking to advance your career, the last thing you want is to sound pushy or not genuine in your marketing efforts. At the end of the day, your success depends on fans connecting with you and your music, so bombarding them with promotional material can run counter to your main goal.

It is unlikely that fans will ignore an email that contains music for them to download. And because they already purchased your music or bundle, they’re clearly interested in supporting you. We’ll break down a successful case study below - but it’s worth mentioning here that not only did fans follow through and pre-save the album, they even shared screenshots of their successful pre-save and urged other fans to follow suit.

Results so far

Through Single’s BoostLink dashboard, you are able to measure how effective your campaigns are in real time. You can see how many people clicked to open the email, along with the clickthrough rate for each of your smart-links.

The example email above is from a pre-save campaign for Hoodie Allen’s new album Whatever USA, which was released last week.

Screen grab from Hoodie’s BoostLink Dashboard mid-way through pre-save campaign

Screen grab from Hoodie’s BoostLink Dashboard mid-way through pre-save campaign

By the end of the campaign, of those who pre-ordered Hoodies new album, 33% clicked through the email and successfully pre-saved the album. Considering the click rate for emails in “entertainment and events” average 2.19%, Hoodie’s engagement was exceptional.

As we talked about extensively in our BoostLink intro blog, pre-saves are important - both for generating streams upon album release AND getting music placed on algorithmically generated playlists. As streaming continues to dominate the landscape, we can only assume that fans interacting with your music through these platforms will continue to rise in importance.


Adding to your Fan Data

One of the main reasons we built a promotional tool is to connect artists' fragmented web presence. Each platform that an artist exists on has separate content and user base. If artists could compare information across platform, they could learn a ton about their audience.

Because even just the data off of pre-sale engagement is valuable. By adding this data point, an artist can see who purchased what bundle and completed a pre-save. Exporting your customer data from Shopify gives you a list of your top fans. But to be able to break that down further with how exactly they engaged with your new album gives you insights for any future releases.

Boost On

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We’ll take a deeper dive into how exactly BoostLinks work to connect an artist’s channels in our blog next week. We wanted to start with a straightforward and non-intrusive way to increase the visibility of your pre-save links - through delivery emails that fans are already receiving.

For step-by-step instructions on how to attach a pre-save campaign to pre-orders, check out our dedicated support article.

If you haven’t yet downloaded Single, you can find us in the Shopify App Store. When you’re ready to take the next step, our support team can help build your first BoostLink campaign, put together a music + merch pre-sale and make sure you’re set up to report to the official charts. Reach out any time!

Bringing Bundles Into The Streaming Age

Pre-Orders & Pre-Saves in Perfect Harmony

We’ve written all about best practices for releasing albums in 2019. The most successful album releases on the Single platform have included unique product offerings and various tier pre-order bundles. When you attach digital music to product bundles, fans automatically receive download links via email on release day.

Hoodie Allen product bundle

Hoodie Allen product bundle

But we’re no strangers to how music consumption models have changed. Album pre-orders & product bundles are an effective way to break onto the charts - but that doesn’t entirely reflect the listening patterns of fans in 2019. While many fans enjoy the lossless audio files delivered by Single, others will simply choose to listen on their preferred streaming service.

¿Por qué no los dos?

By combining an album pre-order and pre-save campaign, you’re effectively getting the best of both worlds. Artists earn charting albums through the sale of music + merch bundles, but also set up lasting success by ensuring their music is saved in fan libraries on platforms that they use every day.

So how does this work?

We’ve recently launched a new service - BoostLinks - which gives shop owners the ability to “attach” pre-saves, follows, and subscribes with items in their shop.

Artists start by creating a custom landing page with smart-links to interact with their channels. These smart-link pages can be attached to physical items in the shop. When a customer completes a purchase with a BoostLink attached, they are immediately delivered this set of links via email - as in the example below.

In the case of a pre-order with instant grats / cascading track releases - fans will automatically receive a download email when each new track is released. When BoostLinks are attached, each email turns into a marketing opportunity. Let’s say an album has four pre-release singles leading up to the album release - that means there are four chances to invite fans to pre-save the record.

BoostLink email from  Hoodie Allen  pre-save campaign

BoostLink email from Hoodie Allen pre-save campaign

What’s so important about pre-saves?

Landing on a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music has become an absolute must for up-and-coming artists. Being featured is the goal, but it is unclear exactly how to accomplish it - especially when it comes to algorithmically generated playlists. On Spotify, you must submit your music to be featured - but after you do, pre-saves, saves, plays, likes, and follows all add to your likelihood of landing on a playlist.

So, if you’re running a pre-order campaign, why wouldn’t you want to also direct fans to pre-save the album?

Recurring Revenue

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The idea of earning revenue every time a song is consumed is something new to the music industry. Before the 2000’s, fans purchased albums for ~$20. This is the lifetime value of that album for that particular consumer, regardless of how many times they actually listened to it. Compare that to today, where artists earn a small amount with every play. Therefore, it makes sense for artists to not just worry about first-week album sales (through pre-order bundles), but also to position their music on streaming services so they continue generating income during the months following release.

Analytics

BoostLinks change the game for artists because we’ve connected services that otherwise would be fragmented across the web. Through integrations with Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics, artists can see how fans interact with their various channels and marketing efforts. But this is just the start.

We’re building the framework to show the path of fans across platforms, through time. We want our artists to have access to data that shows not only how fans interact with channels, but what specifically lead them to take an action in the artist’s shop. Unifying data across platforms gives artists a never before seen look at how and why fans discovered them and what led those fans to dig deeper. The more artists know about how fans engage their content, the more meaningful those connections become.

BoostLink landing page from  Hoodie Allen  pre-save campaign

BoostLink landing page from Hoodie Allen pre-save campaign

Give it a try

BoostLinks will launch as a $15 / month subscription - for unlimited concurrent campaigns. We encourage you to build a couple, attach them to items in your shop and see how fans interact with your smart-links. Gauge success by measuring click-through rates, pre-save totals, and tangible growth on your channels.

Pre-order + Pre-save = The optimal Pre-release strategy of 2019

Pre-order campaigns are one of the best ways to build hype for an upcoming release. But why not also direct fans to pre-save at the same time? We believe that the future of album releases will include a combination of pre-order campaigns sold direct to fan, as well as a funnel to gather pre-saves. While these accomplish different goals, both contribute to a well rounded and impactful album release.

Don’t be shy. Maximize your album pre-sale and add pre-save functionality through BoostLinks.

Not using Single yet? Download our app in the Shopify App Store.

- The Single team

Pre-Sale Spotlight: The Rocket Summer

Your Music. Your Store.

Our team has written extensively about how to build album pre-sale campaigns using Shopify + Single Music. But it can be hard to know the best way forward without some strong examples.

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That’s why we decided to show you one of our favorite pre-sales this month - so you can see what works. The Rocket Summer has been selling pre-order bundles for their upcoming album “Sweet Shivers” through a Single powered Shopify store.

Take a look at the product tiers we discuss below and be sure to check out the official store. Sweet Shivers arrives this Friday, August 2nd.

Access Pass

The band first created what they call an “All Access” pass - which included a digital album, early access to concert and meet + greet tickets, early single downloads, exclusive video updates and behind the scenes content. This pass is on sale by itself and included with every bundle in the shop. This is a great example of “gated content”, and gives die-hard fans a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the album.

Autographed / Standard Offerings

The band started with some typical offerings to capture fans who were interested in supporting the band, but weren’t looking for top tier bundles or limited products. By offering a signed vinyl / CD, they were able to add exclusivity to even the affordable tiers.

Tour Artifacts

Not every fan will be able to catch the band on the road, but they can still feel like they were there. The Rocket Summer is offering personalized postcards sent from tour stops and signed setlists from past shows. Both of these don’t cost much to produce, yet provide a ton of value to fans.

Personalized Messages

Another low cost but meaningful product category is personalized messages. The band chose two different types, an outgoing voicemail message and a Skype session.

Test Pressing

This is one of our favorites - and extremely limited in nature. We’ve seen a few bands find tremendous success by offering test pressings. And because they’re a necessary part of the vinyl creation process, it makes total sense to include them as part of higher tier bundles.

Signed Instruments

Offering signed instruments is only possible once you’ve reached a certain level of notoriety. The Rocket Summer took this idea one step further and gave fans the option to have Bryce paint custom art on the bass guitar.

In-Person Experiences

House shows and similar experiences are perfect top tier bundles. While only a few fans will be prepared to spend hundreds or thousands, creating this “upper echelon” of pre-sale tiers could really pay off. And for the rest of the fans, it shows that the band members are relatable - they drink coffee and go record shopping too.

Setting up a pre-sale campaign can give your new album the boost it needs to stand out from the crowd. At Single, we’ve written a handful of blogs to help you navigate this process. We’ve covered merch offerings that sell, how to market your next release, examples of Shopify stores, and even automating parts of your e-commerce.

We’ll continue to explore these different topics, but if you’d like to hear about something we have yet to cover - reach out and say hello!

- The Single Team

The Rolling Stone Charts: What you should know

New Charts - New Rules

As you may have heard - Rolling Stone just launched a brand new set of official music charts for the US and Canada. While Billboard has been an authoritative source on music rankings for many years, RS has a new vision on “what it means to be popular”.

The Rolling Stone Charts are an interactive set of music charts that update on a daily basis and offer an impartial, in-depth and in-the-moment view of the biggest songs, albums and artists in music.

RS will offer an alternative to the “black-box” charts we know today by allowing fans to see more information surrounding why an artist or album is charting.

At Single, we knew these charts would be launching - so we’ve already built out our integration. In fact, Single sent reports to be included in the very first chart week. While the Billboard and Rolling Stone Charts are similar, there are enough differences to make artists tweak their overall strategies. We’ve included some excerpts below, but please check out their “General Methodology” article for the full published rules.

Weighted Formats

The largest and most obvious difference between the Billboard and RS charts stems from the definition of an album unit. Nielsen treats each format (CD, Digital, Vinyl etc.) as one charting album sale. On the RS charts, one vinyl counts as two charting albums. Yes, you heard it right. Two.

In the past (for the Billboard Charts), we’ve recommended that our artists and labels choose to report the digital album if they’re selling a bundle that includes multiple formats. This is because digital is reported upon delivery, which happens automatically on midnight before the release date. So if there are delays in physical manufacturing, reporting digital is the best way to ensure they don’t miss out on scans.

Take a look at the official weights below. Next, we’ll talk about what “deluxe” means.

Each Album Unit total is calculated as follows: (Digital Standard Album Sales*1.0) + (Digital Deluxe Album Sales*1.3) + (CD Standard Album Sales*1.0) + (CD Deluxe Album Sales*1.3) + (Vinyl Standard Album Sales*2.0) + (Vinyl Deluxe Album Sales*2.5) + (Cassette Album Sales*1.0) + (Digital Song Sales/10) + (On-Demand Audio Subscription Streams/1,200) + (On-Demand Audio Ad-Supported Streams)/3,600).

Deluxe Versions

In addition to the physical format weight change, RS also uses a special weight for deluxe versions of albums. In their posted FAQ, RS didn’t define exactly what qualified as a “deluxe” version. But they did provide some clues:

4. All versions of an album or music video count toward that title’s sales, providing that the core content of that title’s standard album version remains included and that the bonus audio content on deluxe offerings does not exceed the running time of the standard album. In cases where multiple versions of an album are available, the one deemed to be the standard version must be generally available. A retailer-exclusive version can be counted as a deluxe, but not as the standard version.

From this paragraph, we can assume that a “deluxe” version is simply an album that has additional tracks - music or commentary - to the standard version.

There is one more related rule that sheds light on how artists could modify their album release strategy to be better positioned to land on the RS charts:

7. A deluxe version may precede that of the standard release by three months (12 weeks). In these cases, the label or distributor will notify Alpha Data in advance that the later version will be this title’s standard version. However, if a shorter version of that first release releases more than 12 weeks later, it will be treated as a separate album.

So there we go... If an artist chooses to have just the “deluxe” version available in the 3 months following release date, they could potentially earn 33% more scans from selling the same amount of albums. As long as they release a “standard” version after those 3 months are over, this doesn’t appear to be breaking any rules.

Minimum Pricing

The last piece we’ll touch on is minimum pricing. Per Nielsen’s rules, albums must be priced at $3.49 to count towards the charts. For the Rolling Stone Charts, the minimum price to be counted towards that chart week is $3.75.

Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll be updating our docs to help our artists and labels determine the best strategy for appearing on both official charts. Just like before, reporting still happens completely behind the scenes. Quickly tag your physical records inside Single, and never worry about submitting a report again.

Shopify, Crypto, Music & The Lightning Network

Lessons From the E-commerce Leader.

Last month, the Single team visited our neighbors to the north - during Shopify Unite 2019 in Toronto. After this sneak-peek at their upcoming developments, we’re even more fired up about the future of the Shopify platform.

As just one example of their recent success, last year’s Black Friday sales through Shopify-powered stores peaked at a mind-numbing $37 million per hour. Even more, an incredible 63% of these Black Friday purchases were completed on a mobile device or tablet.

But… How?

In our estimation, Shopify’s success can at least partly be attributed to its willingness to bet on growing trends and emerging technologies. Building out integrations before these technologies reach a tipping point ensures Shopify (and the thousands of stores powered by Shopify) stays ahead of the curve - and is ready when these trends reach the mainstream.

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When Shopify launched its first mobile app in 2010, most consumers didn’t feel comfortable making large purchases from a mobile device. To put it in perspective, the Apple App Store had only been around for two years. Consumers weren’t ordering pizza from their mobile devices, let alone spending $86.37 - the average 2018 Black Friday online order size from more than 650,000 Shopify powered stores.

But Shopify has notoriously played the long game - positioning itself as a mobile-first platform when phones were phones and computers were computers.

This is why we’re paying special attention to Shopify’s recent move towards integration with cryptocurrencies. Mobile devices have advanced tremendously over the past 8 years, and we expect the same from crypto. One technology that we’re watching closely is Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.

Lightning in the Music Industry

The Lightning Network is a “second layer protocol” which allows for instantaneous transactions at virtually no cost. Seems like a good fit - the music business has long been plagued by a lack of transparency and timely payments, mostly at the expense of creatives. Fortunately for artists, technology tends to eliminate inefficiencies.

The first and most obvious outcome of the Lightning Network on the music industry would be a reduced transaction cost for fans purchasing music, merch or concert tickets. These transactions, happening online or in person, would be immediate and cost a fraction of a penny.

New models for music consumption could be introduced. A streaming service that utilizes micro-payments, as opposed to Spotify’s existing “pro rata” system, would result in a much fairer distribution of revenue to smaller artists who aren’t charting on Billboard.

Here’s another example: At the end of a concert, fans could send a small amount of crypto to a posted QR code and immediately receive the official audio from the show. Imagine the quality of fan-captured content that would emerge if iPhone concert videos were matched with official audio.

These are just a few ideas. It’s up to all of us to apply new technologies and bring about a music business in which creatives are paid fairly and on time. But how does this technology work? Where is this all coming from? Let’s take a closer look.

Crowded Places

Cryptocurrencies finally reached a point of popular awareness during the insane run-up at the end of 2017. Hype was at an all-time high and the sheer number of transactions overloaded the Bitcoin network. As a result, transactions became slow and expensive. The brief explanation is that every transaction took place “on-chain”.

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When a user sends bitcoins to another wallet address, they broadcast a digitally signed message to the network, which is essentially a small amount of data accompanied by a transaction fee. Unconfirmed transactions are gathered together in “blocks” and wait to be confirmed by miners in the network.

As per the Bitcoin protocol, blocks are confirmed every 10 minutes, with a maximum block size of 1 mb. As the network expanded and more transactions were broadcasted, this became a problem - and a major source of contention between two opposing parties.

One camp believed that Satoshi’s original implementation (fixed block size) was best, despite the crowded network. The other group (led by Roger Ver) hoped to modify the Bitcoin code and increase the block size. They couldn’t come to a consensus, and this resulted in the first Bitcoin hard-fork and a new crypto was born - Bitcoin Cash.

You can find an excellent visual comparing the transactions taking place on the Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash Networks here.

The Off-Chain Solution

Joseph Poon, creator of the Lightning Network, explains in the LN whitepaper,

“If only two participants care about an everyday recurring transaction, it’s not necessary for all other nodes in the bitcoin network to know about that transaction. It is instead preferable to only have the bare minimum of information on the blockchain. By deferring telling the entire world about every transaction, doing net settlement of their relationship at a later date enables Bitcoin users to conduct many transactions without bloating up the blockchain or creating trust in a centralized counterparty.”

The LN is a network of bi-directional payment channels. This creates a scenario where any peer on the Lightning Network can pay another peer, even if they didn’t directly have a channel open between each other.

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You can think of the LN like a third-party arbitrator - but instead of a central entity that must be trusted, trust is spread across the Bitcoin network and is subject to the same cryptographic security as the rest of the network. Through this method, transactions still happen on a peer to peer basis, as was initially intended with Bitcoin’s creation.

This is possible because these transactions are happening “off-chain”. For those interested in the technology behind this innovation, take a look at HTLCs (Hashed Timelock Contracts).

Looking Ahead

Despite the LN’s rapid growth this year, we’re still a long way off from a successful mass-implementation. But once the Lightning Network is popularized, the capability of the Bitcoin network as a whole will surpass any payment network in existence today.

A settlement layer that offers instantaneous transactions at virtually zero cost, in an environment that is cryptographically secure and easy for fans to use will open up the music industry in ways we cannot imagine.

In the meantime, we will continue exploring different use cases - each of which expands fan access to music and puts more money into the hands of artists. We believe it will be well worth the wait.

And judging by the way Shopify is positioning itself, they think so too.

- Joe

20 Artists & Labels You Didn't Know Were On Shopify

Powering your favorite musician’s online store.

We love breaking down why Shopify is perfect for artist and label web stores. With powerful storefront customization, inventory management across sales channels, and an expansive app store - it’s clear why the Shopify platform became the top choice for artists around the world. And with Single’s d2c tools, artists maintain full control of music distribution & product bundles.

But enough of that - today we’ll show you examples of high functioning Shopify stores from musicians that you know and love.

1) Billie Eilish

2) Khalid

3) OVO

4) Jonas Brothers

5) Taylor Swift

6) Top Dawg Entertainment

7) Yellow Claw

8) Wolf Gang

9) Rüfüs Du Sol

10) Kacey Musgraves

11) Post Malone

12) The Black Keys

13) Slightly Stoopid

14) Halsey

15) Daniel Caesar

16) Ariana Grande

17) Migos

18) Dreamville Records

19) Marshmello

20) Lil Baby

Building a Brand and a Revenue Stream

“Merchandising” Panel @ A2IM Indie Week 2019

Last month our team visited New York for the A2IM “Indie Week” music conference. You can check out our recap blog here.

Conversations this week focused around maximizing your impact as an independent artist, label or team. One panel really stood out to us, and we wanted to share it with you.

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Sitting in on this panel was Andrew Jervis of BandCamp, Amanda Fiore of Sumerian Records, Luke Hodson of Awesome Merch and Jon Strickland of the famous Sub Pop. We’ve broken this blog into the different questions / topics covered, rather than focusing on who said what. Therefore the answers below are our interpretations of the conversation, and may not reflect the opinions of everyone on the panel.

Why should artists make merch?

T-shirt & CD by  Making Movies

T-shirt & CD by Making Movies

First and foremost, opening another revenue stream besides just selling recorded music is important. Whether you want to earn enough to quit your day job or simply fill the van with gas to get you to your next show, well-done merch can be a gamechanger.

Even more, artists make merch to genuinely connect with fans. There’s something about a piece of physical merch that brings a connection that digital simply can’t. By creating physical products that align with your brand as an artist or label, you give fans the opportunity to carry your brand into the real world.

What effect on marketing does merch have?

If done correctly, physical merchandise stands to complement and enhance the rest of your marketing efforts. We’re in an age where people see through what isn’t genuine. If you just throw your logo on a Hanes t-shirt, you’re likely hurting your overall brand.

But there are many marketing techniques that could just as easily help solidify your brand. For example, design a shirt that is only available with a pre-order of your new album. This creates a sense of urgency, exclusivity and gives your top fans a way to show their loyalty. For an in depth look on some of the most effective merch we’ve seen, check out our “merch offerings” blog

How does merch drive the sale of music?

Combining a physical CD with other merchandise is a way to directly increase album sales. CD’s are fairly inexpensive to manufacture, yet add a ton of perceived value when bundled together with merch in your shop.

If new listeners see that you have high quality merch and a focused brand, they’re much more likely to engage with your music. So spending time designing your products and to make sure they align with your brand indirectly drives fans to your music.

Now.. Single wasn’t included on this panel. However that doesn’t stop us from dropping in our thoughts (in hopes we’re invited next time around). As many of you know, our tools allow you to bundle digital music with products in your shop. So if your main goal is charting album sales, run a pre-sale campaign and attach the digital album to every item in your shop.

Can you count on revenue from merch?

On one hand, it can be very hard to predict how your merch will sell across time. It may be a complete mystery why you completely sell out of a shirt one month, yet can’t seem to sell a single one the month after.

Colored vinyl by  The Dollyrots

Colored vinyl by The Dollyrots

However there are strategies you can take to make your merch sales more consistent. The main point here is to continue releasing new, quality products to keep your top fans engaged. If you put time and effort into the design and story surrounding your merch, loyal fans will support you.

Tell a story - whether that be releasing a different piece of merch leading up to a release, a “hometown show” shirt, or a limited colored vinyl. There are thousands of merch ideas you can use to engage fans, or choose to come up with something new entirely.

How do environmental concerns play a role in artist merchandise?

We can start with one of the most obvious issues with merchandise - leftover inventory. Whether your merch didn’t sell as well as you thought or your sizing estimations were off, getting stuck with leftover merch is wasteful. But thanks to advancements in print technology, indies aren’t required to print inventory at all.

Print-on-demand (POD) is a service that allows you to create a product design and put it for sale in your shop - without printing any inventory. Every time a product is sold, the POD company prints, packages and ships your item to the customer - saving you valuable time and energy.

The other side to this is about appealing to your core demographic. If you know that your fans care deeply about the environment, make your next batch of t-shirts from recycled material. Or make an extra point to reduce packaging and tell your fans about it!

Have questions about anything we’ve talked about today? Let us know!

-The Single Team

Single Music Workshop @ A2IM Indie Week

Merchandise Like a Pro: Use the Tools the Majors Use

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Last week the Single team took over the New York Law School for A2IM’s “Indie Week” conference. The panels explored ways that independent musicians can control their careers and stand out in this crowded market.

Our CEO Tommy had a chance to present Single’s suite of tools at a workshop on Tuesday, and fielded a ton of great questions. We love hearing about the problems that independent artists and labels face, because we design future products to solve them.

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Whether that’s structuring a pre-sale, creating product bundles, or setting up your artist / label shop - the tools we make are designed to be as straightforward as possible. Because until recently, it took an entire team or merchandising department to accomplish these things. But not anymore.

We also debuted our new promotional tool: BoostLinks. The idea here is for artists to capture follows, pre-saves and subscribes at the moment when fans are most engaged - after a purchase. Build your numbers by targeting those who are already your biggest fans. Learn how to build your first BoostLink campaign here, and look out for our official announcement next month.

Our message last week was simple: Indies now have the tools to compete with the big guys. Through Shopify + Single, everyone has the ability to sell to fans directly. We’re excited to be a small piece in this shift of power towards indie artists and labels. Here at Single Music we look forward to where this takes the record industry, and are grateful to learn with those committed to paving their own path. Until next time Indie Week!

-The Single Team

5 Merch Offerings That Sell

Master your merchandise.

Single Music powers the data behind some of the largest artist shops in the world. But we also noticed a problem - most successful artists had tools that indies simply did not. This is why we decided to make our app publicly available.

Because of this, we’ve seen album releases across the spectrum: major-label, independent, successful and the “flop”. The point is we are in a unique position to observe and recognize patterns in merchandise that sells.

And given that your digital album can be included with every piece of merchandise in your shop (if you follow these rules), increased merch sales correlate directly with Billboard chart position. Today we’ll share 5 of the most successful merch offerings we’ve seen.

Parachute Lyric Book

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Lyric books are a hit with die-hard fans, including those of the band Parachute. During their self-titled album release earlier this year, they included a lyric book with every bundle sold.

It is no surprise that this specific offering worked so well for this band. Their music is lyric driven, with soft but powerful vocals. They chose a product that complemented their style and narrative as a band.

What’s great is that integrating lyrics into merch can work at basically any level. Yes, Parachute is a very successful band with 2.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify. But even if you don’t have the capital to print a full leather-bound book, anyone can turn lyrics into a poster or even hand-write them. Tying merchandise directly with the content of your music amplifies your message and brand.

Lil Pump - Esskeetit Chain

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Earlier this year, Lil Pump released his album “Harverd Dropout”. Contrasting sharply with the offering above, he sold chains bundled together with his digital album. In his case, he knew his core fans would appreciate something they could wear around town.

A week after his release date, Lil Pump used Instagram to tell his fans that this chain was now free. But… that’s breaking the rules you linked above! Nielsen states that the album in the bundle has to cost the consumer an additional $3.49 on top of the price of the merch. But because they charged a flat $15 to ship the chains, they met all requirements for the sale and delivered a charting digital album to each fan. And his strategy worked; he landed a #7 charting on the Billboard 200.

Aaron Lewis - Playing Cards & Flask

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One of our favorite examples of album-branded merch this year was from country artist Aaron Lewis. During the release of his new album, “State I’m In”, he sold flasks and playing cards. This was genius for a few reasons. First, he provided his target demographic with merch that they could actually use. The items were practical and unlikely to be tossed in a drawer and forgotten about.

And because the items were relatively low cost, they added a ton of perceived value when bundled together with his digital album. We reviewed his entire campaign extensively in our past blog post, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested in learning more.

Making Movies Test Pressing

Another great merch example is from an up and coming genre-smashing band, Making Movies. They ran a pre-sale for their latest album, complete with signed merch and intangible experiences like “Making Movies will produce your next song”.

The reason they’re on our list today is the test pressing vinyl offering. This is an example of an extremely limited product, numbered to just 5. But even if you aren’t pressing vinyl for your new album, you can learn from this strategy. Introduce scarcity. If your fans see the product as authentic & coming directly from you, it will surely drive demand and boost sales.

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The Rocket Summer Polaroid Pack

The last offering we’ll discuss today is from The Rocket Summer, and also very limited in nature. They are offering a set of signed Polaroid pictures from the making of the album.

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The concept of bringing fans into the creation portion of an album was made popular by the now defunct PledgeMusic. While they failed in an irresponsible and damaging fashion, the company proved that fans wanted more than to just buy the album on release day. They wanted a glimpse inside the minds of those who created the music they love and appreciate.

Have some great merch ideas that we didn’t talk about today? Need help creating a plan for your pre-sale? Talk to the Single Team!

King's Mouth: An Immersive Art Exhibit by Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne @ Fort Houston

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Immerse yourself in the music and visuals of The Flaming Lips’ leading force Wayne Coyne this weekend at a new Nashville art exhibit.

Coyne, frontman of the beloved Oklahoma experimental rock group, brings his “King’s Mouth” installation to Music City through the end of June.

“King’s Mouth” takes onlookers into 10-foot tall chrome head, where they’ll sit on teeth-shaped foam pillows and experience a pulsing light show teamed with Flaming Lips music composed specifically for inside the mouth.

Coyne described the mouth in a 2017 interview as “escapist entertainment.” The exhibit also plans to showcase canon illustrations from the Grammy Award-winning act.

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“Most artists that I like would say the most important and most powerful part of art is what you think of it,” Coyne said. “Your reaction to it should be a subjective thing that is important to you. If I try to tell you, ‘If you think it means this, you’re wrong or you’re stupid,’ … you’re stripping it of its most powerful thing."

"King's Mouth" comes via Fort Houston sponsor Single Music and opens as part of the seventh annual Fort Fest, a musical and artistic celebration of the makerspace's tenure in Nashville.

Interested eyes and ears can see “King’s Mouth” through July 7 for free at Fort Houston. Find more information on the exhibit at forthouston.com.

Automate Your D2C: A Case Study

Your Pre-Order. Your Store.

We’ve written about many ways you can automate your e-commerce, so you can focus on what really matters. In some cases this means extra time to write, perform or collaborate. But running an effective artist shop is not hands-off; creating high-quality merch that aligns with your brand takes careful thought and planning.

When we say automate your d2c, we really mean building out systems that power your shop in the background. The branding, developing products and promotion still falls on you, the store owner. Today we’ll provide an example of a pre-order campaign that went exceptionally well.

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Through a combination of different services, this artist was able to automate his direct to consumer storefront, reach #1 on the charts, and keep his loyal fans happy. We’ll go over specific methods and actions that his team took so you can apply them to your next release.

Aaron Lewis released his “State I’m In” album on April 12th, 2019. Vector (his management team) partnered with Futureshirts (merchandiser) and Single Music (d2c distribution & reporting) to bring album-branded merch together with his new digital album.

This case study was originally presented during a panel at Music Biz 2019 in Nashville.

Pre-Sale & Product Offerings

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In the months leading up to the release, Aaron’s team ran a pre-sale with product bundles, album-specific merch and an instant-grat track. While he offered the standard t-shirt and autographed album, his team created some “out of the box” offerings. They developed “State I’m In” branded flasks and playing cards, items that fit with Aaron’s brand identity and target demographic.

Because the products were branded specifically to the album, they were recognized as scarce. At the same time they were affordable and added a ton of perceived value when attached to his digital album. And for Aaron, this meant a charting album sale with each purchase from his shop.

Fan Experience

Aaron’s team paid special attention to the fan experience during this campaign. After fans purchased the pre-sale album, they were immediately sent a pre-release single (or “instant-grat” track). Then on release day, each fan received a lossless copy of the new record, straight to their inbox.

This is important because of frequent delays in physical album manufacturing and shipping. Aaron and his team planned ahead for this by attaching the digital album to each purchase. Therefore if a fan didn’t receive the physical album on the release date, they were at least able to listen to the highest quality version immediately.

Can any artist do this?

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In the case of Aaron Lewis, he had an incredible team supporting him. But what if you haven’t reached the level of bringing on a merchandiser or management? Luckily, the tools they used are available to everyone.

With the Shopify Basic Plan ($30 / month), anyone can customize a storefront and have a central place to manage e-commerce. Because there are no long-term commitments, the shop can exist solely through the duration of the album release. And when artists use the Shopify POS system, inventory is automatically synced between online and live event sales.

But what about creating the merch?

What was once a tremendous hurdle for independent artists, merch manufacturing has now been democratized. Print on demand services allow artists to design products and put them for sale in their shops - without creating or holding any inventory.

When a fan makes a purchase, the POD company prints, packages and ships the product completely behind the scenes. This allows artists to experiment with creative product offerings, just as Aaron Lewis did. Focus on developing merch that stands out, and never worry about being left with unsold inventory.

Release Management Tools

Once you’ve designed your store, it’s time to think about delivering digital music to your fans. In the past you may have sent them to iTunes or a streaming service for your music. Instead, direct them to your own storefront where you keep more revenue and all of the data that accompanies the sale.

Single Music’s release management tools help artists set up a pre-sale, schedule individual track release dates, and automatically deliver music on the dates specified. And most importantly, all sales are automatically reported to SoundScan, the data supplier which powers the Billboard Charts. While an independent artist may not have a chance at reaching the “Hot 100”, there are many genre-specific charts that are accessible with the appropriate strategy and implementation. Breaking onto these charts adds significant credibility to any artist, especially indies.

Take control of your album release by applying tools and strategies that align with your goals as an artist. As always, if you have questions about setting up a digital album or pre-sale campaign, our team would love to help.

The PledgeMusic Saga Continues....

Moving on and Getting Over.

We’ve been following Pledge closely, and as of last week it looks as though all of our concerns have been validated - artists will not be paid as promised. Hundreds of artists have been let down to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Where did they go so wrong?

Instead of specializing in one specific area, Pledge took on “crowdfunding” to mean powering artist storefronts, handling payment processing and acting as the delivery system for digital music.

A couple months ago we wrote about an alternative to Pledge. Rather than relying on one company, artists can use a few highly specialized tech companies that have mastered the roles we’ve stated above. The end result is artists operating their own crowdfunding campaigns and controlling the entire process.

Using Shopify, artists can create a customized web store, track inventory, view sales analytics and so much more. And through Shopify’s dedicated app store, artists have the ability to communicate directly with customers, create music + merch bundles, sell digital music and even automatically report sales to SoundScan.

Take Control.

Running a crowdfunding campaign with Shopify + Single Music turns your campaign into an actual storefront. Fans purchase “pre-order” products like music and merchandise, knowing that they won’t ship out until the release date. This is a direct to consumer model, so fans pay the artists throughout the duration of the campaign. That’s right, money reaches the artist’s account in just 2-4 days. No more nightmares of not being able to fulfill fan orders because of funds stuck on a crowdfunding platform.

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Even more, Shopify gives merchants access to Shopify Payments and PayPal. Both of these payment providers have a track record of proven success, so artists never have to worry if or when they are getting paid.

For a detailed look at exactly how to build a DIY crowdfunding campaign, take a look at our step by step instructions. For artists stuck in limbo on Pledge, we feel for you. Take control and run your next crowdfunding campaign direct to fan.

Your music. Your store.

Interested in learning more? Talk to us!

- The Single Team

5 Ways to Market Your Next Release

Connect with fans & get your music heard

Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify, said this week that “close to 40,000” tracks are now being uploaded to the Spotify platform daily. That’s almost 15 million songs per year.

It takes more than just publishing your music to Spotify, iTunes or selling directly via your web store to get your music heard. Releasing music that gets noticed takes a focused and creative effort - but that doesn’t necessarily mean a huge budget. Today we will share with you 5 ways to market your next release - so you can connect with fans and get your record heard.

Merch // Unique Product Offerings

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An album is a snapshot of your ideas and state of mind. The better you bring together these ideas into a cohesive piece, the more fans can connect with your message. Create album-branded merch to solidify the message even further.

Thanks to the power of print-on-demand, indie artists are able to design merch, publish it to their webstore and begin selling without printing any inventory. Experiment with different products and stick with what sells. Attach digital music to each product and drive sales of your album.

Geotarget Events

Even if you’re not playing Coachella or opening for Ariana Grande, you can still use these events in your marketing plan. Let’s say your target demographic is in line with people who attend Coachella. You can create location-based ads to target those in Indio, California, throughout the duration of the festival.

Location based ads are nothing new - but take this one step further by specifying the dates your ad is displayed and you can now target events. Both Google Ads and Facebook location targeting are easy ways to get started.

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You know your target demographic better than anyone else, so use that to your advantage. If you make relaxing music, set up location based ads for college campuses during finals week. If you make reggae, consider targeting vacation destinations during spring break season.

Target Sound-Alikes

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Today’s artists rely less on genre to describe their sound, and instead opt to name 3-5 artists that they sound similar to. Many of these big-name artists already have a following of die-hard fans. Therefore, you should aim to put your music in front of these fans.

This can be as simple as connecting with those who follow / actively engage the artists on Instagram. People who comment or like a photo within the first 5 minutes of the artist posting are clearly engaged fans - they could be your passionate fans. Interact with them and see where that leads.

Album Release Shows (Tix + Digital Album)

Release shows are a great way to connect with fans. They give you a specific date to build hype towards through your socials and other marketing efforts. And with Single Music, you now have the ability to attach your new record to every ticket sold.

Setting this up is easy. Create a product in Shopify called “Release Show Ticket”. As you make sales, you essentially build a guest list. Simply attach the digital record you created in Single to the ticket product in Shopify. On release day, not only do fans get to experience your album live, they also get a digital copy automatically delivered to their inbox.

Email Remarketing

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Email remarketing is a general term for following up with website visitors who have yet to make a purchase. The two main types are “browse abandonment emails” and “cart abandonment emails”. Remarketing emails are more personal than standard marketing because you (the store owner) have some basic customer data.

If you are on the Shopify platform, there are many apps available that handle remarketing. While most are paid-apps, you can easily create a cost / benefit analysis; a successful remarketing campaign will translate directly into sales. You can also use the Google Ads platform for your remarketing campaign. Take a look at Google’s instructions on how to set this up.

Have some ideas that we didn’t mention here? We’d love to talk. Make Single a part of your marketing campaign by engaging us early in your release cycle.

- Joe

3 Ways Single Music Can Work for You

Our Tools, Your Store

Here at Single, we often find ourselves focusing on the biggest questions.

How can we build the best tools for independent artists? How can we empower artists to take control of their own stores and sell directly to fans?

Questions like this remind us who we’re here to help and why we started this journey. But sometimes we need to take a step back. Today we’re going to talk about 3 simple ways that Single Music can work for you.

1) Sell Digital Music Directly From Your Website

Shopify is quickly becoming the platform for artist and label shops. But while many artists sell merch through Shopify, they send fans elsewhere to download their digital music.

When you send fans to a third party for your music, you’re giving up a chunk of revenue and missing out on the data that accompanies the sale. Using Single you can quickly create a digital album and publish it your shop, right next to the rest of your merch. The image below is an example of how an album is displayed in your shop.

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The cost to sell music from your own site is roughly half of what it costs to sell music through iTunes. Digital sales are automatically reported to SoundScan, whether or not you opt for our “physical reporting subscription”. And unlike iTunes, fans are given the choice to download an MP3 or lossless format.

2) Report Physical Album Sales to SoundScan

Shopify gives you complete control of your e-commerce; you can customize your storefront, manage orders, analyze sales and way more. But for these shops selling physical albums, manually reporting sales to SoundScan can be costly and time-consuming.

Registering for SoundScan reporting is expensive - and that doesn’t include time spent each week submitting sales. With Single, this process is affordable and automatic. Our physical reporting service costs just $10 / month. In just a few minutes, tag every physical record in your shop and we’ll report them daily. Never worry about SoundScan reporting again.

3) Bundle Digital Music With Physical Merch

You can also attach a digital release to physical products in your store. Just like the digital standalone album, music is automatically delivered to fans via email.

A great way to build hype for an upcoming release is by creating pre-order bundles. These are various merch packages which include a digital copy of your record.

For more information about why Single should be a part of your next release, check out our most recent blog post. Take a look at the image below to see a pre-order in action.

Shopify + Single Music powered pre-order campaign for  Parachute

Shopify + Single Music powered pre-order campaign for Parachute

Still have questions about how Single Music can work for you? We’d love to chat.

- Joe


Let Single Help With Your Next Album Release

Build a Pre-order Campaign & Sell Directly To Fans

The moment has finally arrived - the album you’ve been perfecting is now released to the world. One of your closest friends and (obligatory) diehard fans texts you and asks, “Hey, where should I go to pick up the new album?” You quickly think through the list of services your digital aggregator has sent your music. After a moment of hesitation you say, “iTunes?”

Using a digital aggregator (like Ditto, DistroKid or CD Baby) is a must. Your music should be available on as many services as possible. But if you don’t have a way of distributing directly to your fans, you’re missing out.

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Using Shopify + Single Music, you can create a fully functional artist store tied directly to your existing website. You’ll have access to powerful release management features, as well as tools to create a pre-sale bundle campaign. This is a great complement to releasing your music through a digital aggregator, because when you control your store, you keep the data and more revenue.

Release Management Tools

Publishing music through Single gives you full control over your release, because it exists on your webstore. As a reward for fans purchasing directly from you, you can provide an “instant grat” track that arrives immediately after they place the order. You can even stagger releases of single tracks leading up to the album release date, which we call “cascading releases”. Simply choose the dates for each track and the music will automatically be delivered, otherwise known as “set and forget”.

Finally, when release day rolls around, you can be sure that fans who purchased the pre-sale will receive a link to download the album via email. Unlike iTunes, fans have the choice of downloading an MP3, FLAC or WAV. Let delivery happen automatically, behind the scenes.

Pre-sale Bundle Campaigns

One of the best ways to build hype for your upcoming release is creating product bundles for pre-sale. This idea was proven by the success of PledgeMusic, through their “direct-to-fan” campaigns. The problem is, Pledge holds the money until the end - and if the campaign doesn’t reach its goal, every fan is refunded.

While the company eventually failed (and hurt many artists in the process…) they demonstrated that fans wanted more than just to hear the new album, but instead be involved in the creative process.

Single + Shopify powered presale campaign w/ product bundles by  HEALTH

Single + Shopify powered presale campaign w/ product bundles by HEALTH

Bundles through Single Music are structured similarly to PledgeMusic. You can tie products together to create different “tiers”. Your digital album can be attached to each tier, and even to intangible things like producer credit or a music lesson over skype. Offering these top level tiers allows your most passionate fans to be a part of the album, and provides you the means to keep creating.

What about the $?

As we mentioned, PledgeMusic pays out funds to the artist after the campaign is over. With a Shopify + Single powered pre-sale, money is sent to the artist as it comes in - throughout the duration of the campaign.

Pledge takes 15% of every dollar you earn. This is true for t-shirts, physical CD’s, bundles, and even the highest tiers. Taking 15% of the revenue from a $3,000 private house show seems excessive - when all Pledge really does is provide an online storefront.

Aside from digital delivery, Single doesn’t touch your revenue. Our digital delivery rate is capped at $2 / album - whether you’re selling a digital standalone album or if the album is attached to every single product bundle / tier.

Pledge popularized the concept of a pre-order campaign surrounding an album release. They familiarized the world with different level product tiers, music + merch bundles, and high-dollar intangible opportunities for artists to engage their top fans. With Single + Shopify, all of this is possible AND you keep more revenue and data.

For the price of a Shopify monthly plan ($30 / month) you can operate your own storefront, maximize the release of your new album and give fans the opportunity to become part of the process. In a world where there are hundreds of ways to find and listen to your music, give fans a way to buy directly from you.

Questions about creating your pre-sale campaign? Talk to us! We’d love to help.

- Joe

The 100% Myth

Ownership & Royalties in 2019

You're a budding independent musician. Not only have you focused on your craft, but you've built a business around it. You are a master of your artistry, from creation to production to marketing.

You’ve chosen to remain independent, so you own 100% of the rights to your music - both the composition and sound recording. No outside influence or hands reaching out for a cut of your creation. So when your music sells you keep 100% of the revenue, right?

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Not exactly.

Even if you own 100% of the rights to your music, you still have to get it into the hands of your fans. And DSP's vary widely on how much they think this service is worth.

If you are able to record and produce a record while retaining all of the rights to the creative work, good on you. This would have been an anomaly in the recording industry of the past. Today this is only half of the battle.

Rights & Royalties in the Digital Age

It is now up to the artist to decide how to distribute their record in the most cost efficient way. Luckily, there are usually no exclusive agreements when it comes to selling your music online. This means that you can release your music on a handful of DSP's (iTunes, Bandcamp, Shopify + Single). Because fans use different DSP's, it makes sense to sell music across multiple platforms.

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But as an artist is often their own personal marketing team, they can direct fans to whichever service offers them the best deal and reports album sales to the official charts.

Maintaining copyrights to your music is a luxury that has become commonplace. This is amazing for modern day musicians. Now, it’s time to maximize your revenue from your creative work.

Do you have questions about this post? We’d love to hear from you.

- Joe