Composers who are serious about selling their work should immediately consider branching out on their own and establishing a website to showcase their compositions and arrangements.
When you create a website to sell your work, you have full control of not only the creative process, but you also get to keep 100% of the profits. If you sell your music through companies like Hal Leonard, you would have to give up a large cut of your profits…
…besides, having a website of your own provides passive income!
Step 1: Compose, Compose, Compose
Before you even think about how you’re going to go about getting your compositions online, first you should focus on actually composing the music you want to sell.
Begin by writing the music in programs like Finale or Sibelius, and then export all of the parts and the score in PDF format to a ZIP file. This allows you to package everything into one product for each piece of music – you can also offer each individual part for sale at the same prices as well as the score which should be priced more than the parts.
For instance, each of the parts (trumpet, clarinet, violin, etc.) might be priced at $10.99 per part (trumpet 1, trumpet 2, trumpet 3, etc.) and the score is $49.99. If the customer purchases all the parts and score together, you can advertise it as a savings depending on how many parts you have in the piece (e.g., you have 30 different parts and one score that would add up to $350, but if they purchase all of them together it’s only $250, bringing a savings of $100).
Get the picture?
When you’re composing a piece of music, don’t just think about the piece in terms of an artist – think of it in terms of a business product. If you’re able to sell your music for one bundle price and also make money by breaking up the parts into separate products that the customer can add to their cart, you have an opportunity to make more money.
Step 2: Create A Legal Business Entity
One of the most important steps to creating a website is understanding that you are now creating a digital place where people can spend their hard-earned money – this cannot be done just by anyone, especially if you’re selling to hundreds of customers.
You have to be licensed to sell your products.
The only way to go about this is to establish yourself as a legal business entity; many composers simply register with their state as a Sole Proprietor since there’s very little risk involved with selling sheet music online. The concept is simple: upload your content, the customer goes through the checkout process, they’re redirected to download your composition.
However, sometimes during this process the customer may want a refund (which can’t happen with digital downloads since they can’t “return” a digital file). Customers can sue. Customers can request information about how their privacy is being used on your website.
There are all sorts of different legal traps, and therefore you’ll want to make sure that you cover yourself as a business owner – even if it is a side endeavor.
Step 3: Develop Your Website
Developing an online store is much easier said than done. However, there are plenty of services that can save you lots of time (and even money) to get your compositions displayed online fairly quickly.
Shopify is one of the most popular choices, as it’s a plug-and-play online store option. The problem is that it’s a more expensive option because they’re offering you an all-in-one, super-convenient service.
Instead, you may want to consider a WordPress site. Remember that developing an online store is quite a lengthy process and may take you several days or even weeks to get it just right if you’re doing it on your own.
You’re going to want to start with a self-hosted website. The first thing you’ll need to do is purchase a domain name and then get your website hosted; one of the BEST hosting providers these days is Dreamhost.com – you can sign up for their hosting service here.
Once you’ve signed up, you need to actually develop the store; make it easy for customers to download your sheet music after purchase.
Step 4: Follow Up With Your Customers
Once your customers make a purchase, you should have a follow-up email containing information regarding their purchase and thanking them for buying your compositions.
When a customer purchases sheet music from you, they’re entrusting that your compositions are harmonically correct, the phrasing is on point, and all of the accents and notes are in their proper places. Thanking your customers should be an automated – but possibly even personalized – action that occurs immediately after purchase.
When you want to sell your sheet music online, there are a few important steps that you need to take to ensure your process is completely automated, leaving you to just worrying about the creative process!