Number One Reason Why Your Music Isn't Selling

I get messages from artists and producers daily who are having issues selling their music online. They've put in the work to make music that they feel is top notch but people aren't really giving them the chance of day. Sometimes, this causes them to get discouraged and doubt their craft. The music could actually be a part of the issue, but selling is so much bigger than that. Most times when people aren't able to sell their music, the #1 reason is that they're focusing too much on selling their music. 

Now I know some people aren't going to take heed to the information I'm about to share, but to those that do, it will help you out a lot. Selling anything anywhere is a complex process that takes TIME. That's the reason I wrote the last blog post on steps to doing music Full-Time because I wanted people to see what it realistically takes to make that happen. In one of the steps I briefly spoke on the importance of making your music profitable. In this blog post, I'm going to give you a three step solid foundation to actually making your music profitable. But keep in mind, making music is about making music. Sales should be a byproduct of excellence. 


No matter how dope you think your music is, I really want you to pay attention to and digest this section. Today, with the advances in affordable recording technology, we have more artists and producers than ever making music. I don't really like to reference other artists/producers as competition, but because you're surrounded by millions of other people trying to do the same thing you're trying to do, you MUST be as unique as possible to stick out from the crowd. You have to be more of a leader than a follower to experience the most success in music. Take one of your songs/beats and play it back to back in a list with 10 other artists/producers music. If your music doesn't sound considerably different in some way (sonically, musically, lyrically, arrangement-wise, etc.), you need to go back to the drawing board and invest more time into your craft.

We live in a world where people want everything so fast and that mentality has poured over into the music. But quality music takes time, especially if you're working by yourself. The heart of excellent long lasting music sales is organic, original, polished, musically-rich, authentic, proprietary music. You really have to be passionate about and love making music regardless of profit. Your passion has to breath through your music. Music is such a personal and intrinsic thing. When you make music that truly resonates with you and what you've been through, it becomes much more than melodies, drums, and lyrics. Your feelings/emotions transcend the music and captivate the listener. Your craft MUST captivate the listener before you can even begin to get sales. It's all about creating VALUE.

So how do you create a proprietary product?

For artists, the key is experimentation and letting your life flow through your music. Turn the radio off and get away from all of that. Stop trying to sound like what's popular. You can be current and original at the same time. Find your own style/lane and lyrically draw from your own life experiences when you create. Lyricism is a lost art these days. Lyrical content overall has taken a trip down the toilet. But, it's not about having the craziest metaphors or word play. It's about writing and expressing what you truly feel. When you tap into those true raw emotions, listeners will literally feel that. When you can touch a heart, you gain a fan.

For Producers, I'd also say experimentation and getting away from what's on the radio. One of the biggest ways to separate yourself as a producer now is INVEST in your musicianship. I'm telling you, musicianship is resurfacing slowly but surely. If you want a long lasting career as a producer, take piano lessons and also learn other instruments to step your craft up. Chords, melodies, bridges, arrangement, transitions, etc. have become a lost art these days so by stepping up your musicianship you'll separate yourself by a long shot. If you're great at writing, create quality hook beats. Artists love hook beats because it gives them direction on tracks that otherwise they might not know how to rap/singer over. There are a lot of hook beats out there, but quality hook beats are hard to find. Draw from your life and write something that others can relate to. Take time to get a polished high quality mix on your beats. No matter how great the elements are in your beat, without a proper mix they won't be heard correctly. Also buy new sounds/drums as often as possible. Treat every beat like you're taking the listener on a journey. Spice things up and throw in a few unexpected changes. It's not the loud and obvious elements that make music special. It's the attention to nuance and detail. The beach is a beautiful place but what would it be without the slight warmth of the winds, gentle rustling of the sand, calming sounds of the water at the edge of the shore gracefully moving around the small rocks/seashells, and distant sounds of seagulls flocking together further down the beach? Details!


After you've tightened up any weak points in your craft and set yourself apart, you're still not ready to start selling. You have to get people excited about your craft. Building trust/rapport and a fan base is crucial when creating a brand. It's not about sending mass unsolicited emails/facebook messages/tweets/etc out to a bunch of people who don't even know you. You have to slowly and organically build a fan base over time. It never happens overnight. Realistically, be prepared for several years of hard work.

Content is king. Make videos, write blogs, share your life/thoughts, encourage others, give out FREE music, collab with other artists/producers, enter contests, build an email list and send out weekly/monthly updates (tastefully within reason), etc. Do these things consistently. Besides just hearing your music, people need to know who's creating it. People need to see what you look like, how you talk, how you think, how you create your music, etc. They need to know that you're passionate about your craft and that you really care about giving them value. They need to know that you're a real person and also feel like they know you. Get active on social media and engage people not only in relation to your music, but also check out and support other's music too. If people feel like you're only trying to sell them something, they won't buy it. 


After you've built trust/rapport and a fan base, then you'll have people that are interested and eager to purchase what you have to offer. But wait you're not quite ready yet! At this point, you have to INVEST in marketing. Meaning, you have to break bread lol! Yes it's true you have to SPEND money to MAKE money. You will not get your craft out to the masses without putting money behind it. You have to come up with a budget and pay for things like Facebook ads, twitter ads, soundclick ads (for producers), google adwords, banners ads on targeted music websites, splash page ads, flyers, promo cd's/flash drives, merch, etc. And before you dump money into that, you have to make sure your marketing materials are up to par visually and verbally.

In your marketing material's verbage, make the value of what you're offering more emphasized than the price. Now when you're having a discount/sale, of course you should emphasize that. But in your primary daily marketing efforts, your goal is to educate people on what makes your music valuable/unique. Their reason for buying can't be the price alone. Anybody can provide a great price. But what are you uniquely offering with your craft? Is your strength profound lyricism? Make that known. Is your strength musicianship? Make that known. Have you been doing music for decades? Make that known. By pushing VALUE you entice  people to listen. Your goal should be getting people to listen to the highly valuable product that you've created. That's all! Let them decide on their own whether they want to buy your music or not. When it's more about the music than the sale, you win. 


Most times when I give out this type of information, people are looking for the "secrets" that will blast them into an instant state of success. When they don't see any easy buttons, they write the info off as bullcrap. This is why I'm giving this out for FREE. I have nothing at all to gain from writing this post other than the satisfaction of helping others succeed. This is raw, straight-forward, honest information that I've written sincerely for the advancement and encouragement of independent artists/producers. The secret is precision calculated hard work for YEARS. There aren't any shortcuts. There is no easy way. This process separates those who are passionate from those who just want money. It's HARD work. I can't say that enough. But if you really love music, and you're really passionate about your craft, AND you take heed to what I've said, you CAN make your music profitable. It's all up to you. Shouts out to those who actually read this word for word all the way through to the end! That shows character and that you have the patience that's needed for the task. Much success to you! -Tone