How To Sell Original Music Online
by Alex Cosper (1/12/13)

Prior to the debut of the iTunes Music Store in 2003, the music industry was caught up in a huge controversy about illegal downloading. While there were solutions to selling downloads legally, these solutions were confusing and not user-friendly. The mp3 had become the villain of music sales, but Apple introduced its own proprietary file format, the AAC, which was more compressed than mp3, yet had the audio quality of a CD. Since 2007 iTunes has been the leading music retailer in America, as digital downloads have increased while CD sales have diminished.

Some artists only want to sell their music through iTunes because it's the most popular online music store that everyone has heard of. Selling digital downloads through iTunes can be set for small fees at If you want to offer a combination of ways to sell your music, sites like CDBaby and ReverbNation provide those tools.

If you are an indie artist who wants to sell CDs online, the best solutions are with CDBaby or Amazon. CDBaby gives you lots of different ways to sell music, including digital downloads of both singles and albums. They can also place your music on iTunes, Amazon, Facebook, Google Play or Spotify. If you need CDs manufactured, they do that as well, with fast turnaround times. They provide warehousing of your CD at their facility in Portland, Oregon. Musicians make more profit through CDBaby than traditional music industry methods.

CDBaby reports its sales to SoundScan. In order to show up in SoundScan reports your product must be registered with SoundScan, otherwise it will not be listed in their reports. You must already own the rights to your song and recordings. If you want to include cover songs, you need to get permission from the publisher or work through organizations such as RightsFlow or Harry Fox, who handle mechanical licensing.

CDBaby, like most platforms that sell indie music, lets you set your own price. If you want, you can just sell downloads, just physical CDs or a combination of both. The company considers a single a disc with one track. Digital tracks are sold as MP3s. CDBaby works with Rumblefish to make your music available through licensing for TV shows, movies and other media.

You can bypass the traditional method of manufacturing hundreds of CDs by using Amazon's CreateSpace, which lets you sell CDs on demand. You simply upload your music and design your album cover, then CreateSpace manufactures CDs as orders come in.

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