Earlier this month we welcomed Will Spencer of Music Glue to our blog for a live chat with unsigned bands and artists about the services provide, as well as plenty of general advice on selling directly to fans, making the most of the artist-fan relationship online, getting started with e-commerce, creating artist websites, harvesting data and how to use it, and more.
With so much valuable info discussed during the live chat, we thought it only right to sum everything up in this blog post so no emerging artist misses out!
Hi Will! Please can you tell us about what Music Glue do and the various features that can be of use to unsigned bands & artists?
Will: Sure, we are an e-commerce platform for the music business providing tools for artists at any point in their career to build a free website and sell music, merch and tickets directly to their fans.
Rather than sending your fans off to iTunes for a download, Amazon for a CD and a 3rd party ticket company for tickets we allow you to do all of this in one store and one checkout. This means it’s a nicer experience for your fans and you get to keep the data which means that you know exactly who your fans are and what they like to buy!
The free website tool is one of our newest features and is incredibly helpful to DIY artists. We cover all the hosting costs and there are no monthly fees or sign up fees! I’ll post a link at the end so you can check this out
Q. Do Music Glue take a cut of what I sell? How much is it?
A. We take a 10% commission on any sales of merch, digital and music and on our tickets we add on a booking fee of 10% which the customer pays.
Music Glue itself is free to use and you can build a website and give away music or free tickets in order to collect fan data at no cost at all. We don’t charge any rolling/monthly fees or set-up costs and we have a support team available to help you around the clock.
Q. Do you have any tips on how I can set prices for various items or packages/bundles so I don’t end up out of pocket!?
A. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you minimise your risk and don’t end up out of pocket. An important thing to do is build up an understanding of your fans and think about what they will like, how much money they will happily spend and the types of merch items that you think they will enjoy. It’s okay to look at what has worked for other acts and then tailor ideas to suit your own fan base.
In terms of minimising risk on bundles try bundling a gig ticket with one of our Print on Demand T-Shirts– this will allow you to try different t-shirt designs and gauge their popularity without risking any money upfront. Print on demand t-shirts are printed and posted out to your fans one at a time so there is no minimum order and you don’t have to guess the sizes of your fans like when you bulk order.
Similarly, even if you have finished recording an EP or album pop it up on a pre-order for a month or 2 before you release it and let the sales build up so you know how many CDs you should press.
Always cost out and make budgets before you go on sale with merch and music so you know where your breakeven point is and how much you need to sell an item for.
Q. If I start selling my music through a website like Music Glue etc, should I still bother getting my music on iTunes & Spotify etc. through a distributor?
A. Yes definitely, we can sell your digital downloads, CD, vinyl etc but you will still need a digital distributor partner such as AWAL, Kobalt, Tunecore, Believe, Absolute, Ditto etc all who do an amazing job of distributing your music on streaming services. You can still use your Music Glue website as your hub and embed your Spotify, SoundCloud players etc
Q. What sort of merch sells the best usually, if I’m planning what to get made up?
A. I would start small and test a few things out. A lot of your initial merch will be led by your band's artwork and branding. The stronger your look the stronger your merch designs will be. Start with small merch runs and really explore what your fans like, ask them along the way if you can. Signed copies of any merch seem to do well and limited editions will always grab the eye. As mentioned below our print on demand service is great of testing the water!
Q. What data can Music Glue give me about my fans?
A. At Music Glue a really important part of our service and ethos is to empower artists to own their own data. We give you immediate and direct access to your data whenever and where ever you want it. When a fan purchases any item, downloads a free track or even signs up to your mailing list we collect their name, location and what item they have purchased or downloaded. We then give this data straight back to you to download and own.
Using this data you can see exactly where your fans are in the world; what they have purchased and how frequently they do so. Some bands use this data to route tours into popular areas they weren’t aware of; target social media marketing spend and segment data into useful mailing lists.
Music Glue also allows you to see your live sales as they happen so on album release day you can camp in front of the computer and see your sales as they pile in!
Q. Once I set up a page/profile, what are the best ways for us to promote our merchandise to fans? Does Music Glue help with this?
A. This really depends on your fans, your audience might have more Snapchat and Instagram followers or maybe you’re better placed to contact through Twitter. Music Glue gives you the tools the harvest your fan data but once you have this you must decide the best way to reach them.
Every month we send out an email to our consumer data base which consists of 100’000’s of active music buying fans around the world and if we see some interesting merch ideas or beautiful websites built on Music Glue we will always make sure we feature them in this email.
Q. What advantages are there for artists to sell directly to fans?
A. Knowing who your fans are, where they are located and what they like to buy is essential in today’s music industry.
Some fans will want to own your album on vinyl but will never make it to a gig whilst some fans will stream everything whilst attending as many gigs as possible. Joining the various parts of your business (i.e.Ticketing, Merch and Music ) in to one market place that you control means that you know every type of fan. You also become the retailer and by doing so earn the retail margin rather than giving it away to a third party.
The fan's shopping experience becomes much nicer and rather than sending them all over the internet to find your products you have them all in place!
Q. Who have Music Glue worked with?
A. We work with over 35,000 bands and these range from brand new bands starting out on their journey all the way up to arena level artists selling 100’000’s of tickets each tour. All our artists use the exact same platform and have the use of the same tools Music Glue provides. This year we’ve had really successful campaigns with Blondie, Nick Mulvey, Goldfrapp, Black Sabbath, Moderat , At The Drive In and Bears Den amongst many many others. But we get as excited about the new developing artists who start making their first sales as they grow. You can browse the websites and stores of some of the artists we work with on our website.
Q. Do you have any tips for selling online?
A. Make your offerings concise and clear and don’t try to overdo it with 100’s of designs. Having a wide range of products works if you are a Metallica but you need to build up your fan base in order to get to that point. In the meantime why not create smaller runs of personalised merch? Small runs of signed product look cool and letting these limited editions sell out before you put the next one up creates demand. At the beginning of your career you’ll also be managing your own store so the more income you can generate with digital products and print on demand products the fewer trips to the post office. Finally, keep you store looking nice and clean; the easier to navigate and the better the product images, the more likely your fans will want to buy!