10 Ways You Can Make More Profit Per Fan – (Part 2)

Comments: 29

Okay, first things first…

This post is about two weeks overdue. My apologies there.

Secondly, if you have not yet read Part 1 in the “How To Make More Money For Each Album Sold”, please do so before proceeding. You can find it here.

Alrighty then. With that out of the way…

In the recent aforementioned post, I discussed the importance of really honing in on your average “subscriber value”. The gist of the post was that presenting your fans with product options and after-purchase “upsells” can often be the difference between a campaign that runs at a loss or at a profit. In other words, success or failure for your music career.

But one of the common concerns I hear from musicians is that they simply don’t have anything else to sell.

Well, here are 10 product ideas that you can quickly add to your sales funnel to increase profit and the ultimate value of each new fan you acquire…

1. Interview Albums – Suggested Retail: $10 – $30.

interview microphoneReal fans love to hear the story behind the song. I still have the Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses (vinyl) interview albums that I so treasured as a kid. An interview album is insanely simple to make and there is no established precedence for value. Often these interview albums sell for less than the price of a traditional album, and often they sell as collector items that go for much MUCH more. All you need is a Skype recorder and a friend who is capable of asking intelligent questions about your music.

Don’t have anyone who can interview you? Hire a professional to do it for you for a mere $5. Need something a little more in-depth? Contact us and I can have one of my own team members provide you with a professional “behind the music” style interview.

2. A Membership Site – Suggested Retail: $20 – $40 Annually.

A really great way to boost your income is by creating a virtual back stage pass for the dedicated fans; AKA, a membership site. It takes little more than a WordPress blog, a membership plugin, a Paypal button, and you’re set.

What content do you offer in your membership site? Anything that is digital and which the “super fan” would be interested in getting access to.

A few ideas: Your complete catalog, demos, B-sides, unreleased songs, interviews, unpublished videos, web cams, concert footage, photos, host live concerts and chat sessions. You can also give early access to new material, blog posts, contests, VIP access at live shows, and anything else that comes to mind that can be delivered digitally.

Products like this can be offered for a one time payment, though I strongly recommend a recurring fee. You can do so as a monthly micro-payment of just a few bucks, or a larger annual payment. My personal suggestion is the latter. The price resistance is basically the same and with an annual payment the customer is not given the option of canceling every 30 days.

Just imagine having 1000 fans paying you $40 a year for access to your membership site. For many this is a good living and it’s a very achievable goal.

Note* You can find an extensive training lesson which covers how to create your own membership site in the Music Marketing Insider Circle.

3. Sell Your Demos – Suggested Retail: $5 – $15

Why not include your fans in the music making process. Take those rehearsal studio sessions, pre-production sketches, live recordings and old four-track recordings from 1992 and sell them to your fans. Your hard drive is probably loaded with material that your fans would love to have access to. You can offer these as EPs, LPs, or even as part of a membership site using a recurring billing element.

4. YouTube Sessions – Suggested Retail: $10 – $30

Here’s an idea that you can implement right away. Offer your fans access to private micro-concerts. Fire up your web cam, pull out your acoustic guitar, and record one song a day for 30 days. Publish the videos privately on YouTube or if you prefer, use something more professional like Easy Video Player (That’s what I use for most of my private videos) and sell access for $1 song. 30 days for $30. You can tell the story behind each song and really create a “digital campfire” kind of feel.

Create 30 quick emails and load them into your autoresponder. Setting emails to go out each day with links to the latest video. Voilà, you’ve got yourself a product that can sell for more than the price of an album, but which costs almost nothing to create.

Run the audio through a half decent mic and you’ve got the makings of a rare collectors album, the “YouTube Sessions”.

5. Custom Written Songs – Suggested Retail: $200 – $5000

How much you can charge for something like this really depends on your relationship with your fans. But the sky is really the limit here. Most artists with a mailing list of any decent size will find that they have at least a few die-hard fans with a little money to spare that would love to be commemorated with a song by one of their favorite artists. This is a great example of a big ticket item that can seriously boost your average subscriber value with a single conversion.

One of my favorite examples of this was when the artist Momus offered to write and record a song for any person or group that paid $1000. The result was a 30 song album called “Stars Forever” that included patrons such as artist Jeff Koons and two year old animator/superhero Noah Brill.

6. Sell or License Your Master Recordings – Suggested Retail: $1000 – $10,000

Now this is not something that I have personally seen anyone do, and I certainly know that this is not for everyone. But I thought it would be fun to throw the notion of selling your masters on the table. Selling resale rights is something we see in many other markets. Why not music?

It wouldn’t be too difficult to structure an agreement in which you could retain certain rights to sell and use the masters yourself, while granting ownership rights to someone else. Many reading this would happily hand over their master rights to a record label who often wouldn’t pay nearly as much for even greater rights. Why not offer the “super fan” the ability to invest in, and actually own, a master recording of one of their favorite artists?

A rather outside-of-the-box idea to be sure, but something to consider. This is yet another fantastic way of increasing your average customer value dramatically, while transforming your music from a work of art into an actual investment.

Disclaimer: You would need to consult with an entertainment attorney about the legal issues and complexities of such a strategy.

7. Fan Books – Suggested Retail: $10 – $30

Why not gather up your lyrics, blog posts, and photographs and compile them into a fan book? Have an old lyric book of never completed songs? A little copy editing and you’ve got a book of poetry.

Very often our musical artistry extends beyond just guitar chords and lyrical sensibilities. Perhaps you’re an artist or you have a collection of short stories. A book of just about any kind can be the perfect companion to an album and an easy way to double your revenue.

You can easily create your own affordable books through Amazon’s Create Space, Lulu.com, or my personal favorite, the brand new BookBaby.com (CD Baby’s sister company).

8. Signed and Limited Artwork – Suggested Retail Price: $50 – $500

While this is more of an option for those of you who are artistically inclined, many artists have done quite well by offering hand created, signed, and limited album covers. I’ve also seen a number of artists do quite well by offering prints, drawings, and/or paintings as part of “product packages”. Sometimes running in the thousands of dollars per package.

Not an Artist? That didn’t stop Amanda Palmer (Who incidentally DOES happen to be a pretty damn good artist) from working out a deal with another artist to hand paint 100 ukuleles to be offered as part of a $250 product bundle for the release of her album “Ukulele Head”. And to my knowledge, they sold out!

9. House Concerts – Suggested Retail: $200 – $1000

I really think this is a must for any performing artist, particularly singer songwriters. I’ve had a number of clients report pretty encouraging conversion rates when offering house concerts to their fans.

The idea? You simply email your mailing list and let them know that you’re going to be hitting the road and that you’d like to offer a small number of fans a chance to have you give a private concert in their home. You offer them the chance to sell tickets, invite as many friends as they want, really make it whatever kind of event they’d like. In return you get a fee and the ability to sell merch. Note: You typically sell a lot of merch at these things and make relationships with fans that last for years.

Setting up a house concert tour can take a little juggling. My best advice is to offer a few scheduling parameters and have people submit their city and ideal date. Then you can attempt to schedule everything once you see how much interest there is and how spread out across the country each potential location happens to be. Just a handful of shows can bring in thousands of dollars, increase your average subscriber value dramatically, and create a fantastic bond with your fans that will last a lifetime.

Here’s a great interview I conducted with Brian Vander Ark of Verve Pipe about the success he’s had with house concerts.

10. Good Ol’ Fashioned Merch – Suggested Retail: Prices Vary

It would be silly not to mention traditional merchandise in this top 10 list. But the truth is that most people are more interested in paying for more access to you and your music then they are in some Velcro wallet with your logo on it. On top of that, traditional merch is more work and more expensive to create. Worse yet, profit margins are often terrible. It’s not uncommon to make a mere $5 on a $25 T-shirt when ordering in small runs.

I like to think of my customers as having a finite amount of money to spend on music. I’d rather see a larger piece of that pie going into my pocket. For that reason I focus on solutions like those mentioned elsewhere in this post. With that said, there is a place for traditional merch. Particularly for more established and touring artists.

What kind of merch should you consider? It’d be pretty easy to simply say that you can sell anything that you can stick your logo on and which offers a decent profit margin. However I think the real thing to ask yourself here is what products will enhance your brand and make the user experience more FUN for the fan.

Certainly T-shirts and belt buckles have their place. But unique items that really compliment your particular brand can really go along way with the fans and strengthening the bond that you have with them.

Some of the more interesting band merch I’ve seen out there…

…Vinyl, condoms, coffins, trash cans, voodoo dolls and candy. One great example of reinforcing your brand with creative merch (ahem, and justifying a higher price point) is the White Stripe’s release of a custom vintage-style camera kit. It was fun, reinforced the artistic image of the band, got them a good deal of press, and probably made them a pretty penny.


This is how you make the much talked about “1000 true fans” model actually work folks. By creating a sales funnel, maximizing your “average subscriber value”, and using proven selling triggers to convert fans in to buyers. Make more money from less people, and do it in a way that is fun, interesting, and exceptional.

As spelled out in Part One of this post series, by adding product options and “upsells” into your sales funnel, you have a good chance of generating enough income per subscriber to make advertising a profitable possibility.

A positive ROI is the holy-grail for the independent artist. From there, it’s just a matter of scaling things up.

How about you?

Do you have any creative product option and/or upsell ideas? What other ways have you monetized your fan list? Leave a comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.


  • Michael says:

    Hey John,

    Have really loved MMM 3.0 so far ! As I was brainstorming one of the steps in your course I googled “creative merch ideas for bands” and this article came up on the very top of the page. It’s great to learn marketing from someone who clearly knows what they are doing! Also point number one in this article has spurred on some much needed inspiration. Thanks!


    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Michael,

      Hey thanks a lot for the kind words. Really glad you found this article to be useful and I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying MMM as well. Thanks so much for picking it up.

      Please let em know if I can ever help with anything.

  • Wampus Cat says:

    Hey John,

    We can’t thank you enough!! This is just what we need! I decided today to look into how we could start creating some merch when I sort of stumbled on this site. I agree with Adam you seriously need to put out a book!! Ha ha! This has been just the blessing we need to put ourselves securly into the market we have been randomly hitting. It all makes sense!! Thanks a million and God Bless!! Matt and Rachel

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Matt and Rachel,

      Great! Really glad to hear that this post is resonating with you.

      Let me know if I can ever help with anything.

      • Wampus Cat says:

        Thank you John for standing by your reputation and getting back to us! I just re read this post and set you up on the main page of my I phone! For once we feel true direction in our business and are ready to start working it in a way that will prove its self. I started working on our second music video yesterday, just some shooting but I am soo excited to bring it to our fans in a new more
        Profitable way for my time

  • HonestKyle says:


    I really love the idea about the YouTube sessions! At first, I was thinking that charging to view a YouTube video might seem shady, but when it’s only a $1 and you provide more background on the song than just the performance, I can definitely see fans taking advantage of this!


  • Eve A. Ma says:

    To be specific, I´ve put out a double CD of my good friend´s flamenco singing. He choose some strange names for his tracks, all related to memories from his childhood. If I recorded him telling the stories behind each name (or helped him write them down), it would really be interesting and I bet it would sell. Also, I can collect some of the best of the blog posts I´ve done for one of my own documentaries and use that as an upsell. AND I can videotape myself doing some Afro-Peruvian zapateo (fancy footwork) and use that on a squeeze page…after having an Afro-Peruvian vet it first.

  • Eve A. Ma says:

    Some really good ideas here. Thanks.

  • mike osborn says:

    The other really great benefit of the traditional merch like t-shirts is. It s great advertising to have a bunch of people walking around with your band name on them. Like a bunch of small billboards moving around thier town all day.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Mike,

      Absolutely. Thanks for the contribution. T-shirts are a great way to increase customer value and get your name out there. Just harder to profit from. But as you’ve pointed out, they certainly have their place.

  • mark Pinkus says:

    HI John, it never ends does it? you’ve added some fantastic ways of selling more product, I have some leftover cassettes, not many that I can put up for sale. they are the very last few..I would of never thought of this had you not mentioned it..and also I have a lot of photos I could make into a small book of various bands I played in..I thank you John for your brillant selling pitches..my new solo piano cd is coming out in november..peace, Mark

  • One of the biggest weapons musicians have is the ability to price their own digital downloads and offer discounts. That being said, if you’re using discounts to sell albums, then you’re not really making a heck of a lot with 1,000 fans.

    You need to have some kind of value offer that lets people spend as much as they would like to spend, but you definitely have to offer it first and these are some great suggestions of things to offer.

    Plus they don’t have to cost a lot to put in place and you can decide for yourself which makes the most sense to start with.

  • Will says:

    Thanks for the 2nd post, John.

    I’m actually just going through these ideas now in regards to my PledgeMusic.com campaign launching soon… lots of great ideas here.

  • Dean Fields says:

    great stuff. You’ve got me thinkin for sure…
    Some of these ideas matched with the right personality could make some serious money. Joseph Arthur paints on stage between songs and sells the pieces for an extra $300-$1000 every gig. And Eef Barzalay did an album last year of songs he cowrote (for a fee) with fans.
    Thanks John.

  • Great ideas, in particular the recurring monthly / yearly model and resale rights of songs, I’ve been thinking of launching an affiliate program for my music once I get more albums, videos and merchandise available.

    I’ve also toyed with the idea of making what I’ve dubbed a “Cross Sell” bundle, where I would sell my own merchandise, but also do songs of other well known artists and sell their CD’s, DVD’s and Merchandise in a special pre-arranged bundle after performing some of their well known songs to wet the appetite of the crowd for their songs also.

    So instead of selling just one CD which is all I have now, I could in essence sell much more of other artists music as well at live shows, via video concerts etc.

    Thoughts on this would be great?

    • John Oszajca says:

      I think cross promotions are a great idea. I’m personally pretty focused on email marketing and I’ve often suggested that artists could do really well by promoting and selling other artists music. It’s so natural for artists to work with and synergize with other artists. Why not introduce those artists to your fans via blog posts, videos, and email and then sell their music via a limited time offer. It could be a great way to get new customers into your system and increase revenue without needing to create product. Plus you can add your own product uspells. Food for thought anyway. Good stuff Adam.

      • I like the idea of product upsells John, could even work a funnel out for cross sells and down sells so a sale is made for the majority of people, suiting their budget (something for everyone, but at least a sale is made)… My thought’s are get them into a membership site for at least $1 or $2 / month, and give them the stuff we muso’s give away for free anyway and grow it from there, then if we’re going to discount our merch, we give them a VIP discount program for that membership.

        On top of this I’ve kind of come to the conclusion also as a newer (less known) artist, that it’s very overcrowded in the mainstream areas like radio, labels, video clips etc…

        Maybe looking outside the square to corporate and other forms of private gigs who LOVE your style of music and are “undernourished” with these styles of music in thier local area (especially in the more isolated areas) often pay BIG money to get live acts to travel to them, if you don’t mind travel and can get in with some major companies or even government run companies they’ll re-hire you for years to come, there’s your day job replacement right there, it has got to be better than working for a living hahaha!

        I often think of it like this (and it’s an alternative of the long-tail concept or hedgehog principal that Marlon Sander’s talks about)… Is if we fish from the little ponds (in the main cities, where there’s thousands of little fish, but a few very BIG one’s, i.e. promoters, major labels, bigger shows and massive artist names) we run a much smaller chance of winning… It’s kind of like advertising in Google Adwords for the work “Insurance” or “Mortgages” there’s no way you’ll rank well unless you have years of experience and know what you’re doing as an internet marketer.

        If we bring this back to musicians, the big city and major deals are the same… So if we take our thinking and place it outside the box (that’s why I’d love to see more posts of yours that are indeed “Outside the Box” even a course or ebook / video that has “Outside the Box Ideas For Musicians To WIN More!” would be awesome) and look at the longer tail niches of music, travel to smaller places where there’s way less or simply NO competition, these places pay massive $$$’s for live shows and the live shows they get aren’t that great anyway, and quite often it’s 3 to 4 times more than the recognized leaders are getting at the major venues :-)…

        Even though you might only be singing to a few people, these people often know entire communities, towns and areas surrounding them and remember they’re HUNGRY for entertainment, so you get their weddings, birthdays, corporate shows and that can all be very lucrative (all while you’re on holiday in these areas)…

        Food for thought, but I like your obscure marketing ideas John, keep posting them, I’ve enjoyed talking with you 🙂

        • Oh and I meant to ask, HOW would you approach the singers with large lists, who aren’t signed but open to cross promotions / JV ideas?…

          • John Oszajca says:

            Hey Adam,

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As far as approaching other musicians with lists. It’s just about teh “what’s in it for them” principle. Show them how they can make money and get their attention by being a fan/supporter by leaving blog comments, emails of support, etc, BEFORE hitting them up with a “hey I have an opportunity for you” email, that just turns people off if they don’t know where it’s coming from.

            For more “outside of the box” stuff, you might like the Insider Circle: https://www.musicmarketingmanifesto.com/insider-circle.html

            All the best.

  • Eric Moleson says:

    This was great. You’ve mentioned it elsewhere in the past but internet concerts are also pretty cool. I’ve had some success with those in the past. Thanks for another awesome post John.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Thanks Eric, Really appreciate it. Internet concerts are a great one. Probably should have included those.

      • Yes, I’ve been toying with Ustream and Webcasting video, I they allow you to place ticket prices with your shows so people “pay per view” very kewl indeed…

        One thing I’ve found is however, if you want great quality sound and video, depending on your setup you need an adapter box to plugin your video to, so that it’s converted clearly into your PC (I’m not using Mac so unsure about that solution)…

        And if your video has XLR cables for audio, use condenser mics for the show you’ll get amazing sound quality from them and a higher class show than most people can put on.

        I use a Canon XA10 Camera and it does the job perfectly and is moderately priced for what it does, it’s the highest pro-sumer camera before you jump into pro level videos that cost several thousand.

        Hope this helps!

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