Issue 005: Turn Your One-Time Sales Into Consistent Payments From Your Fans

Most of the income musicians make from fans are one-and-done purchases. For example, you'll sell a piece of merch, a ticket for a show, or access to a release party, and that that's all you'll get until the next event. But what about turning that sale into a consistent set of payments for you?

There's a reason why Amazon now suggests subscriptions for replenishable items and you can't even watch Netflix shows unless you become a member. All of these businesses want to turn a one-time purchase into a consistent stream of income where they can then project how much they'll make each month.

So how can musicians do this? Well, first of all, you'll need a way to collect money from your fans on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are a number of great tools which can help you create a subscription income stream from your fans:

  • Patronage: Sites like Patreon allow you to generate a regular income from fans and provides you the tools to incent membership such as through setting up appropriate rewards. (For an in-depth guide for how to set up patronage along with tons of reward ideas, see the Patronage, Crowdfunding & Raising Money chapter of Making Money With Music.)
  • Fan club: If you have a larger following or just want more control over what your fanclub and what it provides, you can use tools like Topspin or GigRev.
  • Roll Your Own: Many website tools allow you to create special "members only" sections you can activate, so the biggest issue is to find a way to collect money from fans on a regular basis. You can do this with PayPal recurring payments, Square, Stripe, and more.

Once you have a tool, you need to make getting signups a priority. This means every time you're in front of your fans you need to pitch your subscriptions. Here are some of the top methods for getting people to sign up:

1. Offer member discounts or incentives when they buy something.

When you have your fan in front of you buying merchandise, tickets, or anything else, offer a discount or member-only exclusives if they sign up for a subscription. It's easier to funnel fans towards the subscriptions and highlight the benefits and rewards you offer when you've got them at your merch table and can talk with them. You'll get far more signups.

2. Use signup specials.

Your local phone store offers phone upgrades, water bottles, and all kinds of other extras to encourage people to sign up for their service since that one-time special translates to years of income. Your online campaigns, as well as in-person interactions, can use the same method to get signups by providing new members something just for signing up. This works best if what you offer is for a limited time to make it more urgent for people to commit. Think of this as another item to sell at your merch table, except that they get the freebie only if they sign up.

3. Offer a concert series, not just a show.

If you can offer tickets or access to your exclusive lists you have the opportunity to sell future tickets. But why stop at one or two when you can offer a ticket series to get them to come to shows all year? If you do this, the price for the ticket should be, at minimum, 2.5 shows or more. This will save them money, and give you more money upfront. It could also help bring new people in to see you since they'll have tickets they can give to friends if they can't make it.

4. Advertise your subscriptions on all of your marketing.

Your stage, your web presences, and all of the places where you message fans should include promoting your subscription offerings, not just your one-off merch and shows. If you offer the right incentives, you can get people to sign up.

Each time you're in front of your fans, think of it as a chance to get a new member. If you adopt this strategy as a key part of your marketing when you're selling to fans, you can boost a T-shirt sale into a $120/year patronage member or a single ticket sale into a series of shows. And once you have a subscription base, you'll have a good idea of how much money you can make in a year since subscriptions are more steady. Plus, this strategy is in addition to all of the other sources of income you tap.

NOTE: This article archive contains articles published over the last decade, and has been preserved for you given the topics they cover. Just keep in mind that today's music business moves fast, and some music services, links, and partners change over time, so even though there could be dead links in the original article, there might be new options available today.

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