The Musician's Automated Store

The Musician's Automated Store

Artist Services, finally à la cart

Now more than ever, artists are choosing independence.

Musicians who avoid traditional record deals have more freedom in both their music and overall business strategies. But the change leaves a gap in artist services that labels used to provide.

Fortunately, there is a batch of new music companies who provide artist services that were once only accessible as a package through a record deal at a major label. We’ve selected some of our favorites to best illustrate this concept.

Through a combination of an integrated storefront (Shopify), digital delivery (Single Music), streamlined communication (MailChimp), and fulfillment / print-on-demand (Amplifier), musicians of today have access to a truly automated store. Let’s break this down.

Integrated Storefront

Shopify is essentially “mission control” for your e-commerce.  As an artist, you can create a custom online storefront to sell music and other merch. A fan interacts with the store through your website - which means they’re buying directly from you. You’re able to create products, manage inventory, fulfill orders and even track sales and growth trends.

But the real power of Shopify comes from its full integration with other online sales channels. You can use Shopify to sell directly from your Facebook page, or communicate with customers and even complete orders through Messenger. Other channels include Pinterest “Buyable Pins”, Amazon, Google Shopping, Instagram and even Buzzfeed. Find out where your audience spends their time online and engage them there.

Digital Delivery, Bundling & Reporting

While Shopify offers some incredible generalized selling tools, recording artists often need more “music specific” functionality. Single Music is a brand-new Shopify app that allows artists to create digital releases, which are sent to Shopify to be managed like any other product. Digital music is automatically delivered via direct download on the specified release date. Artists have ultimate flexibility in deciding how their album is released - through pre-sales, instant grat tracks and cascading releases.

Single also provides bundling tools; you can combine a digital release with any physical product in your Shopify store. With Single’s physical reporting subscription, any physical release sold from your Shopify store is automatically reported to Soundscan - the entity behind the official Billboard charts. Any digital music created in Single and sold through Shopify is also reported.

Streamlined Communication

As with any business, true selling power for musicians comes from growing your customer base and communicating with them effectively.

With Mailchimp’s CRM tools, you can segment and tag your audience into different customer groups, then set automated messages based on those tags. This allows you to personalize marketing messages based on your customer segmentation; build campaigns, measure results and adjust accordingly.

Fulfillment & Print on Demand

Some of the most difficult tasks for small to mid level artists are designing merch, maintaining inventory, and fulfilling orders. Amplifier is a fulfillment and on-demand printing platform.

Do you already have a manufacturer lined up to create your physical products? Great - just send Amplifier boxes of merchandise and they will prepare and ship out orders as they come in.

Amplifier also provides tools for you to experiment with different product designs. And through print-on-demand, these designs can be published as products to your store without physically creating anything. The age old question “how many of each size t-shirt should I order” has finally been solved. If you aren’t sure, the answer is zero - until a fan purchases one.

Integration Nation

Each of these services are powerful by themselves - but real innovation for artists comes from linking them together.

Shopify and Amplifier work together seamlessly. An artist can design print-on-demand merch in Amplifier and automatically add it to their Shopify store. Shopify orders are delivered in real time to Amplifier and inventory is synced automatically between the two. Once the order has been shipped, Amplifier sends tracking information to Shopify, which is sent automatically to customers.

Using Single, the products you’ve designed in Amplifier can be bundled with digital downloads. Selling directly from your site allows you to see where your top fans are located and which products or albums they purchase. Export this information to MailChimp and create customizable campaigns.

Once you add the MailChimp App to your Shopify admin, you can create customized messages for various marketing activities. This includes an abandoned cart email, product retargeting, order notifications and a pop-up form.

We could spend all day exploring how these artist services interact with each other. But as an artist paving your own path to success - it is up to you to find services and integrations that work best for your music and career.

Throughout the next few weeks we’ll dive deeper into each of these artist-services. Our conversation will include exactly what these companies and others are offering and how they can benefit your career.

We hope that by the end of this series you’ll have a solid understanding of some new tools to automate your store, so you can focus on what really matters: making music.

- Joe