Affiliate Marketing: How Musicians Can Hack the Endorsement Game

So you are a solo music artist or you are in a band. Your career is progressing well. Your fan base is growing each day and you are getting more shows than ever before. There is only one problem though; you are not making as much money as you would love to. The problem with this strategy is that you have to work to get paid, which means that your physical capabilities are actually the limit on how much you can earn.

Better yet, you are a musician with endorsement agreements. You have signed contracts to exclusively promote gear manufactured by specific companies, but they don’t pay you a single cent for your marketing efforts and resulting sales. You have finally decided that free gear is no longer enough. You have put in the work to grow your social media network and now you’re ready to monetize your own brand. What should you do now?

Life will always get in your way of creating great music which in turn limits your ability to earn. So how can you leverage your skills and talent to earn more? While for the musicians who have not built their brand yet, they are likely to stick to the “hustle until they make it” strategy for some time. However, if you have quite a huge audience, there are some better ways to make more money as a musician.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an endorsement as “money earned from a product recommendation.” To fit this definition, two things must happen 1. Money must be earned; and 2. A product must be recommended. For example, if you are a drummer who constantly tags companies on social media or regularly posts pictures and videos of various gear, you are recommending products as the definition suggests. But if you are not getting paid for those recommendations, your contractual arrangement with that gear manufacturer is flawed by definition. This article will teach you how to take control of your social media audience and hack the endorsement game to get the money you deserve.

Affiliate Marketing

Passive Income Streams for Musicians

Just like any other entrepreneur, musicians are always on the lookout for passive income. Passive income is actually income earned without actively working for it. For instance, putting work in a product that will later earn you cash without active involvement with it.

The good news is that as an artist, you probably have a source of passive income. An album, for instance, is a good source of passive income. This is because you no longer need to work on it more to earn after you’ve put it out there in the market.

Another method that musicians use to earn some more passive income is through influencer marketing. This typically entails giving businesses access to your audience so that they can market their products or services. It enables the businesses to quickly reach their desired audience without breaking the bank. On the other hand, you also get paid without breaking a sweat in the process.

Unfortunately, influencer marketing is not always a rosy affair. Sometimes these businesses take advantage of your hard work; i.e. having spent years to create a loyal following only to end up not being paid for the endorsements. Some only offer free products in return for promoting their products and services. All hope is not lost though, there are better ways that musicians can increase their income. One of them is through affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

One of the most popular ways that content creators monetize their content is through affiliate marketing. Unlike the conventional way of hanging some AdSense banners on your website, or advertisements on your videos, affiliate marketing allows you to promote products you believe in. Affiliate marketing refers to the act of promoting someone else’s services or products with the benefit being commissions earned when your audience purchases the product or service, clicks on a particular link or performs the desired action.

Typically, your fans who listen, watch or read your content are redirected to a specific website to shop through a link. As a result, you get a cut of the profit whenever a referral makes a purchase. Affiliate marketing is also popular with musicians who have YouTube channels or create podcasts. All they need to do is to add an Amazon affiliate link or any other link to a specific product. Their fans can do their normal online shopping by clicking on that link, and at the same time supporting their favorite content creator.

Affiliate marketing can also take online ads format. Typically, businesses pay other businesses such as Google to display relevant ads on your website or on your videos on YouTube. As the content owner, you get paid every time a customer clicks through to the advertised service or product.

The Affiliate Marketing for Musicians Opportunity

The dawn of the digital age has revolutionized the music business. Research indicates that, since 2000, the music records sales have dropped by an average of 8 percent per year. On the other hand, the digital copy market has been on the rise since then with the iTunes Store currently being the largest music store in the United States.

Now the ability to listen and stream music and videos online gives musicians a wider reach to a large pool of audiences. Moreover, the music industry by itself is large and varied. It includes companies, composers, sound engineers, performers, vocal coaches, music teachers, even musical instrument manufacturers. As such, it is a billion-dollar industry that music affiliate marketers can capitalize on to increase their revenue because these numbers translate to commissions via various music affiliate programs.

Getting started with Music Affiliate Marketing

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you do not need much to get started. As a musician, you probably already have a website and an active social following that you can easily convert to one more revenue stream through affiliate marketing.

Since you can’t earn commissions by just having an audience, you have to sign up to an affiliate program that offers services or products you are interested in promoting. Given that there is a myriad of affiliate programs available, you will not have problems finding one.

If you have an established brand, it is likely that a company will contact you to promote their products. You can contact companies or programs in order to get into an affiliate agreement. This could be in the form of a discount code that you can offer to your audience to earn a commission every time a sale is made via this discount code. A lot of creatives prefer this kind of affiliate marketing because it helps them support the businesses they believe in because their reputation too is on the line.

On the other hand, the reality is that it is not always a piece of cake to make money with affiliate marketing. If you have a low-traffic website or you have a small audience, chances are that you won’t get very many ad clickthroughs and placements hence limited revenue. However, if you have a large and responsive audience, established affiliate programs such as the Amazon Associates program, can enable you to significantly increase your income as a musician.

Become an Amazon Associate

The best way to set your foot in the door of music affiliate marketing is by signing up with the Amazon Associates program. Amazon started out as a bookstore but later grew to a full-blown global wide online store that sells a wide range of products. This means that you have a good chance of earning a commission on any product you find on Amazon by promoting it to your audience.

Despite the huge number of affiliate marketplaces currently available, Amazon’s affiliate program remains the preferred choice by a majority of marketers. This is because:

• Its products convert incredibly well which means great commissions for the marketers.

• Amazon has established itself as the best e-commerce one-stop store over the years.

• The company has earned the trust of the masses. Customers are always happy to return to make more purchases.

To become an Amazon Associate, you first need to create an account and then go through the approval process. It is recommended to register based on your geographical location or the location of your target market. For instance, if your target audience is in the US, you should sign up for the Amazon U.S affiliate program. The same applies to any other country your target audience is located. If you intend to promote your products in all countries that Amazon sells, you will need to individually sign up for affiliate programs in each of these countries.

Once your account is accepted, you can earn up to 10% of the profit on products sold through your affiliate links. Some greater news is that; you will still earn a commission even if the prospect opts to purchase a product that is different from what was advertised by your affiliate link.

What Kind of Products, Services or Businesses Can You Promote?

The beauty of being an Amazon affiliate is that you have lots of control. Moreover, you have more than a million options to promote to your audience. The product options are well organized in categories enabling you to find products in your niche much easily. Moreover, they have simple linking tools to conveniently monetize your audience and web presence.

When choosing the products to promote, you need to have your audience in mind. Choose what they want, need, or rather would appeal to them. It will be a waste of effort to promote things that your audience is not likely to purchase.

How to succeed in Affiliate Marketing for Musicians

Now that you have your two feet into affiliate marketing, it is time to help you to succeed while at it.

Pick the right niche

Choosing the right niche will help you win half the battle even before you lay out any other marketing strategy. Selecting a niche that you are passionate about is a great starting point. This is because you will never run out of quality content to present to your audience. In this case, selecting a niche might not be a problem since you know you are all about music.

However, this is not necessarily enough, because you also need to establish whether there is a huge demand for what you want to market. A great way to find the right niche is to carry out keyword volume research. If you find out there are minimal searches on a particular keyword, it means that this is not a profitable niche. Work only with niches that are in demand but also not too competitive.

Use The Right Keywords

Keyword research is an important part of affiliate marketing. Keywords like “Music” or “download music” are too vague. Despite the fact that these keywords may have high search volumes, they are just too broad thus may not convert effectively. Music affiliates that are eager to make a quick buck should focus on using the long-tail buyer keywords (LSI). Though these keywords don’t bring tons of traffic, they funnel more targeted traffic that easily converts. It is also much easier to rank higher for these keywords.

So when using such keywords, you might need to have a specific genre of music you would want to promote. Moreover, having a list of possible music products you would like to promote before you start the keyword search is recommended. Understanding what your audience wants, will dictate the keywords you pick.

Just as stated earlier, the music industry is wide and varied, thus there are other markets you can target besides selling actual music. Musical instruments or even the software to create and mix music are also lucrative affiliate marketing options for musicians. In this case, you should focus on niche-specific keywords to reach the right audience. For instance, if you are promoting a specific brand of guitar, you can use an LSI keyword such as “best acoustic guitar” or “buy rhythm guitar.”

The shorter versions of these keywords could be “rhythm guitar” or “acoustic guitar.” Though these may have a higher search volume, they are less targeted. You can as well mix the long-tail keywords and the shorter keywords to strike the balance between buyer intent and the search volume.

How Do You Promote Music Affiliate Products?

There are a number of ways that you can promote your music affiliate products or services. Some of these methods are relatively straightforward, while others are quite challenging or intense. Here are a few of them:

  • Focus on Branding

Established brands thrive because they have built a good and consistent reputation. You too should focus on employing similar marketing strategies and tactics used by such brands in your affiliate marketing. Create profiles for your brand on popular social media platforms, and keep your audience engaged just as you do on your website.

If you want to go viral, social media is your best bet because news and content travel fast here. This is especially true when your content is repeatedly shared on multiple social media channels. Learn the art of content curation to keep your audience engaged. This means that besides sharing your own content, you should also share other entertaining and interesting content. This will help you build a reputation for your music brand and as a music artist.

Consequently, you will be able to amass a loyal following that will not only buy your music but also, purchase products and services you recommend to them through affiliate links you share on your social media accounts. Failure to do proper branding will have a counter effect on your affiliate marketing efforts. All you will reap is bad ratings, diminished product image, and failure in your venture.

  • Build a blog

Besides social media, a blog can help you build your brand and also allows you to include affiliate links in your articles or pages. This is quite easy and anybody can do that. For your blog to stand out though, you need to do a couple of things right. Since you already selected the right niche, you just need to choose an appropriate domain name.

This is a huge factor when it comes to affiliate marketing because it can determine the success or failure of your website. The basic principle here is to have an easy to remember domain name. Besides this, you can opt to go with a domain name you can brand, or even a keyword specific domain name.

Each option has the potential to earn money and also has its own disadvantages. The benefit of building an authority site is that you can always work on it to get good returns in the long run. If you opt for a niche keyword specific domain, you can make cash much faster. However, in case the market trends change and the keyword demand fizzles out; this can you out of business. The bottom line here is that there is no right or wrong way. It all depends on what you want to achieve in the long run and in the short term.

Moreover, you also need to create quality content that will appeal to your audience and that will attract more prospects. Being a musician, there is a myriad of topics you can blog about and also include affiliate links in them to convert your readers and listeners into product buyers.

  • Learn SEO for affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing success is largely dependent on SEO because search engines are key referral traffic drivers to these websites. Creating content on a regular basis that is sprinkled with a mix of the right keywords is a sure way to attract more organic search traffic. In the case of affiliate websites, the best ways to build strong page content is through blog posts and landing pages.

To optimize your landing pages, a solution-based approach is recommended. This includes having the product name on the page title and key features of the product in the description section. Testimonials and reviews also add value to your content. When it comes to blog posts, the focus should be on answering some of the questions your prospects might be having. Moreover, you can link the relevant product landing page to a specific blog post to increase conversions. Content freshness is also a significant signal for the Google search algorithm. Thus, it is important to publish content on a regular basis and also update the old content.

  • Create product reviews

This is the most effort-intensive affiliate method but its returns are usually worth the effort. Reviews could be in the form of a blog post, a video or even a podcast episode. They mainly entail giving honest feedback about a product or service including its downsides, upsides and what you liked and didn’t like about it.

People always resonate with the word of mouth referrals especially if the recommendation includes a balanced and honest perspective. What more makes reviews a powerful affiliate marketing tool is the need for people to know what’s wrong or what’s missing from the product or service so that they can make an informed purchase decision.

You will also need to include an affiliate disclaimer on your blogs or reviews that indicates that your content contains affiliate links. It could read like this, “I may earn a commission in case you purchase the products reviewed/recommended through this link. There will be no additional charges for you.”

This is just a legal requirement for affiliate marketers to indicate that the products they are recommending are affiliate products to avoid getting banned. Affiliate links do not affect your search rankings and neither does the disclaimer have a significant impact on your ability to get commissions.

Some More Things to Consider

Affiliate marketing and advertisement programs are a great way for musicians to earn extra income. However, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind in order to achieve a sustainable income.

  • Be careful not to take away from your music

Your music has to take priority over affiliate marketing. Particularly for new artists, spending too much time trying to monetize a small fan base could result in more losses than gains. As such, musicians need to be careful not to take away from their music as they focus on affiliate marketing.

  • To what extent should you endorse a brand or product?

It is imperative to market products or services from reputable businesses only. Moreover, you should also ensure that the products you are promoting align with your personal and professional brand. Working with unreliable businesses is likely to cost you lost trust and fans in the long run.

  • Keep Your Fans In Mind

Your marketing efforts should be implemented with your fans in mind. You are fortunate to have a huge fan base. However, if they feel that you are just here to take their money, they will lose interest eventually.

To be able to keep your fans and at the same time generate extra income from affiliate marketing, you will need to be honest and candid. Affiliate marketing just like any other type of digital marketing takes time to work. However, it can also be a lucrative way to earn some extra income for your music career.

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