How To

Music and Merch Distribution: The direct to fan model

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Direct to Fan stores have been in existence for over a decade and remains a misunderstood model. Having your own website and store has never been more important today than ever before and applies whether you are starting out or an established artist or label and even more important is how you can make the most these tools.

Don’t just think of a shop as a place where fans just buy stuff…

It’s great to have “followers” and “likes” on Social Media, it’s just not that easy to connect with all of them all the time.  From the start set out to build the mail list. It’s all about where you direct your web traffic – if you point the fan to iTunes or Soundcloud as the main link, that’s where your traffic is going – away from you. 

In general, the fan would prefer to buy or download directly from the band. One of the first simple things to do is ensure all the fan traffic is pointing to your store or site from all avenues.

Always make it the first option (rather than iTunes, Amazon or alike). This goes a long way to maintaining the connection between the artist and fan and provides a greater opportunity to make a sale when you have a product to sell and collect the all-important fan data for mail lists and can dramatically increase your profit margins.

Making the difference…

When you do start to sell, start attracting fans to buy direct from you by creating exclusive offerings such as limited edition vinyl releases, autographed copies, competitions, exclusive digital downloads, timed discounts, free downloads and well-priced bundles only available from your own store.

Pre-sell merch and releases with a two or three month lead time. This gives you plenty of time to capture and drive traffic and is a great way of knowing what numbers you have when ordering stock, especially for t-shirts.

Simple ways to direct your web traffic:

Posting: Not everyone is on Facebook and not everyone on Twitter. Post to both and your own website. Link back wherever you can.

Your Website: Include a Social Media, add a “sign up to email” button/menu and embed video

Youtube: Always put a download or sale link to your store on the top line of text so it’s immediately visible.

Facebook: Add a store button using the “call to action” function and don’t forget to add a mail list sign up button too.

Soundcloud: Make sure purchase links or free download links point to your store

Last FM: Update the sales links to your own store for Digital and Physical products

Google Plus:  Make sure your profile is up to date

MySpace:  Still worth maintaining your profile as it’s accessed by over 60 million per month

Spotify:  Use Bandpage to create and add merch offerings to Spotify with a link to your store

One other thing to look at…

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation for the none tech-heads) is an important part of ensuring your web profile remains high and at the top of the Google searches.

Google Data Highlighting is a simple to use webmaster tool for teaching Google about the pattern of structured data on your website including tagging data about releases, merch and live shows. It should really help drive more traffic. One other thing there too Google’s search engine ranks sites with video higher than without so make sure your video is optimized.

If you’re interested in getting your own website and Direct-to-fan shop, Sunshine HQ are offering a Fully Hosted Professional Website and Webstore to one Music Gateway user. You can check the project out here.

Also if you wish to find out some more about Sunshine HQ and what they do, you can click on their logo below:

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