Retail and Independent Music

As an independent recording artist, I want to take a few minutes and offer some retail advice.   There are small things we can do as independent artists to increase music sales revenue.

The top sellers of music in the U.S. are Apple, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, and Target.    Out of these Amazon and Apple are the easiest for an independent artist to have their album stocked with so we will deal with those.

Most people know that you need to sign up with a distributor such as CDbaby in order to get your album into online stores such as Apple iTunes.  They also will distribute your album to, but only digitally.  I highly suggest you open an Amazon Advantage account.  This will allow you to stock your physical album with them.  Once it is stocked, you should open up a Sellers Account.

A Sellers Account is the “___ used from $___” “___ new from $___” section you often see under books and albums. What it means for you is that while you get paid through Amazon, it is you who sends it out. Amazon takes less of a cut from a Sellers Account. I believe they take $4 and a small percentage, whereas they take 55 percent of your profit if they send it out. You can also offer a “Collectible” edition through the Sellers Account to entice people to buy through you. Collectible Edition can mean something as simple as autographed, as I did here.

A Collectible Edition will also give you a bit more ammunition against those Sellers who try to undercut your price with the review copies you sent to reviewers and ended up in the hand of a third party company.

To help prevent third party companies selling from “new” copies of your CD there are a few things you can do.  First of all hole punch the bar code or strike it with a permanent marker.    Secondly, only send review  copies to people who you have approached and have expressed interest in receiving your CD.   Thirdly, if you can, attach the CD to your press kit so the official CD packaging is not included.   The official packaging does look impressive, but so can a well designed press kit.

You will notice in my account it took me a while to learn this as there are people selling new copies of my CD.  For some reason, they are not undercutting my JefKearnsMerchandise sellers account; probably because I allowed it to happen so few times so there is not an overflow of them competing.  I have, however, noticed them selling people’s CDs for as little as 1 cent when there are a lot of “new” and “like new” copies circulating.

Remember: Just because it is stocked at does not mean it is available at, or   If you want it stocked at, for example, you must go through a third party such as Indie Pool as there is no Amazon Advantage program for Canada.

You must have a U.S. mailing address and bank account to set up Amazon Advantage account or know someone who will be willing to set up the account for you.   I believe it may be the same case for the UK.

Posted by Jef Kearns
Jef Kearns is a soul flautist proving that flute can get as “down and dirty” as sax.  Check him at

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