7. Dive Into The Ring Tone Business
Once you're selling songs online, you can bolster your music sales revenue by entering the cell phone ring tone business. Sites such as Myxer and Phone Sherpa include tools that help even the most technophobe musicians create ring tones and post them for sale. (Ring tones are sent directly to a customer's Web-enabled phone.)
"Honestly, it's probably the most user-friendly site I've ever been to," says Otero.
The downside of selling ring tones, compared with selling songs, is that the cell phone carrier receives 50 percent of each ring tone sale, which can be initially frustrating.
"When people started downloading my ring tones, I was wondering where the rest of the money was," Otero says.
But even if ring tones don't make a ton of cash for the artist, they can be valuable marketing tools. A customer who hears a thirty-second snippet of a song on someone's cell phone might be tempted to buy the whole song online.
"I often tell [artists] to use ring tones as a promotional item to push digital downloads of full tracks," says Travis Acker, an artist and marketing relations director at Myxer.
"Anything to get your stuff any extra exposure is a good thing," says John Griffin, a country music artist in Nashville, who developed an innovative ring tone business of his own. Which brings us to…
Personalize Your Content
Griffin is attracting customers and fans with personalized ring tones. On his Web site YourNameRingtone, he has posted hundreds of ring tones based on a catchy tune with these lyrics: "Hey, [YOUR NAME HERE], your phone is ringin'; c'mon and answer it, see who it is."
Available names range from Aalyiah to Zane, and if viewers can't find their name on the site, they can request it. People like to hear their own names, so it's not surprising that the site has garnered nearly 500,000 downloads since its launch in March.
Griffin offers the downloads for free, reaping revenue from the Google Adsense program instead. He's putting that money toward his next CD project, and "The goal is to use the name ring tones for a talking point when I go to radio stations to promote it."
Griffin doesn't mind if you make personalized ring tones with your own music. "I don't think it's a patentable idea," he says.
8. Just Ask
In June 2002, a TV producer named Karyn Bosnak set up a Web site asking strangers to donate money so she could pay off her credit card debt. "My name is Karyn, I'm really nice, and I'm asking for your help," she wrote on her site. "You see, I have this huge credit card debt and I need $20,000 to pay it off…." She set up payment accounts through Paypal and Amazon.com, and she waited.
Lo and behold, the public responded. Bosnak got the money, not to mention a book deal. Since then, several so-called "cyberbegging" sites have popped up on the Web. Some work better than others.
Should you decide to make money through donations, make sure you follow a few key rules: Express humility, and state a specific financial goal so as not to appear infinitely greedy. And make the donation process as easy as possible by letting viewers pay either by PayPal or by snail mail.