How To Sell Audio Files & Sound Effects Online
Want to learn how to sell digital audio files online? You’re in the right place.
Selling audio is a creative way to build a profitable online business—or just make a little extra money on the side.
But if you want to make sales, you’ve got to know what you’re doing.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to show you how to create, prepare, and sell all types of audio files from your own website, or through marketplaces like Amazon.
Plus, we’re also going to share some tips on how to market your audio files effectively.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Why sell audio files online?
Audio files are one of the most lucrative digital products you can sell online. There’s more demand for audio files like podcasts, music, and audiobooks than ever before.
But despite the high demand, the audio market isn’t as competitive as other niches. There just aren’t as many entrepreneurs selling audio files as there are selling other types of digital products, like ebooks, courses, and videos.
And the benefits don’t end there. Here are some other reasons you might want to sell audio files online:
- It’s fun. If you’re a talented musician or audio producer, you might already make music and other audio files as a hobby. In that case, it makes sense to turn your passion into a full-time income by selling your audio creations online.
- Never out of stock. When you’re selling audio files, you’re never out of stock. You only have to make your audio files once, but you can sell them again and again as many times as you want.
- Low overheads. Compared to other businesses, there are very few overheads involved in selling audio files online. There are no manufacturing costs (other than the initial cost of production), and no fulfillment/shipping. And unlike businesses that sell regular inventory, you don’t need physical premises to store your stock.
- Low barrier to entry. It’s easier to get started selling audio files than physical products. You don’t need to worry about staff or shopfitting—just spend a few hours creating your ecommerce store and start selling!
- Easy distribution. Once upon a time, to make it in the music industry, you’d have to be picked up by a record label and have your music tracks turned into albums and CDs. Nowadays, you can make a name as an artist on your own without any gatekeepers by promoting yourself on social media, and then distribute your audio yourself online.
Creating audio files & sound effects that sell
Before you can sell audio online and start making money, you need to create your audio files. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
Choose what type of audio you want to sell
The first step is to figure out exactly what you want to sell. There are tons of types of audio files you can sell online. Here are some of your options:
- Podcasts. Podcasts are digital audio ‘shows’ that users listen to for entertainment or information. There are podcasts for all kinds of topics and genres, from true crime to comedy and everything in between. Over half of all Americans have listened to podcasts, which shows you just how popular they are. Most podcast creators don’t sell podcasts as digital downloads. Instead, they distribute them for free and monetize them through ads and sponsorships.
- Music. If you’re a talented musician, you could create your own tracks and sell them to consumers. You could focus on the regular consumer market or the B2B market. For example, you could create royalty-free background music for commercials, or music for TV and advertisements, and sell commercial licenses to use them.
- Audiobooks. Audiobooks are audio narrations of regular books. The appeal of audiobooks is that you can listen to them in situations where reading isn’t possible, like when driving. If you want to sell an audiobook, you’ll need to write your book first and then either narrate it yourself or have a professional voice artist narrate it for you.
- Sound effects. Another cool way to make money selling audio is to create and sell sound effects to audio engineers, YouTubers, podcasters, video producers and directors, radio DJs, etc. You can either sell sound effects individually or create a library and sell access to it via a monthly subscription.
- Jingles. Jingles are short tunes used in advertising and for other commercial purposes. There are thousands of brands out there in need of custom jingles. And because you’ll be selling to businesses with big budgets, you can potentially charge thousands of dollars per jingle.
- Foreign language lessons. There will always be millions of people trying to learn a new language. You could create your own audio-only language lessons and sell the audio course as digital downloads or via a membership site.
- Guided meditation. This is a huge niche right now. There are millions of people out there who listen to guided meditation via audio. You could also sell related audio files, like ASMR, relaxing music or sounds, etc.
Research the market
Once you’ve chosen what type of audio file you want to sell, the next step is to carry out market research and come up with a business plan.
For example, let’s say you’ve decided to create and sell a podcast series. The next step might be to browse Spotify or Apple Podcasts and figure out what the most-popular podcast niches are and see if you can find a gap in the market.
While you’re in the research stage, you’ll want to think about questions like:
- Who is your target market and how can you reach them?
- How much competition is there in your chosen niche?
- What can you do to make your audio product stand out? What’s your USP?
Put all that together until you’ve got an idea of exactly what kind of product you’re going to sell.
Invest in recording equipment
If you’re going to make a business out of selling audio, it has to be high-quality, which means it’s worth investing in professional recording equipment—your iPhone mic isn’t going to cut it.
The recording equipment you’ll need will depend on what type of audio files you plan on selling. For example, if you’re putting together a music track, you might want to just rent out a recording studio.
If you’re working on a podcast, a good large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic should do the trick.
You’ll also need a computer and audio interface to record to, and a mic stand to hold your mic in place.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 bundle is a good entry level option that comes with an audio interface, microphone, headphone, pop filter, and cables. There are plenty of other options but this bundle will ensure you can get started without spending a huge amount of money, while being able to create high quality audio tracks.
If you’re recording your audio at home, it might also be worth investing in some soundproofing equipment like acoustic wall panels to reduce echo.
Other equipment that might be nice to have includes a pop filter, to eliminate those unwanted plosive sounds, and headphones, so you can listen back to your audio as you record.
Record your audio
The next step is to record your audio. This might be as simple as plugging your mic into your laptop or PC (if you’re using a USB mic), opening up your audio capture software (e.g. Audacity or Reaper), and hitting record.
But obviously, the process will differ depending on what type of audio files you plan on selling. That said, here are some general tips to help you get the best audio quality possible:
- Remove ambient noise. Avoid recording near noisy laptop fans, barking dogs, AC fans, etc.
- Position your mic correctly. A good rule of thumb is to have it around 6-12 inches from your mouth, and slightly to the side to minimize breathing sounds and plosives.
- Do a sound check. Before you start recording, do a quick sound check to make sure everything sounds as it should.
- Use cue cards. This is especially important if you’re recording podcasts.
- Control your breathing. The last thing you want is for your audio recording to be ruined by the sound of you breathing into the mic, so learn to control your breathing and turn away as you take breaths.
In terms of audio capture software, or digital audio workstations (DAW for short), there are a lot of options on the market.
The Scarlett 2i2 bundle I mentioned earlier comes with recording software.
Personally, I prefer Logic Pro but it’s only available for Mac. GarageBand is another good option for Mac – it’s got fewer features than Logic Pro but it’s free.
For PC, Ableton Live and Reaper are great options. The Scarlett 2i2 bundle comes with a lite version of Ableton that may be enough for your needs.
Preparing your audio files for sale
Once you’ve got your audio recordings, there are a couple of more steps you’ll need to take to get them ready for sale.
Edit your audio
No matter how good of a job you did recording the audio, there are bound to be a few mistakes. That’s why the next step is to open it up in your audio editing software or DAW and clean it up.
There’s a lot that goes into editing audio, but it might involve removing and piecing multiple takes together, removing unwanted background noise, evening out the volume with a compressor, editing out dead air or second takes, adding EQ and vocal filters, etc.
Create your master file
There are lots of different audio formats—some are for mastering, while others are for listening.
Once you’ve edited your audio and it’s ready to go, you’ll need to save the file in a mastering format. Popular mastering formats include WAV, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and AIFF.
Mastering formats are uncompressed formats used to store the master copy of your audio file. These formats are high quality, but they’re also much larger than listening formats.
Because they take up so much disk space, they take forever to upload and download, which is why they’re not the files you provide to your customers.
Your DAW will allow you to bounce audio files straight to compressed audio formats such as MP3 but you’ll need a copy of your master file if you plan to distribute your audio to online stores or upload it to streaming platforms.
Note: The concept of bouncing audio files is terminology used by DAWs. This just means to export the project as an audio file.
Also, when I’m working on an audio project in my DAW (Logic Pro), I’ll bounce down to a lossless audio file format, then I’ll create a new project in my DAW and import that audio file.
Then, I’ll do some overall compression/limiting to get levels to where they need to be, and add some extra EQ if needed.
Be careful not to overdo the compression, otherwise you’ll remove all the headroom which would result in digital clipping/distortion to occur after uploading the file to online services. You’d also remove the dynamics from your audio.
Once that’s done, I’ll bounce the audio file to a lossless format once again, usually to a WAV file with 24-bit/44.1k Sample Rate. Then, this will be the final master file.
Compress your master file into a listening format
If you’ve mastered the audio file in your DAW, you’ll be able to bounce down to a lossy audio file format. This will just compress the audio file down so it’s at a more manageable file size.
MP3 is probably the most popular listening format, but other options include AAC, WMA, and HE-AAC. Regardless, I’d recommend sticking with MP3.
This is the file you’ll be selling to the end user.
Alternatively, instead of using your DAW, you can use a dedicated tool like Adobe Media Encoder or HandBrake.
Pro Audio Files has a good guide on mastering formats if you need help.
How to sell audio files on your website
There are two ways to sell audio files: directly to customers through your own ecommerce website, or through a third-party marketplace.
Both ways have their advantages, but we’d recommend selling audio through your own website. That way, you have complete control over your pricing and get to keep 100% of your profit. But you can also leverage third-party marketplaces as well (more on that later).
To build your online store, Sellfy is a great option. It’s an ecommerce platform designed specifically for entrepreneurs that sell digital products (like audio files).
The reason we like Sellfy more than other platforms is that it’s very affordable, easy to use, and doesn’t charge any additional transaction fees. You can also use it for physical products and print-on-demand merchandise.
Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Sign up for a free trial
The first step is to head to Sellfy.com and sign up. We’d recommend choosing the Starter plan and taking advantage of the 14-day free trial.
Once you’ve selected a plan, you’ll be prompted to create your account, fill in some basic information about your store, and choose whether you want to embed your products into your existing website or create a new Sellfy storefront.
Eventually, you’ll be brought to your Sellfy account dashboard.
Step 2: Upload your audio files
From here, you can add your audio files and create product pages for them. Just click Products > Digital products > Add new product. Then, upload your audio file.
Next, you’ll need to set a price and add a product synopsis, title, cover art, etc. Once you’re finished, hit Save product and your files will be live in your online store.
Step 3: Customize your store settings
You can also customize the frontend design of your Sellfy store by changing the theme and layouts. To do so, navigate to Store settings from the sidebar.
Here, you can also connect your store to your preferred payment processor (PayPal and/or Stripe) and to a custom domain. If you don’t have a domain name yet, you can purchase one from a domain name registrar like Namecheap.
You might also want to change your email settings, embed options, etc.
Selling audio files on marketplaces
The problem with selling audio files through your website is you have to build your own audience from scratch.
That’s why some sellers choose to sell audio files on third-party marketplaces instead. When you sell through a marketplace, you get access to a large audience. The tradeoff is that the marketplace usually takes a cut of your revenue.
The marketplaces that are relevant will depend on the type of audio files you want to sell.
For example, if you want to sell audio samples, stock music, or beats, you can distribute them via platforms like AudioJungle, Envato Elements, and Shutterstock.
But if you want to sell music, you can easily get your songs onto online stores like Apple Music and Amazon by using a music distribution platform like Distrokid.
Back in the day, I used to run a record label and I had a bad experience with one music distribution platform in particular – Ditto.
I’ve scoured the web looking for a decent music distribution platform. I’ll be staying away from CD Baby because of their issue with issuing copyright strikes against their artists on YouTube.
Distrokid seems to be the best option right now, so I’m planning on using that for my next release.
How to market your audio files
Whether you’re selling audio files through a marketplace or your own ecommerce store, you’ll need to market it if you want to maximize your sales. Here are some marketing channels you might want to focus on:
- SEO. Optimizing your website and product pages for search can help you to improve your organic visibility for key search terms. This can help you to drive more organic search traffic and leads to your website.
- Social media. Try promoting your audio files on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. A cool way to drum up engagement is to run a giveaway using social media contest apps like SweepWidget.
- Email. Build a mailing list and run automated email marketing campaigns to convert leads into paying customers. Check out our roundup of the best email marketing services to get started.
- Paid ads. One of the easiest ways to drive traffic to your sales pages is by running paid ad campaigns on Google or Facebook. Make sure you take care when setting up your targeting options to maximize your return on ad spend.
To guide your marketing strategy, you can use Sellfy’s built-in analytics tool. It shows you your top traffic sources so you can see which marketing channels are driving the most traffic and sales.
You might also want to use other web analytics tools to gather deeper insights and use them to improve your sales funnels and lead generation efforts.
That concludes our guide on how to sell audio files online! Hopefully, you’re now ready to launch your new online business.
But remember: some audio enthusiasts don’t like to just focus on digital downloads, and will also choose to have physical CDs as well.
This is why it’s a good idea to use an ecommerce platform that will allow you to sell physical products, such as Sellfy. You’ll still need to source CD’s & merch to sell, however.
Finally, if you’d like to learn how to sell other types of digital products, make sure you check out these posts:
- How to sell ebooks online
- How to sell PDFs online
- How to sell fonts online
- How to sell video content online
- How to sell audiobooks online
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.