About a year ago I was looking for a way to sell MP3′s directly from my record label’s website. I had two requirements. First, I didn’t want to pay a percent of each sale to anyone. Second, I wanted the process to be automatic. For example, someone comes to the website, clicks “shop”, fills his cart with MP3s, pays, and then without me doing anything the download links are sent by email.
Surprisingly, there were not many options. Building my own store in Paypal was over my head. I could get close to what I wanted but I ran into issues. Every time I tried to get support help from the Paypal developer forums I was spammed by people trying to sell me their finished stores (none of which were elegant). There is Payloadz which starts out as free but if you sell more than $100 worth of music in 30 days you need to upgrade your account to a pay version. I sold more than $200 in the first week so it’s a good thing I didn’t go with them. Snocap gives you a flash store you can put anywhere on the web and its the only store that will attach to your MySpace page music player. However they take the highest cut in the industry. Nimbit has a really pretty flash based store you can also paste all over the internet but again they take a cut. Out of all the ones that took a cut I liked Nimbit’s OMT the best. It also let you sell merchandise and sell tickets to list upcoming gigs. Recently I noticed they added Facebook integration. There are a few other download stores but either they didn’t work well or: they take a percent of your earnings! The thing here that I really want to stress is: Why in the internet age would you let another company take a percent of your moola? There are many ways to self promote online. None of the digital download stores will do that better than you can do it yourself.
Eventually this lead me to easybe.com and the 1-2-3 Music Store. You pay once. $68 for bands, $168 for labels and that’s it. Its a complex PHP script you install on your server and Mysql database (most hosting plans include several databases on your server for you to use). If you can’t figure out to install the store you can pay Easybe $38 and they will log into your server and do it for you. It looks good and you can customize it to fit your own website. You can hear previews of the songs, see the artwork and fans can write reviews. You can also set up categories and it has mailing list features. People pay with Paypal or a credit card and the store automatically sends them an email with download links. Your songs are hidden on the server and you set how long the download links will be active. You can also set the number of download attempts. The best part is when you get an email telling you how much money was transfered to your Paypal account and what was purchased!
You can try a demo of the store front at easybe.com or visit my own store at Things to Come Records. Also at easybe.com you can try out a test of the admin area which I recommend. It will give you an idea of what you can accomplish.
I’ve been asked a few times how I customized the Things to Come Records 1-2-3 Music Store so instead of emailing each person I decided to put my answer here. I am moderately knowledgeable about creating websites and I put customizing the store at about a medium difficulty. It will take a few hours and some twiddling to get what you want.
Most of the files you are going to modify are in a folder called “shop”. Here’s the path you need to follow on your server to get there:
public_html -> 1-2-3-music-store -> docma_xxxxxx -> modules -> 123-music-shop -> templates -> shop
“public_html” is your root folder (it can be called something else, this is simply what my ISP calls my root) and your docma_folder will have a number attached to it instead of xxxxx. Once you are inside your shop folder you will see all the template files you can modify. They end with .tpl and you should open them in a text editor that has syntax highlighting. All syntax highlighting means the program colors the text according to the type of text it is. There are free text editors on both Mac and PC. I use one called TextWrangler on my Mac. You actually do not have to use an editor with syntax highlighting but I really recommend it as it will help you see clearly what is what and point out if you make mistakes (like not closing a quote). One thing that may happen to you is your FTP client won’t know how to open .tpl files. Don’t get stressed because you just need to teach your FTP program what application should open .tpl.
Besides the templates files the only other thing you will want to edit is the style sheet. It is found here:
public_html -> 1-2-3-music-store -> public -> shop -> simple_style.css
So you now know exactly what you need to edit. Backup any file you plan to work on. Start with the style sheet and get your colors and fonts where you want them. Next edit the newrelease.tpl file because this is the default/opening page you see when you go to the store. Here is where you can add your websites header and footer. You will have to do this for each of the .tpl pages.
Thats basically it! It will take you a little time to get used to what the code is changing on your website. Be patient and expect to give it a day or two to complete.