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The iTunes affiliate program is really, really exciting. I’ve written many times about the need for more DJs, independent radio and general music filter services on the net. Thankfully, MP3 blogs have become hugely popular in the past few months and are still growing at a crazy rate.

Now iTunes Affliates can link directly to any songs, albums or artists on iTunes and receive 5% commission on any sales they’re responsible for. Meaning that if you were an affiliate and you were to, say, link to my album on iTunes and anyone buys anything, you get 5%. Holy smokes! That’s an incentive to promote my music far beyond anything I as a penniless and disorganized independent artist could offer on my own and that’s just plain awesome.

So on top of it simply being fun to share music with your friends, you can now make some cash on the side just from people following your recommendations. These are the sorts of innovations and stunts that the digital music industry can pull off which I think will make it an exciting, interesting place, and I think we’ve only just now started scratching the surface of what can be done.

Also: Looks like even a smart guy like Cringely thinks it’s exciting too. And he summarizes it excellently: “This is like sending tens of thousands of record sales people out on the road except that they can sell anything THEY like — any of the one million iTunes songs — making them salespeople with real conviction and maybe even with good taste.”

Posted on - September 3, 2004 [at] 8:41 am by Brad
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10 Comments on this post

jb on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 3, 2004 at 11:55 am

Yeah, but you can’t listen to them before you buy them can you? That’s why people dig the MP3 blogs. They’re songs the blogger likes, but readers can listen to them for nothing. I mean, it’s a good idea, I just dunno how revolutionary it’s gonna be. And Cringely’s stamp of approval almost guarantees that it’s not revolutionary. :-/

Brad on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 3, 2004 at 12:36 pm

Picture it like this then, Mr. Crankypants: MP3 blog posts an MP3 or two from a band they like (which is what they’re doing now). Then they provide a link to the artist or the album on iTunes via their affiliate links.

What have they got to lose by doing that? Each mp3 blog post is basically an advertisement for a band or an album. If you include an iTunes link, you stand to make some cash and help the band that you love out with some sales.

All these MP3 bloggers want to support their favorite bands and also would like to make money off of blogging about music they love. This marries the two and requires almost no work from anybody except Apple, who is happy to do it to sell iPods.

jb on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 3, 2004 at 12:52 pm

Well now, I did say it was a cool idea there Joe Glass-half-full.

But for that model to be successful, more artists are going to have to have just about all their songs available somehow to be given away, ’cause the MP3 bloggers sure don’t want to just say “here’s the latest single from the John Doe Band”. Their whole deal is finding stuff you wouldn’t have ordinarily noticed, which means “deep” album “cuts”.

So either more bands do what we do, which is give away pretty much everything we make and rely on the kindness/ignorance of people to buy stuff, or, OR the MP3 bloggers keep doing what they’re doing, which is illegal, and they add itunes like you say.

I’m just thinking that this is gonna have a tough time taking off in any legitimate or financially lucrative way, so I don’t think we should freak out and run around the room with our hands flailing above our head. Like some people.

Brad on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 3, 2004 at 1:23 pm

Dear Mayor of Grumpytown,

A ton of those MP3 blogs are doing exactly what you describe. Lots of real legit bands post MP3s to their websites and those are currently (though it’s probably hazy) considered “legal mp3s”. The blogs who are worried about legality just post things you can get from the band directly and there’s plenty out there.

Basically it all comes down to whether bands and record labels decide whether it helps or hurts sales to have some MP3s out there. Right now most up and comers believe it helps to spread the word, especially if it’s just a few songs with a promise that there’s more where that came from if you buy the CD. And if they resist, all the better for true independent bands like you and me.

I wouldn’t say it’s revolutionary, but it’s definitely part of the revolution. Basically the affiliate program just greases the wheels a whole bunch giving music fans more incentive to promote the music they love and a direct way for artists to get paid.

The big test is going to be whether iTunes and digital downloading (with DRM and all) actually catches on fully. I didn’t think it would get as popular as it is already, so who knows.

jb on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 4, 2004 at 10:54 am

Yeah, that’s true. I didn’t think people would pay so much for so many of what I consider an impermanent object.

MikeXpop on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 4, 2004 at 7:19 pm

I remember reading in the ToS that you had to make $25 before you saw a penny of it. That’s what? 504 songs?

In any case, good luck =D

blindmime on iTunes Affiliate Program
September 5, 2004 at 12:48 am

This is cool. I like the CDBaby affiliate program too. You get $1 for each CD sale directed to their site. I’ve sent around 15,000 hits their way. There is quite a large ratio of hits to sales, however. I understand some are doing quite well with it though. For me, I think I refer a lot of google searchers ‘cos a band called The Catholic Girls is my top reference. Also Golden Ticket is quite popular.

Alderete on iTunes Affiliate Program
April 11, 2007 at 11:05 am

What I want to know is, how do I create direct links to specific albums or products, which contain my affiliate code?

You link to your album above, and suggest that I could do so too and earn revenue. But your link to your album is just a direct link to the iTMS, _without_ your affiliate code.

The link maker tool on LinkShare is terrible; none of the albums / products I want to link to come up in it…

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