This episode about growing sheet music sales was previously published on the Profitable Musician Show.
Jason Tonioli is a musician, marketer, and entrepreneur. He is a piano artist and he sells sheet music. He also has a background in banking. He’s an amazing marketer and he has several companies. He built and scaled multiple companies to over seven figures, and his music streams over 100 million times worldwide. On this episode, he talks about a music marketing funnel that can skyrocket music sheets to a 7-figure business.
How Jason got into music
When Jason was young, his mom made him practice piano. When he didn’t want to, his mom made sure he still did his practicing. It forced him to at least get to the breakthrough level that a lot of musicians get through. It opened up his natural gift for hearing music and an ear for it as well.
Jason didn’t really have expectations that musicians could make money. He had a real job in banking and that is how he made money. He was a banker for a long time. He worked with John Schmidt of The Piano Guys. John became his good friend and he also used to sponsor his concerts. That is what spurred him to do something with his music. Jason has been around a lot of talented people who helped make him better than he feels he is at the music.
Thanks to YouTube and the internet, he eventually started writing music. He wanted to share it and started doing piano books one after another. He has around 15 books out now. He’s recorded that many albums. He’s done fairly well in streaming music and that is how he started.
The first book he had was called Wedding Day. He’d call around his neighborhood area music stores and have a dozen stores which were super supportive of him. He printed 50 copies and was surprised that after a couple of weeks, the stores called him to ask for more copies. Then he thought of doing his second book for Christmas. It did well for Christmas season and led from one thing to another.
Getting his music online
He started selling them online in 2006. They had to code the websites back then so he needed a developer and it was expensive to do, at around $4000 or $5000 for a website. They eventually started building in WordPress. Jason also used WooCommerce which was free through WordPress. Now they use Elementor. They spend a bit of money on some plugins. They only do small updates and no longer does big redesigns in several years.
Jason also has stores on Amazon put up his sheet music online. Some music stores actually have it as 20% to 40% of the businesses they do. His books are $20 on his website and people sell it for $29.95 or so on Amazon. They sell a lot of them and that also builds traffic to his website. It’s a win win set up.
He’s done pretty well with his music before that, between the stores and the website. He did ClickFunnels and one funnel away challenge. He did not think it was going to work. He helped his friend build a whole funnel system. The funnel topic could not get any weirder, it was for divorce planning for people. He put $10,000 of paid traffic into Facebook and sold $200 total. It was horrible and a failure.
Growing sheet music sales
He did a couple more stuff then tried what Russel Brunson says and go for it. He build a basic funnel in June 2020 for a free plus shipping offer. He sold his most popular hymn arrangement book for the piano. It was $8.95 and he’s literally giving books away and wasn’t covering the cost for it. In about two weeks, they were shipping 150 books a day. It was crazy.
At the start, they were getting conversions for $3 a book. He’d spend about $3 and make a sale. Eventually he had enough people buying additional stuff and he started making money. All of a sudden, his email list started growing fast. He has 12 or 14 other books and he started offering that. They sold 10x what they would do on the website without funnels because of what they did through funnels.
Jason shares a secret for any eCommerce person: “If you come onto my website and order from me, this only happens once. That’s a one-time timer. If you don’t come back and order from me again in 30 days, I will send you a coupon code and say, “I wanted to check in with you, see how you liked the music. If you’re looking for a new song to play, here’s a coupon code. It’s $5 or so, or $4.50. Go pick another song to play. Download it. It’s on me.
What I’m essentially doing is it’s recapturing people, pulling them back into my world. If you think about it with the website, it teaches that person how to purchase and how to buy and interact with me. It brings them back to that point. A lot of eCommerce businesses make that first sale and then they have a poor onboarding or follow-up program. The gold is in those people that are part of your list already.”
Stat is pretty accurate for email addresses. It’s worth about $12 for you in revenue. Many musicians do not even bother to put an email collection. No matter what your business is, eCommerce pays more dividends than anything. People who don’t want to receive emails from you can be taken off your list. Find your people.
The pandemic was huge for Jason’s business. In 2021, they shipped about 28,000 packages of music and over 6,000 CDs at Christmastime. You think CDs are dead, but as an order bump, if you’re selling a book, having a CD on there, you’re crazy not to, because Jason can offer that CD for $6.95 or $7 that goes along with the music. Most people will add that on their order, which is 20% to 30% of people. Also, it is good to note that the demographic for Jason’s piano side is 50-plus females, who are the mom or grandma that plays or teaches piano.
Another business thing Jason did in 2021 is do a storybook for his friend. It’s called Stories of Hymns. When they put the funnel up in November 2021, they sold out the first 5,000 copies. He had to have another set of copies printed. They went through about 20,000 copies of that book in a three-month period. It was crazy.
They did not sell any through retail stores at that time, but they did Google Ads and it did really well. Everything else was a funnel. They spent about $350,000 on paid traffic through Facebook and Google. When they got good at it, it’s been a roller coaster ride.
Jason’s music has had over 100 million streams, and it’s amazing. It depends on how early on you were on a platform, and also how you titled your songs or albums in order to get found in searches. Also, most of Jason’s music is instrumental and people listen to it at any given time. He has an eight-hour playlist that people can listen to while they sleep. Some people listen on his artist page and some from playlists he’s on. His music has even been included in a bathtime relaxing music playlist and it’s done well.
His email list has grown to 30,000 people. He’s been able to create something for his super fans called Song of the Month Club, which is something like Patreon. He recommends Keap Infusionsof for CRM, Stripe for doing subscription, and also Spiffy Cart which has been a powerful tool to add in the bumps and other product sales as well. Jason pushed himself to write music every month. He got to share draft versions of songs, which was scary to do. He also shared several other piano artists and their sample songs to his monthly members as well. He also did interviews so people can get to hear their story and learn from them. His goal was to give back.
He’s also heading to Alaska where he will have two on-ship concerts on a cruise ship. It will be a high-level interaction where he will also have dinner several nights with the people on the cruise.
Jason also has a travel company. After spending twelve years as bank marketing director, he put up a software company and run it for five years. It did well but he eventually sold it. When he was travelling after that, he met a guide who is planning to make some life changes and do something on his own. Jason gave him advise on how to do things, and kept mentoring and coaching him for the next 2 or 3 months. Eventually, they became business partners and had to sign papers in Costa Rica. It’s great that his wife, Stacy, has been incredibly supportive despite not knowing about it initially. It was more of a humanitarian thing. They wanted to make a difference for the people they travel with, all of their guides. They wanted them to make 3 to 5 times what they used to be paid, which is $20 a day. They also started a travel agency. His goal was to figure out how to do cruises for his people and then help other artists interested in putting together a cruise or a trip to Mexico or whatever it is they need to do. They’ve gotten pretty good with small group unique trips, such as the Modern Musician mastermind trip.
If you are interested or want to know more about the trips, you can contact Jason at jason@amazingvacationsUSA.com. The cool thing is if you can get about 14 or 15 people to join, you get to cruise for free. Some people come on their trips where they’ll make $5,000, have their trip paid for, and go hang out with their people for the week. It’s amazing how they can go on vacation and make money on vacation.
Jason’s key to balancing everything is his incredible team. One of the hardest things when you’re wanting to grow is finding that person that you’re willing to start giving some of the tasks. I’ve got one person in particular. She’s helped me get to that next level. We added another person and another person. Jason has seven virtual assistants in the Philippines that helps them at different levels. He’s also got a guy from Serbia. His advice is not to be a micromanager so much. You want them to be able to feel they can try and improve things. It’s got to be the right personality fit for you.
Even in banking, Jason supports hiring interns. One of his favorite things was teaching and mentoring and doing that.
Jason has a podcast he’ll be launching called Successful Musician. His “goal with the podcast is not just to have people that have made lots of money or made their careers with it. It’s more of what do you define as success as a musician. It could be somebody who’s working at a piano store and they’ve found success, helping them do that.
There’s a lot more to music and finding that joy than the dollar signs. Musicians need to recognize that. You’ll be much happier and create much better music if you can figure out what you feel is successful for you. It might be playing a song for your kid, playing a lullaby at night. My little Lindsey sits by me and sing songs at night for me. That was better than making the seven figures, to be honest with you.
It is nice to have some money, but I see too many musicians out there that get discouraged. They think they’re going to make their career and make all this money in music. Every person’s got their own path and way they’re going to find. Be okay with that. Enjoy the journey. So far, people I’ve talked to are those who have had a career and work, fund their music and experiences with music with their real job, and take the time to grow it.
Almost every successful musician financially that’s streaming or whatever, if you want to think of that as success, they worked their guts out at a real job. I talked to one. He worked for a lot of years in the restaurant business, up until he was a manager and then he quit his job finally after he was making well over $100,000. He worked super hard for a lot of years to be able to fund his habit of music.”
Connect with Jason at jason@amazingvacationsUSA.com if you’re thinking of travel. You can also check his website, Tonioli.com. You can also check him out on Facebook.
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