Making the most of a virtual tip jar on your music site

For artists, a virtual tip jar is a fantastic way to give fans a way to support you directly, one which has only become more popular over the past year in lockdown. Here, we explore how to maximize the efficacy of a tip jar on your website.

Guest post by Melanie Kealey of the Bandzoogle Blog

Whether you’re busy playing your audience’s requests at the pub, busking outdoors in the summertime, or putting on live streams from your website, an online tip jar is a nice way to make a bit of extra money.

While passing the hat might not be a reality for some musicians just yet, adding a virtual tip jar to your music website will still give your fans a way to support you directly. Over the last year, music fans have grown accustomed to digitally donating tips to their favorite artists. 

A tip jar is the perfect way to earn a bit of passive income while also making sure your fans have a quick and easy way to support you.

If you haven’t added a virtual tip jar to your website yet, here are a few things to keep in mind when you do: 

1. Add your tip jar strategically to your website

Once you’ve decided to add an online tip jar to your music website, you’ll need to figure out where to put it to make the most impact. Look over your website pages to see where you might use it. 

Think about how you are using your website, and the best way to offer your fans value if they are able to contribute to your tip jar: Do you regularly post news updates on your Home page? Are you adding new singles to your Music page and encouraging your fans to listen? Perhaps you’re playing live streams or advertising a live performance on your Shows page.

You don’t need to add a tip jar to every page, but you can make it a strategic part of your website. If you get a lot of visitors to your main page, place it there with a kindly-worded note about how you’d appreciate your fans’ support. If you are actively using your website to sell your music online, place a tip jar on your Music page, letting your fans know that they can buy or stream your tracks, and that tips go a long way to helping you make more music.

If your current website goal is to simply gather donations from your fans while you work on getting back into playing again, add a call-to-action on your Home page asking for your fans’ support, and direct them to a page where your tip jar resides.

2. Use your tip jar during live events

Whether you’re taking cover song requests during a live stream or playing a show where people can pass by, the most common way to use a tip jar is to raise money during a performance. This is a regular practice, and putting your tip jar online gives you a better chance of making more money during your show.

If you’re playing a livestream show you can place your video into the tip jar feature, or add your tip jar alongside the stream. 

You can also place your tip jar on its own page to provide an option at a live show for people that don’t have cash. Besure to mention your website and the page name out loud, and let people know how much you appreciate their contributions. If you are passing out download cards or advertisements at a show – even your business card – include a link to your tip jar page.

How to make the most of a virtual tip jar on your music website

3. Consider other ways to use your tip jar

While a tip jar is traditionally used to collect money for a live performance, everything has changed since the pandemic began. You can make good use of your virtual tip jar in many ways on your music website.

A few other ideas to make money with your online tip jar include:

– Collecting tips for an upcoming project if you’re not actively crowdfunding
– Adding a tip jar to your music page in case people want to stream your music and still support your next album
– Using a tip jar on a Videos page, with a pre-recorded video asking your fans for support while you wait for shows to resume, and playing a song or two
– Placing a tip jar on your Shows page, where you can advertise your regular gigs or livestreams, and ask for tips if fans can’t attend
– Raising money for a cause by donating a percentage of tips to a charity of your choice

You can customize the descriptive text, image,and button text associated with your tip jar, so make sure it reflects the reason you are raising money. 

Be sure to include a share link, and – if you’re comfortable with it – ask your fans to spread the word. Even an extra small donation or two could help tip the balance for you. Plus, if your fans are sharing your tip jar, their friends will likely take a closer look at what you have to offer. 

How to make the most of a virtual tip jar on your music website

4. Promote your tip jar to gain support

Once you’ve got your virtual tip jar set up on your website, you’ll want to be sure to let your fans know about it. Your website itself should be your online base, where you drive your visitors. Share your tip jar on all of the channels you use for your music marketing – be it in a comment on a livestream, or a blog post crafted about your new music.

You can also mention your tip jar in your newsletter. Your mailing list is made up of the people who are most deeply invested in your career. You can talk about your tip jar outright, or add a link to a page where you’ve placed your tip jar, asking people to visit.

However, don’t overdo it by plugging your tip jar over and over again. Like all of your social media posts, add authenticity and value to your updates to motivate fans to want to help you. 

How to make the most of a virtual tip jar on your music website

While asking for money repeatedly might not feel like the best thing to do, many of your fans likely understand that this has been a tough year. They will happily tip their favourite artists during a livestream, contribute to an upcoming project, or support an artist looking to make ends meet until touring resumes. Decide where on your website to put your virtual tip jar, where the money will go, and promote that to your fans. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

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