So you have an album or maybe just a song or two and you want to sell it on the web. You’ve got a number of options.

1. Sign a contract with a major label. This would work if you have someone offering you a contract. You will need to make sure you get your fair share. Historically major labels have been known to skimp on the share thing. With a contract that has fair terms you will be given everything you need to become a superstar because that is what the label wants, even if it is not what you want. (That’s another story). You will be given fantastic musicians to back you up, state-of-the-art recording equipment and talented producers, a new wardrobe, design services and promotional materials. Finally you’d be given a product distributed in their vast network of retail sales outlets. Starting only a few years ago the label creates a digital version of your album for distribution via digital download. It can be a really good deal — if you can get that contract.

2. Do it with a big online store like iTunes. Large numbers of musicians produce their own album every day. Their goal may be superstardom but they are paying the musicians, the studio, the producer and the clothing bills. Many independent musicians or indy artists even pay to have graphic design done for them. This is the independent entrepreneurial spirit taking America today. Grab your own boot straps and get it done. The investment can be huge. The time consumed is even larger. None of this includes distribution.

You may have a great album with happening artwork but not you have to burn the CDs print tons of tray cards and start selling them. The problem is the Walmarts and Music franchises are not going to put your stuff on their shelf unless you are a major label — oh, that again. Another hurdle is the cost of CD duplication and getting them to your fans. Digital downloads of music are easy to distribute, portable to different devices and have lower overhead.

For digital distribution there is iTunes, but guess what, it’s not that simple. In order for an independent artist to be included in iTunes you have to submit your music through a digital middle man. One very popular case is CD Baby. They submit your music for you, for a fee. They cannot guarantee it will show up on iTunes. They will not allow you to set your own price and if you want to update something you have to go through the whole process all over again. You would also not be paid but semi-annually. Bites doesn’t it.

3. Do it yourself. So, let’s say you’ve got that album done and you’ve got the digital files ready to send to people who buy it. Let’s also say you want to control price, availability and costs yourself. You could hire a web designer to build you a web site that includes a secure shopping cart and a secure (un-hackable) downloader. There is one problem with that: it will cost at least $10,000 and more likely $30,000. You might have spent that or more on your music production alone.

3. ZIPBOX It. Starting with that great album the distribution part can be solved with ZIPBOX Media. ZIPBOX can provide a Web site that includes the shopping cart, includes the previews to your music, includes a secure downloader and sends money to your bank account each month. You can also set your own price so if you want to run a special price for a day… do it. If you want to make a special compilation that adds your concert poster as a pdf… do it. If you want to disable individual songs in favor of only buying the whole album… do it.

ZIPBOX allows full control for digital download web sites.