Guides & How-Tos

Selling entertainment on Shopify: The creator's guide

A full report on selling entertainment on Shopify curated for artists and creators across film, music, comedy, wellness, digital art, and photography.

Truth: Brands, merchants, and creators alike have been called to respond in-real time to constantly shifting expectations in a digital-obsessed economy. And fast. 

E-commerce is not the future of commerce, it’s already here. Reports show digital sales made up 20.7% of global purchases in 2022. 

Today’s fans want to be closer to the artists, influencers, and brands they love. As a creator, monetizing your reach through direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce sales only makes sense. And extending that reach through digital downloads, is a clear next step. Statista research predicted revenue in the digital media market would also reach $360 Billion in 2022. 

Digital downloads are especially lucrative because there’s no need to think about where to store the merch or inventory, how to ship it, or how long it will take to get to the customer. With digital downloads everyone gets immediate satisfaction, your store is open 24/7, and requires little-to-no physical overhead.

We’re here to help you reimagine all the ways you can extend your reach, deepen your audience, and unlock revenue streams. You might even already use digital downloads daily. From streaming services, to “how to” videos, to online recipes, to accounting software, it’s already a part of our culture and it’s just beginning to be an industry norm. 

Here’s an actionable playbook on how you can expand your reach, and your brand when you incorporate digital downloads into your e-commerce strategy. 

A primer on passive income by industry

Have you ever heard the phrase; “I could sell that in my sleep”? Well that’s the aim of digital downloads, e-commerce and apps like Sky Pilot. We are always learning creative ways to earn from the artists and brands who sell through Shop Circle, and we’d love to share some of our favorites. 

Musicians, your new hit is “Digital Downloads”

While the lockdown completely upended the music industry, so too did it introduce opportunities for new revenue streams. The surge of industry growth through D2C sales became a powerful new approach to connecting and selling to fans around the globe.

One of the most rewarding benefits of digital products for musicians on the rise, is the passive income stream. Recording a song that you will sell online can be more profitable than mainstream music platforms. Think of it as a chance to connect with your fans in a new and exciting way—all while driving additional income.

This approach will also give you a clearer runway for managing live streams and open up revenue potential by creating merchandise bundles. SkyPilot app, there is a seamless link to all devices, and buyers love that. Now you can grow your fans from local, to worldwide. 

Some ideas: 

  • Create instructional videos of how to cover your songs. 
  • Sell your own official guitar tab, or a fake book of your music.
  • Digital prints of some past show posters.
  • Paid livestream links to concerts.
  • All access backstage and/or recording studio videos.
Hip hop star Talib Kwali optimizes merch sales online.

E-commerce is no joke for comedians

In 2019, streaming services reported a 59% increase in viewers who watch more than 10 comedy specials, so we know investing in a stand up show is a part of fandom. True, there is nothing like the live experience, but the more platforms you extend yourself to, the more your fan base grows, the bigger the arenas become when you tour. You can also extend your product offering far beyond livestream events or sets. 

Some Ideas: 

  • Re-release old shows with more accessibility, hire a sign language interpreter, or a translator so that your comedy can reach global audiences.
  • If you record your own shows, you keep the rights to your work, and can release them as digital downloads.
  • Start  a backstage pass program with behind the scenes videos and livestream events.
  • Create t-shirt or cross stitch designs of your best one liners.
Comedian David Cross extends his fandom with digital downloads.

Filmmakers, passive income is your new genre

You did it! You made a film and maybe it’s had a few festival releases and you’re wondering what’s next. You’ve already invested so much, and now watching how little the typical streaming services share profit, has you feeling defeated. Or maybe you’re a technical film person, with knowledge to share. Digital downloads can extend your film and video reach to new audiences and generate income for you to fund your next project.  

Some ideas: 

  • Skill sharing videos/tutorials about the craft of film.
  • Masterclasses on how to break into the market or industry.
  • Open the vault, re-release your student videos, with a Q&A.
  • Online viewing parties for your VIP fans.
  • Digital prints of your movie posters or stills for printing.
The Animation Show of Shows and Film Space build on film innovation.

Artists, sell more with digital collectibles   

Art is always on the move. From NFTs to Artificial Intelligence, it’s a whole new world out there. With all these tools, it’s now easier than ever to be an artist and drive your creativity, and your business, in the right direction.

Maybe you want to sell digital art? You don’t have to be Beeple or even tech-savvy to enter the digital art world. Apps like digital Verisart help you create and sell digital art with zero code required. It only takes minutes to get set up! 

Some ideas: 

  • Launch your first set of digital collectibles.
  • Add customized digital certificates of authenticity.
  • Expand your creative practice with new digital and AI tools.
  • Grow community with exclusive access to new works.
  • Go phygital, bundle physical and digital works into one purchase. 
  • Art can be a wonderful gift, letting customers gift digital works to loved ones.
Artist Shepard Fairey and galleries like GAZELL.IO and EXPANDED.ART find new digital markets.

Wellness leaders, it’s time to digitize your impact

Social media has helped you build a community of like-minded individuals committed to personal health and well-being initiatives. But financial security and community building is a part of your own wellness journey too. Your audience is tuned in to what you say and there is opportunity to allow them to engage at an even deeper level. 

They love you like we do, and the more you share of yourself, your journey and goals, the more passive income you can generate to help you fund your next project. 

Some ideas:

  • Recipes for wellness, downloadable meal plans for different budgets.
  • Digital courses or tutorials.
  • Digital prints of inspiring and supportive phrases.
  • Guided meditations, audio or video.
  • A VIP video tour of your space, let them even more into your life.
Wellness leader Maya Fiennes delivers full digital download programs.

Camera ready? Income steady, for photographers 

Do more than just digital prints. You’ve learned how to hone your craft, so let’s make the process profitable. Why not let your fans into your studio and show them how to set up their own photos. Instructional videos are a hot commodity in the e-commerce world and we’ve adjusted to online learning now, more than any other year. 

Some ideas:

  • Online tutorials to help people work with light, aperture, staging and lenses.
  • Tell the stories behind some of your favorite photos.
  • Tutorials around making the most of your phone camera.
  • Of course some digital downloads of your prints.
Photographer Dan Robinson gains a greater audience with digital download collections.

Calling all authors: You wrote a book, now what?

The Global e-book market is expected to reach $28.73 billion by 2026.

Whether it’s audio, or e-books, the book industry is thriving online. In fact, one in every six books sold is an e-book. Suffice to say, you’re in the right industry. 

While some e-book sellers may opt to promote and sell through large online retailers like Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Apple, those markets often take a meaningful cut of profits and limit publishing control. Leveraging Sky Pilot, Shopify store owners and creators can add and sell e-books without having to rely on third-party retailers. 

Further, you have an unlimited inventory when you sell downloads online. Nothing is out of stock and you can realize a significant bump in e-book sales with low overhead.

Some ideas:

  • To be accessible in all touchpoints, an EPUB file format should be your first choice— automatically adjusting to the size of a device.  
  • Printable bookmarks with your author’s signature in lieu of signed physical copies.
  • Record your own audiobook for release on your shopify store.
  • Online book club livestreams events for VIP subscribers. 
  • Masterclass videos of your writing workshops.
  • Tour of your writing space and a backstage pass to your process.
David Whyte grows his readership with digital downloads.

Make your store your own

Powerful digital download automation tools like Sky Pilot are designed specifically to allow you to customize your digital download deliveries to meet both your brand, and business needs. The experience of your store should be seamless with your website design. Once you create a place that can sell your digital access, and downloads, you can get back to what you do best, and that’s creation. 

Like any Picasso print, you can control the amount of times a customer can download an item to preserve its value. Digital downloads can operate 24/7, allowing you to extend your reach and grow your profit while you sleep. 

How to add a Shopify store to your website.


We hope you’ve inspired you, like you inspire us. Our team is ready to help you with anything you need to join the digital download revolution.

Andrew Narkewicz, Founder of Sky Pilot

Committed to an always-be-innovating approach, we are constantly learning from incredible innovators, artists, and creators like you on all that can be dreamed and accomplished in the world of e-commerce. 

Unlock the power of digital downloads with Sky Pilot today so you can get back to creating remarkable work.

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