Music Connection had a great article (awhile back) called “Don’t Throw Your Music to the Wind: 20 Smart Things to Do With Your CD” that I thought I would share on the blog… I know as an independent artist it’s difficult sometimes to launch your product that you’ve worked so hard creating… and I wanted to spread some information… wishing you immense success and endless inspiration!!!
because it’s a long article i’m breaking it down into part 1 and part 2… and i know it’s a bit overwhelming but remember baby steps and do what you feel connects with you…happy learning…
1-Define Your Goals- Create a long-term goal broken down into baby steps that can lead you to it. Indie artist Beth Wood Suggests, “Define your goals. Often. Figure out what they really are- be specific.” What do you hope to achieve with your C? Once you determine that, create small goals that can take you to the big one. Do you want a record deal? More gigs? An income stream from CD sales? Immediate and long term goals help plan your direction. If your CD will mainly be a marketing tool, you will need to give more away. To make a profit, create a budget that balances free promo CDs and those you sell.
2-Identify Your Audience-The first step for effectively marketing a CD is to target your specific niche- the group most likely to buy it, such as college students, adults under 35, etc. Once you find the most likely market, figure out how to reach those potential fans. Research what venues, radio stations, publications, and websites are most likely to attract people who would appreciate your music. Focus on getting exposure through those avenues.
3-Develop a Strategy-Ultimately music should speak for itself, but to get heard in the first place you should develop a plan of action to create more awareness of your music. Indie artist Kyler England says, “there are many great indie-friendly magazines, radio stations, and record stores that can help make your music visible and accessible to potential new fans. It’s important to decide the best use of your time and energy.” List publications that might review your CD and radio stations that might play it. Decide how may CDs you can afford to give away. Unless you have lots of spare cash, don’t give them away randomly Assess which media people on your list are more important to create the initial buzz. You can send CDs to others later.
4-Be Very Visible-Your face should be everywhere in your local music community. Get to music events and network with people. Indie artist Alex Woodards says, “And industry pro said to always have a record with me everywhere I go. You never know when an opportunity will come up.” When people like you, they’ll listen to your music and tell others. Do local showcases and open mics. Always announce how to buy your CD. Attend conferences and hang out at night clubs. Invite everyone you meet to join your mailing list and visit your website. Get them excited about your music. Developing good relationships by networking can get you an intro to a distributor and create opportunities for selling music.
5-Team Up with Artists-Some indie artists have cooperative relationships- teaming up under the umbrella of one record label to share expenses and pool resources/ mailing list. Artists chip in for one publicist and have a better shot at distribution for a label with a number of artists. They share advertising and other expenses, but retain all rights to their own music and arrange to get paid individually for sales. If you know artists with great CDs, consider getting a group to work together. Create a legal agreement, drawn up by a lawyer, spelling out everything that will be done, what each artist is responsible for and how expenses and sales will be handled.
6-Go Grass Roots-Mobilize your fans into street teams to create awareness, help find outlets and spread the word about your CD. Street teams can effectively generate an early buzz before street date. Who best to get people excited about your music than a fan? Beth Wood says, “People voluteer to give my music to someone they know (at a radio station, etc…) put up posters, call venues or newspapers, and spread the word about shows. That is how this music grows- it is very much word-of-mouth.” Thank your fans for their help by rewarding them with t-shirts and free admission.
7-One-sheet-A one-sheet is one sheet of paper with a concise summary of facts about your CD that can create interest. Rev. Moose, Editor-in-Chief at CMJ says, “You can fit a lot of information, including who produced it, who guest stars, a short bio of the band, a track listing, a tour routing, some quick press quotes.” (side note- when i worked at WMA I sometimes had to make one-sheets- it’s also good to add in album sales and awards if possible…) Design your one-sheet to look organized on one page. A well-laid out black & white one-sheet is more important than a beautiful glossy which leaves stuff off.” It can be sent to radio, agents, managers, distributors and stores.
8-POP Display- POPs (Point of Purchase) are displays set up near cash registers to entice shoppers to buy products as they pay for their items. Decorate boxes that neatly hold your Cs with artwork from teh cover. Make them look as alluring as possible. Then try to find stores that will let you leave a box on the counter and sell your CDs on consignment (more below).
9-Set a Street Date-Indie artists tend to release CDs whenever they are duplicated. But if you pick a day to release it, and promote it two to four months before that day, you will have the best chance to sell more copies. Aaron Burgess, Managing Editor, Alternative Press Magazine, says magazines plan their article and reviews months in advance. “Sending a CD right when it’s released is too late.” But when you send in material early, you are more likely to get press coverage, which opens more doors. Send the press (with a music sample), radio and retail a one-sheet about the record months before it’s release. That will give you an edge when it comes to getting media coverage and retail support. (I wish I had done a better job with this! 🙂 )
10-Dress Your CD-Your CD packaging is the first thing a potential listener will see. If your artwork makes a great impression, there is a better chance people will check out your music. Ellyn Harris, with Buzz Publicity, emphasizes, “Make your press kit look clean and have contact information on EVERYTHING. Make it easy for someone to contact you.” While the music is ultimately what speaks, a professional package gets media people to listen to it. Make your CD stand out by dressing it well.
more to come…