How many times have you been dorking around online and realized a smaller, independent artist you LOVE has a new CD out, and on top of that it’s been out for six months?
For any criticisms anyone can have for my music, live shows, attitude, or whateverthefuck, I can say pretty one thing quite confidently: I know how to sell my music with pretty much zero budget. I’ve been fortunate to have not released any CDs at a loss to my label, and most of the time have planned far enough in advance to actually be nearly at breakeven financially even before the music is actually out.
Here are some simple things you can do to maximize sales, aka “minimizing losses”.
1) Don’t be a site snob and get online!
Everyone is on some social networking site these days, and as an artist sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Livejournal, Trig, Vampirefreaks, and a dozen more are vital for you to get the word out. Also, the more of these sites you have a presence on the better, even if you don’t visit them all at the same frequency. Why? Even if you’re on all of them, potential fans may only be on one, so it’s best for them to easily be able to find you where they’re comfortable. It’s all about the customer service, and that’s an easy way to at least let people know you’re out there.
2) Talk it up!
Join forums and frequent them. Let people get to know you and get to know them. Side-Line, Vampirefreaks, etc are places where artists and listeners gather, so let them know you exist and link your stuff in the appropriate place.
A couple big no-no’s, though:
a) Do NOT just join a forum and have the first post you make be spam about your music. Hit and run spamming makes you look like a troll and will most likely turn off any forum regulars.
b) Do NOT hijack threads, even jokingly, with links to your music. Stay on topic and don’t be a dick.
c) Be careful about how you act on forums, especially with snarky drunk posting (and believe me, I know this one well). Even if you don’t see someone on that forum chances are that a pal of theirs IS on there and will direct whoever you’re being a douche to that thread.
In short, if you’re trying to develop a reputation and be known more for your music than trolling on a forum, you can never say it’s “just the internet”. If it’s “just the internet” you can close up shop right now, as you’re never going to succeed, or at a greatly reduced rate. And given sales of CDs and the availability of as much music as there is these days, you need every advantage you can get.
Having people on your side is invaluable.
3) Presales can save your ass.
Selling your CDs to as many people early achieves two goals: It brings in capital to offset your printing and replication costs of the music, and for every CD you sell before the whole world is trading the files for free is a sale you have in your pocket. For my last CD This is Jizzcore we were able to sell over a fifth of the initial print run before the CD hit the proverbial shelves. This paid for a very large portion of my label Crunch Pod’s costs and minimized stress over recouping our overall costs.
Plus, fans got a lot of perks out of preordering, but I’ll wait until part two of this blog to get into that and a lot of other ways to draw new and established fans into your lil’ musical world.