Ok! So you want to make a record. Firstly I’d say the landscape has changed dramatically and is still changing.
As a Record Producer I’ve recorded a great number of albums and mostly my clients have made back their investment money and a little extra besides. Some of them have even made lots of money over the years. I do try to give each of my recording clients the reality of making recordings and the prospects of achieving great wealth.
The first thing I’d say these days is that music is free. When I used to play around the clubs and pubs doing covers to pay my rent I used to joke to my duo partners that we get paid for driving out here, investing all this time and money in music gear, extending a month or more of credit to the Club or agency and the music itself is actually free.
When you make a CD you should probably think of it as a business card. I tell my clients to give away at least a third of all your CDs to people who can help you either with a gig, airplay, a Festival booking, a TV appearance, an interview or just goodwill and a word of mouth recommendation.
Nearly the whole world now seems to regard it as ‘normal’ to burn a copy of a CD and give it to a friend. If you like a band you feel passionate enough to ‘pass it along’. Of course it’s illegal and immoral and unfair to the creators and owners but is there anyone any more who doesn’t do that? We all buy a CD and whack it in the computer, convert it in iTunes and put it on our ipod. It’s no a great stretch to burn it, send it or give it to someone else. The opportunity here is, when we pass it along, we are introducing the possibility of new fans.
In the vinyl days you held onto those LPs like gold and it was very rare to share. Cassette chipped the dam wall a bit, CDs had a great and glorious run and then the almighty CD burner and the 20c blanks came along and it was all over. The impact of the internet, file sharing and P2P protocols sealed the deal for us all and now……….here we are.
In truth the record companies have had a great run when you consider they’ve owned all the formats for at least 100 years. There are probably some recordings that have been issued in every format.
The truth however is that people still do buy your CD s at gigs. Why?
A gig purchase is an ‘impulse buy’. Your punters want to connect with you after a show. They want to buy a ‘social object’ and if a CD is the only thing on the table then they’re happy to go with that. People are feeling good about YOU right then and there and want to express that feeling in a generous way.
The number one rule is: Make it easy for people to buy your stuff.
You are the key. The artist, the performer. They want something from your hand. They want to get close, look you in the eye, say “Great show” and shake your hand.
Have someone help you sell your stuff who’s fast, approachable, knowledgeable, friendly and persuasive (also honest). Sometimes that’s just you, the artist and sometimes it’s a hired helper. Sometimes it’s your partner or your parent.
- Have a flat surface to display your items.
- Have change
- Think about your pricing. If people can buy you online for $16.99 why are you trying to get $25 at a gig. My CD manufacturer has great stories about who sells the most stuff. Buskers with a single wallet, 10 track CD buy their stock in lots of 10,000 at a time. Price $10. Who hasn’t got $10? It’s just a little more than putting some money in a guitar case. When people have paid for a ticket already they might want to buy something after the show but this isn’t the time to gouge them.
- Have felt pens to write all over the cover and design your CD cover to be autograph friendly.
- Design a CD cover that looks like something people want to own.
- Plastic is dead. Cardboard rules.
- People chuck the whole item very quickly anyway so don’t spend a million $ on fancy packaging.
OR spend a million on packaging and create something truly unique and collectible.
Sell Tea towels, T Shirts, stubby holders, poster, photos, books. Use your imagination to create a ‘social object’ that can’t be shared or downloaded but is unique to the owner. People love to hang onto memorabilia.
More next week………………
Thanks for reading Rog Blog #3 by Roger Corbett. I’m enjoying writing his for you and hopefully you’re enjoying this too.
Download my Songwriting Bootcamp Book for FREE Here