By Kavit Haria
“I launched my CD about two months ago and sales have only trickled in, it’s been nothing spectacular. What went wrong, and what can I do to promote it and get more sales?”
The answers vary, but usually along these lines… “I set up my Myspace page and just put up a few clips”… “I haven’t really done much, we’ve been busy recording”… “I did a few gigs but haven’t really performed any of this new material”…
I rarely hear of independent musicians who devote hours upon hours to promote and market their new music months ahead of launch and frankly, you’re losing out and leaving a lot of money on the table if you’re not.
In order to build up a successful launch during launch day and the following week, you’ve got to build up enough buzz to get people talking about it, getting juiced and marking their calendars for your launch ready to download or buy your CD. The ultimate record launch (or re-launch) is one that generates buzz, puts you in the papers, gets your music heard on radios and takes you up the charts. This kind of ultimate record launch can only happen when you plan and then act on that plan.
Nearly every musician is so juiced about releasing a music record that for the majority of the time, they forget about how important the release is and don’t plan it. I agree that I’d love it to be this way and hope that someone else can take care of it, but as independent musicians it’s important to remind ourselves that we’re music business owners and have to also take care of the planning as well.
The question is what should you do to build your buzz. Here are four quick ideas.
1. Start a blog. A blog is a great tool to use in cultivating relationships with your fans – starting new ones on the web and continuing relationships from your gigs. See this post for more: Do I need to blog as a musician?
2. Build your mailing list. Musicians Mastermind members, my audiences and readers know what a mailing list means to me: it’s probably the best way to tell how many fans you have and how many potential sales you’ll make with your launch. For example, if you have 1,000 subscribers, you have the potential to sell 1,000 downloads. I understand that other mediums such as the radio, TV, newspapers, websites and magazines can get you to hundreds of thousands of people – but the real fans are those who’ve subscribed.
So make the mailing list a core feature of your promotional activities. Capture their details. Ideally their name, email and if possible, their contact number. The reason you’re doing this is so that when it comes to launch time and pre-launch offers, you already have a base of people you can offer this too!
3. Play regular gigs. Book a period of lots of gigs. Grow some momentum and grow your crowds. If you also play covers, use the gigs to also throw in some originals with some promotion of upcoming gigs, free downloads and launch information. That way you can also see what people think of your new stuff too. Get a friend to come along with a camera and video your entire show. Don’t worry too much about the quality, just get it all on video.
4. Upload all your recorded gig videos to YouTube and share them. Upload songs individually. Share them at your blog, share them with people who sign up. Offer them new videos on a regular basis to keep them coming back and checking out your music. The more they hear it, the more they’ll want to hear it and then download/buy it.
These are just four ways. There are lots more, of course. What have you done in the run up to any of your launches – what worked and what didn’t work? I’m interested in hearing how this has worked for you.