“Distribution Follows Marketing”


Brooke Waggoner

Brooke Waggoner

“Distribution follows Marketing.”   Its a very popular saying in the music industry.  Many artists wonder why they still have 5 boxes of CDs sitting in their basement or why no one’s buying their music on iTunes.  Don’t be deceived, getting your music on iTunes or Napster does make it accessible, but it does not just automatically generate sales.  What generates sales is creating awareness of your product. 

Becoming a Househould Name (or something like it)
It’s just like any other industry.  A food company doesn’t make the big bucks simply because its product(s) are in grocery stores.  But they do generate sales when they advertise on TV and make their product(s) a household name (i.e. Ragu, Dannon, Hidden Valley,  Breyer’s…etc).

Or take, for example, the  music & movie industry. The only reason you know so much about Amy Winehouse or Brittney Spears (and their bouts of craziness) is because they’re always in the news.  What does this mean for you? It means being repetitive – playing out as much as possible, making sure everyone knows how to find you online, thoroughly promoting your shows, continually making new fans, dot dot dot.  Just like that “Active-ON” commercial, you wanna be repetitive until people can’t forget you.

If You Can’t do it, Find Someone Who Can
I recently played a show with someone who told me “You’re only job as a musician is to write good music and perform it.”  I couldn’t disagree with her more.  There’s nothing worse than being passionate about your music but not passionate enough to tell others it exists.  That’s not only a waste of studio time, but a waste of your money.  Good luck selling CDs.

According to CNNmoney.com, “there were over 75,000 new releases put out [in 2007] and over 56,000 of them sold less than 100 copies.”  Can you imagine?! If you’re actively pursuing music but don’t want to put the time/effort into marketing your CD, make sure you have someone (a publicist) who does.

Want a Distribution Deal?
Everybody wants a distribution deal. But first things first: don’t aim for a distribution deal unless you have a way to generate mass interest. Think about it this way: if Borders orders 500 units of your music, puts a copy in 500 of its stories, and only sells 5 or those 500 CDs, you’re gonna lose that deal.  Those CDs will be pulled and returned to you after a few months.

The best example I know for all of the above is Brooke Waggoner.   Check out this older post for more on her.
As a musician, don’t expect people to magically want/buy your CD. Make sure you have a game plan for letting people know it exists. You’ll know you’re doing something right if you’re at a show and people are buying your CD before you even take the stage.

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