Archive for the ‘Your CD’ category

“How Do I Get My Album Sales to Register with Soundscan?”

May 24, 2010

Today’s Ask Grassrootsy question…

THE BAND: Laura Harrison
THE QUESTION:  Hi Grassrootsy, I was hoping you may know the answer to this. My only motivation, at the moment, for selling my CD through CdBaby is because of Soundscan. I want the sales reported to Soundscan. Is there any way that Paypal can do that? I went to Nielsen website and they said that the dealer needs to have a Point of Sales (POS) inventory system…does Paypal do that? I went to Paypal and can’t find it on their site. Thanks so much for your time.


ANSWER:
Hey Laura. I couldn’t find anything about this through PayPal either. I honestly don’t think PayPal does this. While many musicians use PayPal, I think it was originally created for
traditional small business owner. So my guess is that Soundscan isn’t one of their top priorities.

BUT there is a backdoor way to make sales through Paypal and still have payments registered through Soundscan. The answer, of course, is Bandcamp!  When you sign a new project up with Bandcamp, they will ask you to enter your album’s UPC Code and ISRC codes. ISRC codes are just like UPC’s except they are assigned to individual tracks…instead of a whole album. Your customers purchase is setup to go to your Paypal. Here’s a great article on all this code stuff.  It’ll also help you understand the importance of reporting your sales.

In any case, Bandcamp wrote an article last July about Reporting to Soundscan through their platform. My assumption is that, since the article is nearly a year old, they are now in fact reporting to Soundscan. I could be wrong. But according to their feature’s page, they say, “We submit US, Canadian and international sales reports to SoundScan each and every week.”. So that lets hope so!

It’s not a bad idea to stick with CD Baby and also sell your merch elsewhere. There have been countless PayPal vs. CD Baby discussion on this blog  (see comments); but I personally like the DIY approach where I can personalize and mail out my CDs to fans, collect more from sales, and have more control over pricing.  In addition, while Soundscan sales are

If anyone has more insight into this topic, please add your comment.

Might Want to read these too:

Bandcamp – A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent
Selling Your Music – Setting up an Online Merch Store
CDBaby vs. Paypal

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Creating a Black Friday Buzz

November 23, 2009

 

Well…Black Friday is 4 days away and its the most opportune time for any and all musicians to really push their product.  As much as I hate to write this blog, it’s a necessary one for every musician out there. Nothing like adding to the clutter of commercialism. *smirk*  In any case, seriously take the following suggestions to heart.

Give ’em A Deal They Can’t Pass Up
People love and buy into the idea of jaw dropping sales. We’ve all done it.  If your CD is normally $10, consider selling it  for $5 on Black Friday. You’ll make less money per unit, but you’ll sell more units and ultimately make more at the end of the day.  Free Shipping is also a major enticement. There’s no kicker like thinking you’re only spending $10 on a CD and then realizing that you have to fork out another $2 for shipping.  Entice your fans with a $5 CD with free shipping and you’ve got a sale that’s hard to pass up. Or how about a free CD with every T-shirt order?

Create a Sense of Urgency
Maybe its a one-day sale, a one-weekend sale, or a one-month sale. Whatever you do, make sure your fans know that it won’t last forever.  Give them a heads up of when the sale will start, and a few friendly (but not pushy) reminders during the course of the promo.  Also encourage people to make all of their purchases as soon as possible because mail takes longer to reach its destination during the holiday season.   

Bundles You Can’t Beat
Every artist I’ve ever talked to, who has tried the bundle approach, says it works.  Put your products together.  Here’s an excellent quotable from independent artist Dana Detrick-Clark… 

  • “Besides doing a holiday themed CD (which we’ve also done), package the CD in “gift” bundles with either other CDs, or with other products that create a full package that someone could easily use as a present. It’s one way to expose your music to new people, and it’s a great way to entice your fans to gift your music to a friend – and create new fans in the process!”

Check out TJ Cornwall‘s site for an idea on how to set up your merch store and bundles.

Make Sure its Obvious
Your links should be clean and lead right to the product offer.  Don’t make people fish around for a sale.  Make it as easy as possible for someone to purchase your merch. In addition, everyone should know about the sale. Ya, you can email your newsletter subscribers, but make sure those who aren’t on your mailing list can find out just as easily.  Put information about the sale on your homepage and myspace so random visitors can also take you up on the offer. Tweet about it. Put it in your email signature. Make sure it’s visible on your Facebook Page or Group.

Spice it Up
Make it eye-catching and organized. Put together artwork to drive the point home.  Here’s something I put together for the Christmas promo I ran last year:

click for a newsletter example

 

If you or your band have an excellent “black friday” sale going on, post a comment with a link to your page and I’ll likely compile it for an upcoming blog. Also check back over the next few weeks for other posts on how to make the most of the holiday season.
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Promoting Your Press

October 28, 2009
SR2

Sam & Ruby

Maybe it sounds counter intuitive since press is supposed to promote you; however promoting your press will not only build your credibility, but it will also help you garner additional press. Chances are, whoever is writing about you, has a much bigger platform than you do.  Take advantage of that.

It’s not an easy thing to get a magazine or newspaper to write a review (read How to Score Reviews of Your CD).  But, once they do, take special care of that endorsement. What are you doing to spread the word to make sure people know that you’re being talked about?  Here are some thoughts on the matter

Why Would Someone Want to Know You’ve Been Reviewed?
Think of your website as one big advertisement. You create the content and you have control over what people know about you. This means that you’ve taken the opportunity to make yourself sound as good as possible. But if you take a poll, you’ll quickly realize that no one buys a magazine for the ads on every other page, and no one watches TV for its commercials (except the Superbowl, of course).  People take in media to see what’s being said about their favorite stars, to hear conversation about new music, movies…etc.

In other words, the public values an unbiased, third-party opinion. It’s the very reason no one watches Infomercials.  Prospective “buyers”  will put more value on your “product” when someone else (other than yourself) gives it a thumbs up.

Visibility
It’s all about giving things their proper placement. Consider these ideas…

  • Work any media  recognition into your bio. Instead of talking about what you’ve done with your music, talk about what others have done. Here’s a clip from Katie Herzig’s Bio:
  • Katie has toured with the Tenn out of Tenn tour, Hotel Café Tour, PASTE Magazine songwriter tour and has supported national acts such as The Fray, Brandi Carlile, Shawn Colvin, Aqualung and others. In 2008, Katie is featured in Billboard Magazine’s “Now Hear This” as well as one of PASTE Magazine’s 25 “Best of What’s Next” Artists.”
     
  • Put endorsements on your homepage. Nashville artists Sam & Ruby get a thumbs up for this.
  • If you visit their homepage, you’ll see one of their songs was featured in the 2008 Blockbuster , The Secret Life of Bees. That’s a pretty big foot-in-the-door that can catapult a CD’s success to the next level. In fact, in a recent interview, Sam & Ruby said they sped up the production of their CD so they could release it at the same time as the movie.  That’s called using a huge opportunity to your advantage and building on momentum.
  • Also, check out Sam and Ruby’s myspace…as they put endorsements in the “About” section instead of a traditional bio.

Lastly, avoid sketchy-looking endorsements. If a radio host said he liked your CD but didn’t say anything concrete, don’t use it.  Make sure all quotes are as real as possible.  “John Doe of ABCF-FM likes the CD” doesn’t carry any weight.  And remember, the press certainly doesn’t need your help in publicizing their review/endorsement of your CD, but you do! 

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Same Message, Different Approach

September 28, 2009
Emerson Taymor's pop-up doll business cards

Emerson Taymor's pop-up doll business cards

Everyone knows our media-saavy culture suffers from information overload, but no one has driven the point home like MSN’s Bing Commercials.  There’s nothing new under the sun and everything’s already been said.  This is why saying the same thing in new ways is the only way to stand out from your competitors, catch people off guard, and suprise the unsuspecting.  Check out this Bing commercial.

Something Especially Clever
I randomly came across Emerson Taymor as I was looking for business card companies and now I am a huge fan!  Taymor is a photographer and website/graphic designer based in Los Angelese, CA. His business cards, pop-up dolls of his body, are the kind that people hold onto for more than a day…like collector’s items 🙂  Taymor says the following,

“Self promotion is something I pride myself on. I take advantage of the popularity of my initials (ET). My logo is a monogram, stylistically created to be modern, trendy, sexy, classy and clean. It can be set or placed over a wide range of colors. My business cards, which have become somewhat of a internet and real life hit, came to me somewhat at random. I really wanted to sell myself, not just as a designer, but as a person. Many designers are hidden behind their work, but I wanted to be my work and myself to work hand in hand. I want people to know they are not only hiring a talented designer, but a people person; someone that they would enjoy the company of. Obviously the cards come flat, but you can make them into a pop-up doll and sit them on your desk.”

 Innovative ideas from others (check out these posts for ideas on what others have done)
*Mitch Bell uses the pizza guy to include his flyers with pizza deliveries
*Allison Weiss raffles off a free CD at each show among the people who signs up for her newsletter
*Ari Hest lets his fans pick the songs to put on the CD & *Amy Kuney tours middle schools and high school
*Chris McDonald creates video shorts based on a fictional character – his alter ego 🙂

(these are just a few. there are plenty more on Grassrootsy)

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You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover, But You Can Buy One

September 21, 2009
Omar Abdul

Omar Abdul

So last night I posted a ton of things on craigslist, as I am moving out of my apartment and need to get rid of stuff.  I couldn’t help but notice how fast responses came back for a few of my items, while people never showed interest in other items. I started to wonder why this was. Yea, you could make the argument that certain items are more useful around the house, and that’s why they got scooped up first.  But, in reconsidering a few things and revisiting my craigslist posts, I noticed that the camera lighting in certain pictures made the items more appealing.  One person wrote back and said, “these two pieces just pop out and say buy me”.  Meanwhile the dullness of my other pictures made other items look like crap!

So today’s post is about presentation. Everybody’s selling a CD, just like everybody’s selling their living room furniture on craigslist.  Why should yours be the one they buy? 

Avoiding Tunnel Vision
Sometimes we get so consumed with what we’ve got going on, that we forget we’re not the most important thing in the world. Musicians often suffer from illusions of grandeur, convincing themselves that just because they’re putting out a new CD, everyone will want to buy it.  Wrong!  This will most likely never happen and it will probably take longer than you think to sell those first 1000 units. BUT avoiding tunnel vision is half the battle.  Don’t assume everyone wants what you have.   You can’t sell yourself if you’re already sold.

Go Out of Your Way to…
…make yourself look better than the rest.  But don’t even be a snob about it.  Whether you’re pushing a physical copy of your Cd, a gig, or something else, strive to raise the bar.  Raise it so high that even you have a hard time reaching it. It’ll keep you on your toes.  Make sure your sound check is done way before people start tricking in.  Plan for the whole band to be on stage at the same time. Nothing worse than 4 out of 5 members standing around waiting for their drummer to get on stage so they can start the show.  Have great promo material that looks professional (yes, this costs money).

Even After You’ve Proven Yourself…
…don’t sacrifice on quality.  Never let your guard down. Be someone people always expect quality from.  Just because they already know you can deliver, doesnt mean you shouldn’t deliver anymore. Omar Abdul, 1/2 of the team behind Pittsburgh’s monthly “The Big Throwback” says it best: “Doesn’t matter how bad you suck, as long as you’re consistent, people will keep coming back.”  Perhaps there’s some truth in this…but i happen to think it makes a world of difference if you don’t suck 🙂

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Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #5

September 10, 2009

ourstage_001

Over the past few years, several music-related websites have increased in popularity due to the fact that they put every-day people in charge of the decision-making.  Sites like iLike  allow users to vote their favorite artists into the limelight.  It’s much like the blog phenomenon that took place 5 years ago; everyday bloggers became the go-to source for reviews on books, movies, and music…whereas 10 years ago, only official review sites were thought to be credible.

That said, here are a few resources that are taking the place of traditional music review sites.

TheSixtyOne
TheSixtyOne.com describes itself as a website that “makes music culture more democratic: artists upload their work for review, but rather than allow a stuffy suit in a boardroom to decide what’s good, thousands of listeners do.”

TheSixtyOne is one of the sites that will gain much popularity in the coming year.  It’s a great thing when a bunch of random music lovers and makers, like yourself, can determine what everyone hears…as opposed to pop radio stations that play the “Top 10”, five times a day. TheSixtyOne organizes submitted music according to “top songs”, “hot right now”, “recently posted”, and “creative commons”.   Your song rises in ranking depending on how many times a listener votes for it.  Users can also create social groups to talk about specific genres and types of songs.  Based on user picks, TheSixtyOne also acts as a radio station, playing the top songs.

OurStage
I did a  quick search on this site and realized that Grassrootsy has never mentioned Ourstage – one of the primary “fans decide” resources out there.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ourstage and have even had a few close friends get on the “Top 10” chart of their specific genre. So assuming that some readers are unfamiliar with the site, here’s a quick look.

Ourstage is often described as a community talent contest. Visitors vote on music in genres ranging from hip-hop, folk, gospel, hard rock, singer/songwriter, and some 30+ others.  Ourstage calls each primary category a “channel”. Each month, the top 10 songs in each channel go head-to-head for $100.  The winner from each channel competes for $5,000. Ourstage runs many other contests but to get an idea of how it works, visit their contest page.

Artists can also create a fan page, for fans to join.  I know its sounds like another myspace or facebook, but its a great way to keep your voters interested in your music and keep the communication going long after the voting is done. It’ll aslo give you a committed group of people that will probably vote for you when you enter a song into a future contest.

The wonderful thing about Ourstage is that you’re not likely to be familiar with any of the artists on the website. It has gained a strong reputation for being a place to experience fresh, new, underground and undiscovered music.

 

If you’re familiar with any other similar democratice resources out there, please post below. Grassrootsy thrives on new information.

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Good Marketing for an Upcoming CD Release

August 12, 2009
TJ Cornwall

TJ Cornwall

A couple independent artists are releasing CD’s next month and have some great self promotion to go along with it. So I thought I’d highlight the efforts of a full time independent artist named TJ Cornwall.  Hopefully this information will help a few of you who might be putting out new projects or just need some good marketing ideas from a peer. 

T.J. Cornwall:
www.myspace.com/tjcornwall

Revamped Website: Check out TJ’s myspace. The layout (created by Hidden Conspiracy Designs) is incredibly beautiful and easy to navigate.  TJ doesn’t have an official site but his myspace is professional-looking and can easily substitute as an official site.  Also notice that the design of his site corresponds with the cover art of his new CD.  Everyting matches, therefore creating consistency.

Countdown Clock: It’s always fun to build anticipation by posting something like a timer.  It might not make the world of difference, but subconsciously, there’s something exciting about counting down to a large event (think New Years Day).

Pre-orders: In addition to building hype for his CD release, TJ is also offering pre-orders of “Stepping Stones”.  People like pre-orders b/c they like to have things “now”.  Giving people the option to pre-order your project is just another way of “Thinking like a Record Label” and probably increasing sales.

By the way TJ uses BigCartel.  BigCartel helps artiststo create easily customizable shopping carts for their website. Funds go through PayPal. Check out TJ’s cumstomized cart

CD/T-shirt Bundle: If you’ve got merch, it’ll probably be easier to sell along with a new CD than on its own.  Offer bundles, 2-for-1 deals, or other special deals while there’s still a whole lotta hype around your new project. It’ll pay off!

Incentive: Now that TJ’s got a new CD, he’s offering a free download of his older CD to anyone who  signs up for his newsletter.  Many artists are doing that these days. Smart move.

Video: Last but not least, TJ has been documenting the making of  his CD, which is an excellent way to engage fans and build anticipation. Check out the first video in the series: “Stepping Stones Recording Video 1

 

Also check out another artist, Ben Alper. He revamped his myspace and has his CD already setup on iTunes even though it doesnt release for another month.  Nothing like having a hard copy and digital copy available at the same time.

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