Live performances from your favourite artists

Part 2: How Can You Promote/Release Your Music?

In the past there have been numerous formats to release music to cater to what the audience was using for music playback. Over time, some have dramatically decreased (vinyl), while others have pretty much died (cassettes & 8-tracks). You need to look at your target audience and find out what format suits best.

How many people do you see walking around today with a discman?
How many people are actually buying CD’s? (Musicians, dedicated fans and older people are buying more than the general population).
If the majority of your target audience isn’t purchasing CD’s, why would you get so many CD’s duplicated?

There are plenty of sites to release your music online –
http://soundcloud.com/
http://bandcamp.com/
http://www.triplejunearthed.com/
http://www.numberonemusic.com/
http://www.cdbaby.com/
http://www.tunecore.com/
http://www.iTunes.com/

The first thing you need to ask yourself, is “Do I want to make money from the songs I record, or do I want to reach as many people as possible and create a fan base that will give me larger audiences at gigs?

If you want to create an audience and fan base, then the best thing to do is give your songs away. If more people are able to listen to your music easily for free, that can equal a larger audience. Not everyone who downloads your song may like your music, in which case, you have lost nothing but they may have friends who they think will like your music, in which case you may gain some fans. If people who download your music for free DO like your music, they will turn up at your gigs, giving you an audience, and if you have merch for sale, they may buy some of that too.
It isn’t so much about losing money as it is about gaining an audience. If you are selling your music and you only have a small fan base, once they have bought it, there will be no more sales. You need to draw as many people as possible in, so when you have gigs, albums or shirts for sale, there will be more people to buy them.

What about after a gig, when people want to purchase your songs while still on a high from your performance and/or alcohol?
http://www.bandtag.com.au/ tries the concept of selling a card which enables people to download the songs when they get home. You get the cash there and then. The audience gets the music in a format they can instantly add to their iPod.

An idea that is still new and used by a couple artists (Blink-182, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu) is to use USB sticks.
A bulk purchase of USB sticks can be in the area of $5.50 to $13 per unit depending on the casing itself, the memory size and the number ordered. You can even get custom made USB sticks shaped like the band logo or a guitar or pretty much anything!
The benefit of a USB stick is that you can store more than just your music on it.
You can put album artwork, video clips, the behind the scenes footage you shot during rehearsals and recording sessions, desktop background images, phone background images, photos, a complete Electronic Press Kit, links to your website/facebook etc…

Not everyone enjoys listening to MP3’s, some still enjoy the quality of a higher resolution. On the USB stick you can have a folder with the MP3 versions ready to be put onto the iPod, as well as a folder with the full quality WAV files so people can make their own CD.

Plus, as you record new songs, you can very easily add these to the USB stick so it’s updated ready for the next gig…
While the initial purchase of the USB sticks can be seen as expensive, because they can be added to and updated over a couple years, they are more likely to recover their cost over time, and because people can delete the data off the USB once its one the computer, it has the band logo/name on it, so when they take the USB to school/work/uni the band name is clearly on display just like a t-shirt.
If you release a new EP you can have it bundled with the previous EP on the USB. That creates a stronger incentive for people to purchase as they are now getting 2 EP’s as well as the extra data in one package. Plus if the band has evolved and there are songs no longer relevant to the sound of the band, simply delete them from the USB sticks.
Because the USB sticks are easily changeable (just takes the time to load your content on each stick, but this can be done by each band member at home while watching TV), you will never have old stock sitting under your bed that you can’t sell.
You could also encourage people who bought the USB stick previously, to bring the stick to the gig to receive the new EP and content transferred to their USB for a lower price, that way they aren’t purchasing a new stick every time you have a new release, just the data.

As I said above, there are still some people buying CD’s, so there is still incentive to release CD’s, but probably not to the point of duplicating 500-1000 copies of an EP.
Here is where you can cater specifically to your dedicated fans. By creating a package that is exclusive or limited, you create a demand among the dedicated.
If you print up 100 CD’s with exclusive artwork in nice packaging, the dedicated fans would want to get their hands on it. Years later these may be the releases of the EP collectors pay hundreds for, the band before they got big.

Well known bands are doing similar things on a larger scale. Nine Inch Nails released a deluxe box set of Ghosts I-IV for $300 and limited to 2500 copies which were sold in a flash. Smashing Pumpkins are releasing 11 EPs over the next 2 years as free downloads for anyone, but also releasing a limited number of boxed sets for the dedicated fans.
Dead Letter Circus released a limited edition version of their album with bonus DVD as well as 5.1 mixes of the album this was limited to 2000 copies and has been selling very well.

While “limited” numbers for these well known bands equals the thousands, a good band that is building its reputation while playing around Australia should look at the size of their dedicated fan-base and cater to that (even if its 150 CDs at $30 for example). Doing this method with a strong enough fan-base, it’s actually possible to cover the cost of recording, duplication and make a profit based on the limited edition copies alone.

When artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Josh Freese (who offered different packages with his album, including selling his car ) and Radiohead are looking at new ways to release music, shouldn’t the up and coming bands be looking at new ideas and concepts on their own scale?

The old methods of releasing music are dead or dying.

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