Many musicicans after they have recorded their first CD ask themselves what do you do next?
Let’s assume that you are selling quite a few of your CDs at gigs, and you’re getting some airplay at local radio stations and college stations. You’ve gotten some good reviews in local newspapers and college papers, and you’ve even gotten a write-up in a magazine or two. There’s a good buzz going on about your band. But what happens if people go to their local music store and can’t find your CD? You just lost a sale!
You don’t ever want someone to go into a store to buy your CD and not be able to find it. Nor do you want to manufacture a bunch of CDs that just gather dust in your closet, or that are placed in retail outlets and don’t sell, only to be returned for full credit. This costs you money and can devastate the best of promotional plans. You need to set up some sort of distribution system to get your products to the buying public.
There are a number of ways to distribute your products. One of the first things you should do is put your CDs on consignment at your local record store. This is quite simple, and you can do it yourself. If you have a good relationship with a store, you may be able to get them to display your CD in a prominent place. If you know the manager of the store, he might even sell your CDs and let you keep all of the profit. If not, you can at least sell them at wholesale prices just like the big boys, so that the store will make a little profit as well. Just make sure your CDs have a uniform product code (UPC) so that the store can log them for tax and inventory purposes.
Another way to increase sales is to market your CDs to as many non-music stores as you can. If you get your CDs placed as impulse items in point-of-purchase displays at local convenience stores, truck stops, and the like, you’ll sell a lot more CDs.
You can also try to find some type of regional distribution deal through larger music store chains. However, these types of stores are much less likely to carry your CD unless you’re going to be playing near that local outlet, or unless you have a regional following there. These stores don’t want a bunch of CDs just gathering dust and taking up space, so make sure you have some type of marketing plan in place to get exposure in that region. The more exposure and reputation you build, the more traffic you’ll drive to those stores for your CDs. If you build a good regional sales base, you can start looking for a national distribution deal. Never forget that you don’t have to wait for a record deal to make this happen. You can do it yourself if you make the effort and never, ever quit.