Marketing Your Home Recordings Yourself - dummies

By Jeff Strong

You don’t have to be a marketing guru, to create a nice niche for yourself and your music. All it takes is a little imagination and a lot of hard work. In the following list, are a few ideas that have worked for other enterprising, independent artists:

  • Take yourself seriously. Take the job of promoting and selling your music seriously — treat it as a business. Getting people to notice and buy your music is a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be a drag (if it is, you’re better off getting someone else to do it for you).

  • Get organized. Get your new business off on the right foot by developing a habit of keeping track of your sales and developing a contact list. One of the best investments that you can make is to get a contact management database (Act! is a good one for Windows and Now Contact is great for Mac users) to keep track of promotion contacts (newspapers, radio stations, and clubs), CD sales, and fans.

    Also, do yourself a big favor and keep meticulous records of your income and expenses; you’ll be grateful that you did when tax time comes.

  • Create a mailing list. This is one of the most cost-effective and powerful ways that you can start to develop a following. Make a sign-up sheet for your mailing list available at every public appearance. (Ask people to include not only their postal mail address but also their e-mail address.) Then enter those names into your database.

    You can then either send out snail mailings or e-mail notices whenever you play or do anything worth mentioning.

  • Get out and be seen. This one is pretty straightforward. Get out in the world and let people know about your music. This can mean playing gigs or talking about your music.

  • Look beyond the music store. It’s nearly impossible to compete with the labels — indies and majors alike — in the music store. Unless you live in a small town or know of a music shop that has a section devoted to local bands and can sell your CDs, you need to think of other places to put your music.

    For example, one musician has his CD at quite a few of the local businesses in his neighborhood around the holidays. Every place, from the local pack-and-ship to the video store, has a countertop display with his CD. He creates a small poster that fits on the counter describing him and his music. He sells quite a few CDs and gets a handful more gigs each year this way.

  • Capitalize on your style. Another one of musician composes folksy, New Age music, and he managed to get his CDs into a handful of New Age, gift-type shops. He often puts them in the stores on consignment and checks each store once a week to refill the countertop display and collect money that the store took in (minus the store’s cut, of course).

    Going into the stores every week helps him to develop a relationship with the store owners, many of whom have arranged for him to do performances in their stores, increasing exposure and sales.

  • Try something different. For example, team up with a local author and play at her book signings. She can read a passage from her book, and then you can play for a few minutes. Odds are you will end up selling a few dozen CDs at these events.

  • Don’t be stingy. Give away your CD. A good rule of thumb is to count on giving away about 10 to 15 percent of the CDs that you print. These can be for reviews, to try to get gigs, or for any purpose that may spread the word about your music. Giving out your CD as a promotional tool is an inexpensive way to let people know what you’re doing.