Your new CD is not only for the fans you currently have, but also for the fans you are going to have. Your audience is diverse. Different people like your music at different levels. Some are not ready to commit 10 dollars for a record, while others wouldn’t mind spending upwards of 40 or 50 dollars on you. You need to have options for your fans to choose their level of commitment to you.
Giving your record away for free (in order to maximize exposure and fans) is a great idea, but can result in losing out on income that your fans that are willing to pay for your music. On the other hand, if you price your music at 20 dollars right off the bat, you are targeting a limited audience who needs to like your music enough to pay that much, in which case you are not aiming to expand your fan base.
Consider releasing your record in steps to target specific fan bases. There are no set rules for doing this, in fact, ideal results come out of creatively tailoring this model to suit your particular release. Here are a few ideas to work with.
The first step can be a physical pre-sale release for your immediate die-hard fans (and family and friends). This step is aimed to target an existing fan base that is willing to spend a higher amount to have your music. Having the privilege of hearing your music before your official release keeps these fans close to you and builds a club of die-hards who will always be loyal to you.
The second step can be an official album release concert date, which the aforementioned group of fans will attend, as well as press, media contacts and those simply curious about your music. This is your chance to convince these people and put your music into the hands of everybody who decided to come out. One way to ensure this is to join the cover charge with the CD price. If admission is $5, and your record is going for $10, make the cover charge $15 + a free CD. Just 15 bucks, AND a free album? Now THAT’s a deal! In this way, you are not giving people the choice of buying or not buying the record, guaranteeing that whoever walks in through the door, also walks out with your record in their hands.
Finally, for your fans abroad and those used to purchasing music online, you can have an online release. Plan to have your record released on iTunes and online stores about a week after your CD release show.
Make sure to publicize each step on your website, mailing list, facebook and twitter accounts, as it happens. Give people the opportunity as it comes to purchase your record by letting them know. Nobody’s ever said, “after thoroughly enjoying listening your awesome record, I am still extremely upset for having received your emails letting me know about it”.
After releasing your record on all fronts, you are ready to give your record out for free, in order to target future fans who are not ready to pay any money for your music yet. These are the people whom next time you put out a record might purchase it during the presale period. At this point, use your album as your calling card. Introduce as many curious listeners to your music. Meanwhile, you can always be selling and giving your music away for free all at the same time.
Check out this great article of a speech on sales planning and bundling by the people at Topspin. It’s a little long, but definitely worth a good read.
The Purple Cabbage