If I knew anything about promotion, I would be able to sell all of these discs laying around my house. Even with this, I must say that I have probably sold more CDs than most groups I know. What success I have had comes from my belief that I am obligated to give the major labels as much competition as possible. This can be done in two ways:
My act is fairly unique in that nothing is sacred except the Republican Party. Republican Shock Comedy is hardly a thriving field but songs like Bob Dole: Sex Machine, If I Die, Will You Have Sex With Me? and She Left Me For a Destitute Quadriplegic Because of the Good Sex create enough interest to produce a few inquiries.
Another thing I do is allow the consumer to listen to the CD before paying for it. It's nearly impossible to get a sale on music that the buyer has never heard. While it may sound risky to send music off to someone you don't know, the actual risk is fairly small. All you lose is a couple of stamps, a CD and some time. My experience here has been something like a 10% loss and a 2% product return. Hardly a problem. I have found that internet customers are an honest lot. I have also found that underground music magazines have a terrible customer base. One such magazine's customers (FlipSide) gave me a 100% non-payment rate.
If you want to stick it to the major labels as bad as I do, undercut them at every possible opportunity. If you do it right, you can get your CDs printed and assembled at anywhere from $1.40 to $3.00 per unit. Use this leverage to bring in sales. Recent reports "show" that music sales are down. These reports are not entirely true, music sales are down, but only for major labels and chain stores. Overall, music sales are actually UP. The softening of the market indicates that the indies are finally starting to cut into the big boys bottom line. (For more information, see my 1993 essay on the major labels.)
I sell my CDs Unplugged and Over the Edge for $6 each. I pay postage and allow the customer to listen to the CDs before buying. If you don't believe it, email your address to me.
The biggest problem here is that I have no right to speak on promotion and sales simply because I have yet to turn a profit. If you have any success stories, I'd be glad to try them out myself and put them on the page. Just write to me at email@example.com.
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