Strategies

Two Months of Serious Music Promo

It’s been two months since the release of The Thought Chapter. In that time period, I’ve taken in $885 in physical sales and $160 in digital sales of the album, for a total of $1,045 before PayPal transaction fees. I’ve got a long way to go until I’m in the black, even if I only factor sales against the cost of licensing the artwork, graphic design, and manufacturing, which total $2,834 for 1000 units. Over the same time period, I’ve taken in $1,382 in overall physical sales and $355 in overall digital sales, so the new album is responsible for 60% of that.

Pathetic as it may seem, $1,045 in two months is pretty much in line with previous albums. Something Beautiful, my last album of originals, took in only $1,322 over the first YEAR, my worst seller ever. Paradoxically, as Color Theory grew in popularity, first year sales of my original albums consistently declined from a high of $2,698 for my debut. My tribute album, Color Theory presents Depeche Mode, took top honors at $4,320, which sounds great until you learn that it cost $5000 to make 1200 CDs, $1400 of which went to Sir Martin L. Gore!

I’m always discouraged by those numbers. At a minimum, you’d think I’d sell one copy to each of the approximately 500 people on my mailing list. It strikes me as odd that people are interested enough in my music to hear from me once or twice a month, but not interested enough to pick up the fruits of my past five years’ labor. Using the $8 per subscriber figure from my last post, that would get me to $4,000. One glimmer of hope remains: CD Baby hasn’t reported any iTunes income from the album yet. I read somewhere that five out of every six music sales on the internet are through iTunes, though I doubt that statistic applies to long tail indie artists like myself.

Here’s my completed list so far, in chronological order. Unfortunately, my to do and someday/maybe lists are much longer! Some items are missing, as I tend to discover and act on opportunities quickly without taking notes. I apologize for the cryptic abbreviations. Rest assured I’ll discuss many of the items at length in the near future.

Updated colortheory.com – added album to mp3 store and order page
Made newsletter sign-up link more prominent
Announced album and blog – newsletter, web site, iLike, forums
Stocked Amazon, CD Baby, A Different Drum
Updated bio
Submited story to Disc Makers before November 9
Fulfilled preorders
Sent to Pandora
Updated e-mail signatures
Put Google Analytics code on all sites
Created 4-song preview mp3s and PDF files with the lyrics for each album
Submitted to We7 (WNGAY, ZC, ISKY)
E-mailed Sirius XM (channel 43) about submissions – no response
E-mailed Side-Line about news item
Sent review copies to: ReGen, Performing Songwriter, Side-Line, Robert Kinsler, Fast Forward Weekly, Sonidobscuro, Chain DLK, depechemodeforum.com
Sent airplay copies to: Dekadance, Luver
Send encoding copies to AMG, Muze
Sent editorial copy to iTunes
Dedicated WNGAY on Facebook
Updated web sites: CD Baby, iLike, MySpace, Download.com, ReverbNation
Sold overstock CDs to ADD with sticker about TTC
Provided CDs and pics for Dekadance CT feature on KSCU
Took better photos of CD for blog and Amazon – emailed pics to EO
Scanned promo contacts, Promotion folder on hard drive, Gmail “promotion tag”, Google Docs, Road Rally 2007 notes
Posted on Depeche Mode forum
Made special login and posted on Death Cab for Cutie forum
30 PT for OCC
Switched mailing list to AWeber
Stocking stuffer promo
Update – KSCU show, mailing list signup
Updated free mailing list remixes
Made directory pages to cross-promote on name sites, 11threcords, deathcabtribute, mixedbyapro, pianopop
Update to AWeber – stocking stuffer reminder
No reply: Hear Music, Ronnie about giving out PT with merch sales, Paste sampler
Update to RealNation – stocking stuffer promo
Submitted info to Ian for unsignedbandpromotion.com
Created profiles: Facebook (musician), Hi5, imeem, Bebo, Ourstage, thesixtyone
120 PT to CD Baby
Transferred AWeber subscribers to ReverbNation
Tried adding DM fans on MySpace with FriendBlasterPro
Created loud (+4 dB) mp3s for web profiles
Submitted WNGAY to Universal Audio
Uploaded new material to Trusonic
Uploaded all albums to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems
Submitted Title Addition to Nielsen Soundscan
Submitted to Film/TV: Luke Hits
Entered in Just Plain Folks Music Awards
Update – direction for new material

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Dave
    January 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Hi – this site looks fantastic and I will be sitting down tonight and reading all of your posts…I am sure I will be in touch with you soon or leaving lots of comments!

    Found you through CDbaby message board – this site and the topics it seems to be covering are exactly what I was looking for.

    Can’t wait to dig in! Keep posting!

    Dave
    Double D Records

  • Reply
    DonGino 'Blacc Dragon' Bernardo
    January 14, 2009 at 12:51 am

    After seeing some of the artist (especially in the rap, hip-hop and r&b genres) I’m glad that I came across some minds that are as serious as my own (it gave me a bit of peace of mind). Thanks for your article (well written I might add)!

  • Reply
    NJM
    January 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    $2834 on 1000 units?
    If you used Disk Makers, I see they have 1000 digipacks for $1990…where’s the $844 difference going?
    I figure copyright registration and barcode, but is the rest all in the cover design?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

    The 6-panel Digipak is $200 cheaper now. Don’t forget shipping and sales tax! Licensing the Death Cab for Cutie cover was $106. The last $400 went to Maya Klein for the use of her original drawings. All of them but the cover pic were created specifically for this project, and inspired my by songs. For example, the image on the disc of the girl with the clock woven in her hair was inspired by “We’re Not Getting Any Younger.”

  • Reply
    NJM
    January 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    The album does look great by the way!

    This album in two months pulling in more than a previous albums full year…sounds like your doing something right.

  • Reply
    Monty Singleton
    January 22, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I love the honesty of this website! It’s great to share all of the hard work and the costs and income involved. Very sobering. I’m working on something similar but it’s a video DIY podcast that won’t be released for another year. I have been doing a lot of research and talking to every band we play with and no one is selling enough records to cover their costs that I’ve met. Bands are taking their live merch sales (which is lower than ever) and using it to fund a low budget ($2,000) music video. This was from a good band signed to Island Records! The teenagers I have spoken to don’t buy CDs and few actually pay for music. I won’t ever make a physical CD to sell again, just for marketing purposes. Things are terrible out there. I’m compiling an email of some news I’m going to send you from all areas of the industry I have been researching.

    Monty

  • Reply
    Mojo Bone
    January 25, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Kind of giving the lie to that blurb about great music promoting itself, aren’t we? But seriously, thanks for taking the time to share the journey, I wanted to let you know it’s appreciated. 😉

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 25, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Fair enough! As I mentioned in my previous entry, I’m definitely questioning that premise. I hope that it becomes more and more true over time, but you’ve definitely still got to lay the groundwork.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Fair enough! As I mentioned in my previous entry, I’m definitely questioning that premise. I hope that it becomes more and more true over time, but you’ve definitely still got to lay the groundwork.

  • Reply
    Mojo Bone
    January 25, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Kind of giving the lie to that blurb about great music promoting itself, aren’t we? But seriously, thanks for taking the time to share the journey, I wanted to let you know it’s appreciated. 😉

  • Reply
    kenny heggem
    January 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Wow…Brian.

    It is so neat to see, in list form, what you do in getting the word out about your passion.

    Much Respect.

    DJ Kenny

  • Reply
    kenny heggem
    January 31, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Wow…Brian.

    It is so neat to see, in list form, what you do in getting the word out about your passion.

    Much Respect.

    DJ Kenny

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