Friday, October 26, 2012

Tips on Selling Your Indie Record or Book

A big reason why I decided to publish Secret of the Songshell myself was that I had previous experience in indie publicity and marketing. When I lived in Hawaii, I was a part-owner and managing partner of Crash The Luau Records, a record label that I started up with my bandmates in Tone Deaf Teens. Crash The Luau started as a vehicle for us to put out our own CDs, but we ended up signing a couple of our friends' bands and putting their albums out as well.

"Drive" by 7 Degrees North (Crash The Luau Records)
So here's my quick and dirty tip list for DIY marketing:

1. Treat it as a business. Set up your record label or small press as a real company and treat it as such. For Crash The Luau Records, we formed a general partnership and had our own checking account and credit card and everything. I'm running Prism Valley Press as a sole proprietorship so it's not quite as fancy, but I still keep separate records for all my publishing-related expenses. Don't know anything about starting and running a business? See step #2.

2. Learn everything you can. When deciding on a major for college, I eschewed music or english and opted for business instead. My rationale was that I wanted to make a living with my art, and I knew that to do so, I would need to learn the business side of things. You don't have to go to that extreme, but with all the books and free advice resources out there, you can practically earn yourself an indie degree. If you don't like reading, seek out small labels or presses and offer them free help in exchange for on-the-job training.

3. Do something every day. Make it a goal to do at least one thing every day to promote your album, book, or whatever. Have a list of activities you can pick from so that you can choose something depending on your mood and schedule. Feeling social that day? Go out to a club and talk to the owner about booking your band there. Sick in bed? Write a blog entry about the last novel you read. Of course, if you have the time and energy, do more than one thing, just make sure to pace yourself so that you don't burn out. Which leads us to . . .

4. Don't get overwhelmed. It's not as hard as you think. I found that it helped to break the process down into the following sections:

     - Production (activities related to the actual creation of your album or book)
     - Promotion
       - Live (gigs, book signings, launch parties, etc.)
       - Print (newspapers, magazines)
       - Radio
       - TV
       - Internet (website, social media, blogs)
       - Other (flyers, etc.)
     - Distribution (how are you going to get your record or book into the hands of your fans/readers?)
     - Business/Misc. (registering your trade name, printing up business cards, etc.)

5. Explore as many opportunities as you can. There was a TV show called "Hot Hawaiian Nights" that featured bands and artists who played soft and mellow Hawaiian music. We sent them a Tone Deaf Teens press kit anyway. Turns out, the producer of the show was a fan of rock music (his favorite band was AC/DC) so he was actually excited and happy to book us on the show.

6. Think about baseball. Baseball players who fail 7 out of 10 times are doing great! Keep swinging and don't get discouraged.

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