I’m almost definitely not “the” authority on selling, especially since I consider myself a right brained artistic type, but it’s a part of life that we all undertake at one point or another in our quest for success.
Selling is unavoidable, yet it proves to be the one reason that so many artists wind up with boxes of our own CD’s laying around the apartment collecting dust, waiting to be distributed.
There is the possibility that a record executive will “discover” you and you’ll be on your way to fame and fortune but those days are increasingly coming to and end. The good news is: “Those days are increasingly coming to an end”. Meaning: It is now the day of the underdog. We as musicians have the tools to reach the masses, advertise, promote, create and sell our art by ourselves! All we have to do is get up off our ass – get to work and do it!
The most difficult part in all this is that we unfortunately face a sea of rejection when putting our heart and soul out there in the world. As artists, rejection is not usually something easily dealt with, particularly since being rejected is the reason that we became artists in the first place!
My first words of wisdom are to make the most fun out of it that you can. Embrace the fact that if you don’t go sell your shit, no one else will. That’s a fact Jack. Do a little every day. Make one new contact per week, or if you are really motivated, per day. Even if it’s a single call to someone new in a record store, magazine, music store, photography class, film school – say hi and send them a copy of your CD.
Disassociate yourself with yourself. Realize that your music is not you. It is a representation of how you felt artistically at the time, but it’s not you. It’s a product. A product that you must sell if you ever want to make any money in this business. Some people won’t like it. Get over it. It’s ok that some people won’t like it. Some people didn’t like the Beatles, Stones, Van Halen, Mozart, Beethoven, Picasso, Britney Spears – (Aw, who couldn’t love Britney . . .)
I like to bring up a point up when working with artists in the studio. I ask them, “Would you listen to this in your free time if you were not the one who wrote it? Would you put this on in your car? While you ate dinner?” It’s hard to be objective with your own creations but we must in order to see the forest through the trees.
The same applies to selling your music. Would you buy this CD? Does the cover of your CD speak to your genre’s audience? Does your music “fit in” to a particular genre? I ask this because it’s much easier to target potential customers if you know who they are and where they hang out. (I don’t mean Starbucks).
There are so many ways to meet people on the internet, it’s a shame many choose to only hang around My Space. (although it’s still cool to meet people there). There are SO many other musicians on My Space it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle (unless you have extra cash to invest in advertising).
Post on forums, news groups, chat rooms. Search out other bands in your area and make friends. Meet people! This is one of the main reasons that I put up this site. People want to hang out with people that know other people! If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in advertising, go to your next best asset. Friends!
Believe it or not, other people know more than you do. This is a great secret that really successful people realize. Successful people surround themselves with people that know more about specific areas than they do. A great business has people who specialize in certain departments. Accounting, payroll, art, advertising, publicity, marketing. As a musician, you already have enough to keep you occupied. Find friends that can help. Find someone who is a Photoshop expert. Someone else who is good at web based solutions, another who’s a great cook and can bring over some food!
The more friends you have, the more potential customers you have. Plus, you also have all of their friends etc. It is a lot of hard work. Guaranteed! But what has ever come your way – of any real value – that was not hard work?
I think the best way for musicians to sell themselves is through performance. If you’ve got the goods, people will buy them! Play wherever and as often as you can.
If you build it, they will come.