Taking the Dead’s way-ahead-of-the-curve business philosophy one step further, I’m now recommending that the best way to get gigs –and fans — is to give as many away as you possibly can, as quickly as you can.
Except for a few breathing the rare air of celebrity (a fleeting thing, anyway), nobody is making money selling CDs in the real on-the-road world. Let’s do the math for a typical band, as if there were such a thing.
Let’s say you’ve got a four-piece band that makes $1000 on a good weekend gig, and you’ve got a new platter. Let’s expect a modest crowd of 100, and let’s sell 10% a CD for $10 (you may get more, but it’s a zero-sum game, the more you charge, the fewer you sell). So you gross $100 on your CDs, get 10 into the world.
You won’t get rich from the sales; it’s nice frosting on the gig-cake, but not much more. So WHAT IF your game plan instead was to give away 500 as step one in your promo plan, with the goal to get gigs. You’re thinking, send to 500 clubs? No, they are barraged with submissions, often, the only way to rise from the mire is from an outside push. This means the booker hears about your CD from a “3rd party”.
“I just got so-an-so’s new platter, wow, you should get ’em on the calendar.” Comments from trusted friends mean more than you can imagine. Now for the ciphering: Maybe you get a gig indirectly from 1% of your promos, that’s 5 jobs, gross $5000 (plus you sell 50 CDs on the gigs)- and you should do better than that.
So forget the business cards and fancy promo packs- just put your best foot forward, start giving away as many CDs as you can.
Make sure every friend you have gets one — you just can’t beat the gift of music, especially if you are trying to make a living at it..