Jason Calacanis opens up a great question for debate. If you pre-order a CD, does your support of an artist entitle you to grab it via bittorrent? If you're a working musician, this question offers an opportunity to serve your audience better, since you should know that they're already thinking about this. Here's the new reality for musicians planning a record release:
1. Your "street date" is no longer your release date. You may tell your retail partners that, say, September 12th is your street date. In reality, the moment a single copy leaves the mastering house, you may as well consider it "released." The incentive for folks is too great to keep your stuff quiet for long, so roll with it. Unhook yourself from the energy and the stress it takes to keep everything secret by building a pre-release marketing period into your plan.
2. Provide complimentary downloads when folks pre-order a disc from you. Save them the trouble and eliminate the debate. You'll provide extra incentive for your audience to support you directly (where you can make a better margin) and you'll give your core fans the tools they need to spread the word about you.
3. Communicate to your fans why a strong sales spike can help you. Sadly, this business still cares about "tournament play," and a strong opening sales week is still important if you're trying to gain the support of A&R representatives, talent buyers, and retail managers. Let your inner circle of fans know why you want them to buy the disc on a certain day/week and what such numbers will do for you. (Los Lonely Boys and their street team are exceptional at this kind of communication.)
4. Think about your CD Release party as a rolling festival and not a one-time event. If you're scheduling just one CD release party, you're leaving a lot of fans out in the cold. Have you noticed, lately, that Hollywood stars fly around to five or six different countries for new film premiere parties? Your events should be the same -- roll out to each one of your zones and stage a huge event that's hyperlocal and inclusive.
5. Make it easy for fans to buy blocks of CDs. Instead of just letting your fans rip copies of your disc to send to their friends, sell blocks of discs wholesale. (1 for $10 or 5 for $25!) Again, removing the reasons that they might have to use Bittorrent in the first place can help your CD sell more copies.
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