How do I cheaply promote a compilation CD?
November 9, 2006 7:05 AM   Subscribe

How can I promote a small CD release on the extremely cheap?

For those playing along at home, yes, I'm talking about meficomp.

Initial disclaimer: I know nothing, nothing, about promotion. It is not my forte. It is possibly my antiforte, even.

This CD isn't a for-profit release, which puts me in a different boat than if I were trying to, say, self-release my own album. Profits from the project are going to charity, so I'm disinclined to cut deeply into that by spending any significant money on promotion. At the same time, selling all 1000 units, less a bit of promotional spending, will raise more money for the charity than selling 200 units and sitting on the rest.

Selling all the units would also be much more exciting for the two dozen musicians/bands involved.

And it's a compilation album—the notable feature is not a specific genre or or sound, but the excellent variety of sounds and artists and the specific compilation hook (in this case, the Metafilterness).

So: what sort of things can I do to promote this release on the cheap? To whom? How? When? Educate me.
posted by cortex to Media & Arts (19 answers total)
Response by poster: And to clarify something:

Profits from the project are going to charity, so I'm disinclined to cut deeply into that by spending any significant money on promotion.

That is, I'm disinclined to spend money that isn't very likely to be recouped in added sales. I'm interested in inexpensive/free promotion ideas partly because there's reduced financial risk involved.
posted by cortex at 7:07 AM on November 9, 2006

start a myspace page. start friending people there.
do not give the password to the account to the people in MetaTalk.
posted by carsonb at 7:09 AM on November 9, 2006

I feel like I'm stating the obvious here, but:

1) Projects
2) MeFi ad

Both appeal to the most likely audience for this CD: MeFi members. #2 isn't free, but even if you lose money, you'd be losing it to MetaFilter, and would that really be so bad?
posted by scottreynen at 7:11 AM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: scottreynen: natch. I'm looking outside of the assumed captive audience of Metafilter, mostly. :)
posted by cortex at 7:13 AM on November 9, 2006

I said this rudely in MeTa once because I was in the process (thank god that experiment is over) of giving up coffee, but I think that there are a lot of Metafilter members who have mp3 blogs. They are these things the kids have these days where they play music over the computer or something. I am not sure exactly how it works. However, perhaps you could recruit them nicely to add samples from the MefiComp onto these mp3 blogs with links to where to buy it from. Perhaps a MeTa post could accomplish this. Also, the sample should probably be my song so that people will both want to buy the album and have sex with me.
posted by ND¢ at 7:35 AM on November 9, 2006

Here was when I last suggested this in a not very nice manner. It was not my proudest moment. I appreciated people ignoring me.
posted by ND¢ at 7:40 AM on November 9, 2006

I'm looking outside of the assumed captive audience of Metafilter, mostly.

I don't see why anyone outside of mefi would be interested...It's a hard sell, at the very least. Why not try to sell the 1000 copies to metafilter members?
posted by TonyRobots at 7:40 AM on November 9, 2006

Have you considered getting a bar to host your band?

If you get the band in, call it a CD release party, invited the local alt press and the newspaper's reviewer, a few local DJ's and some other bands to support you.

Find a bar that would do this at no cost (you supply the drinkers) and get the word out, you can guarantee yourself some radio airplay, which is just the point of this whole venture anyway.
posted by parmanparman at 7:47 AM on November 9, 2006

Radio is pretty good for free promotions, but I would assume this is because there are no paid buyers ;) Still it might help direct people to your website or myspace page or wherever you are hosting your shopping cart.

You might want to spam reddit and digg and all of those sites. Even though you will not make the front page I'm sure somebody's going to click on it.
posted by shownomercy at 7:49 AM on November 9, 2006

I don't see why anyone outside of mefi would be interested...

Well, if a family can make money singing about other people's slide shows...
posted by davehat at 8:10 AM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: I don't see why anyone outside of mefi would be interested...

Well, it depends on what you mean. The album isn't about Metafilter, it's a compilation of mefites who happen to be really good musicians. So in that sense, it doesn't have any more inherent interest to the outside world than any other Various Artists album, or any other album by unknowns.

On the other hand, it's not a chintzy craft-club project—it's a genuinely good album. So the question isn't "how can I trick non-mefites into buying our dioramas"; it's "how can I promote this album".
posted by cortex at 8:33 AM on November 9, 2006

What is the license on the music? It seems like I'm always hearing about some new repository for Creative Commons licensed media. Some people are (justifiably) excited about CC and seek it out. Some people evangelize on behalf of CC by promoting CC licensed music. I can't begin to remember all the CC music I've encountered on Boing Boing, for instance.

How many of the contributors also promote their own music? I'm sure they'd all be happy to promote the MefiComp CD but encourage them to promote it as effectively as possible. Is someone involved in the project a talented graphic designer? Have someone knock out a pretty advertisement.

Post the graphic on MeTa and I think you'll have more success soliciting promotional space on our blogs. Many of us will mean to blog about it but a pretty graphic will be a necessary jump start for some.

And, while you're at it, stop hiding the album art. It should be more prominently displayed on the MeFiComp website. Good album art is as much a part of the product as the music to many people.
posted by stuart_s at 9:08 AM on November 9, 2006

CDBaby will handle worldwide distribution and get it onto the various online download services (which is where the money is), and it's only $35 to set up. That said, they really don't do much in the way of promotion, and their payment scheme for physical CDs is a ripoff.

Mp3 blogs seem like a good way to go.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:59 AM on November 9, 2006

Keep in mind that you have an advantage here in that the story of how the CD came together is unique. Much more interesting than "Band Releases CD, Yawn." That can help you get press coverage.

You might want to check out services like PRWeb for issuing press releases. I've had varied success with them.

It's a long shot, but try to include tech 'zines: Wired, Make, etc. They're probably all familiar with MeFi so it's not like the project will be totally unfamiliar to them. See if mathowie will give you a quote you can use in the release.

I agree that you should use tools like Digg and Reddit; most people who'd recognize MeFi would probably know those tools. I'm also sure this is something sites like BoingBoing would pick up.

It's a tough row to hoe. After releasing a few CDs of my own (and preparing yet another), I've discovered that music al releases themselves just aren't that interesting from a promo/PR point of view. The story is the key.
posted by scottandrew at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2006

ND¢, I already bought the CD, how do I go about getting the sex?

Seriously, though. MP3 blogs sounds the way the go. It will appeal to internet-geeks who are not Mefites just because of the hook (Teh Power of teh Interwebs).
posted by arcticwoman at 2:44 PM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: A good collection of notions, everybody. Agreed that mp3 blogs (and other blogs in general) would be a good way to get the word out.

I think I'll try to work with my various contributors, non-meficomp chatterboxes and para-mefi blog contacts to generate a bit of coordinated groundswell. I'll get some visible "this is how you can help spread the word" material up on the official site as well.

I've touched base with Matt over the last few months and will continue to talk to work with him re: the on-site promotion for this; we've got something of a plan for that already, and it may turn out that any other concerns are unnecessary padding if mefites arrive in frightening numbers.
posted by cortex at 3:01 PM on November 9, 2006

Radioio (or other internet radio stations, for that matter) often plays eclectic music. Maybe they would be interested in giving this a whirl.
posted by dhruva at 4:23 PM on November 9, 2006

Maybe with Matt's Metafilter gifting program, he can make another option - $15 gets your loved one a membership AND a CD? Something like that.
posted by visual mechanic at 5:24 PM on November 9, 2006

I don't know if this has been suggested elsewhere and although it isn't exactly directly promoting the CD, you might consider submitting the album to iTunes as a way to make some more cash and possibly garner some more interest.
posted by chococat at 2:59 PM on November 14, 2006

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