Because I can.
January 4, 2008 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I am a geek, not a businessman. Help me sell my 'albums.'

I thought to myself, "I'm how old? And I haven't put out a CD? That's not right." So I put out two.

The only twist is, it's not music - it's stories. People seem to like my stories, so why not? I've always been a big fan of oral history - StoryCorps, Speakeasy DC, my own friends' lives, etc. - so I simply read off prepared (non-fiction) stories in a proper recording studio.

Searching for a stolen kidney, getting mugged in a Turkish cemetery, living in trailers with crazy people, trawling for mesozooplankton in the Pacific, having an awesome transgender father, etc. Twenty stories total, ten per CD - Volumes 1 and 2. I think everyone can and should do it, actually.

I've read though this. But I'm starting cold: no MySpace, no cover art, and a fanbase that consists of enthusiastic friends and family. I'm not a friggin' poet, I'm not a performer with shows, I'm just an occasionally reckless nerd who likes decent stories.

Does CD Baby take 'spoken word?' Can I sell mp3s one at a time, and where? Is MySpace really worth the time - I shudder at the prospect of sitting in front of a computer, rushing to make on-line friends. Should I just wander around with a cardboard sign that reads, 'Stories for Sale'? What's the best route?
posted by laughinglikemad to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe you should consider signing up for PRX and shilling your stuff to public radio.

CDBaby does indeed do spoken word. They'll also get your stuff out to various and sundry other mp3 sites, which is handy for Google-fu purposes.
posted by mykescipark at 12:56 PM on January 4, 2008

i have no idea how to help you, really, but please follow up in this thread because i'd love to hear your stories - and i'd purchase an album.
posted by gursky at 12:56 PM on January 4, 2008

What follows will only work after you have a place to sell them... Which you could easily do with paypal and a website.

Sit down and think of places you've heard about cool things, like you favorite bloggers, your favorite magazine writers, newspaper columnists, etc. Now, send them a letter to each of them explaining why you think they'd like your stories and send the letter and CD to each of them. Ideally, some of them will talk or write about your CD, after all people talking about you is far more effective than talking about yourself.
posted by drezdn at 1:04 PM on January 4, 2008

Why not go to Speakeasy DC and sell them after the open mic? Also, if you email me I might be able to hook you up with the woman who runs Speakeasy, who's a friend of mine. She might have some suggestions.
posted by OmieWise at 1:16 PM on January 4, 2008

Response by poster: mykescipark: How does one shill to radio, exactly? I have considered voicework, if only because people have told me they love my voice. One job thought I was Polish for six months, half of California thinks I'm South African, and genuine southerners have pegged me for a black Cajun. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing to these poor peoples' ears.

gursky: Hell, they're yours. I should also point out that, as bare-bones as this is, I'd be happy with a fiver per CD. I once considered asking for 'an hour's wage,' but only because I might eventually sell one to a heart surgeon.

drezdn: I did very much intend to pester Wil Wheaton and XKCD, as a matter of fact. But thank you heaps for the epigram - that's a keeper.
posted by laughinglikemad at 1:18 PM on January 4, 2008

Yow -- just a tip: don't go with the hour's wage thing. I'm not wealthy, and I've never paid anywhere near my hourly wage for a CD. ;) And I won't, not even for yours.

I hate MySpace with a passion, but it might be worth your time, because apparently a bazillion people do use it. It seems to have credibility with recording types. If you have any friends/family/acquaintances on it, add them as friends, and then you'll get more.

As drezdn said, set up a PayPal account to sell CDs. And/or do CDBaby -- I don't know anything about that, though.

I wish I knew how to sell mp3's one at a time, but I don't. That would be a good thing for you to offer, so people can hear a sample. But actually, you can set up your MySpace page to play a sample for free.
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:07 PM on January 4, 2008

Response by poster: Luckily, I'll probably stick to $5-7/each. Sometimes I forget that some people make over $12/hr. But a man can dream.

MySpace creeps me out, but it's such a fixture. I may one day have to swallow that bitter, bitter pill.

PayPal account at the ready. Thanks for your input thus far, folks.
posted by laughinglikemad at 2:39 PM on January 4, 2008

If you're interested in telling your stories in person, find out if there's a stroytelling guild near you and get in touch with them. They'll be able to help you find gigs, and a lot of storytellers sell CDs at their events.

This may be a more time-intensive process than you're looking for, though.
posted by MsMolly at 3:12 PM on January 4, 2008

My label put out a Pagan storytelling CD by Steven Posch. Our label group also works with Kevin Kling. Kevin sells a lot of CDs based on his Public Radio airplay; in fact many of the stories on his discs were originally recorded for NPR.

PayPal, yes. MySpace, yes. CDBaby, yes.
Also make a video of yourself telling a story --> YouTube.

drezdn is 100% correct -- people talking about you is far more effective than you talking about yourself. Towards that end, if you're interested in packaging these CDs (which I recommend before you send anything out for review -- it's important that you look professional), email me via the profile.
posted by omnidrew at 5:38 PM on January 4, 2008

Here are a few links to info about pitching to some CBC programs, to get you started. They eat this kind of stuff up.

Definitely Not the Opera
posted by loiseau at 6:19 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

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