What About Free CDs?
from the not-sure-that-scales... dept
Don Bartlett, a manager for some musicians, has written in to point out a letter that he wrote to Bob Lefsetz outlining the successful strategy he's had in promoting one of his acts and asked for the thoughts of folks around here:
We decided to put an offer up on Joe's website and MySpace. We told any fan that if they knew anyone who might be interested in Joe's music that they could send us an email and we send them as many copies of a two-song sampler CD as they wanted. Free. We even cover the postage. To keep costs down, we invested in a cd publishing system that burns and prints them robotically. Each CD has two songs, contact info, MySpace, and a reminder that the full cd was at iTunes. If someone lived near a place where a show was scheduled, we printed that show info on there as well. People requested as few as 2 and as many as 50. We sent all of them. Requests continued to pour in, and the more we sent out the faster the new requests came in. We're at the point now where we get about 15 a day. Joe writes a thank you in each and every one. And almost instantly, sales took off. Attendance jumped noticeably and MySpace/website action began a steady upward arc. More importantly, we built an incredible database of his most hardcore fans. And after receiving a mailbox full of cds for free, they are willing to do anything to help forward the cause. And it is the ultimate in target marketing.... you have people who already like your music passing it on to their friends, whose tastes they presumably know.The idea is definitely a bit different, but obviously can and does work on a small scale. The problem is that it wouldn't scale to a really large number very easily. It's also somewhat costly. Even if they've decreased the production costs, there are still costs in terms of resources, time and postage for every free CD they send out. It's good that it's allowed them to more closely connect with fans (and turn them into true fan promoters), but it seems risky to spend so much on promotions. So, while it can work on a small scale, and help a musician stand out as being especially fan friendly, it seems like it could be pretty costly if you tried to scale it up.