From efM fearless leader Chris Frank, on the road...
My band, the Red Clay Ramblers performed at LEAF, a mighty-fine festival in Black Mountain, NC, earlier this summer, and I want to pass on to you what I gleaned from the weekend, marketing-wise, if you are interested.
They had a little CD store at the fest, the common mode at most such gatherings. Performers don't sell off the stages, you send folks to the store. The one at LEAF is called "TuneTown"; they have a modest selection of CDs from artists not at the fest in addition to festival artist wares. The store was run by one Michael Ginsburg, who has a distribution company out of Seymour, TN.
Michael is a really nice guy, and we got to talking about how hard it was to make an impression with all the various modern marketing avenues that people are exposed to, especially with an extreme "niche" like our own. People are bombarded by requests for their attention, from all sides and around the clock. He postulated that you practically have to slap people in the face to get their attention -- and that keeping that attention was next to impossible.
Wandering about the fest, I heard one artist reaching out to fans during his concert, "stop by my website, be my friend on Facebook, follow my tweets, etc." as my ears glazed over and my fly-length attention span moved on to other thoughts. He'd lost me. Not much of an impression....
Obviously the live performance will always be your best opportunity to make a real fan out of a casual listener. But you'll be soon forgotten if they don't go home with your music. I'll assume you aren't in heavy rotation on the radio -- you need to get your CD in the hands of your fans.
Back to the store- where they were charging $17 for CDs. We've been selling ours for $10, on the premise that lower prices lead to more units sold, pretty much a proven marketing strategy, but we couldn't undercut every other artist selling at the fest. Arrrrgh, I muttered- this was a great opportunity to spread the music, thousands of people, one store, and we, along with every other act at the festival, were shooting ourselves in the foot.
You don't have to give it away -- although you might be better off giving away a thousand than selling a hundred -- but you have to MOVE THE PRODUCT or it's completely worthless. If your CDs are in a box in your van or under your bed, they do you no good. Take my advice, lower your price and raise your sales.