A new band needs to get the word out about their first album. It’s vital that when they have colorful world music, they let the world know about it before the bloom is off the rose. New releases do not stay ‘new’ for long, so grassroots promotion, digital distribution and CDs to hand out (or sell) at local gigs combine to create a growing recognition and develop a fan base.
Here are a few thoughts about production, distribution, and affordable promotions for new bands.
There are many options for CD printing and packaging. Simple slide-out wallets or basic sleeves for a CD, or a DVD with the music and a video in one take up little room on a shelf. Supplying a box of 1,000 CD units in these kinds of sleeves are more transportable than with a proper jewel case and artist insert because of the slimmer profile. Also, for releases that are 3-4 tracks, often these sleeves or wallets are a better fit. For full albums, then a jewel case with inserts, or even Digipacks have their place.
Also, for artists that aren’t ready to pay for a 1,000-disc run, then short runs of 100 units is often possible with production facilities at a higher cost per unit. This is always a good place to start for bands that wish to sell their CDs at the venue and only want to carry a few of them to each gig.
With organized distribution, you’re trying to arrange for major online retailers like Amazon.com and Target.com, along with music discount warehouses selling by mail, to take the CD into stock. With a distribution deal, the distributor has business connections that a new band just won’t have. They have a business brand to bank off while the band name is virtually unknown at that stage. This can be useful when a band wants to get distribution outside of their home town or city and isn’t sure how they can do so without a record label deal or a brand name people already know.
Grassroots promotion comes in many forms. Bands are finding that a website is a useful way to provide short audio clips from their tracks, exclusive limited-edition tracks, and to sell music direct to visitors. Other music streaming services like Apple Music, SoundCloud, Deezer and many other apps, along with ones affiliated or owned by the big record labels, provides a way for bands to get distribution online. Each piece of digital distribution can be supported by a Twitter account, YouTube video interviews, live exclusive tracks on Instagram, and other ways to build up followers and a fan base.
With skilled marketing, unknown bands can get name recognition inside of a year and get offered a record deal, if they wish to take it. This applies to bands that may have been rejected by several record labels previously when they were unheard of. By marketing effectively and distributing their music themselves, they’ve proven the market for their music, which convinces the record label to sign them and put their own money and marketing muscle behind them.