> I'm looking for ideas for my upcoming "CD Release Party"...
> Besides doing your thing on stage, and selling your new CD, what have
> you done to make it different than a regular gig?
If your fan-base is small, and you are concerned about draw, consider *NOT* doing a full set of your own material. INSTEAD, invite all your friends' bands to each *COVER* one of your songs. That's right -- Have somebody *ELSE* be the ones playing your CD material.
Also let them play one of their songs (one of yours, one of theirs) or a cover.
You then have all *THEIR* fans coming to your CD Release Party, and you can focus on Promotion instead of Rehearsal.
Do maybe one or two of your own songs -- The ones nobody else could do "right"
Ellen Rosner (http://ellenrosner.com) did this for her first CD Release Party and we had a blast. It was *AMAZING* what sort of interpretations of your material come out. Be sure to get bands with enough difference in styles and who are even *BETTER* musicians than you for a real success.
In fact, one of Ellen's guests ended up doing a song she hadn't recorded yet as his "second" song, and she ended up doing it *HIS* way instead from then on.
RULE NUMBER ONE:
Don't even *SCHEDULE* the damn thing until you have the 1000 CDs in your grubby little paws!!!
Scratches on the Master, Lost packages (UPS/FedEx/USPS all *suck*), duplication delays (If Garth Brooks needs 100,000 more copies of his latest CD in a HURRY, guess whose CD is *NOT* getting duplicated on time), crates of CDs stolen from the lobby of your apartment building, and just all sorts of horror stories about CD Release Parties with *NO* *CD* abound.
You've been to dozens of them, I've been to dozens of them, we've all been to dozens of them. Play it smart. GET the CD, *then* schedule the party.
PROMOTE YOUR CD INSTEAD:
If you have your CDs "in hand" send them out to PRESS/RADIO/TV/ETC for those two/three months in between their delivery and the party. Work hard those two/three months to get the Press to preview/review your CD as close to the actual CD Release Party as practical. The whole point is to have a massive on-slaught of Press, Airplay, and "Buzz" as close to the Release Date as possible.
This is a *TON* of work. Plan on working this full-time from the day your CD arrives at your door-step to a month AFTER the Party.
(Optional) Do *NOT* sell them until the party. You'll end up being "disappointed" by the low sales at the party itself since all your hard-core fans snagged one up over the course of the two months. Plus, it makes it more of a Big Deal if they have to wait and come to the party to get the CD.
Arrange for the party to be video-taped.
Arrange for the party to be recorded live to audio.
Arrange for a drink special, or even buy a couple kegs and have "Open Bar" the first hour. The bar can get kegs MUCH cheaper (not to mention easier) than you can, and if you convince them that it's going to get *MORE* bodies buying *MORE* drinks in the long run of the evening, it's a no-brainer for them.
Go all-out on making the party as FORMAL and IMPORTANT as you can. Tuxedoes and evening gowns for the band members are a Good Idea. If that's too "straight" for you, go for the funky Tuxedoes/Gowns/Whatever -- But make it as *BIG* as you can. You're only going to do this *ONCE* for that CD you've invested thousands of dollars to make.
Come up with a "Theme" for your Party, more than just the CD Release, and tied into the CD Title. The Locals (http://yvonnedoll.com) did this recently, and scored all sorts of Press and attention. They had a whole "Lunchbox" theme going (tied to their CD Title), and got other Indie artists to contribute CDs as a give-away in a "Lunchbox", including Guster.
The Locals also got local businesses and such-like to SPONSOR them -- By being SMART about what they asked for. You don't run to somebody and ask for $10,000. Ask for something so simple and easy for THEM that it's a no-brainer. One of their sponsors (http://chicagogigs.com) sprung for some on-line banner ads, a SMALL amount of cash, and Wallflowers (?) tickets as a door-prize. Build up your Sponsorship from the ground up. Once you line up Sponsor A (even if it's your mom's boutique or something) it's suddenly much more sponsor-worthy. Go after the low-hanging fruit first, and aim high. If the high ones don't work out, so what?
When all was said and done, with all the sponsors they had, and all the "Theme" stuff they had doing on, Press was all over that [bleep] Why? Because it WASN'T just "another CD Release Party" There's a CD Release Party every *WEEK* in Chicago, practically. Work your ass off to make yours press-worthy, special, different, no matter where you live, and it will pay off. Not in cash maybe, but in kudos and cred and Press and Quotes etc.© 2002 Richard Lynch, No Genre
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