Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Sunday
Apr152007

How should/shouldn't I be marketing my CDs?

Grizelda has a new CD to sell, a compilation of filk songs she's written over the years. She's pretty darned proud of it. Gomer already has several commercial CDs for sale, and is new to the filk community. Both Grizelda and Gomer are wondering how they should or shouldn't be marketing their products.

On the one hand, it's cool that Grizelda's hard work has paid off and she'd like everyone to know (and buy!) her new CD. On the other hand, the majority of the filk community is there to share and enjoy their music with each other, and heavy-handed sales pitches may turn them off Grizelda and her music. Gomer is especially worried that people might think he only joined the filk community so he could sell more CDs.

SUGGESTIONS FROM THE FILK COMMUNITY:

From redaxe on LJ:

"I'd say this, to both: speak with the dealer(s) at the con(s) you are at, and ask if they might be interested in carrying your CD. Each has a different case to make as to why; different dealers may or may not be interested, and they'll all have their own usual terms. Find out what those are, and, if you can reach a deal, great!

For Grizelda, I would say definitely mention the CD at every event you're at. Especially mention it to all the people whom you know for years in filking; the folks who request your songs, for example, are likely to want your CD. (Some may not be able to afford it at present; be prepared for that.) Put the news about your CD on your website, blog/LiveJournal, in rec.music.filk, and wherever else the folks you already know are likely to be.

For Gomer, I would say tread more lightly. Like Grizelda, you can and should mention your work on a website or blog, if you have one. But although your CD is probably technically and musically excellent, your concern about acceptance in the filk community has some merit. Spend time with filkers; sing for and with them; go to cons, including filk cons, and mention your CD in passing, or if asked. ("I saw your CD at the dealer's table -- is it filk?") Once you've established that you are NOT just passing through, then sure, post announcements in rec.music.filk. and other places that filkers, per se, are likely to see them.

In neither case would I suggest doing a sales spiel (unless it's the sort of thing that's in character for the person as known; especially for a parodist, it's possible to put together a comedic routine); provide the information and let your reputation in the community sell the disc."

From tigertoy on LJ:

"I'd consider three different situations where G might talk about their CD: At their concert If either G has a concert at the con, they're entitled to assume that people are interested in their music, so an unsolicited mentioned that CDs are available is appropriate, and maybe a hint or two during the set. (If a song is well received, for example, mention that it's on the CD.) G does need to avoid turning their set into an infomercial, though. Saying it a couple of times will get the message to those who want it, and trying to force it on the rest will quickly become a turn off.

In open filk Gomer should definitely not say anything unless he's asked. Even Grizelda should not make an unsolicited mention of her new CD, unless she can honestly say that several people who have asked her if she has a CD in the past when she didn't are now in the room. If someone does ask "Is that song on an album?" or "Do you have an album out?" of course either G should take advantage of the opportunity.

In conversation Neither G should be trying to aggressively push their albums into conversation, especially with someone they don't know well. If Grizelda knows someone well enough that the actual making of the album is a reasonable topic, as opposed to just that it exists, that's fine.

The convention is about personal interaction and live music, not about selling things, and it only takes a little bit of commercialism to become crass."

From Blake Hodgetts:

There's nothing wrong with tastefully announcing a new CD in online filk communities such as rec.music.filk, or the "filk" and "filkhaven" communities on LiveJournal, but it would be seen as bad form to do so repeatedly or with too much of a commercial slant. Such announcements are more likely to be met with enthusiasm if the artist is already a recognized member of the filk community, however, so this points up the importance of actually being an active filker (attending cons and filk circles) if you want to gain this sort of acceptance. Gomer's concern is well-placed in this regard. You can't just pretend to be a member of the community, as filkers know whom they know and can be quite biting towards those they don't.

Another important thing to do is to get to know the established filk dealers; they'll do a certain amount of publicity for you in the course of their own business. The major filk dealers in the US are:

Random Factors
filk.com/DAG productions
Southern Fried Filk
Dodeka Records (Bill & Gretchen Roper)
Juanita Coulson

Note that filk.com also runs an online filk radio station; getting airplay on filk radio is a great way to get publicity."

Reader Comments (1)

As for Blake's filk dealer list: for UK add Minstrel's Filklore Store (http://filklore.co.uk/) and for continental Europe http://filkshop.com/

As for after-con-sales and -contacts it will help if both are easy to find on the internet and can be contacted via there.

April 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVolker

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