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How To Sell More CDs
By Chris Standring

It seems that every new record I release has a new set of marketing considerations. Some things that previously worked now don't, and new opportunities are presented. The last CD I released "Love & Paragraphs" came out in 2008. My new CD "Blue Bolero" is now released (March 2nd 2010). Let's talk a little about what changes I have seen within these last two release periods.

I spent a good deal of money on retail marketing on the last go round. Buying in-store price and positioning. Listening stations at Borders etc. That will be the last time I waste any money on that nonsense. Borders has a terrible reputation for not delivering on their promises and in my case this was no different. Yet they took my money. I see no one in the Borders CD dept now. At all. Buying into a Borders or Barnes & Noble program is a complete and utter waste of money. And they will take your $$ I can tell you.

I spent money on several programs that simply could not report on how effective their program was, and getting an honest response was like pulling teeth. A manager friend said to me as I was deciding where to put my marketing dollars, "It's unquantifiable as to where the profits come from. You simply throw your money out there and hope it all adds up to something". Well, my new response is: "Nonsense!" Why? Because we are now living in an online world where each aspect of our marketing efforts ARE quantifiable. Cost per click, email blasts, google & Facebook ads. We can actually measure how effective they are and decide whether to do them again or not. I think the old school was such a scam 75% of the time because they knew they didn't have to report the facts. And the competition to get into those old retail programs was fierce.

So that was then. This new CD has been interesting setting it all up. My first plan of attack was to make sure I had an online aggregator to take care of every online shopping portal. Retail distribution has been a very low priority but as there are still some stores out there buying in, why wouldn't I distribute to them? So I am about to sign a new distribution deal for retail only. Most distribution companies would not do this without having digital distribution but I got lucky and have known this one company for a while and we are working it out. I will not be spending frivolous money on wasteful programs this time however, and if some insist in order to 'buy into' their store, I will most probably bow out. My current single is doing well at radio, my efforts in marketing this CD will be online, not off.

So what WILL I be focusing on with this release? Well one thing I have finally figured out, is a very effective web page that converts into sales. It is based on Radiohead and Trent Reznor's 'option' idea, where you present a series of products that visitors can purchase. Essentially giving a customer the potential to give you more money if they want to. The first button option would be free, the second perhaps just the CD, the third, perhaps the CD plus bonus tracks + signed photo etc. The options can go as high as you like but I do urge that you keep it all realistic and inticing to the visitor. You can see my sales page with my 6 option buttons here at

So, now I know I have a very effective web page, ostensibly a whole world dedicated to this new CD, so we now need to get dedicated traffic to it. And to do this I intend to target large external subscriber lists and buy ads in their newsletters with a seducing link pointing to my sales page. If they don't buy, the very least a good amount of folks will do is to download the single free, but they have to give me their email address to do that. Buying ads in 'targetted' subscriber lists is key.

The secret is to not only sell merch, but to grow your list so everytime a CD is released the potential for your direct sales is greater.

But I can't insist enough that your web sales page be so thoughtfully put together that it is unbelievably easy to seduce the visitor into either giving you an email address or preferably buying your product. Otherwise the traffic that you drive to your page is simply wasteful. If I go to a site and I have to hunt around for a 'buy' button or a listening station I am gone in seconds. Get it all laid out on one page. Spend more than enough time designing this page. Go the extra mile, this is where it will be worth your time.

Distributing the single with a video all over social networks sites is also a great way to get the word out and I have done that here with my 'Bossa Blue' single.

One other thing I am doing again that worked wonders on my last release is adding a little baseball card insert in each CD that offers extra bonus tracks. They simply go to a URL, enter their email address and download them. This is great in grabbing new fans that didn't buy from you personally. If they bought from a store, or say - you can now direct market to them.

And with that, we will see how this one does.

  Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R Online ( He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording career go to his personal website at

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