Tips For Throwing a CD Release Party
May 9, 2013
Article comes courtesy of Hypebot and is by Solveig Whittle. Click HERE for the original
Stevie and I held our CD release party at an old Baptist church on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It’s a beautiful space with art deco stained glass windows and the original pews and woodwork. Just to be clear, though, you don’t have to have an old Baptist church for your CD release party. That was just the icing on the cake, the trimming on the tree. The really important stuff has nothing to do with that.
Here are a few of the important things I learned from my CD release party:
Make It Bigger. Don’t pass up an opportunity to combine things to make your event bigger.
When I realized that my AFP House Party coincided nicely with the wrap up of our Superwoman CD project, I decided to combine them. Since I was planning to throw a party for my family, friends and fans anyway, I thought – wait, why not make it a bigger event? I also had discovered this amazing performance space which had never been christened (excuse the pun, it’s an old Baptist church) with a live audience. It seemed the perfect storm of opportunity.
Set A Date. Having a concrete event date, making the plans and getting it all together motivated me to get the songs finished, mastered, and duplicated. It was a short run – and may be the only set of physical CDs I ever press for this album, but I had to create artwork for the label, set the song order, and call it done. See, I tend to be a perfectionist, and calling it done was a big step for me. Having an event helped me get over that hurdle.
Bring In Other Artists. Stevie and I knew we couldn’t exactly translate the songs on the CD to a live band experience. It’s a studio album, with a fair amount of “production value,” as Stevie, the Phil Spector of the Northwest, likes to call it. (Stevie asked me to clarify that he is the young Phil Spector, not the old crazy one who wears wigs and kills people). We adapted a selection of the songs from the CD, that turned out to be a perfect combination. We ended up with incredible new semi-acoustic versions of those songs, in particular, one called Zombie Lover.
Bringing fans together from different but similar acts can work out really nicely, and the audience appreciates the diversity and the additional entertainment value they are getting.
Hire Professionals. We videotaped and audio recorded both rehearsals as well as the performance. I am as excited about the content we produced from the concert, editing and releasing it, as I am about the original CD. There is something about a live performance that is electric. I have some fans who are not in Seattle, and so this is also a chance for them to experience the party even though they weren’t there. On a practical note, I made sure everyone who entered the venue was aware that we were photographing, videotaping and recording the event, and offered to accommodate anyone who didn’t wish to be recorded.
Think Outside The Box. Perhaps a friend has an amazing house, back yard, barn, warehouse space, or community clubhouse. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Of course, using an easily accessible location is important, and you may have a favorite commercial venue that works perfectly for you and your band, but sometimes it’s good to think about it as a “destination event.” This is a special event, like a wedding. This is for you and your fans, and they should be willing to come somewhere a little new, a little mysterious, and a little bit more exotic just to hear you.
Recruit Help. I had an amazing team of 15 people who helped produce this event, from my daughter who baked desserts, to a fantastic mixologist/bartender and photographer.
Charge And Give Away Your CD. This is important. While I didn’t recoup all of my expenses for the event, it helped that I pressed CDs and gave away one to each ticket-holder. $20 is a nice round number, and no one had any problem paying for the event and CD combination, I also had drinks and dessert included. Don’t expect to make a lot of money from an event like this. I spent money, but it was so worth it to me. This is an opportunity for you to pre-sell your CD, and you can defray your expenses. Only you know how much you think your fans will reasonably pay.
Use Event Software. I used splashthat.com to set up my event in advance and sell tickets, which really helped because I had a nicely designed website with e-commerce and email list management system all built in. You could as easily use Eventbrite or Brown Paper Bag Tickets or even Evite – but it helps to use some software to help manage things. Sure, they will likely take a percentage, but being able to sell tickets in advance, email and manage a list, and seamlessly allow people to use credit cards makes things so much easier.
All I had to do was forward a URL, and people could sign up, and I could integrate it with my social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, email). SplashThat also allowed me to have discount codes for special people (volunteers, press, VIPs), and still have them register so I could get their email addresses and a headcount for the catering.
Move Them. We practiced. We did a dress rehearsal. We messed with the lighting and did test recordings of the audio and video. The result was that when we finally went up on stage to perform, there was nothing I needed to think about except my performance. Everything was exactly how I wanted it to be, and I could get lost in the moment, connect with the audience, and deliver the performance I wanted to deliver.
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