CD sales

The many ways to ask for the sale

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When offering your music – or any of your goods – online, how you ask for merch or CD sales can impact how effective your offer is.

Excerpted from Music 4.0: A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age (Hal Leonard Books). Reprinted with permission.
online CD sales tips
Sales of as few as 40,000 units can now get you a No. 1 position on the Billboard charts. Not long ago, a No. 1 slot on the album charts would’ve had at least an additional zero on the end. The contraction and the death of the major record retail chains, along with the demise of half of the independent music stores, have left a gap in music retail.

That being said, there’s still a network of about 2,500 independent music stores to service a release. Companies like CD Baby make CDs available to most of the remaining brick-and-mortar retail stores and distributors, as well as directly to your end customer.

It’s one thing if you’re seeking CD sales through one of the many online distributors, since their prices are set, as are their sales methods. It’s another thing entirely if you’re trying to sell your music on your website. There, the way you ask for the sale directly affects how many sales you’ll actually make.

Amp Music Marketing ran a study regarding “call to action” buy buttons where they decided to test a number of buttons to see which was most effective when it came to selling music. The choices were:

  • “Get The Music”
  • “Download The Music”
  • “Buy The Music”

It turns out that the most effective was the most direct, “Buy The Music” (album, CD, etc.), while “Get The Music” was the least. It seems that consumers relate “Get The Music” to a bait and switch in which they’re lured into clicking, only to find that there’s something additionally asked of them.

When it comes to sales, sometimes the very best technique is the most direct. Ask plainly for the sale. If your fan or customer really wants to buy from you, you’re doing him or her a favor by making the process streamlined and easy. If your fan or customer is unsure, you’re not helping the cause by being ambiguous.

And another thing. Keep the choices to a maximum of three (two works best). If given too many choices, the customer is likely to throw his or her hands up in the air in frustration and not buy anything!

Here are ten sales tips to always keep in mind:

1. Ask for the purchase. Never forget that even though you’re selling yourself, you’re still in sales.

2. Sell a package. With a ticket you get a CD, with a CD you get a T-shirt, with a T-shirt you get a ticket. The idea is to make each purchase something with added value.

3. Sell merchandise at as an affordable price as possible. Until you’re a star, you should be more concerned about visibility and branding than revenue. If you want to spread the word, price it cheaper.

4. There are other things to sell besides CDs and T-shirts. Hats, a song book, a tour picture book, beach towels – get creative, but choose well. Too many choices may actually reduce sales as a result of buyer confusion. Go to to get affordable custom t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and promo items for your merch table with free ground shipping on every order.

5. Begin promoting as soon as possible. That allows time for the viral buzz (a.k.a. free promotion) to build and ensures that you’ll get a larger share of your fan’s discretionary spending.

6. Capture the name, email address, and zip code from anyone who makes a purchase, particularly ticket buyers.

7. Always give your customers more than they expect. By giving them something for free that they did not expect, you keep them coming back for more.

8. Give it away and sell it at the same time. Not long ago, you used to give away a free track to sell other merchandise such as the album. Now if you give away a track, that track will help you to sell more.

9. The best items to sell are the ones that are the scarcest. Autographed items, special boxed sets, limited-edition vinyl that’s numbered—all these items are more valuable because of their scar- city. If the items are abundant, price them cheaper. If the items are scarce, don’t be afraid to price them higher.

10. Sell your brand. You, the artist, are your own brand. Remember that everything you do sells that brand, even if it doesn’t result in a sale. Just the fact that people are paying attention can result in a sale and more revenue down the road.

Combining his music and recording experience with an accessible writing style, Bobby Owsinski has become one of the best selling authors in the music recording industry with 22 books that are now staples in audio recording, music, and music business programs in colleges around the world. Read Bobby’s blog:

The 90-Day Album Release Planner

Read More
The New Release Schedule
Creative music product pricing – eight strategies that paid off
How to measure success (with key performance indicators)
11 Ways to Increase Your Sales on CD Baby
Planning your album: your CD release (and post-release)

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