Strategy #1: Create a Newsworthy Event
The purpose of your CD Release Party is to celebrate your new release and have fun. Right?
A fun evening with your friends is a great way to celebrate all your hard work through the recording and manufacturing process. But, it is not the reason you should have a new release party.
New release parties are not designed to sell CD’s. If your party is a success, your band probably will not sell many new CD’s or downloads directly to fans at the party. Most likely, the band will sell a few new releases, some older music, and quite a few t-shirts and other merchandise.
So, if the goal is not to sell new music what are you supposed to be doing?
Get attention, and lots of it.
People have to know about your music before they can buy it. The success or failure of a New Release Party is gauged by how much buzz you were able to create. New Release parties are the kick off event designed to promote the sales of your CD and raise awareness of your ministry. In other words these parties are a crucial part of creating a buzz or stir about your bands new release. This buzz should gain new fans which should translate into music sales later. The CD Release Party is part of a long term strategy to build your bands fan base and ministry, not just one fun night for the bands family and friends.
“This sounds like a lot of work.”
“It is, but this work will have a huge impact on your bands future.”
“Oh, I don’t know… I just want to play music and tell people about Jesus.”
“Do you want to keep telling the same people about Jesus over and over or do you really want to expand your ministry? As you work through the process of hosting a CD Release Party you will be working with people you would not normally meet because they would not normally bother to come to your show. You can create the opportunity to expose these people to your music and ministry and build relationships with them. Relationships are the foundation of your bands ministry.”
“Yeah, I guess so. What do I need to do?”
“I can show you the steps to take as far as the logistics goes, but you must always remember that you are working with real people – not just job titles used to accomplish your goals. These people do their jobs well but also have lives with hurts, fears, and anger. Your main ministry is to bring people closer to Jesus, including the people involved with helping your put on an extraordinary New Release Party.”
“OK, I can do that – if you show me the steps, I can love the people.”
That was pretty much the normal conversation I have had with bands about CD Release parties – I hope it helps you to see where I am coming from. Keep it in mind as we talk about how to create an extraordinary CD Release Party – notice how many people get involved.
There are two main aspects of creating a buzz for your music by using a CD Release Party:
• Get Media attention before the party.
• Make sure people show up to the party.
Obviously #1 will help you with #2, so we are going to focus on getting media attention before the party.
The easiest way to get media attention for your party is to sink thousands of dollars in to advertising… heck, go all out and buy a Superbowl commercial if you can afford it. Right… that does not work for any of us. So, we cannot do things the easy (wasteful and expensive) way. The better way to accomplish your goal is to get FREE attention through publicity.
There is a huge difference between advertising and publicity in the minds of the consumer (your potential fans). Advertising occurs when a company (the band for example) pays to have the media tell the consumer about its product or service (your new CD). Obviously, the consumer knows the media does not necessarily endorse the product but repetition of the ads creates a familiarity with the product. Will your potential fans buy a CD if they see enough television commercials about it? Maybe. But, if you do not have the cash to sustain repeated advertising, you should focus on publicity.
Publicity occurs when the media tells a consumer about anything the media thinks the consumer will be interested in. This interest causes the consumer to use or purchase that particular media (buy a newspaper or listen to a radio station). The consumer knows the media wants them to continue using their media, so they assume the media will be focused on talking about things that interest the consumer. Consumers pay more attention to what the media says than the commercials or ads they run. Big companies often cannot get much publicity because they do not do anything really interesting. So, they bombard us with advertising. Publicity carries more weight with the consumer than advertising, advertisings main advantage is repetition.
How do you get publicity?
The first rule of getting publicity is to make sure your New Release Party really is news.
The media thrives on news… real people doing something noteworthy. Your new music may be interesting to you and your current fans, but not so much to the media. There are hundreds of bands just like yours releasing new music every day. How do you stand out from the pack? To get the best media coverage, you should involve as many local people and organizations as possible, then do something unusual that will make the world a better place. Ideally, the band should host a special event that benefits another organization; the CD release would be one part of the event but not the main headline.
4 Important Components of a Newsworthy Event:
● Local people are important because the newspapers know that they will buy more papers if their name is in it. Radio stations know that more people will listen if the event they are involved in is being promoted. The internet thrives on people posting and blogging about their activities.
● Local organizations are advantageous because they have community connections. National organizations are more famous but less newsworthy in your community. Local organizations have resources of volunteers and media connections that will help you get the word out about your special event. The media especially likes to promote events combining several organizations because they know more local people are involved.
● Doing something unusual is critical in order to get media attention because boring news does not sell. Front page print news is always flashy with great photographs. The top stories in broadcast media immediately grab your attention and give you something to talk about. The media often focuses on negative news simply because it is more flamboyant. Which is more exciting: a person donating a new piece of diagnostic equipment to the hospital or a bomber who sends 50 people to the hospital? The equipment may save thousands of lives, but the bomber is news. The trick is to do something unusual that is meaningful but not too crazy.
● Making the world a better place is important because it gives you a story to tell. Truthfully, the business aspect of the media does not care if you are saving the world or destroying it, they want news that will sell. But people run the media business and make the final decisions. Tug at their heartstrings with an amazing human interest story and you will get the coverage you desire without compromising your cause. Ideally, the band should somehow connect with the organization you are benefitting. This connection is your story. For example: If someone in your band has had a family member commit suicide, the band could raise funds for the local suicide hotline. The story is how suicide has impacted the band member and how he wants to help prevent other families from having to deal with the death of a loved one. So, the band is hosting a fundraising party and donating a portion of their CD sales to the cause.
The strategy of hosting a special event that benefits another organization makes use of every possible advantage to get the word out about your bands new release. The media is much more likely to do a story about a band that is helping a local organization raise funds and awareness about their cause than a story about your new CD release.
Choosing the best organization and coming up with the idea for a newsworthy special event is the hardest part of getting publicity. Start by making a list of the organizations the band is most passionate about. Narrow the list down by eliminating national groups that do not have much local involvement. Then, examine each possible organization for the best connection and story with the band. Finally, look at ways you could involve multiple organizations. For example: If the band chooses to raise food and money for the local food pantry, could other nonprofit groups have tables at the event to pass out brochures etc. about the services their groups provide for needy families?
After you have chosen the organization, you need to get their permission and come up with the event idea. The best way to go about generating ideas is simply to ask everyone you can. Diversifying who you ask and how you ask should create a large list of ideas you can then hone to meet your specific needs. Often the best special events are a combination of modified ideas from different people.
Here are some ways to ask a variety of people to give you ideas for your special event:
● Host small focus group discussions – these can be anything from impromptu conversations at local coffee shops or by invitation to a band practice/meeting. Band family members should certainly be included in the discussions because they will probably be doing much of the work. Your potential volunteers must be excited about both the organization you want to help and the event idea. If not, you won’t get the help.
● Use social media, forums and blogs to ask fans who are not in your geographical location. After you have narrowed the ideas down to 3 or 4 you can post a survey so fans can vote on the best idea. You need fans to show up, so get their input early.
● Finally, don’t forget to ask the most creative people of all – children. They have vivid imaginations and their ideas are not confined to what is actually doable. Seriously consider what they say, then figure out how to make their ideas practical.
Keep a list of all the idea suggestions, even the crazy ones. You will not use most of them for the event, but as you discuss the ideas the list will continue to be combined and refined. Discuss the ideas until you have narrowed them down to the best. When making the final decision as to which idea to pursue for your special event, keep in mind newsworthiness. Decide to do the special event that involves as many local people and organizations as possible, is something unusual and will make the world a better place. Your bands CD Release Party will be successful because people will talk about what the band is doing and want to help you do it.
In Part Two we will be discussing Strategy #2: Find the Right Media People to Tell Your Story. CLICK HERE to read Part Two.
Part Three talks about Strategy #3: Telling the media what they want to hear, how they want to heart it. CLICK HERE to read Part Three.
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