If you are an independent musician or band and you have a new CD coming out, you need to promote the heck out it, and a proper CD release party or show is a great way to kick off your promotion. Seeing as how you are independent and probably have little or no backing from any record label, you will have to do this yourself. But fear not, it’s not that hard to organize a CD release party and a CD release party can be a whole lot of fun. Here’s how you do it…
The best way to throw a CD release party or show is to organize a live rock show at a local club with your own band plus a couple of guest bands, preferably bands of your choosing that play well with your own band. If you have a favorite club to play in your home town, that favorite place should be your first choice of where to book this CD release show. Timing and planning are crucial, of course, as you will want to make sure that the CD release show is scheduled about 2-4 weeks after your CD is actually pressed and you have it in your hands. My own band once booked a CD release show for a new CD, but due to complications at the CD pressing plant (they screwed up the CD packaging and had to do it all over again) we did NOT have our CDs in time for the CD release show. It was our own fault, of course, but we learned our lesson.
After you have your CD release show booked at a cool club, make sure you promote the heck out of the show. This means creating myspace and facebook “events” and inviting all your family, friends, and fans, postering around town (if allowed by law in your town), and getting the word out to the local press. If you are friendly with any local music journalists, you should make sure and invite them to the show and get them on the guest list. You should also NOT book any other shows for your band two weeks before or after the CD release show as you want people to show up to this event. Also, to make the CD release show even more special than any regular show, you may want to snazz it up a bit by hiring some burlesque girls to perform in between acts, or maybe some clowns, or even trained apes… anything to give the show some extra pizzaz. (Frankly, I would go with the burlesque girls.)
At the CD release show itself you have a few choices as to whether to sell the CD at a discount, give it away for free, or package a free CD in with every paid admission. Personally, I like to give away free CDs to the first 20 or so people who show up at the event, give away a few more from the stage while my band is performing, and sell the rest at a merch booth for a discounted price of five bucks a piece. The goal here is not only to sell some CDs and make some money back (we all know how expensive it is to record and have a CD pressed) but also to get the CD out there in the hands of the public so that perhaps it will create a buzz and stimulate more actual sales.
An alternative to a CD release show with live bands is to have a CD listening party, where your band does NOT perform, but rather you organize a gathering at your favorite local watering hole, play the entire CD over the club’s sound system at a designated time, and give away or sell copies to your friends and fans. This is a much more relaxed way to promote a new CD and I myself have attended some CD listening parties that were much more fun than live rock shows. Of course, you should make sure and book this event with the club you will be holding it at and promote it just the same as you would promote a live rock show. There should be no cover charge for a CD listening party, of course, and it’s better to keep it open to the public rather than making it a private party — the more the merrier.
There you have it… that’s how you throw a proper CD release show or party for your killer new CD. Now get our there and PROMOTE!