In Part I of this series, I focused on the successful Kickstarter ($20K+) campaign held last fall by the female-fronted indie Seattle band, the Aury Moore Band. Their recently released CD, Here I Am was produced this spring by Stevie (full disclosure). I’m not affiliated myself in any way with band, although I’ve shared some marketing tips with her over the years, and I appreciate what Aury has done to market her CD. In this post, I will detail Aury’s June 2013 CD release party for Here I Am, including the budget and key promotional elements.
I received several requests for more detailed cost information after writing a blog post about my own (much smaller) CD release party in April. I think Aury’s party is a better lesson on how to make money on a CD release party, so I asked her if she would be willing to share her numbers. She was most gracious, so here they are:
- Venue: $0
- Merchandise: $200 (most was left over from the Kickstarter campaign)
- Raffle Items: $100
- Posters, Flyers and VIP Passes:$260
- Pre-printed Tickets: $40
- 1000 CDs (jewel case, 4-page color folder/traycard): $1500 (roughly 400 were given out the night of the party, and an additional 200 mailed out to Kickstarter backers)
Revenue: Approximately $10,000
- Pre-sold Tickets: $4000 (online ticket fees were paid by purchasers)
- Tickets Sold At Door: $4000 (some attendees were “comped”)
- Extra Raffle Tickets: $200 (went to charity)
- Merchandise: $700
(I assume Aury has some kind of revenue-sharing deal with her bandmates, but I didn’t ask about that.) So how did Aury end up netting around $8K at her CD release party?
Pre-Sell Tickets Online And In Person
Aury has plenty of experience pre-selling and promoting her own shows, as she has been performing around the Pacific Northwest for years:
We had a roughly 400 people come to the show. We presold 200 tickets at $20, and charged $25 at the door. Each ticket came with a complimentary CD and a raffle ticket. 62 were sold thru Brown Paper Tickets and 138 were sold personally by band members. With Brown Paper Tickets you can order printed tickets for 10 cents each. We bought 400 total in the hopes that we would be able to sell them. Unfortunately we presold less tickets than what I had expected. In the past, our presells have been much higher… but the economy has been a factor.
I have been working with Brown Paper Tickets now for about 5 years. I am a big fan. Their service fees [$.99 plus 3.5%] are very low compared to other ticketing outlets. They are local but service all over the world. They have a location in Fremont [Seattle] and a location in Edinburgh [Scotland]. They are open 24/7 and they are very helpful. They mail you a check for your tickets sold within 3 to 5 days or if you are local you can pick it up yourself and they make it very easy for someone to buy thru them. I recommend them to everyone.
Aury makes an important point about pre-sales: many pre-sold ticket-holders will not attend. While you might look at pre-sold ticket with a no-show as a revenue bonus, it’s also important to consider that you want a packed house:
Of the presold tickets, about 160 of them attended. I have found that If I presell tickets 2 things happen… there is a 70% likelihood that if they pay for the ticket in advance they are much more likely to come. When I trust people to come to the door there is often a lower percentage who say they will be there that actually come! You want to get them to buy tickets in advance in order to ensure a full room.
A successful party requires a lot of promotion in advance:
We promoted the show in much the same way as we did the Kickstarter campaign… We screamed it from the mountain tops! I start promoting a show 6 to 8 weeks in advance. We pushed it every day on our [Facebook] pages… I also used my email list and had friends share with their friends… we had so many people talking about it that a buzz was created. I use facebook, reverbnation, my website, email, posters, flyers and word of mouth… Everyone of my players are out and about playing at jam sessions or doing shows of their own… they are already in front of music supporters so I encourage them to promote the show with the people that come and support them at their gigs.
When someone bought tickets online I publicly thanked them on their pages. We promoted the special guests [see more on that below] we had perform with us… I had my friends promote the show and I also gave them some tickets to sell as well. I did 3 internet radio interviews and 1 radio interview to help promote the show. We put together an event page and made our most helpful fans admins on that page… we posted silly pictures… we talked about what a great venue Louie G’s is and the fact that people could bring their kids bcz it is an all ages venue. We made a video on youtube and pushed that…. and we gave people teasers of the songs that we would be performing.
I [also] made posters and flyers and gave them to my band members along with tickets. I am of the belief that flyers do not sell tickets… if you give someone a flyer it gives that person an excuse not to buy a ticket right there and then… they hold off and often do not buy a ticket. If you have tickets in hand and tell people they can buy now… you are more likely to get more people to buy…
Aury also recommends using Reverbnation to promote shows:
I did use Reverbnation for promoting both Kickstarter and our CD release. Another nice thing about Reverbnation. If you post a show on their site, they feed that information to other media sites like The Seattle Weekly and Tacoma Weekly, The Tribune… etc.
Inviting A Famous Artist To Sit In
Aury invited Roger Fisher, a long-time friend of hers and the original lead guitarist for the iconic Seattle pop band, Heart, to play with her on a few numbers. Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Heart have experienced a renaissance of sorts and a higher profile lately, especially in Seattle. Roger is great guitarist and performer, and he played an amazing solo on Dear Prudence, one of the cover songs on Aury’s CD.
I have seen many other Seattle bands invite fellow musicians to open for them at their CD release parties, as this is a great way to pull in additional attendance. By inviting just one person from Heart, Aury artfully ensured that her band would not be overshadowed, while still taking advantage of the current nostalgia and buzz around Roger and Heart. Their fan demographics are very similar, so this was a win-win for both Aury and her band and some nice visibility for Roger, who has just released his own solo CD.
Smart Choice of Venue
Louie G’s Pizza, where Aury held her release party, has had a long and positive relationship with the band. They did not charge Aury for the venue, and they also did not take a cut of the door. Instead, Louis G’s made their money from a packed house who purchased food (pizza buffet) and drinks. Despite their name, this is not your average pizza place. It’s a great venue to play, with a stage, full lights, and a sound engineer at the board. Aury worked hard to fill the house that night, and it was standing room only in the stage area. Aury has a dynamic stage show, complete with a fog machine. For Aury, this venue was comfortable and familiar, and many of her fans have heard her there before, so they knew what to expect.
One reason why I like Louie G’s is because they give the entire door to the artist. Artists should take the time to find out what venues do this… I have played some very established rooms who take a large percentage of the door… If an artist is willing to do the work to fill a room I think the venue should enjoy the rewards of sales and let the artist have the door. Unfortunately some artists don’t get the importance of filling a room and some venues do not get how much work an artist puts in to help the venue have a successful night of sales. I tend to look for rooms that support the artist and let them keep the door but I also do my part to ensure that they will want me back. Louie G’s is a venue that is happy to have the Aury Moore Band play their room.
Aury sold $700 worth of band merchandise during the show. She had a table set up, fully staffed with several people. She also had the Northwest Harvest donation boxes situated right next to the merchandise table (smart!), and the raffle items were right there on displayed on or next to the merch table. Read through to get Aury’s valuable feedback on what types of merchandise (even the colors!) sold the best:
Most of our merchandise we already had with the exception of the shot glasses and the posters. I had to buy those anyway for the Kickstarter campaing so when it comes to new merchandise I paid no more that a couple hundred… I also presold some items at the CD Release party… some items are tough to have the right sizes in stock so for the Hoodies we let people order theirs at the show and ordered them after the show, mailing them out to these fans. No cost on the table and the people we had working it were family so they worked it for free… we did throw them a tip tho (We, as a band are also in the habit of tipping out our soundman… it is a good habit to get into….) So… really when it comes to costs incurred on merchandise, we bought items we had to buy anyway. So… the cost was not really a factor…
Types of merchandise sold at the table: Both of my CDs, mens shirts, womens shirts, juniors shirts, hoodies, baseball caps, slouch caps, skull/knit/beanie caps, shot glasses, 3 different posters of the band, 2 different posters of me alone.
The slouch caps were the biggest hit! … my supplier suggested I try them…. so we ordered 12 – after the party I only had 3 left. They out-sold the baseball caps and skull caps. Crazy huh?
We have the shirts in multiple color choices that compliment our logo. I actually surveyed my men friends and asked them what color shirts they would like… I was surprised that men like options.. I typically would choose black but the men wanted lighter colors like steel blue, olive, charcoal and sand… The ladies prefer either black, charcoal, navy blue or dark chocolate brown so.. we found a supplier who will let me order many different colors for the same price! Score! I know that is off topic but it is good to know…
Important Note: Make sure to set up and test a credit card reader like Square or Paypal (now available for free online from Paypal or at office supply stores for $15) with your iPhone or iPad in advance. The Square and Paypal apps themselves are free to download. It’s best to have WiFi at the event to make this happen, but a cell signal is sufficient if using an iPhone. It’s well worth being able to take credit card payments for merchandise, and the fees are low. Aury could not get her Square to work at the event, but felt she could have sold $300 more of merchandise if she had.
Friend and Family Staffing
One of the nice things about Aury’s party was that she recruited friends and family to work the party for free, staffing her merchadise table, taking tickets at the door, selling raffle tickets, and shooting pictures. I worked the door for her, selling extra raffle tickets, answering general questions and orienting people, and directing them to the food bins and merchadise table.
Aury thoughtfully made up plastic laminated VIP passes in advance for staff (I admit I love these things, and she may have gotten the idea from my CD release party). It’s a nice way to make your volunteers feel special during the show, and it’s a great piece of memorabilia.
Aury held a very successful raffle during the show, in which she raffled a (real, working) guitar signed by the band, a cymbal from Eddie the drummer, a hard board poster from a prior CD release party, and some signed posters. Thanks to a generous fan who donated a Kickstarter premium item back to her, she made extra money from one of the raffled items:
There are only 3 of these [hard board posters] total. The gentleman who pledged [on Kickstarter] for this item (it was the poster with no signatures on it) bumped his pledge up from $300 to $500 and then he gave it back to me to have for a raffle item at this show! Yay!
Note: Memorabilia are important to fans – so bands that save things for future events will reap the rewards later. Super-fans can also be very generous, and just a few of them can make a huge difference, if you make opportunities for them to do so.
Aury gave items away throughout the party, and this inspired a few more people to buy raffle tickets at the break.
All the funds raised via the raffle were donated to a charitable cause…
Collecting For A Charitable Cause At the Show
One of the really nice things Aury promoted in advance was that she was collecting food for a well-known and respected local food bank, Northwest Harvest, at the show. Always the smart marketer, Aury has been doing cause marketing for several years under the monniker Starving Artists for Northwest Harvest, so her fans are well aware of this. Attendees who brought non-perishable food items for donation received $5 off her merchandise. She ended up with 5 full boxes of food to give to Northwest Harvest, who supplied the large printed donation boxes in advance.
A Great Stage Show
Last but not least by any means, Aury put on a fantastic show that night. She is a great stage performer, really high energy, sexy, and charismatic. The fans ate it up! She played the entire album from top to bottom in two sets, and the audience was rapt. Many of the attendees have seen Aury perform already, and they knew they would get their money’s worth. She gave them multiple reasons to show up: to watch and listen to a great stage show in an excellent performance space, to celebrate with her, to get a physical copy of the CD they couldn’t get yet anywhere else, to win raffle items, to contribute to a charitable cause, to see a famous guitar player, and to eat good pizza. Who wouldn’t want to be there?
Aury continues to promote the CD and plan for the future of the band.
I have and will continue to do radio interviews. I just did 2 interviews on Talk in the Shadows radio and will be doing another with NWCZ on Tuesday for The Aquarium Show. I also am building a relationship with a Kim Justice of Brain Injury Radio.
We are currently starting to book shows for the band but the real goal is to be able to tour. I want to start the tour in Europe. It is a good market for independent musicians. The radio stations are very open to playing independent artists. I am currently in the market for a financial backer to help get the seed money needed to have a successful tour. I am not afraid of hard work and I am very serious about promoting and filling rooms when my band performs. Pray we can find a backer that will work with us! In the meantime I am going to book shows for the band and probably some acoustic shows as well. We also are looking into getting our music in soundtracks and on TV shows. But really, the thing we want to do is share our music with Live shows. We want to meet the people who have supported us in person and we want to continue to write and record good music!
What do you think of how Aury held her CD release party? What are your thoughts on having a CD release party? Do you have any helpful tips from your own to share? Are you planning your own CD release? Did you find this article helpful?