A musician emailed me today, asking my advice on choosing a physical distributor. He was considering paying big money to one company who promised to get it on the shelves of record stores, or another who would take a big cut, or using CD Baby’s in-store distribution (http://cdbaby.net/instore)
Here’s my advice to him. Feel free to critique it. I’m curious to hear any replies from people who have had success with real in-store distribution recently.
The big question is:
How many people are going into physical stores (shopping malls, etc) - looking for your CD - and are unable to buy it?
Are those people truly unable to buy your CD, and give up before looking online?
Record stores are closing left-and-right. They’re few and far-between. Because of this, people aren’t depending on their shopping mall as a place to buy music anymore. Then that just accelerates the trend.
I really think there will be almost no record stores in a few years. Just a little section at Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
Because of this, CD distributors are desperate and panicked. They can’t afford to distribute anything that’s not going to sell really well, really fast.
I think you’re better off putting your energy where it’s going to get you the greatest return : by selling and promoting 100% online.
Take that same amount of time, money, and energy into making a GREAT online presence.
Your website is good - but make it even better. Make it irresistably interactive : so everyone who runs across it will give you their name and email address. Then engage an ongoing interesting discussion with those fans. Make it easy for them to tell their friends.
This will do you 100-times more good than fighting the uphill battle against the trend of desperate distributors and shutting stores.