September 20, 2010

Five Steps to a Successful Album Pre-Sale

Nimbit Dashboard 2012

Pre-Selling your album is one of the best sales tools you have in the direct to fan arsenal. A successful pre-sale campaign takes careful planning, excellent execution, and a solid understanding of your fans. It's very important to keep up the excitement about the release while not over-hyping or over-selling the event. Yet this IS a very special event and you want your fans to feel the same way you do about it.

The key in every step is to create reasons to engage and reasons to buy while making your fans feel great about supporting you. Carefully planning your messaging and product releases can go a long way toward creating and sustaining interest. Building up the release by introducing tickets sales and product sales geared towards different segments of your fan base will give you reasons to engage them multiple times.

As usual, we can never say it enough, "PLAN AHEAD." Get as much done ahead of time so you can deal with the opportunities that comes up along the way. It's always a good idea to know what you are going to do and why.

Here are five steps to a successful pre-sale

Step One: Plan Ahead!

When creating a pre-sale, make sure that you've got enough time to get all the components in the right place and scheduled with enough time to generate exposure and opportunities for your fans to engage. Here's what the Evan Goodrow Band is doing with their pre-sale for Say It:

Two months before release:

  • Schedule and announce venue for CD Release Party
  • Debut "teaser" track from new album to Facebook fans, on Twitter, local radio and in email newsletters (make sure whoever previews your track gives you an email address!)
  • Re-engage fans through free track giveaways that encourage fans to get their info up to date in order to have "first notification" of ticket sales.

4 weeks before release:

  • Prepare master and artwork for Nimbit Manufacturing
  • Play (and announce!) tracks from new album at gigs
  • Announce exclusive ($$) VIP/Access tickets as a special offer to select fans.
    - Target your most supportive fans who always purchase music and come to shows.
    - Make them feel that this is a special opportunity just for them.
    - Include CD delivered at show (obvious opportunity to sign)
    - Include food and wine

3 weeks before release:

  • Announce general admission CD Release Party tickets on website and in email newsletter
  • Bundle all tickets with a couple of pre-release digital downloads (buy now and get X)
  • Include CD to be delivered at the show. (Anything to emphasize the "event")
  • Create incentives to commit and bring others. (4 packs of tickets with CD at a discount)

2 weeks before release:
Announce actual pre-sales of the CD for folks who can't attend the CD release party.

  • Create multiple pre-sale packages for all "levels" of fans
    - Regular CD shipped on the release date.(make this reasonable)
    - Signed CD shipped on the release date, includes immediate download.(premium price)
    - Deluxe package with signed CD, T-Shirt, downloads etc…
  • Use the opportunity to announce pre-sales to engage again about the CD Release Party!

1 week before release:
Assuming all is going well...

  • Message your fan base about the excitement around the event.
    - Thank fans for their generous support thus far.
    - Create a sense of urgency around tickets if you are close to sold out.
    - Create a sense of urgency around tickets if you are not close to sold out.

Step Two: Provide Reasons to Buy

If your only pre-sale item costs $100, and most of your fan base is buying single downloads, then your pre-sale won't go too well. By providing "reasons to buy" at multiple price points, you create an opportunity for everyone to take part in the pre-sale excitement.

To promote their new album Pin Points and Gin Joints the Bosstones offered the following Pre-Sale bundles:

  • T-shirt/CD/Vinyl package
  • Single ticket to their CD Release party (Hometown Throwdown)
  • Single ticket/CD/Vinyl package
  • Three tickets/CD/Vinyl package

Other ideas and items to consider:

  • VIP Reception at the CD Release Party (providing exclusive access to the band)
  • Limited edition, signed merchandise (posters, CDs, etc.)
  • Digital downloads of back catalog included with purchase of new music

Step Three: Keep up the excitement!

As you might have figured out, a pre-sale isn't a "one-time" thing. You need to find new and creative ways to keep the excitement level building to the big day when your album comes out. When your fans don't feel the excitement, there's no reason to take part.

  • Use Nimbit's Campaign Manager to schedule emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets
  • Build excitement with countdown reminders (One month away…2 weeks away … )
  • Roll out products one at a time. (gives you something new to talk about)
  • Tease your CD Release party (special guests, VIP opportunities, onsite giveaways)
  • Offer a free track (or maybe a demo version) to tease the new release

Step Four: Fulfill Every Order!

You sold some incredible packages during your pre-sale. Your fans can't wait for the big day! Get the will-call list to the venue. Make sure your disc is perfect and available for sale any place you have an online presence (official website, Facebook, MySpace, etc.)

Now that the release date approaches, make sure those pre-sale orders get fulfilled! If you're a Nimbit artist, make sure we have the items, and we'll handle fulfillment.

You could do it yourself, but imagine what happens when a super-excited fan purchases a huge pre-sale package from you, only to find nothing in their mailbox! Even worse - they pre-ordered your new release, and they're counting down the days until it arrives. But you decided to mail everything yourself, and it got sent out late because you're so busy.

The excited fan didn't get it until a week after the release date. Now he's not so excited. You should've used Nimbit!

Step Five: Thank EVERYBODY!

Without fans, you probably wouldn't have much of a career. They support you, allow you to make music, and deserve your thanks for making a successful pre-sale campaign. Be sure to thank your fans profusely, tell them how much you appreciate them, and keep the dialogue going … because down the road there'll be another new album and another pre-sale and another CD release party and…

Thanking your fans not only shows good manners but is an excellent way to foster ongoing engagement after the big "event." Rather than wait until the next big thing, you have at least two great opportunities to engage by rewarding good behavior! Immediately after the release, send out messages thanking everyone. If you're really sharp, be sure to include a link to your photo gallery with all the pictures you had someone take of your fans at the gig! (Remember it's not all about you J.) Wait a few weeks, even a month and follow up with an exclusive free track sent to everyone who bought a ticket or new release. (Could be a live cut, a quick kitchen tape, sloppy video, whatever as long as it's personal.)

Everyone at Nimbit is committed to YOUR success. Our tools are designed to build a foundation that leads to a greater fan base, increased sales, and a prosperous music career.

Are you ready for Nimbit? Let's get started!