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(GIGS & BEYOND) The night I gave my CD away
By Cyrus Rhodes - 06/22/2010 - 05:34 PM EDT

One night my band was doing the usual thing during the show. Selling our CD for $15 a pop at the merch table - YAWN. I was about to give my typical shout out from the stage - “get your CD at the merch table folks” - YAWN On average we expected to gross about $300 per night with this approach. But then it hit me - I took a big risk not knowing what would happen next.   

I suddenly decided to try a new approach so I said the following to the audience:

“You know what - It's really important to us that you have our CD. We worked our asses off and are so proud of it that we want you to have it, no matter what. Pay what you want, but even if you have no money, please take one with you tonight.” After receiving several dirty looks from my band mates we played out final song of the night. I mentioned this again before the end of the show, adding, “Please, nobody leave here tonight without getting a copy of our CD. This was an awesome night for us, we shared this great show together so it would mean a lot to us if you'd take one in remembrance of it.”

This changed the approach from a commercial pitch to an emotional connection. Allowing them to get a CD for no money proves to them what your true priorities are. I’ve even heard of Christina band saying “Our music is like Gods word, no charge.” My band did this for a while, and soon they we were selling about $1200 per night on average, including those people who took it for free! I think the average selling price was about $10 at that point. But the important part of this story came next: Word of mouth about a band can be like pouring gasoline of a fire. When we came back to a club or bar where they had done this, attendance at those shows usually doubled. The people that took a CD became long-term fans and brought their friends out to future shows. “Oh yeah you're that band that gave their CD away”

It’s so ironic, but the above approach changed the Market mindset to a social mindset. The Bottom Line - because every person left each show with a CD in hand, they were more likely to remember us as a band, and thus tell their friends about it, listen to it later, and become emotionally involved with us. 

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