Promo budgets, blogs, and weird submissions

Either people are actually reading this blog, or someone thinks people are reading this blog. In the last week, I have gotten 7 or 8 unsolicited CDs in the mail, presumably sent to me with the intention that I will write about them. Some of them are very good, and things that I dig, and I will write about them. Others are good, but so far removed from the type of things I usually listen to or write about, that I really doubt that they will get any cyber-ink here.

It makes me wonder who decides where to send promo copies of CDs. As a maker of independent CDs, I have grappled with the costs of promoting releases. I really have trouble justifying sending out hundreds of CDs to writes/magazines/bloggers when 75% of them will not even get listened to, and much fewer than that will yield coverage. I definitely send stuff to people that I think will dig it, or people that ask for it, but the expense of sending a copy to every station on a list of dozens of jazz radio stations, or every blogger listed on AAJ just seems silly, especially since many of the more conservative stations and writers won’t dig the CD anyway.

I figure it costs about $5 to send a CD to a writer, including the actual cost of the materials, postage, and the time of whoever stuffs the envelope. If some of that money were spent having associates read the writer’s writing and parsing his/her taste, it seems that eventually some money would be saved. I think the key to success in the new music industry is to only spend necessary money. If I can make and promote a CD for a reasonable amount of money, I can expect to eventually sell enough of them to make it work. If I spend $7k on promotion, I’ve got to have a huge hit (in jazz terms) to make any money.

When I started writing this blog, it was because I wanted to share the things that I found that move me. That’s how fringe art gets known, through a network of people with similar tastes and trust in each others opinions. Getting CDs from promo people tilts that idea a bit, but I don’t mind people sending me copies of stuff that I’d like to hear (and may or ma not have bought on my own). So, I will try to be as diligent as possible in always letting you know where I got the music I am writing about. If I bought it somewhere, I will say that, and if I got a copy from a PR department, I will say that as well. I will try to at least mention anything that I get that I like. If it stinks, I will probably say nothing at all about it.

One other plus to all the free CDs is that I get to read some of the completely silly stuff that is written on the one sheets that accompany the CDs. The other day I got a copy of an Ella Fitzgerald CD that is to be released in July. It is being co-released by Concord and Starbucks. The following statement is on the one sheet:

Starbucks Coffee Company provides and uplifting experience that enriches people’s lives one moment, one human being, one extraordinary cup of coffee at a time.

I’m not sure what that has to do with Ella, but it did make me laugh out loud, and laughter is a good thing.