How to Plan a CD Release Event

By Jeff O'Kelley

Now that you've finally finished your long-awaited CD, you're ready to spring it on the world. Unfortunately, this isn't always as easy as it seems. While most independent bands or artists spend lots of time and energy on the recording process, most don't give a lot of thought to how they will market or distribute the end product. Unless you can get people to buy your CD, your hard work will be for nothing. Luckily, there is a simple, inexpensive way to launch your latest project; a CD-release party. Release parties are a great way to introduce your music to existing fans, relatives, the media and hopefully some new followers. In this article you will find a simple, step-by-step approach to planning your CD-release party.

Make sure you have your new CD ready to go. One of the most common mistakes is to begin planning a release event before you have copies of your new CD in hand. Pick a date well after the promised delivery date. This will ensure that you don't have to postpone your event due to production delays or shipping issues.

Secure a venue suitable for your party. If there's a local club or bar that has booked your band in the past, start there. Unless you're a well-known band, club owners typically won't let you have a Saturday night for your event, but they may be open to a Sunday or Tuesday night. If you can promise a decent crowd on a night when they are usually slow, most clubs will jump at the offer. If you can't find a suitable club, try local restaurants, community centers or even church multi-purpose rooms.

Put together an invitation list. Start with family, friends and existing fans, as they will most likely be interested in your event. Ask them if there are guests they would like to bring as well. Dates, extended-family members and friends of friends can really bump up the number of expected attendees. Next, reach out to your extended fan base through your website or MySpace page, or by handing out ads at your shows or on local college campuses.

Reach out to your local media. Send emails or printed invitations to local music critics, reviewers, celebrities and radio personalities. Although turnout from among this group is usually small, one good review or on-air promotion could really boost your image and CD sales.

As a final promotional push, put up posters in local music stores, restaurants, clubs or anywhere else that will let you advertise your event. Local colleges are a great source of potential fans who are looking for something new.

As the event approaches, plan out the evening's events. Decide how long you will play live, versus blasting your CD from the venue sound system. Make sure you secure several volunteers to man your merchandise table, and that they understand the pricing. Be sure that everything that you need is on site prior to opening the doors.

Remember to have fun. Although this event is all about promoting your new CD, most of your guests are there to enjoy themselves. Take time to mingle with your fans, sign autographs and take lots of pictures. Don't forget that personality is almost as important as the music.

Tip

Consider charging a cover fee that includes a copy of your new CD to boost sales. Promotional kits with a copy of the CD can often stir interest from critics who might have otherwise skipped your event. Be sure to bring lots of copies of your new CD. You might be surprised at how many you sell.

Warning

Don't exaggerate the possible attendance to a club owner. This will only upset them, and could eliminate future gigs. Be sure to ask permission before putting up posters on private property, to avoid fines or ugly encounters.

About the Author

Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.