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How to Sell Your Album on Consignment

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Selling your new release in your local record store is a great way to get some sales from your local fans, but it isn't always clear HOW to sell your album on consignment. Before you saddle up to the record store counter, here is what you need to know about placing your new release in a record store and how to let people know it's there.

Time Required: N/A

Here's How:

  1. Do Your Research

    The local branch of your friendly, neighborhood big chain store isn't likely to be the best place to try to sell your music. Why? They almost certainly don't accept consignment product. Your time is valuable (and so is the time of the people working in the store), so before you start making calls in person, make some calls by phone - or online. Find out which local record stores in your area accept consignment product, and of those stores, find out how many copies they accept and if they have any special policies you'll need to know before you show up with your stuff.

  2. Come Prepared

    Hopefully when you did your research, you found out how many copies the record stores on your list will accept - remember that you don't have to leave the max amount they'll take. You can't exceed it, obviously, but within their margins, bring as many of your CDs/vinyl as you like.

    You don't just need the product, though. Here's what you should know and what you should bring when you go to the store:

    • One Sheet - Your one sheet will give the store employees some info about your music so they can talk about it to customers.
    • Promo Posters - If the store will let you put up poster promoting your release, bring a few by so your fans will know they can buy your music there
    • Price - How much do you want to get for your music? Each store will have their own mark-up rules, so go in knowing how much you want to get from each sale, so you can work out the sticker price with the store from there.
    • Promos - Have a few promo copies to give the staff for in-store play.
    • Receipt - The store may have a formal contract that they ask you to sign regarding your consignment - and if they do, make sure you get a copy. Be ready with some receipts of your own just in case. The receipt doesn't have to fancy or especially formal - you just need a written record of how many copies you're leaving with the store and how much you will be getting for each sale that is signed by yourself and a store representative. (See next step for getting the information for filling out this receipt.) Make sure the receipt has your contact info so the store can call you if they need to.
  3. Have the Conversation

    When you go into the record store, ask to speak with someone who takes in the consignment product - this may be the store manager, or it may be the case that anyone in the store can do it. Discuss the basics about your consignment deal - the store's mark-up, how many copies you're leaving and if there are any rules for the wheres/whens of collecting payment - this is the info you'll put on your receipt.

    Last but not least, give the staff a brief description of your music and hand over the promos. Have a few extras to hand out to staff members - it always helps to have fans on the staff of a record store. Hand over your posters and offer to hang them up yourself - they may not let you, but that's the best way to make sure they actually get put up.

  4. Follow-Up

    This is the A+, number one most important part of putting your music on consignment in a record store - the follow-up. You would be shocked if you knew how many people dropped music off in a record store and then never showed face again. You should follow-up - and often. Why?

    • Make sure your product is out and appropriately priced
    • Make sure your posters are displayed (if store rules allow)
    • See if you've made any sales, both so you can collect your money and so you can replenish stock as needed.

    Frequent follow-ups also help you build a relationship with the record store staff. These people are on the front lines of music and are excellent sources of information. Get them invested in telling their customers about your music, and soak up their advice about getting people to know your music - remember, they see people discover new stuff every day, and they often have a hand in helping them do it.

Tips:

  1. Be Nice

    I can't promise you that every record store employee is going to give your music the reception it necessarily deserves, but the bottom line is, you've got to follow their store rules and policies. If you can do it with a smile, you're a step ahead - and you've made it that much more likely your product is going to get out in the floor fast. Heck, your promo might even get a spin in-store!

  2. Be Responsive

    If someone at a record store tells you they need another poster, more product, that your price is way out of whack with other local product or so on....listen to them. They deal with customers every day and know what works in their store.

  3. Stock Up For Shows

    Before you play a local show, make sure your consignment stock is replenished at all the record stores. You never know when someone is going to skip buying your music at your merch table but regret it the next day and swing by the record store.

  4. Let Your Fans Know!

    After your consignment deal is set, update your website to reflect where your fans can by the CDs.

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