You have managed to battle the ups and downs, ins and outs of the creative world. You’ve slayed your demons, tossed aside your crutches, and let go of your delusions. You’ve created your website, built your artist’s platform, and developed your product. You are amazing! You are ready!
This is a big deal! So make a big deal about it!
You have learned to no longer say under your breath “…but what I really want to do is to be an artist…” whenever anyone asks you what you do. Now is your chance to stand out there with your art on your sleeve and say, “THIS IS ME. COME AND GET IT, WORLD!”
All hokeyness aside, it is seriously a real accomplishment! Now it is time to release your art into the world. This is your launch party! Time to send your work out into the world with a flash and a bang. Fireworks, brass band, and all of that jazz!
You must, must, must have a live event! Set a date. Find a location. Get other artists to feature as opening acts. Advertise it far and wide. All of the social media you have set up is about ready to pay off.
Why a product launch event? I’ll tell you. It’s all about the importance of hand-to-hand, face-to-face sales. I have written about this before but I want to make this altogether clear again. I cannot say it enough. Direct sales at the early point of your career are everything. Expecting people to buy tickets online or at the door is one of the biggest gambles you will take. And more often than not, a losing one. Particularly, I have found, in Los Angeles.
The psychology goes like this:
You ask someone to come to your show. They say the will. They totally will. They will buy tickets at the door. Online. Anything to end the conversation. It’s not that they don’t want to see you perform, it’s just the mentality of today. People are fickle. Again, I blame LA. This may be common other places, but as I live in LA, and as I have seen a shift in mentality in other cities, I’m gonna say LA as a relatable example. It’s not that they don’t want to see you perform, it’s this: They will procrastinate. They will wait until the last second to buy. They won’t end up buying online. Then they will figure they can just buy at the door. Then the time will creep closer and closer to show time and they will be in the middle of a movie on their tv planted on their comfy couch, and that traffic out there and that weather and that “going out” will all look very, very unappealing in the moment. And they won’t go.
BUT – if they have a ticket already in hand, the scenario will go something like this: They will be on their couch and then they will remember the show. And the ticket. And the $10 they spent. And that they promised you. And that will be enough. Most times that is enough. So00, they will get on the phone to a friend, because, of course, they don’t want to go alone, and they will get their friend to come along. And that friend will buy a ticket at the door. And become your new best fan. And then you having sold that one ticket is like selling two. Score!
All that will happen? Yes. These are the things that are happening in people’s heads and in reality. Not 100% of the time. But enough time to make a difference. I’ve done shows with and without pre-sales, and paper tickets make the difference. Likewise, with CD/book/art sales. You tell them they can buy it online and they will intend to buy it online, but then they will forget, and then they will think of the $10 it will cost them, and then they will think of the $50 they owe Fred, and the $90 they want for that pair of shoes, and then that $10 for your book or record is just too much to part with and then they will forget entirely.
But at your release show, they will be all caught up in the magic and the love and the music and they will shell it out right then and there. Because of your energy and because of their loyalty and because when they look in your eyes they just can’t say no. You are amazing and they do support you. It’s just a whole lot easier to forget all that when they have the distance and the chaos and the life in the way.
So that is the importance of a proper product launch or release show. That is the importance of hand-to-hand sales and physical tickets and physical albums/books/whatever. Control the point-of-contact. That is an old sales saying. You have that control when you have your fan in front of you. You have no control when you expect them to buy online. Think of it as a person showing up for an appointment versus not. Face-to-face is like them showing up. Promises to buy online is like hoping that they will. You have them there now. You have a sale. Why would you let it go?
I know it may sound all very “icky” to think of sales and control and everything. I get it. You just “wanna do the art, man”, and that’s great. I get that, too. But until you have someone else selling for you, you need to become that guy. At least a little. At least enough to get to the point were you have someone else selling for you.
People use the ability to buy online to be fickle and non-committal. All that will happen is they will flake and then you will feel disappointed and they will feel bad and have to make excuses (read: lies) as to why they didn’t show. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t do that to them. It helps no one to participate in those icky feelings. And don’t you use the digital download as your own crutch to avoid having to push the sale. You need to push a little harder. Don’t be rude, now. But make the sale if you feel you can and that both sides will benefit and be happy about it in the end. Be brave about it. Be a closer.
We live in a digital world and while this is helping artists in many ways, it is hurting in others. Don’t let it hurt you or your artistic career. Have a product launch or release show and bring real products to the show. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Don’t blow it on the 18th hole. Especially now, when you know better.
You’ve learned a lot so far and will keep on learning as you implement. But you are ready. You got this. Now go out there and make life happen!
1) Collect up your art and your merch and have a release show or product launch! Make it a party! Celebrate! Congratulate yourself! Oh, and have fun, too!
– C.R. Cohen.
Chelsea Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.