Don’t Worry About Selling

money-grubber-web.jpgI’ve been on vacation in New York City the last few days.  It’s great to get away from the hustle of everyday life to help remember why I am going after the things I am.  Vacation helps me rekindle my passions, find what I would truly do if I was retired, and helps me recharge.   I love going into a new city without work or bills on my mind.  I focus on myself, the people around me, and the make-up of a city.  I love New York for the food, the culture, and the industry.  It is definitely something to admire. 

While walking down 5th Avenue this weekend, I was approached by young man around the age of 25.   He was a rapper and wanted me to buy his CD for $20.  Something about this kid really hit me.  I mean, was I really going to spend $20 on a CD that I’ve never heard, from an unknown rapper in the middle of NYC?  He could have been the next Jay-Z, but was I really going to give him that chance?  Who would, really? 

That’s when it really struck me.  This poor kid was trying to make it BIG.  He figured, he’d sell his CDs that he worked so hard on creating for $20 a pop and then one day, he’d get a break.  An executive at a big-time record label would give him the call telling him he was the best rapper since Dre, and he had a clear ticket to stardom and millions of dollars.   Poor, poor, kid. 

Instead of selling one-offs for measly amounts of money, would it not be better to give away hundreds of these CD’s?  What would give him more exposure, selling 5 CD’s a day and maybe having 2 of them listened to, or giving his CD away to 100 people a day and having 20 people listen to it?  Without a name or proof that his CD is worth purchasing, why should people give him that chance either?  I didn’t. 

Lesson:  Creating Your Name Brand happens when people know you.  When you provide value to other people, they will come back to you, spread your name, and become evangelists.   That’s when you’ll have your shot.  

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Worry About Selling

  1. Rebecca–I agree that some people would buy the CD–but in terms of long-term brand building, I think the rapper would do better if he focused on getting known, getting good turnouts for his shows, and getting a solid fan following. Selling CDs one at a time at a huge mark-up seems way too hard and short-sighted.

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  2. I think the guys in Times Square have the right idea in giving away their CDs for free. Long term branding is also about knowing and focusing on your market and that’s where the rapper went wrong. Not only did he put too high a price on his product he had no idea of his market. He would be better off giving his CDs away outside of a club that plays his kind of music.

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  3. From a musician’s standpoint, there is value in the process that it took to make the recording. There is also more value in a product if it is bought and not received for free. We always take more pride in things that we spend our hard earned money on. If I gave you a free cd, would you listen to it, really? If you did pay the $20 I bet you would!!!

    Also from a musician’s standpoint (and a marketer’s) $20 is pretty ridiculous. $5-$10 is plenty for an unknown.

    Glad to see that you at least gave him the time of day to at least make an attempt to make his dream come true. Many more people are just sitting on their couch looking for the big break.

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  4. Greg, thanks for your thoughts as they’re good ones. You’re right, I would be less likely to listen to the CD having not bought it. However, I think the lesson is still correct which is to mass-communicate. Whether that means handing out CD’s, dropping price, or using the internet and concerts to get his name out, he’d be much better off having large audiences.

    Another point which is important for this rapper, is that he gave me no proof that what he was worth buying. If he had proven himself to me with a rap, and then offered the CD for free, I would be much more likely to give that CD a listen to when I got home.

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