Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Put Together a Successful Release Party

I am the first to admit that I’m not sure I know the answer to this. And what is “successful”? Having a good turn out, selling lots of CDs, and having fun. But it’s more than that—creating buzz is the most important key, at least to me. I want folks to talk about my recordings days, weeks, and months after the party.

My past CD release parties seemed a bit dull, even to me. So, here are my simple rules for my upcoming CD release party that may turn it around. I’d love your feedback, too. Maybe you have some ideas that I can incorporate, even with just a few weeks away from the big event:

1. Partner with a charity and celebrate an upcoming holiday—I’m combining my upcoming CD release party with fundraising efforts, because people will come out to support a cause. Also, the venue I’ve selected to host the party, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, is helping me throw the fundraiser, as well as a coming out party for my new albums. (Plus, I can write off the party as a charitable contribution or a business expense.)

I chose to work with Bread and Broth, which helps feed the hungry here at South Lake Tahoe. And since my party is on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, people can help fund holiday meals by attending my party. I chose a non-political charity, a cause that has broad general appeal.

Gary Johnson, from JJ Entertainment, gave me this idea, because we’ve both volunteered for Meals on Wheels home food delivery for seniors in our community and we wanted to do something to help the hungry.

2. Sell raffle tickets for gift baskets containing the new CDs and other goodies—The proceeds from the sale of the raffle tickets go to the charity. It’s a great way to allow a few lucky partygoers to come away with several of my CDs for very little money, almost as a gift.

I’m inviting the charity to bring their own volunteers to handle this and collect the money from the sale of the tickets. I’m also inviting the charity to speak at the party and gather up more volunteers for their cause.

3. Give out the raffle prizes at the end of the party—Winners need to be present. I’m not into shipping baskets of goodies to winners, but more importantly, people will stay until the end of the party.

4. Allow time to schmooze—I made one grand mistake at my previous CD release parties: I brought my harp and performed for a few minutes. People want to party and not attend a concert. They want a personal connection with me. I can’t mingle at the party and perform at the same time. The two don’t mix

So, the harp stays at home, and I’ve hired JJ Entertainment to spin my CDs and make announcements, and Screenbooth Lake Tahoe to keep people happily entertained. I’ll party with guests and sign CDs, and my husband will be handling the CD sales.

5. Have specially-priced CDs available, only to guests of my party—I want my guests to feel that they are getting a deal just by attending, and I’ll give them just that. And I’ll sign the CDs, too, if they like.

6. Create buzz—I’m sending press releases everywhere, posting the party online, announcing it to the local media. It’s a fundraiser, so it is a community event as well as an event that belongs in the entertainment section of the local papers.

My previous release parties were private parties, because I wanted to limit the amount of food served. I was scared of the $$$ involved to feed everyone. But this party is a fundraiser, and the more the merrier. All that I’m asking is that if folks plan to attend that they RSVP so that I don’t run out of food :-)

7. Create anticipation—Very few folks know exactly what tracks are on these CDs. They don’t know their titles. If they want to know more, they’ll need to show up to the party. After all, the CDs aren’t “released” until the party.

Have I forgotten anything? If you’ve thrown a successful CD release party, what did you do to make it a fabulous event? Even if you aren’t a musician with CDs, perhaps you’ve hosted a great product launch party and have some ideas to contribute....

My party is November 20th, and I’ll post here again afterwards to let you know how it went...Or if you are in the area, come and celebrate with me!

Anne :-)

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