June 17


Volume, Volume, Volume: Why you need to put out a lot of music (and other content)

By Keith Livingston

June 17, 2016

BOR, fans, merch

Think about your favorite TV show, or book, or movie. You care about the characters, don’t you? You’re interested in what happens to them (even if they’re not real people). They’ve managed to get you wrapped up in their world. That’s what you want to have happen to your fans. You want them to care about you, and your music.

In the old days, we might get a new episode of our favorite TV shows, once a week. Now, it’s different. Lately, I’ve been binge-watching shows. I find a good one, and watch it until it’s done. And then you wait for new episodes. Sometimes you have to wait 6 months. And I’ve noticed something interesting happening.

If I have to wait too long, I might stop caring. It depends on the show. Sometimes waiting can increase the anticipation. But sometimes, I lose interest. It’s like the friends from high school that you mean to keep in touch with, but you don’t ever get around to it. Eventually, you say, “Forget it; it’s not that important to me.”

So, we need people to care, and keep caring, if we want a sustainable career. At a minimum, we need to keep in touch enough so that they don’t lose interest. We do that by regularly producing content. Music videos, new songs, interviews, covers, behind the scenes stuff — all of it.


If you’re interested in making a career out of music, or making more money, at least, putting out a lot of content is really useful. The reason? Simple economics.

If you have a merch table at the back of your gigs, and you have two CDs to sell, instead of one, you’ll make more money. If you have three CDs, and you sell them as a special package deal, you’ll probably make even more. Some people (your super-fans), will buy everything you have for sale.

Let’s run some numbers (I know you love that part).

The Merch Table And Package Deals (BOR)

Let’s say you sell your CD for $12, and your profit/CD is $10 (costs are $2/CD). You have a gig, and you sell 10 CDs. Your profit is $100 (10 x $10). Now, let’s suppose you have 2 CDs for sale, and you do a “buy one for $12, or both for $18” deal. Your profit on 1 CD is still $10. Your profit on two is $14. The same 10 people buy, but 3 of them choose the two-fer. You’ve added $12 to your coffers. Now you can retire!

But what if you have your 2 CDs, plus a Christmas album, an EP with acoustic versions of 4 of your most popular songs (not available for sale anywhere else), a band t-shirt, and a download card with 4 bonus tracks on it? It’s a $65 retail package, and it’s available at the gig for only $40. Your profit is $25, on that one (I’m just spitballing here).

Not only will some people buy that package, but it’s likely that more folks will go for your two-fer package. Why? When presented with three options, many people choose the middle one. They don’t want the platinum package, but the silver package sounds better than the copper package, eh?

And after hearing $40, $18 sounds cheap. It’s the same reason that they say, in infomercials, “But it’s not $200, or even $150. It’s only 3 easy payments of $35.”

You get the idea. The amount you earn in BOR sales (back-of-room), is highly dependent on how much you have to sell.


And let’s take a look at email lists, or promoting on social media.

If you have an email list, and release 3 CDs/year, compared to 1/year, that’s 3 chances for people to buy your stuff, rather than 1. It may not triple your profits, but it will raise them significantly.

Now, if all this talk of money and selling makes you uncomfortable, I understand. It’s hard to put yourself out there. You don’t want to feel like a salesperson. But let me offer a couple of different ways of thinking about it. There are people out there who will love what you do, and want to support you. Give them a chance to do it. Also, you know how much time and energy it took for you to be as good as you are. And each piece of content you create, takes time and effort, whether it be writing music, recording songs, or playing live. Your time is worth something.

Or, you can give your music away. I admire that choice. But for me, it’s a practical matter. It takes a ton of time to make music the way I want to make music. I simply can’t afford to spend that much time on something without it earning some money.

In short, it’s a good idea to produce a lot of content, to keep your fans happy, and to make more dough.


Keith Livingston

About the author

Keith Livingston started recording his own music in the late '70s, on a 4-track. He worked his way into live sound and studio work as an engineer -- mixing in arenas, working on projects in many major studios as a producer/engineer, and working in conjunction with an independent label.

He taught audio engineering at the Art Institute of Seattle, from 1990-1993, and in '96, contributing to authoring several college-level courses there.

He was General Manager of Радио один (Radio 1) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Now he spends his time recording his own songs wherever he roams, and teaching others to do the same.

You might also like

More Music Marketing Mistakes — Goals & Strategy
Music Marketing Mistakes
ROI For Musicians — What Is It And Why Do You Need It?
Selling Swag, Perks, & Promoting A Cause
Music Isn’t Valued — What Can You Do?
People Who Won’t Pay $.99 For Your Download
Super-fans & Regular Fans
When To Ignore Feedback On Your Music
Music Marketer Suggests Possible Copyright Violations
Adding A Donate Button
Resonate Your Vibe
Musicians — Take Your Power Back
Are You A Commodity, Or Something Special?
Should Your Music Website Front Page Be A Squeeze Page?
Protect Your Fans
Your Ideal Fan
Making An End Card For Your YouTube Videos
Nobody Gives A Rat’s Ass About Your Music
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}