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Once upon a time I sold CDs & DVDs in my clothing store as a side hustle – well there were a few local artists that my customers kept asking about, basically demanding their music. I approached each of these local artists & this is what happened:

Rapper #1 was pretty hot locally and doing some paid shows. I stepped to him at a show that I had booked him for and asked him to sell me a few dozen CDs wholesale so that I could put them in my store. He said “cool” and a couple of days later he pops up at my store and he has 50 CDs for me. I ask him the price & he says $10 each. So I bought ONE – and made 50 copies that I sold for $5 each. A few weeks later I ran into this rapper & he said that he heard I was bootlegging his CDs. I told him that I had looked him in his face & asked him for his music like a man, but since he disrespected me with his outlandish price – I did what I do. I told him that anytime he wants to do business that we can do business BUT I own a retail shop – I don’t buy at retail prices. I buy wholesale OR I take all the profit. We ended up coming to a mutual agreement for future business. He’ll never forget that lesson he learned tho.

You can’t expect to make money off of people without giving them room to make money.

I ended up selling close to a thousand copies of this rapper’s CDs over a period of a few months. Both of us were happy.

Rapper #2 was a great guy. He had his own duplicating machines & everything. He asked me to sell some of his CDs in my store and asked me for $5 a cd. I told him that I prefer to sell CDs at $5 each or 3 for $10. Then he offered to wholesale me the CDs for $2.50 each. I bought 60 on the spot & ended up selling a few hundred copies of his music. Later he told me that he knew if he didn’t come down on his price that he would miss ALL the money generated from interest in his record. He knew this rule when he met me that:

It’s best to compensate people correctly for helping you.

The 3rd guy was a DJ with a mixtape & mixdvd series. He brought me a box of his product and asked me what I could get for em. We talked & agreed on a price. He left me 100 CDs & 100 DVDs – I sold them in less than 2 weeks. Paid him off & grabbed another 100 each. I ended up selling thousands of his mixcds & hundreds of DVDs that made both of us some decent money. This DJ also knew a basic rule:

When other people make you money MAKE SURE that they make something too.

Now the rapper #4 was a lifelong friend of mine. He had a cd to sell and asked me to put it in my store. He said that he NEEDED $10 a cd. I explained my $5 & 3 for $10 pricing to him and he told me that it was my problem if I can’t get $10 a cd – he wanted $10 for his and if I just put them in a visible place they’d sell themselves. Since he was my friend I accepted 10 CDs on consignment. It took over 6 months to sell those 10 CDs. The saddest part was that my rapper friend had really great songs, was really hot locally & was actually getting paid shows. CD sales would’ve been a great ancillary (extra) income for him; but his greed & ignorance of how business works has him limited to local status. During those 6 months it took me to sell his 10 CDs, the DJ friend I had sold THOUSANDS of mixtapes with this rapper’s songs on them. Money that my friend could have made if he understood the business.

My friend didn’t understand the rules I mentioned earlier. He didn’t realize that my pricing was fine for me and my customers – it wasn’t a “problem” for anybody but him. Also his idea on pricing was outdated – nobody pays $15-20 for a cd from an unknown artist – that kind of pricing died in the mid90s. Today an artist can get 1,000 CDs with professional artwork, in jewel cases & shrink wrapped for $600. That’s 60 cents a cd.

Most upstart rappers have less than $5,000 tied into a project (you know y’all buy cheap studio time and lease cheap beats). So if you’ve got enough of a street following to actually sell your music, you can recoup your investment in yourself by wholesaling 2,632 copies of your music to the bootleggers & mom & pop stores for $2.50.

Before anybody chimes in about nobody buying CDs anymore – please do some research. In Urban music over 60% of sales are still physical. The more ratchet or street your music is, the more physical copies you’ll sell. Many “trap” rappers sell 2-4 times more physical copies than downloads. If you’re a hustler and promote yourself properly you can actually build a network of mom & pop stores, hood shops, convenience stores, etc that’ll keep you with a few dollars in your pocket.

Isn’t it odd how artists expect everyone to help them build their brand and following so that THEY can make money selling records and doing shows?

Whatever your reason is for reading this blog, please remember:

You can’t expect to make money off of people without giving them room to make money.

It’s best to compensate people correctly for helping you.

When other people make you money MAKE SURE that they make something too.

Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A Scratchy Throat.
A Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of music industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists.

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Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A Scratchy Throat. A Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of music industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists. Tony is also owner of Authentic Artists Alliance and exclusive booking contact for Trouble (Duct Tape Ent/2 Tru Ent), O.Z. Mr. 28 Grams (Fratt Boi Muzic Group) and Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent). For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: OGTonyG@gmail.com or Tony@aScratchyThroat.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is actually very good. While we’re discussing lessons though, it should be noted that; defining a word in parenthesis is rude. It suggests that you write for idiots who have no idea what the word means. As a reader who is not an idiot, its slightly offensive. It also takes away from good natured, informative tone that was established. Now, the piece feels like you know more than everyone else and have graced us with your great gift of wisdom.

    Just some thoughts.

    • I thank you for your evaluation and will remember to just use the more appropriate word instead of being insulting. I’m not the dumbest guy, but I really don’t want to come off as condescending. Again thanks!

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