Now, that you are familiar and likely connected with online
music sales sites, such as CD Baby, or combination
online/offline retail sites, such as The Orchard, you are
probably comfortable in having your music distribution
and sales fairly covered.
But, what if you could get even more music sales, and
even more profitable income?
I'm speaking of consigning your product to retail stores,
but, with one exception...consigning your product nationally,
or even internationally.
For all concerned, "consignment" means placing your
music in retail stores on a trial basis, then collecting
payments when it sells, with the retailer keeping a portion
of your sale.
You see, as consignment goes, most musicians who
consign their music to retailers, usually limit their
consignment territory to only local retailers, or on a
regional level at most. Their reasoning is that any larger
area will be too difficult to manage.
But, that is simply not so, and they are losing a fantastic
amount of money by limiting themselves to their local
So, I am going to show you how you can easily consign
your music to retailers and be able to collect payments
for sales every thirty days (or so) via a "step-by-step"
It is important to note that the consignment process will be
most successful if you are already receiving some degree
of promotion and publicity results, such as radio airplay,
press coverage, video airplay or through your music
being played in nightclubs via record pools, of which I
have addressed in a previous article.
Otherwise, you may find your ability to move your product
from retailers' shelves almost as difficult as if you did not
have product on them. And, if you do not have some
degree of promotion or publicity, whether you have hired
such a service, or you choose to conduct it yourself,
practically, the only way that you will experience sales is
purely by retail customers' accidental discoveries of your
1. Concentrating on retailers (both major chains and
independents) in areas where you are getting radio
airplay, video airplay, press coverage or any other form
of promotion or publicity, contact retailers in these areas
who your distributors may not service. One of the best
up-to-date online sources to use, particularly, for the U. S.
This is the online version of the Yellow Pages, and you
should look in such categories as "Compact Discs,"
"Compact Disc Retailers," "Music Retailers" or similar
2. You may prefer to visit local retailers in person,
introduce yourself and make them a consignment offer,
such as the amount that you will need from each unit sale,
etc., and how often you will need to collect payment for
any sales (usually every thirty days is the normal time
frame). Retailers will also expect you to make a written
agreement available to them that spells out the terms of
3. As for retailers outside of your local area where you
are already getting promotion or publicity, you can simply
contact them via telephone and relay the same information
that you do with local retailers in person.
In both cases, you should direct them to your website,
whereby hopefully, you have your music streaming for
them to listen, as well as have a bio and other important
information regarding you and your project.
You are also free to utilize the retail consignment form
that I have already created, and which you can download,
customize with your own information, then upload to your
own website, that is freely available at
4. Once you have uploaded your customized version to
your website, your retail accounts can then simply
download it from your site, or you can fax a copy to them
if they prefer.
You will also note that I have included discounts for
retailers within this 1-page form that are designed to
dramatically reduce the number of returns that are a
commonality with retail consignment and distribution.
The less returns, the more money you make (and keep).
Additionally, you will see where I have limited the number
of units to five (5) at any given time. This is to ensure that
there are just enough copies that should sell with no
problem within a 30-day period, especially, if you already
have promotion and publicity occurring in the retailer's
area. This limit also ensures that you have enough
product to reasonably service enough retailers.
Also, with this limit, re-orders are more likely to occur
before the end of your 30-day periods. This type of retail
activity looks really great to traditional distributors who,
after seeing your product's retail track record, may contact
you to inquire about carrying your product. This will give
you stronger bargaining power with them, as well as wider
distribution, than if you did not have retail product available
And, even if distributors do not call, this will allow you to
approach them with an attractive sales history and track
Also, be sure to provide local retailers with two copies of
the consignment form to sign (carbon paper between two
original copies still works) so that both you and the retailer
5. As for retailers outside your area, or local retailers that
prefer to use the online consignment form, be sure that
they download, sign and either fax or mail the form to you
*BEFORE* you send them product. This creates an
initial record and verification of a purchase request. You
then, in turn, sign the form then return a copy to the retailer
along with his order.
6. When sending retailers product, be sure to *ALWAYS*
send your product via some shipping/tracking method. I
would, personally, use the Certified/Return receipt service
with the U. S. postal service, and I believe that the U. S.
postal service also now has tracking for 2nd Day
Air/Priority mailings as well.
These particular services are probably the least
expensive services on the market, but they will ensure
that your product doesn't get lost or stolen en route to the
retailer. They also ensure a record of the retailer having
received your product for those few unscrupulous retailers
that may not wish to pay for your product if they received
it by first class mail, but would sell it and keep its profits.
7. At 30-day intervals, contact your retailers, whether in
person or via telephone, to inquire of any sales that have
occurred. While you can pick up payments locally, you
should have distant retailers forward you a check for
payment that corresponds with the number of unit sales.
You could also have them pay you online via a credit
card through PayPal, or another such online service.
This would eliminate lost/stolen checks through the
mail, while guaranteeing your payment quicker.
8. If, for example, within a 30-day period, you have three
sales, with two unsold units with a retailer, you have the
choice of either waiting for the remaining two units to sell
prior to forwarding more product to the retailer, or you can
offer to forward three more units to the retailer. However,
it is probably best to wait until the two remaining units sell.
9. In either above case, once all five units have sold at
any given retailer, begin the complete process over,
starting with the retailer signing or faxing another copy of
the consignment form in order to ensure accurate sales
records and sales continuity for your project.
Note: Should your project begin to experience a large
sales volume, you may wish to hire someone, i.e., a
student or intern, to work this aspect of your project, and
whom you can pay a commission for each sale. This will
eliminate your need to pay hourly wages or salaries, and
will further save you money.