Mr ShaoDow: How to sell 10,000 CDs completely independently
Selling 10,000 records is a tall order, especially when you don’t have a multimillion pound record deal, a public relations team, support crews or even a manager. Mr ShaoDow, who also independently got his album to #25 in the iTunes hip-hop chart, however, worked and routed out his fans by driving to city-to-city to sell them his CDs.
I caught up with him to work out exactly how managed it.
First off, an easy one. You’ve just gone past the 10,000 CDs mark, how does it feel to have hit such a huge landmark?
To be honest with you a little disappointing, I expected a fanfare, maybe an FMV [Full motion video] ending and ‘Congratulations You Beat The High Score’ with a little space to enter SDW or maybe just ASS. But all I got was “Sorry ShaoDow the record deal is in another castle”.
Nah I feel good, but anyone who knows me knows that I celebrate victories for a short time and then I’m back to business so already my eyes are set on 15K.
My twitter went crazy with messages from the DiY Gang, congratulations, people recounting stories of when I sold them a CD and how happy they were to be a part of it. That makes me happy that not only my music inspires people but so too does my personal journey.
It also feels good to know that as an independent artist I’ve managed to achieve on my own; what some artists with a whole label and team of people aspire to do. It makes me feel that the independent route is the way forward for me.
Where do you sell the majority of your CDs? Is it in person on the road, at shows or what?
Most of my CDs are sold by me personally in city centres around the country. I like to meet the people supporting my music; over the years it’s helped me finely tune my support base.
I sell CDs at shows as well but I mainly focus on merchandise, I have SnapBacks, Wristbands, T Shirts all available. Even when I’m doing significantly better than I am now I hope I’d still find time to hit the street and meet with my people.
If a lot of your sales are in the street, does that mean that they aren’t recognised by any sort of chart?
Yes that is the annoying thing. As I’ve said in the past, the industry doesn’t know who I am, but the people sure do. Right now I’m at least ‘Street Platinum’, just nobody knows it!
This does lead to frustration as I know I should be getting more credit and attention from the traditional outlets than I actually do.
At the same time, I’m a humble guy, things happen in their own time, having said that, I do think there should be more recognition for this kind of promotion. It is extremely difficult, takes a great deal of self-belief and there are only a handful of artists in this country who can do it properly.
Tech N9ne, (one of my favourite artists) is the most successful independent rapper of all time, because he chose to bypass the label route and do things himself. I’ll be opening for him at his first ever show in the UK on the 8th of November at the O2 Islington.
How long has it taken you to get to 10,000?
I graduated university in summer 2009, whilst looking for a job as a lawyer I also went out to sell CDs in my spare time and it became more and more of a full time job.
So I’d say approximately 3 years. But I easily sell more now than I did in my first year as my technique and profile have improved.
Do you live off music 100%? You must have earned some good money off those sales?
I do indeed. DiY Gang Entertainment is my main business and ShaoDow’s music is our main export.
As it stands, I spend nearly every penny I have on studio time, music videos, my releases and I suppose keeping myself alive.
People trust me enough to pay for my music rather than download it illegally so the least I can do is use the money to give them bigger and better releases rather than flossing around with a new chain or some nonsense.
But yes to answer your question I am a full time artist in every sense of the word. Music pays my bills completely with no need for any outside income. There aren’t many artists at my level who have managed to achieve that.
One thing which strikes me from comments on the grime forum and comments on your YouTube videos is that people say “I bought one off him in Notts, bought one off him in Oxford, bought one off him in Glasgow” etc. It sounds like you must travel and tour a lot, is that a fair comment?
Very fair comment, I go nearly anywhere it’s possible to go as long as there are a good amount of people to talk to about my music. I’m proud to say I have been as far down as Plymouth, all the way up to Edinburgh and from Cardiff to Glasgow.
From personal observation, your manners and the way in which you interact with your fans is similar to JME on his Twitter account. Do you think that it’s easier to build a loyal fanbase who will actually purchase your music if you are willing to put in the work with your fans on a personal level?
Totally, 100%. My mother raised me with manners, so I find myself being painfully polite to people even if they don’t deserve it. I can’t help it!
My fans on the other hand do deserve it. They are the reason I am where I am and I can’t understand how or why you would disrespect or purposefully ignore someone who is actively supporting and complementing your music.
There may be a time when I’m too busy to respond to people as regularly as I do. But I hope to be humble enough that I wouldn’t ignore them on purpose. The great thing about selling CDs on the street is that it keeps you grounded, helps you remember where you’ve come from whilst showing you where you are going.
If you had to describe your musical style to us, how would you do it?
My music sounds like it went to China to train in Kung Fu then came back to the UK to get a law degree. Intelligent but Deadly.
On a more musical note, describe your latest Album to us, why should we buy it?
Oh, well, I suppose you need more than one word! It’s musical freedom. It’s the music I wanted to make, no influence from record labels or industry executives who’ve lost touch with what is really going on. It’s my music.
The genres range from hip hop to grime, to rock metal to dubstep to house.
Quite frankly it’s just good music. But if you don’t believe me, watch a couple music videos or listen to some samples over on iTunes. I’m confident enough that the tracks will speak for themselves.
The album is called ‘Cut The BullSpit’ and is available digitally from iTunes and physically from outlets such as HMV, Sainsbury’s and Amazon.Tagged in: 10000, album, artist, cd, grime, hip hop, Mr Shaodow, music
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