Successful Album Launch of Pirates vs. Dragons


I was starting to get a wee bit worried that I made no dent at all in the CD Baby charts. But right as I started typing this blog, I checked the website. There was Pirates vs. Dragons at #12 on all of CD Baby! We did it!!!!!!

I confess I'm a bit shocked that the launch went as well as it did. I first launched this album on Kickstarter a year ago. I thought most my Gunn Runners got it then. I was wrong.

Sales in the first 48 Hours

CD Baby didn't announce it on their website until the next day after it was released. So all of the sales came from my promotional efforts.

I had a 40% off sale for about the first 44 hours that the CD went on sale.

I looked at CD Baby's Account Transactions. I think I sold 102 digital and physical copies of the album in the first 48 hours. That's 18 shy of my 120 number. But the 20% off sale will continue until August 10th. I'm fairly certain I will reach that goal by then. But will I hit it this week, which will affect my sales ranking on CD Baby?

Pirates vs. Dragons was also the #1 World Music Album on CD Baby Today!

Pirates vs. Dragons was also the #1 World Music Album on CD Baby Today!


I wish I had made a day-by-day promotion plan for this. I'm not that organized. However, I attribute to the success of this campaign to all the promotion that I led, especially over the past month.

There were 4 ways I promoted the album launch:

  1. Emails to my mailing lists (Marc Gunn and Celtic Music Magazine)
  2. Advertising in podcast episodes
  3. Word-of-mouth.
  4. Facebook and Advertising

Emails to My Mailing Lists

I don't like doing the marketer thing and sending out multiple emails to my mailing list, especially in one day. I sent out weekly reminders in the regular edition of the Celtic Music Magazine. But it was my personal mailing list to which I did most of the promotion.

I tried building up the list beforehand. I gained a few new fans. Not many, but considering my mailing list has barely grown in the past few months due to lack of touring, this was a HUGE success. I also didn't lose many subscribers, despite the frequent emails.

Here are the emails I sent

  • one month before: new music video
  • 9 days before: another new music video
  • one week before: reminder of the release, plus announcement of the special pricing and Deluxe edition
  • two days before: shared a new podcast and a reminder of the album launch
  • 7am on the morning of: I announced the CD release and 40% discount
  • 5pm day of: I sent a reminder, plus I announced a fast-action bonus for people who bought the Deluxe edition
  • 9:30am day after: I extended the discount until my Concert Window show that night

Changes for next time

I will start the lauch on the day after it goes live on CD Baby. It was tough promoting when I didn't even have a URL to promote.

Since this is not an automated process, I would make the big discount last 48 hours or until after the CD Release Party.

I would keep the Deluxe edition. There was a good response to the, even though it required emailing me a receipt to get exclusive access to it.

Advertising in Podcasts

Pirates vs. Dragons was the official sponsor of the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast for the last 4 episodes, I think. I have no way to measure the success of that advertising other than spreading the word.

I also did an episode of the Pub Songs Podcast that was directly related to the CD (Pirate Pub Songs). I released it the day before, which is a wee bit late to be effective. However, I shared it on Facebook and linked to the bands there, which spread its reach (along with advertising the show on Facebook). Again, I don't know if it attracted any new buyers or not. But it's good promotion.

Next time, I would do 2-3 podcast episodes with links to bands related to the album and tags to the bands on Facebook. This has been super effective for promoting the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast, so I could see it useful for promoting a CD Release too.

Word Of Mouth

I've never been one to ask people specifically for help. Usually I send out a bulk message to people and shyly ask you to spread the word or share. This is not a successful to get engagement.

I did email several Celtic musicians I know. I also made a public request from the pirate musicians I know. Several were kind enough to share the website.

Probably the biggest word of mouth success was my first music video for “A Pirate's Confession”. The album had over 100 shares. Was it because of the title? Or the song? I don't know. But the video was a success.

“Keep Them Soaring”, my other music video, did not get as many shares and views.

Facebook and Advertising.

Facebook was my primary means of promoting the album. I learned a lot on how to better use the page to promote my music.

I used Facebook videos to create short promos for podcasts and to communicate with Gunn Runners and to make special announcements.

I used Facebook to add a little more interaction, including a live “Making Of” video.

The big question is when to broadcast. Monday morning at 10am worked great. But Wednesday morning at 10am did not. I need to try out different times to see when I get the best engagement. And it would also help if I could schedule a time and stick with it.

Pictures on Facebook were less effective, even when I backed them with advertising. Video is by far the best means of engaging fans there.

The latest thing I started doing last week is sharing Celtic and Geek content on my page. That's something I never really wanted to do. I felt it was off target for promoting my music.

I realized last week that any content I share, might get shared, even if it's not originally mine. And I might gain a few new Likes to my page. This is a new concept that I hope to explore more as a means of growing my fans on Facebook.

Advertising Music on Facebook

Finally, advertising was essential for the promotion of the album. Unless fans tell Facebook you MUST receive my content, the reach is pathetic. That's were advertising came in.

I didn't budget or plan. It was a shot in the dark. I blindly advertised my videos in an effort to boost views and gain attention for my CD. I got a lot of views. I don't know how much ultimately equaled sales though

In all, I spent about $375 leading up to and through the launch of the album.

Pirates vs. Dragons also hit #1 for Sea Shanties!

Pirates vs. Dragons also hit #1 for Sea Shanties!

Good Album Launch

Overall, I feel this was a good album launch. I had over 100 sales in the first 48 hours which I hoped for but didn't expect.

Advertising via Facebook played a big part in its success. I still made a decent profit even with the album at 40% off and even not including the limited-edition $50 Deluxe Edition.

Admittedly, I'm not certain if I would've done as well if the album wasn't already paid for through Kickstarter. But that's another test launch for the future.