CD Underbelly: To Sell, or Not to Sell? 

On Randall Roberts' "Confessions of a Promo-CD Junkie"

Wednesday, Oct 15 2008

Promo Nation

I would like to comment on the premise of Randall Roberts’ article [“Confessions of a Promo Junkie,” Sept. 26-Oct. 2] asking if promo CDs are worth the waste or not. I think it is a reverse-cynical question that is like asking if bad paintings are worth the wasted canvas and paints.

Of course, every person who works inside the music business likes to think that artists are creating for the sole sake of getting people’s attention in this business, like a whore using her garments to heighten the arousal of potential clientele. This sell-out mentality is what really creates this waste of music and pure lack of talent that’s being exploited. For nearly three decades, the music industry has been able to survive almost unchecked by supplying mostly meaningless garbage music to people, and that is the real reason that people aren’t interested.

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Now people have more options, but it’s really less, because the availability of this computer culture is a double-sided coin. On the one hand, it gives more power to the consumer. On the other, it’s making instant dullards out of everyone, and the only thing that’s stopping this trend is this spiralling economy, which is going to make the computer generation null and void cuz they’re gonna have to hustle on the streets, which’ll mean more live music and more whores showing off their garments. So be happy!

Posted by Hal from L.A., Oct. 8


Excellent, brave piece. Some salient points: Collectors LOVE promos, and record companies should NOT hound the people “selling on” promos. The digital wave is a tsunami and it IS too late to stop the flood. Why hound a guy selling a promo, as you say, when this music can be downloaded freely on the Web? Time to rethink business models, as the horse has bolted from the gate.

Posted by Music Biz Guy from London, Oct. 5


Very few music reviewers get paid anything on top of the actual gift of the CD. So many of us keep the exceptionally few appealing CDs (give the crap like that new Lindsey Buckingham to our dads and the ultrapop to our little sisters) and then bring the balance to a CD reseller. Who could blame us? That CD is our renumeration, and as long as it’s past the street date, why does it matter that we sell it?

Posted by WriterGal from Canada, Oct. 8


I run a small label (Silber — www.silbermedia.com) and run my own promos because part of my whole musical goal is building a sense of community. So I’m literally in touch with at least 80 percent of the people the promotions go to. I have no problems with anyone reviewing a record and then selling it, especially if they sell it to a record store — it’s almost like an advertisement because that store might never have that disc on the racks otherwise. Where I do get irritated is people selling the discs on eBay without reviewing them. eBay-ing promos is in direct competition with small labels.

Posted by Brian John Mitchell from Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 9

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