Did you know you only have to sell about 450 albums in one week to make the Billboard HeatSeeker Chart? Believe it or not, there have been many unsigned artists hitting the Billboard Charts in the last year. There are many ways for unsigned artists to sell their music online and even in retail stores. But is that all it takes to get you on the charts? No.
Here are the 5 Secrets To Hit The Billboard Charts:
1. Get a UPC code – Most CD duplication companies offer to put UPC codes on your CDs (some for free but most for a fee). It is worth the $30. You should not pay more than $30 for a UPC code. If a company charges you more than that, go to UPCexpress.com and get one for $29. You can give the CD duplication company your UPC code to print on your CDs.
2. Register for SoundScan – How does Billboard create the top album charts? Because of Nielson SoundScan. Every time you buy a CD at a store (most stores) or online, a computer system counts that CD purchase. At the end of every week, the top album sellers are released on Billboard. And if your CD does not have a UPC code, you don’t qualify for Nielson SoundScan. But even having a UPC code doesn’t automatically qualify you. You must register your CD and UPC code on the SoundScan site. Once you register, your online and retail CD sales will count towards the weekly charts. However, not all online or brick-and-mortar retailers report to SoundScan. Call or email the retailer to find out.
3. Set Up A Pre-order – What is a pre-order? It’s a period of time (up to 8 weeks) where fans can buy your CD before it comes out. They receive the CD the week of your CD release. But all the sales up to the release of your CD counts towards your 1st week sales. For example, if you sell 300 CDs in a 6-week pre-order period and sell 200 the week the CD comes out, your first week sales will be 500 which would be good enough to hit the Billboard HeatSeeker Chart (usually 450 albums will qualify for the Top 150 on this chart).
When you register your music for digital downloads through Tunecore or another site, set the release date for a minimum of 6-weeks in advance to ensure your EP/album will be out in time to correspond with your pre-order. Otherwise, your first week numbers will not include both your physical pre-orders and first week sales numbers.
***Again, make sure you set your pre-order up with a company who reports their CD sales to SoundScan. This is crucial. Simply email/call the company and ask.***
4. Bundles – Because of the downloading trend, a lot of people get their music for free online or only buy singles. Labels and bands are starting to “bundle” up their CDs with merchandise. Bundle up your pre-order CD with a Tshirt (CD/Tshirt for $15 etc.) and offer the CD seperately. Give your fans choices. But don’t only keep the bundle up during the pre-order. Keep the bundles up permanently! You can bundle up your CD with posters, autograph booklets, stickers, Tshirts and hundreds of other items. This will definitely increase your sales.
Give your fans a reason to buy your whole CD instead of just the singles.
5. Promote – I can’t say this enough. You have to promote your music and don’t stop. Reach out to as many webzines as you can to review your CD or just post about your pre-order. Post it all over your MySpace. Send out an email blast from your mailing list. Make banners and post it on all the websites that have your band profile.
Also, try to get front page coverage on sites like Purevolume during the week of your release. This extra exposure will definitely increase your sales. Offer these sites exclusive rights to stream a new song for a week in exchange for front-page coverage.
Other ways to help your 1st week numbers is to get your CD in your local Hot Topic stores during the week of the release. But you must coordinate this weeks in advance.
Use these tips and I’ll see your band on the Billboard charts!