Record pools…ever heard of them? The chance is that you have not. And, there is an equal reason that you have not. And, even though major record labels have used them for years, and continue to use record pools extensively, record pools are one of the most secretive elements within the Music industry.
Yet, although record pools can literally make you and your music project an overnight success, they can also make you filthy rich. And, if you utilize enough of them often enough, you can get filthy rich!
But, let’s answer the foremost question first…what are record pools?
Record pools are music organizations that distribute the music from labels and artists to deejays who are pool members for the express purpose of obtaining music for the nightclubs in which they play/spin records. The pool is overseen by an individual referred to as a pool director.
Record labels and artists send music to record pools in order to test market their music at the least expensive cost, as well as a fast way of getting paid. Likewise, labels and artists do not charge pools for copies that they send them. Additionally, record pools are probably the fastest way to get exposure for a new release.
Okay, the pools win by getting music from labels and artists, which attracts deejays as members. Accordingly, deejays win by eliminating the need to purchase music for their nightclubs.
But! How do labels and artists win? What’s in it for them?
What is in the deal for labels and artists is:
* Quick exposure directly to music listeners
* Quick exposure directly to music buyers
But, how does the process really work? Glad you asked, because now, I have a chance to give you a step-by-step approach:
1. First, you need to have a very strong single (or singles) if you desire to release more than one single release. My advice is, regardless of your genre, if your music falls within a “commercial” aspect, i.e., Pop, Rock, Dance, Urban, Country, or any hybrid or sub genre thereof, your preference, first and foremost, should be either:
a.) A hot dance single or…
b.) A very strong tear-jerk, heart-wrenching ballad
Anything in between will simply not suffice because club goers are in clubs for (primarily) one thing…to dance, whether that is shaking their gluteus maximi to an uptempo beat, or “slow-dragging” = (old school term for grinding ever so closely while not necessarily being in love).
2. Take your selected single(s) and enhance it/them to some degree that will make the song(s) slightly different from your radio version. Ways to do that include:
* Extending the song(s) from the radio versions’ 3-4 minutes in length to 5-6 minutes in length for the nightclub versions’, since people prefer longer versions in clubs.
* Adding or modifying sound effects.
* Dropping out or fading certain instruments, or incorporating new instruments not heard in the radio version.
I believe you get the point…
3. Place your club version on vinyl, as most nightclub deejays still prefer vinyl (wax), although there are now a number of deejays that will also accept your enhanced version on CD. To cover all bases, consider placing your club versions on both vinyl and CD, if it is affordable to do so.
4. Contact record pools to learn if they have member deejays who play your genre of music in their nightclubs and, if so, the number of such deejays they have. This number from each pool will allow you to determine the number of pieces you will need for the pool(s).
Note: One such pool that actually distributes on a worldwide level is Dixie Dance Kings. DDK also holds the honor of being both the 2002 and 2003 International Dance Music Association pool of the year. DDK’s service areas include: United States, Alaska, Japan, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Saipan and Guam.
Even so, there are a number of additional record pools, however, DDK is an excellent one to begin with.
5. Once you have the number of pieces for the pool(s), and after the pool receives them, it will usually take 1-2 weeks before your music begins getting club play. Then, the response is almost instantaneous.
Note: Prior to sending out to pools, you should also ensure that you have your offline retail distribution covered so that you can get sales as a result of the club play. A good place to begin for offline retail sales is with The Orchard and New Artist Direct.
The Orchard currently pays for sales on a quarterly basis, while New Artist Direct currently pays on a monthly basis. Combined with CD Baby paying weekly, you can realize income on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Such a setup is unheard of with traditional distributors, and you will now have money in your pocket a lot sooner and more consistently.
There was a time that, when an independent artist was fortunate enough to get airplay outside of his local or regional area a couple of thousand miles away, equally unfortunate was that there wasn’t a thing he could do about it, in terms of sales. He could only weep at his potential sales losses.
These two organizations eliminate that loss, of which they have a 90%-95% concentration into offline retail stores, both major chain stores as well as independent music stores.
6. The point of making sure that your music is set up with these particular organizations is that, when club goers hear a “hot” record that they like, naturally, they want it, and they want it NOW!
And, while these two distributors do not take hundreds of your CD at a time (which is a great thing for you, as it does not tie up your product and make it difficult to get back, as with traditional distributors), these particular distributors make your music available through a national retail database so that stores can place orders instantly for their customers.
They operate much like online music sales sites CD Baby and Amazon.com do, again, with accepting only a few copies at any given time, but they are the offline versions, reaching music retailers while giving you the best of both online and offline sales worlds.
Now, you have already seen the wide distribution area of the Dixie Dance Kings record pool and, if you have not, I encourage you to review it. And, again, there are quite a number of additional record pools that, in general, serve as specialty pools to particular genres, or serve virtually all commercially viable music releases, regardless of genre.
In fact, I now encourage my radio promotion and publicity clients to try to make record pools the very first aspect of their promotion and publicity campaigns.
7. Nightclub deejays must report their club responses to your music to the pool director, generally, between 2-4 weeks. Each deejay compiles his own club response report, which he then turns in to the pool director.
The pool director then compiles a final report from each deejays report, and provides you with a copy. This report generally includes each club’s listing, address, the response rating to your music, along with an overall average score. You can then use your report as influence to obtain; more radio airplay, press coverage, distribution deals, and more.
8. Now, in addition to having a completely different version of your song(s), you also have another version of the song(s) that you can sell at retail if you wish and, as the saying goes, “getting two bangs for your buck,” or as I like to put a twist on it, “getting two bucks for your bang,” as a certain number of people will also be interested in your enhanced club version.
9. An added and peripheral benefit of having a club version of your music is that a number of record pool deejays also have specialty/mix shows on stations in their area or, they may even be a part of the main staff on their area stations.
Thus, should a nightclub deejay really like your music, and is not simply fulfilling the obligation to play your music in his club, it is very likely that you will begin receiving airplay on his area station as well.
One final note is that radio and retail work very closely within their own local and regional areas, with each apprising each other of what is getting response from listeners, and what is being asked for at retail, respectively. This is why it is vitally important that you are set up with the two aforementioned offline retail distribution services and others like them.
Now, when you begin the radio promotion and press publicity aspects of your marketing campaign, they can merely serve as “icing on the cake,” so to speak, as opposed to being the only driving factors you have to make the public aware of your music.
In fact, with now including record pools within your marketing, and being able to provide proof to both radio and press of your music’s club response, you are likely to experience much easier access to the media. And, wouldn’t that be a good thing?