First off, the entire gang at Double Deal would like to thank all of you for your help, information and support throughout these first two weeks. We know it hasn't gone as smoothly as we all hoped it would, but the time restrictions we were pushing ultimately got the better of the situation, but I'm happy to report that most, if not all of the national retailers (save for Target) should be fully stocked this week, and more product is still being allocated to the early break out markets to meet demand. We are now getting to a point where the various retailers computerized inventory systems are adjusting to the demand and everything is falling into place with auto-replenishment. Best Buy has said that their stores should all have their inventory in place this week, including a special signing bin cards that says "Idol Finalist Ayla Brown" for all stores carrying the album. (Keep in mind that with all retailers, they may not stock it in all stores, depending on the depth of the selection in each store, and the store's specific sales strengths. Ayla's album may not be stocked in a Best Buy that sells predominantly rap and rock music.) Wal*Mart's additional inventory should hit by week's end at the latest.
Thanks for all the kind words about DD in the various postings, I'm glad Jim posted the NCAA reg's for all of you to see, we are up against the impossible in some ways with promoting this album, but we agreed at the outset and this was always part of our knowledge and agreement with the Browns. When Jim and I sought out Ayla and asked her if she would like to make this record with us, it was because we thought she was an amazing talent and an amazing person, pure and simple. We knew that music, basketball and college are all very important to Ayla, and we entered into this agreement with the full understanding and our full support of her college and basketball careers.
Because Ayla was beginning college, we had to release the album. I spent 20 years of my life working for major labels and managing major label bands. My partners in DD have a combined 100 years of experience at major labels, we understand that this record was not set up in a traditional way. We just plain didn't have that luxury, we barely had the time to get the record made, replicated and shipped out, and I'm very proud of what Ayla, Jim, Peter and the whole team accomplished. We didn't have 6 months to set up a record, we had a street date seven weeks after signing a contract, with digital and single releases timed ahead of that to meet the NCAA guidelines. Our plan has always been to get the record out, rely on our core fan base to spread the word, and throughout the fall we'll capitalize on as many opportunities as we can to publicize the album.
You see the various magazine and newspaper articles continuing to come, and Scott has been amazing in getting us so many of these opportunities locally and regionally. Northeast radio is just starting to bubble, and we have a regional promotion guy who began working the album at radio last week. Jim has also detailed in the other threads all the progress at radio. We have plans to go to national radio in January, after more space frees up in stations playlists with all the fourth quarter releases out of the way. (Most radio station playlists 'freeze' in early December to be replaced with specialty programming, holiday music, top 200 of 2006 shows, etc.) We're still determining which single to go radio with nationally, it's interesting for us to be able to watch the early breakout songs, both in SoundScan track sales units and in public opinion on the net and in reviews.
This is going to be a slow build, we always knew that, this is old fashioned artist development; cultivate a great core fan base, start to concentrate your efforts to breaking the artist in a region, gain some traction and then start to spread to other regions. This is what indi labels are all about.
What we feel gives Double Deal an advantage is that we are all major label veterans, we know how the system works and we're working it slowly. In many ways, as an indi, we already have a great victory in that we are in Wal*Mart's $9.72 program, we are in Best Buy with custom bin cards, we're in all Transworld stores nationwide (at least in some quantity in all the right stores, and covered really heavy in our targeted Northeast region) and had a web exclusive autographed album promotion with FYE.com. Even Ace's single, another indi release, hit itunes half way through last week, two and a half weeks after it was announced it was going to be there. I'm not dissing Ace at all, he did amazing at getting it posted as quickly as he did also. It's a struggle for everyone on the indi level, that's what makes it both frustrating and extremely exciting. A couple of other bottom 12 finishers from this season have released albums, but none of them are in stores nationwide next to Ayla. And I'm not being defensive, because we don't need to be. We've come very far considering Ayla first stepped into the vocal booth two months ago.
Except for the couple of obvious distribution problems we've been forced to work through, this has come off about as we anticipated, and we're well primed and in place to enter the holiday season here with strong representation in the Northeast, magazine articles and reviews coming in November, radio on the way and more publicity opportunities coming in weekly. We feel we have a great record and a great artist in Ayla, and we're psyched to continue to move forward, spread the word, and move the album to a national platform as soon as we are set up and in a position to do so.
For us right now, this is all about climbing up the charts, that's more exciting anyway. I've never been one to fall for the big debut theory, one of the things I don't really like about the current music biz. When I was a high school music fanatic in the 80's, it was all about what was climbing up the charts, but this was all pre-SoundScan. What did "Thriller" sell first week? I couldn't tell you, but we didn't have SoundScan and Entertainment Tonight then. All I know was that I was one of the first in my high school to buy it, and I told my friends and they bought it, and pretty soon everyone was listening to it. It used to take weeks, if not months, for albums to reach the top 10. Pre-SoundScan and they debut-obsessed 90's, they were only a literal handful of albums to ever debut at #1. Again, call me old-fashioned, but it seems like this is what we can do best as an indi, build up career's slowly and develop great artists.
Ayla's restrictions with school and the NCAA severely limit her ability to perform and our ability to publicize the album in a traditional way. Trust me, we could have hired a publicist for however many thousands of dollars, but it would have been a waste of our money and their effort, because we could not have committed to many of the opportunities the publicist might present. Instead we're pursuing as many features and reviews as Ayla's time allows, with national entertainment and music magazines being solicited now for featues, and looking at as many other ways to get the music out there in addition to radio as we can, such as placement in TV shows, etc. We also have a building team of store reps, who are beginning to visit stores in their regions to pass out stickers and promos to the music retailers, hang posters, check stock and try to get our disc featured in the store. (If you are interested in doing this in your city, minimal time commitment per week, let me know. Northeast especially.)
We're going to do everything in our power and experience to build this album and become a hit with a single or two on the radio, and we'll be following this up with Ayla's second album next summer. We're committed long term to making great albums with Ayla and getting them to as many fans as we can. Double Deal also has a couple more albums coming in the next 5 months which we hope to use to build synergies and spread the word even more between all the fan bases of our artists.
Yeah, we're a small label and just building up our catalog and our machine, but I think all of us are off to a great start. As the set up continues this fall in the northeast and word begins to spread, I'm confident the team at DD will deliver a very successful indi release, and if the stars line up just right, a huge smash hit. (Here's hoping!)
Thanks again to all of you for your support, help and suggestions. Keep them coming, we appreciate all the suggestions and all the criticism, we learn from it all. Let us know what we can do to help you spread the word!