How to Sell Your Album on Consignment

Getting Your Album into CD Resale Shops

woman looking through records at record store
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Selling your new release in your local record store is a great way to get some sales from among your local fans, but it isn't always clear how to sell your album on consignment.

Before you step up to the record store counter, here is what you need to know about placing your new release in a record store or CD resale shop, and how to let people know they can buy your music there.

1. Do Your Research

The local branch of your friendly neighborhood big chain store isn't likely to be the best place to try to sell your music.

Why? They almost certainly don't accept consignment product. Your time is valuable (and so is the time of the people working in the store), so before you start making calls in person, make some calls by phone or contact them online. 

Find out which local record stores in your area accept consignment product, and of those stores, find out how many copies they accept and if they have any special policies you'll need to know before you show up with your stuff.

2. Come Prepared

When you did your research, you should have found out how many copies the record stores on your list will accept. Remember that you don't have to leave the maximum number they'll take. You can't exceed it, obviously, but within their margins, bring as many of your CDs/vinyl as you like.

You don't just need the product, though. Here's what you should know and what you should bring when you go to the store:

  • Your One-Sheet: Your one-sheet will give the store employees some info about your music so they can talk about it to customers.
  • Promo Posters: If the store will let you put up posters promoting your release, bring a few by so your fans will know they can buy your music there.
  • Price: How much do you want to get for your music? Each store will have their own markup rules, so go in knowing how much you want to get from each sale, so you can work out the sticker price with the store.​
  • Promos: Have a few promo copies to give the staff for in-store play.
  • Receipt: The store may have a formal contract that they ask you to sign regarding your consignment. If they do, make sure you get a copy. Be ready with some receipts of your own just in case. The receipt doesn't have to fancy or especially formal, you just need a written record of how many copies you're leaving with the store and how much you will be getting for each sale. It should be signed by yourself and a store representative. (See next step for getting the information for filling out this receipt.) Make sure the receipt has your contact info so the store can call you if they need to.

3. Have the Conversation

When you go into the record store, ask to speak with someone who takes in the consignment product. This may be the store manager, or it might be the case that anyone in the store can do it. Discuss the basics of your consignment deal, such as the store's markup, how many copies you're leaving and if there are any rules for the details of collecting payment. This is the info you'll put on your receipt.

Last but not least, give the staff a brief description of your music and hand over the promos. Have a few extras to hand out to staff members—it always helps to have fans on the staff of a record or consignment store.

Hand over your posters and offer to hang them up yourself; they may not let you, but that's the best way to make sure they actually get put up.

4. Follow-Up

This is the most important part of putting your music on consignment in a record store: the follow-up. You would be shocked if you knew how many people dropped music off in a record store and then never returned. You should follow-up, and do so often. Why?

  • To make sure your product is out and appropriately priced
  • To make sure your posters are displayed (if store rules allow)
  • To see if you've made any sales, both so you can collect your money and so you can replenish stock as needed

Frequent follow-ups also help you build a relationship with the record store staff. These people are on the front lines of music and are excellent sources of information.

Get them invested in telling their customers about your music and soak up their advice about getting people to know your music. They see people discover new stuff every day, and they often have a hand in helping them do it.

Tips for Working with a Consignment Music Store

  • Be Nice. I can't promise you that every record store employee is going to give your music the reception it necessarily deserves, but the bottom line is, you've got to follow their store rules and policies. If you can do it with a smile, you're a step ahead, and you've made it that much more likely your product is going to get out on the floor fast. Heck, your promo might even get a spin in-store!
  • Be Responsive.  If someone at a record store tells you they need another poster, more product, that your price is way out of whack compared to other local products, or offers other feedback and advice, listen to them. They deal with customers every day and know what works in their store.
  • Stock Up for Shows.  Before you play a local show, make sure your consignment stock is replenished at all the record stores. You never know when someone is going to skip buying your music at your merch table but regret it the next day and swing by the record store looking for it.
  • Let Your Fans Know!  After your consignment deal is set, update your website to reflect where your fans can buy the CDs, and announce it on Twitter, Facebook, etc.