CD Distribution Business Advice?

Since here on the straight dope, we are not allowed to promote our stuff without permission - I gather I can’t I can’t include a link to my site, or too much info on the project - I will try to be a bit vague - and hopefully this doesn’t break any rules. And perhaps Cafe Society isn’t the best place to post his either - but since it is relating to the art - this is where I was thinking it should be.

I am seeking advice from people in the music business - especially someone who knows about distribution. I’ve asked a couple local people I know, but they have been slow in responding (because they are quite busy themselves). I’ve been learning as I go along with this whole endeavor, but in the punk spirit, that is permissible,

The CD is a compilation of Old School Canadian punk (1977 to 1981) - we now have the 23 bands, and almost are ready for press. This is definitely a niche market, so the first run is 2000 CDs of which the bands get their copies. Also all of the 23 bands are being paid master & mechanical rights.

Marketing - I understand that well enough - I have worked in offshoots of marketing for the past 8 years, and have been working on a plan for guerilla marketing in order to get the CD reviewed and get some cheap press (the cost of a CD and the postage) - and I am working on scoring interviews.

Distribution is another story. Distribution in Canada should be covered off through Indie Pool, the company who is pressing the CD. Indie pool is also barcoding, and we are getting listed in soundscan and also we are taking a retail distribution package which they will send promo copies to 20 retailers of our choice in Canada.They also announce the CD to Canadian CD retailers by phone, fax and/or e-mail. As well, we can send out our own promotional copies to stores, and send our own letters.

The distribution deal is non-exclusive, and doesn’t cover the USA, Europe, or Japan.

The CD will have some offensive, and explicit lyrics, so I know the big guys aren’t keen on that sort of thing, but also our audience is not the sort who buys CDs at Wal-Mart or other big box retailers (most of them are boycotting Wal-mart anyway). So I was thinking our focus should be the indie stores, and since we can get distributed through Indie Pool in Canada - and they have quite an equitable deal, that maybe we should let them handle Canada instead of managing it ourselves.

From what I have read up on distributors both the big & small guys take quite a cut - so our profit margin which is getting turned around to print more CDs and hopefully produce more compilations. Also distribution is like consignment, it is kind of a gamble - you don’t know if you are going to be sent back the CDs because they don’t sell at a certain location.

We will be selling online in our site’s web store as well - and I have emailed with some people from France, Germany, The USA, and U.K. looking into distribution there, and I have some very specific questions for people who have been there.

Regarding Canada - do you think since we are releasing an indie/niche CD, does it make sense to go through Indie Pool for Canadian distribution or should we use our contacts and set up our own deals and would the hours involved outweigh the financial savings if any?

Regarding the USA - would it be better for us to talk to a label or distributor about redistributing the CD in the USA or would it be best for us to find a US distributor to handle the American side in a similar way. Do you have any suggestions for US distributors we could contact with a strong indie spirit and connections to lots of small record stores which would sell punk music?

Regarding Europe and Japan - they seem so far away, would it be best to find labels or distributors, and sell some copies at a discounted price as imports for resale or to find a distribution deal of some sort?

Regarding prices (wholesale and retail) - We are shooting for a retail price on our store of $15.99 (Canadian) and in other stores $20 (Canadian) - our margin is slimmer than most because of having 23 bands who are all paid and also the initial run being small - our costs for pressing are higher than what we’d like. What would be an equitable and acceptable wholesale price in Canadian dollars? We would like to have it set around $11.00 Canadian, but we also need money fast for a larger release.

Anyway - if you can help with an insight or some of the top secret information I just don’t have, my email is in my profile, or you can reply here.