Words: Ian De-Whytell [twitter] @crash_records

Photo: Samantha Toosie [insta] @SamToolsiePhoto

During the 30+ year lifetime of the shop, we have had lots of album signings and small instore performances, but the last two years has really seen that type of promotion move up to a whole new level.


Back in the summer of 2017 we were asked to set up (at very short notice!) a pair of album launch performances for ?Paul Heaton? & ?Jacqui Abbott? at the Brudenell Social Club to celebrate the release of ‘Crooked Calypso’. This was quite a logistical challenge, but one that we dealt with pretty efficiently and both shows sold out very quickly. It was a privilege to be one of the 400 people there that night, just over a year after they had sold out the 13000 capacity First Direct Arena, and a real joy to see how their fans loved this opportunity to be up close and intimate with their musical heroes.


Since those two album launch gigs on the same night, we have gone on to host lots more events to promote releases by the likes of Suede, Slaves, Idles, Foals (twice), Declan McKenna, ?Kaiser Chiefs? (four gigs in one day!), Busted, Jack Savoretti, Elbow, Lewis Capaldi, plus many more. It is very rare that the album launches are instigated by ourselves, and although we have suggested ideas to our contacts, they usually come as requests from labels. 


The events impact in different ways. Sometimes it’s to help create a buzz on a new artist or band, like Idles or Fontaines DC. Then with someone like ?Jack Savoretti?, who has released lots of albums in the past, the launch events were part of a larger profile building plot. And Foals recently got a number 1 album with help from the small number of album launch gigs they did around the country.


The gigs are also proving to be an effective strategy for helping stimulate sales of physical product. By offering bundles that include a ticket and the new album, there has been a very healthy take up on all the releases we have helped promote. This can all help independent venues and record stores, with money filtering down, although we do incur costs for putting on the events.

When putting on popular acts at smaller capacity venues, supply and demand can be an issue of course. To keep this fair and legitimate, we launch on social media platforms, usually in tandem with the artist, and then the orders flood in, some much quicker than others. Often these shows sell out straight away, but we have lots of followers on Facebook and Twitter and they know that getting an order in ASAP is a requirement.


Touting is actively discouraged by telling customers that tickets cannot be transferred and that proof of ID may be required on entry. We also don’t allow “for sale” or “tickets wanted” posts on our Facebook event page. The way we launch though means that genuine fans find out first before any flippers can jump on a potential opportunity. 


There are quite a few people who go to lots of the events we set up and we get so much great feedback from customers who really love these small intimate performances. The artists all seem to enjoy themselves in these different, more personal settings too! They are shorter sets than a full gig and often more stripped back, but that is all part of the unique charm.