Book Music Network Works to Introduce New Artists to Booksellers

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Many independent bookstores are looking for ancillary business to increase profits, and record labels are constantly seeking new outlets to promote established, and up-and-coming, artists. Enter, the Book Music Network [BMN]: a company that’s hoping, with assistance from Book Sense, to offer a marketing solution to both industries. In April, BMN will begin mailing to independent bookstores free monthly compilation CDs showcasing a large selection of artists. The hope is that the CDs will give booksellers a clearer idea of which type of music works in their store, and ultimately, what will sell the best.

"This [market] is an untapped resource for music companies and independent bookstores," said George Gerrity, one of the four partners for the Hoboken, New Jersey-based BMN.

The concept behind BMN evolved from the Café Music Network, a company founded by Deborah Flanagan, who is now a BMN partner. Café Music Network offered independent coffeehouses throughout the U.S. compilation CDs of emerging artists. The idea worked, mainly because it gave music labels a new avenue for marketing artists, and it gave coffeehouses good music to play and sell in their cafes.

Flanagan eventually sold the company, and is now working with Gerrity (a former Café Music Network client), to bring the same concept to independent bookstores. Thus far, Gerrity said, several major record labels have shown interest in the program. And BMN is counting on the participation of independent music labels as well, many of whom share qualities similar to independent booksellers. "Independent labels will be key to the program," Gerrity said. "In many ways, they’re the most aggressive and inventive companies, in terms of niche marketing. This will be a good way for them to expose artists."

Book Sense will act as BMN’s "conduit" to the independent bookselling community, Gerrity continued. BMN sent out a survey in Book Sense’s February white box, and it plans to send the same survey in the March white box. The survey is meant to ascertain bookstore interest in selling music, to determine the store size, and to find out what type of music most appeals to them, among other things. Gerrity noted that initial bookseller response to the BMN idea has been "very positive." Additionally, compilation CDs will be included in upcoming white boxes.

Certainly, data is the key to all good marketing programs, and the BMN program is no exception. The company plans to include a questionnaire with each CD it mails. "We’re going to ask bookstores to take a few minutes to fill out a research sheet regarding the different songs on the CD," Gerrity explained. "This will be a tool for the record companies, but it’s important for bookstores too, because it will help us serve them better."

For more information on the Book Music Network, call (202) 330-1804, or e-mail at [email protected]. -- David Grogan