"Artists should definitely report to Soundscan."
That's a tip from Eli Spector, an executive with 33rd Street Records, about the national tracking service that releases weekly sales figures of barcoded CDs sold through retail outlets.
The Sacramento-based label, owned by Tower Records, is releasing a CD from Encinitas singer/songwriter Alex Woodard. The record-release party for Mile High is tonight.
Spector suggests that any band or solo artist looking to get signed should get their self-released CDs imprinted with a Soundscan bar code so that they can know exactly how many units have moved. Woodard said he didn't use Soundscan on his last two self-released CDs. "But I could prove I went through three [1000 CD] pressings," said Woodard. "[Label founder] Morty Wiggins could look at my touring activity and know I'm willing to do what it takes."
Wiggins is the former general manager of A&M Records. He launched 33rd Street five years ago by signing artists with an already established national track record. The label currently has a 30-artist roster including Cowboy Mouth, Ottmar Leibert, and En Vogue, all of whom have been previously signed to a major label.
"I will be in every Tower Records store," said Woodard. "My CD will be on an end cap at each store and on every listening station." Woodard said 33rd Street will also get his CD into other record retailers across the country.
The beauty of a 33rd Street record deal, said Woodard, is its simplicity. He said 33rd Street collects a flat "20 to 30 percent" for each unit sold. "It's a much easier deal."
Unlike major labels, Woodard says 33rd Street doesn't advance its artists money for recording sessions or signing bonuses that must eventually be paid back. "This way Morty doesn't have to kick down $200,000 for a recording session," said Woodard. He said the artist provides 33rd Street with a mixed-down, ready-to-go, mastered recording, and in turn 33rd Street will cover the pressing and marketing costs. The artist is free to go to another label once he sells a certain amount. "Let's say 50,000," said Woodard. "That's my deal. Plus the artist owns his own master recording."
Woodard, 32, said he moved to Encinitas after five years in Seattle. "That's where I met [Columbia recording artist] Pete Droge. He produced Mile High."
Alex Woodard (www.alexwoodard.com) appears tonight at 9 p.m. at Martini Ranch in Encinitas with Anna Troy and the Ken Garcia Band, free admission, must be 21.