Two business models for selling CDs on Venice Beach:
- Hand a CD to a passing individual tourist in a way that suggests that it's free. When they take it and start to walk on, chase after them. Insist that you have to autograph it. Ask their name. Write their name in bold black marker on the CD's plastic sleeve, along with your signature. Then ask for a $10 donation. The tourist may be reluctant to refuse now that they've taken the CD and you've written their name on it, so you're pretty likely to make a sale. (Note: This works whether or not you're actually a musician. And, indeed, whether or not the CD actually contains anything; if you want to reduce costs, you can presumably use this “sales” technique with a blank CD.)
- Alternatively: Play great music in public. Leave a box nearby that contains a bunch of copies of your CD, with a sign asking for donations and suggesting $10 for the CD. Let people hear your music; let a crowd gather around you, listening and nodding and tapping their feet; let those of them who want to give you money do so, and let those of them who want your CD obtain it. Also, make sure your CD has your website's URL on it so the people who buy the CD can link to your site.
As you may have guessed, I find one of these approaches much more palatable than the other.
Hint: The performer in case B was Lee England, Jr, who was playing his violin beautifully on the Venice Beach boardwalk. You can read more about him and listen to some of his music at his website.