In the era of social media, many artistes and music producers no longer rely on the muscle of major record companies to push their product.
Singer/songwriter desmond the songwriter has gone back to square one by selling his first album on the streets.
In recent months the Jamaican artiste has pitched vinyl copies of Happiness is Priceless in New York City where he lives. Midtown, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and live shows are some of the places he has sold the set which was released in 2020.
"It is very important for me to promote my music in the streets because, while the technology and the Internet is useful, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction with fans and prospective fans. 'Every mickle mek a muckle.' Also, earnings from streaming is laughable, except for superstars. If it wasn't for sales of physical product [vinyl records, CDs and T-shirts] in the streets and at shows I probably would have gone out of business already," desmond the songwriter told the Jamaica Observer.
Happiness is Priceless made Pop magazine of Britain's Top 50 Albums for 2020. That list had albums by heavy hitters such as John Legend, Taylor Swift, and Alicia Keys.
Another Guess Coming, desmond the songwriter's second album, was released in February but is available only on streaming platforms.
Born in Kingston, desmond the songwriter says he first shopped his music on the streets over 10 years ago. It started with his EP, Losers Never Win, which was released while he was a student at University of Southern California.
"I sold my first 100 CDs on the streets of Los Angeles in one week and never looked back. I sold 2,000 copies of the EP on the streets of New Orleans while I was down South studying between 2011 and 2013," he said. "Happiness is Priceless also charted three times on the Luminate [previously known as Nielsen SoundScan] Reggae Chart because of sales of physical product which I was able to report to Nielsen."
For many years, artistes without major label backing sold their albums and merchandise at show venues. Since Nielsen SoundScan began collecting data for publications such as Billboard magazine in 1991, independent acts have reported their sales to that company.
There are other benefits of selling albums on the streets, according to desmond the songwriter.
"You also meet influential people in the streets such as promoters, radio DJs, booking agents, publicists, etc. That has been helpful in booking shows and getting airplay and publicity," he said.