We have received several questions about how we select items for the CDSS Store, so we thought it best to share our process. The mission of our store is two-fold: to provide quality resources and materials to our communities and to make money for the organization. There are several questions we ask when vetting items for the store. Upon receiving an item, assuming it is of a style of music we carry, we look at whether it is a professional presentation. Is it well bound, shrink wrapped, does it sound good (audio) does it look home-made? We then look at the artist’s website. For North American items, if an artist is not touring nationally, we know from experience we will not sell many of their item even if it is a wonderful item. If an artist is only performing locally or regionally, most people will, and should, buy the items directly from the artist. Our sales come from people who have seen or know of the artist, but are not in close enough proximity to buy directly with convenience. For English dance items, we are also looking at whether or not there are any renditions of work that are not available elsewhere, particularly with CDs. Many times a track that is hard to find elsewhere will be the tipping point as to whether to carry a particular disc.
We also have others in the office listen and recommend items. We are not experts in all of the forms of music and dance that we cover, but we do have people that are well versed in all of them within reach which we use to advise us on various items.
Other questions that influence our decision are: are any or all of the artists well known, were they at camp for years (this means we have a geographically diverse group that might buy the item), and are they likely to become well known on a larger scale soon? Is the item historically important? Lastly, is it something that we think is interesting enough for our customers to purchase without these conditions being met? Some items are worth having just because they are interesting.
Finally, we have to decide whether to purchase the items outright (which we do for 60% of retail) or offer the artist a consignment (which is 70% of retail, but not paid until the items sell). The consignment model has allowed us to take a chance on some items we were not sure would move.
In the past the CDSS Store sent a rejection letter to artists whose items were not selected. This is not industry standard for the music business. The standard is that if we are interested, we will contact you. The artist is also free to contact us, which is also the standard.
To sum up, the CDSS Store policy on submissions is that we prefer to take solicited submissions. We will take unsolicited submissions but we abide by music and store industry standards. If we are interested, we will contact you. The artist is also free to contact us, which is also the standard. But you will only hear from us if we are interested in having your items in our store. This policy is set up to be fair for all submissions and not to favor anyone in particular.