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View Full Version : CDs - worth making any more?



John Beef
01-28-2013, 01:18 PM
Our band put out an album back in November. It's been available for download from Bandcamp at a name your price download. We've had a few sales but mostly have been giving it away for free. That's fine with us for two reasons: 1) We're in it for us, as hobbyists, just to have fun. We have day jobs and expect very little being an all original local band with no ambitions for making this our living. 2) We recorded it ourselves using equipment we already had at our house, so there were no expenses associated with putting the record out other than basic consumables like strings and drum heads.

My experience has been that CDs don't sell any more. For lack of a better way to distribute our music at live shows, we've been burning CDs with lightscribe tops and giving those away for free at shows. We make 20 CDs for each show, and at our show this weekend we gave away 19 of them. There's no telling if anyone would have bought them if they were professionally packaged and available only for sale.

However, it's a pain in the rear to have to make 20 CDs every time. We could have someone like Discmakers do 100 CDs in cardboard sleeves for $260, then charge $3 per CD just to recoup our costs. But like I said before, it's been my experience that if someone has even an extra $3, they're more likely to go to the bar and order a bottle of PBR than buy a full length CD, even if they're really into your set.

What is your opinion on the matter?

Windymiller
01-28-2013, 01:37 PM
My band recorded a c.d back in Dec 2011, since then we've manged to sell maybe a hundred of them at shows for 5.00 (U.K) each.
Very much like yourselves we are in it for fun, and the recording was done at the drummers house with existing equipment.
We now mostly give them away to anybody interested in booking us or to venues where we would like to play.
They went quickly at first, but now apart from a a small core of our following who constantly bug us for a follow up the sales are very few.
We just did one initial run of 200 or so, but when they are gone that will be it.

themike
01-28-2013, 02:04 PM
From this point forward I think physical CD's should be printed with the sole purpose of giving die hard fans something special. Limited number, hand signed and include a few little nick nacks like a signed poster or something along those lines. That way the people you know will invest money into merch from your band willl get something cool and worth while, while also getting a little more than your average price for it i.e. since its limited, you can charge 15-20 for it with the poster.

But for the most part, a majority of people for some forsaken reason (lazy) like to buy records digitallly via iTunes. There is no longer a need for bands to print 200-1000 batches of CDs unless they want to pass them along to their grand children haha

Mike Duncan
01-28-2013, 02:22 PM
I love having a physical CD that I can call my own. Sounds weird, but I feel like I'm part of "it".

garrett
01-28-2013, 02:49 PM
I'm slowly going away from CD's. I too love to have something physical in my hands and I very much lament how digital copies usually don't include booklets with pics, art, lyrics, credits, etc.

If anything, I'd like to produce some in simple sleeves like a mini version of a vinyl record. I've seen that Disc Makers also has a package where they give you download cards to give out or sell at shows. Each one gives the buyer a code to download the album.

But CD's are definitely a dying medium. Why wrangle with a few discs in the car, when I can play my entire collection from my phone? I used to bring a bunch to work to listen to, but again, I bring the whole collection with me on my phone now. I'm not an audiophile, so the difference between 320k mp3 and a CD is nil. Why deal with discs at home? Connect my phone to the sound system via Bluetooth and rock out. Want a new album? BANG! It's yours to listen to instantly. I figure the easier you make it for people to listen to your music, the better.

You could also play the green angle or the storage angle. No physical product to take up space at home, no materials ending up in landfills, no waste or pollution from production and distribution.

LSchefman
01-28-2013, 02:57 PM
The only suggestion I'd add is to have downloads available in a higher-reolution format, such as WAV or AIFF, in case people ARE into higher quality sound (I am) and don't enjoy listening to lossy mp3 formatted music. People can play WAV or AIFF on iTunes or other music players, no problem.

alantig
01-28-2013, 10:25 PM
Until there are lossless downloads and no other option, I'm a physical CD guy. I may do most of my listening from my iPod, but that's strictly for convenience. When I want to really hear the music, it's CD. Or LP. Or the occasional cassette (my 8-track player isn't hooked up right now).

vchizzle
01-29-2013, 12:58 AM
I have maybe 1000ish CDs and not really more room to store them. If I REALLY love the band I'll buy a cd, or sometimes if they are a smaller band I will, to support. Most of the time I'll just take the lossy. Last physical CDs I got were Soundgarden King Animal and Zep - Celebration Day.

I say if you're giving away do it as cheap as possible. You might be able to find someone local to you to make small runs cheaper.

Daniel
01-29-2013, 01:27 AM
I too like having the physical product. The only time I buy anything from itunes is when I want one song and I know there's nothing else on the album I like enough to pay for. My favorite way to buy an album these days is where the artist puts it out on vinyl and includes a free digital download. That way I've got the vinyl, which sounds better than digital, and I've got the digital for the ipod. If I go see a local band or a smaller touring band I like and they have CDs for sale at the show, I'll buy one. The going rate around here is $15-$20.

John Beef
01-29-2013, 10:32 AM
You guys who like the physical CD, do you routinely see local bands?

If there's one whose set you liked, would you buy their CD if it had 8 songs for 3 bucks?

EDIT: These questions apply to bands that write music, and for whom original music is the bulk of what they do.

rugerpc
01-29-2013, 10:51 AM
I prefer CDs. When I buy music, I want top be able to use it on any device I choose,any time I choose. I can convert the music to suit whatever device is doing the playing.

This is definitely NOT the case with most downloaded music (and movies, podcasts, videos, books, etc). Three ugly letters: DRM.
DRM is the bane of the arts.

Add to that, when we purchase downloads, you don't actually get anything. Where is the artwork? Where is the physical item you can use as your archive?

I love the iTunes store - I hate the product and the feeling that I'm not getting what I should be getting for my money - unlimited use on any device I own. For the same price, I can get a physical CD from Amazon, etc and actually have something.

So - I use digital downloads only for things I cannot find anywhere else.

As for local bands - if I like their music I will buy their CD - even if it is priced like big commercial CDs at $12 or $15. If we don't support the people making the music we love, there will be no more music.

garrett
01-29-2013, 01:32 PM
Google Play is 320k, no DRM. You get it in the cloud as well as a copy to download to your PC. I do not buy anything from iTunes because of the DRM. I only ever buy digital when it's on sale, too. If I want something that's going for $10 on mp3 I just spend the extra few bucks for the CD. I think a most of the mp3 albums are overpriced for what you get.

Most of my music is in the Google cloud (which allows you to download all of it back to a machine). ALL of my music is on my physical hard drive which is backed up to the cloud using CrashPlan. So I have contingencies to save most, if not all, of my music in case anything goes wrong.

alantig
01-29-2013, 10:38 PM
This is definitely NOT the case with most downloaded music (and movies, podcasts, videos, books, etc). Three ugly letters: DRM.
DRM is the bane of the arts.

Agree about DRM - while I understand the intention, it was not good for the consumer and the backlash wasn't good for the industry. (Going somewhat OT - DRM is why I'm very leery about Blu-Ray. They update the codecs periodically, and if you don't update you can't play newer discs. From there, it's not a large leap to turning off older codecs and rendering your five-year-old disc obsolete in order to get you to buy the new reissue.)

That said, iTunes and Amazon are both DRM-free now. Amazon DLs are MP3, but Apple's are still M4A or M4V (can't remember the extension). There are ways to convert to MP3, but I can't remember if you can do it directly in iTunes.

sergiodeblanc
01-29-2013, 10:43 PM
Screw that attitude, get sleeves with UPCs and sell those suckers! People still buy physical copies of CD's and records in your bands genre, and I think it gives the appearance of being more professional if you have merchandise.

I feel that free/promotional material is a good thing, but burning twenty CDs each show and giving them away is too much. I can also say (although it makes me feel like a jerk) that I have never been given a free burned CD that I ever really listened to.

I had this same discussion with a great band of young fellows that I play with in a band called Debello. It is an Indie Rock/R&B band with incredibly talented young men who have the least amount of ambition in seeing their band succeed in a professional capacity. They would do the same thing; give out free CDs and leave the t-shirts at home, and then they would complain about how being in a band was expensive and not going as well as they would like! I started making them print CD's and put a price of three bucks on 'em, sold fifteen the first show, gas to the gig was now reimbursed. Sold seven t-shirts at the same show at ten buck a pop= $70.

It can be an amazing thing for band morale and its subsequent creativity if the members feel as though their talent has value. Just try it; place a value on your talent for three bucks and see if you feel better about two people you know liked your band enough to pay for a copy, or if you feel better wondering if twenty people just threw it out.

John Beef
01-31-2013, 01:51 PM
I have never been given a free burned CD that I ever really listened to.
Well, we basically put them on a box at the front of the stage and let people take them at will, rather than forcing them on someone who said "good set" after the show. So, that's promising.


Just try it; place a value on your talent for three bucks and see if you feel better about two people you know liked your band enough to pay for a copy, or if you feel better wondering if twenty people just threw it out.
You're absolutely right about this! Excellent point.

We have enough in our band fund to get 100 printed up so I think that's what we're going to do. Thanks everyone for piping in on the matter.

Sage
02-01-2013, 12:35 AM
I prefer CDs. When I buy music, I want top be able to use it on any device I choose,any time I choose. I can convert the music to suit whatever device is doing the playing.

This is definitely NOT the case with most downloaded music (and movies, podcasts, videos, books, etc). Three ugly letters: DRM.

Actually, DRM is rare now. Apple went DRM-free years ago, and Amazon and Google Play never had it to begin with.


Add to that, when we purchase downloads, you don't actually get anything. Where is the artwork? Where is the physical item you can use as your archive?

Having a massive library of content without having to physically store a bunch of discs is as much an advantage as it is a drawback. To me, the real value in CDs is having an uncompressed backup of your music, but that's becoming less important thanks to newer audio formats and cloud services.


I love the iTunes store - I hate the product and the feeling that I'm not getting what I should be getting for my money - unlimited use on any device I own. For the same price, I can get a physical CD from Amazon, etc and actually have something.

Digital downloads rarely cost as much as the CD. This is especially true if you're only purchasing one or two tracks.


Amazon DLs are MP3, but Apple's are still M4A or M4V (can't remember the extension). There are ways to convert to MP3, but I can't remember if you can do it directly in iTunes.

You can, but it's a bad idea for two reasons: One, transcoding from one lossy format to another means a larger net loss in sound quality, and Two, the AAC format (which is what Apple uses, the filename extension is .m4a to denote the mpeg-4 container) is vastly superior to mp3. It's a newer, more advanced format, part of the mpeg-4 specification and designed specifically to be the successor of mp3. Spectrographic analysis shows that a 128k AAC waveform is much closer to the uncompressed original than mp3 can deliver, and iTunes uses a standard bitrate of 256k. And support for AAC is common now. Even my car's factory stereo will play it.


Google Play is 320k, no DRM. You get it in the cloud as well as a copy to download to your PC. I do not buy anything from iTunes because of the DRM. Most of my music is in the Google cloud (which allows you to download all of it back to a machine).

iTunes got rid of DRM years ago. The only reason they had it to begin with was that they were the first major digital distributor and the record labels wouldn't let them operate without it. They've also got cloud storage and the ability to download to any device connected to your account. Plus for a subscription fee they have a matching service that allows you to access their copy of the songs you've ripped from CDs as well.


The only suggestion I'd add is to have downloads available in a higher-reolution format, such as WAV or AIFF, in case people ARE into higher quality sound (I am) and don't enjoy listening to lossy mp3 formatted music. People can play WAV or AIFF on iTunes or other music players, no problem.

mp3 compression is one thing, but if you can hear the difference between 256k AAC and lossless, then you've got a pretty amazing set of ears. I still occasionally buy CDs because I like having an uncompressed backup, but I rarely actually listen to anything lossless these days. It's a waste of bandwidth to distribute that way, but if you really have your mind set on it, you'll want to use FLAC and/or Apple Lossless instead of WAV or AIFF.


Until there are lossless downloads and no other option, I'm a physical CD guy. I may do most of my listening from my iPod, but that's strictly for convenience.

You can always rip your CDs to Apple Lossless if you want iPod compatibility.

Albrecht Smuten
02-01-2013, 04:02 AM
All citey, foolz!

JDBRADSHAW
02-01-2013, 08:51 AM
When I record my instrumental guitar rock,I always press off about 500 cds to sell.....and people still like to buy cds...You can also purchase digital downloads of my music at CD Baby,Amazon too

garrett
02-01-2013, 09:44 AM
iTunes got rid of DRM years ago. The only reason they had it to begin with was that they were the first major digital distributor and the record labels wouldn't let them operate without it. They've also got cloud storage and the ability to download to any device connected to your account. Plus for a subscription fee they have a matching service that allows you to access their copy of the songs you've ripped from CDs as well.

Ah, interesting. I wrote iTunes off years ago and haven't even visited the store in years.

The Apple cloud stuff is cool if you are all-in with their products, which I'm not, so it's not a good solution for me.

I think it would be fun to do a blind sample of mp3 at various bit rates, lossless digital, CD and vinyl to see if people can accurately tell them apart.

John Beef
02-01-2013, 11:00 AM
I think it would be fun to do a blind sample of mp3 at various bit rates, lossless digital, CD and vinyl to see if people can accurately tell them apart.

It would probably be like the tonal difference between IRW and BRW fretboards on a guitar. Well, as long as the MP3s were 256 and above.

I remember in the early days of MP3s, back when most people were using dial-up, some were ripped at 64Kbps and they sounded truly terrible, but at least they didn't take all day to download one file. Nowadays I can't tell the difference between 256Kbps MP3s and CDs. Maybe I don't have reproduction hardware capable of emphasizing those differences.

Also, I never used iTunes. I never bought into the whole Apple proprietary trap. Somehow they did it and got away with it (probably because they were 1st with a lot of these products and had the ability to market them so well). Can you imagine if PRS guitars could only be played with PRS cables/straps/strings and PRS amps? Would you ever consider buying PRS anything if that was true?

alantig
02-01-2013, 11:40 PM
Also, I never used iTunes. I never bought into the whole Apple proprietary trap. Somehow they did it and got away with it (probably because they were 1st with a lot of these products and had the ability to market them so well). Can you imagine if PRS guitars could only be played with PRS cables/straps/strings and PRS amps? Would you ever consider buying PRS anything if that was true?

You're not really tied to iTunes. It's the standard, but I understand there are other apps that will manage your music on an iPod. And you're definitely not restricted to getting your music from the iTunes store. You can rip your own CDs and grab MP3s (and other formats) from anywhere.

Daniel
02-02-2013, 01:58 AM
You guys who like the physical CD, do you routinely see local bands?

If there's one whose set you liked, would you buy their CD if it had 8 songs for 3 bucks?

EDIT: These questions apply to bands that write music, and for whom original music is the bulk of what they do.

Yes and yes.

jaywhite
03-19-2013, 02:39 AM
However, it's a pain in the rear to have to make 20 CDs every time. We could have someone like Discmakers do 100 CDs in cardboard sleeves for $260, then charge $3 per CD just to recoup our costs. But like I said before, it's been my experience that if someone has even an extra $3, they're more likely to go to the bar and order a bottle of PBR than buy a full length CD, even if they're really into your set.

$260 for 100 CD's in cardboard sleeves is quite expensive. Good thing that I saw a perfect alternative to discmakers which is We Print Discs (www.weprintdiscs.com (http://www.weprintdiscs.com)). I ordered 100 full color CD's in printed sleeve and it costs $55 only. Well pricing will vary when it comes to packaging and additional small time fee for shipping.

Blackbird
03-19-2013, 08:28 AM
$260 for 100 CD's in cardboard sleeves is quite expensive. Good thing that I saw a perfect alternative to discmakers which is We Print Discs (www.weprintdiscs.com (http://www.weprintdiscs.com)). I ordered 100 full color CD's in printed sleeve and it costs $55 only. Well pricing will vary when it comes to packaging and additional small time fee for shipping.

Oh cool! That company is in Kentucky, just like you!
Nice hustle :top:

Hopeful Sinner
03-19-2013, 08:34 AM
CDbaby is a great way to go for any independent artist that wants CDs available to sell at shows and they also distribute all their music via iTunes so you have the digital base covered as well. The physical product quality is very high and not terribly expensive. Sell them at $5 a pop and you can recoup your money relatively quickly.

MOBirds
03-19-2013, 08:39 AM
It's been awhile since I was last in a productive (playing out) band - too many false starts past few years. My approach last time it mattered was to offer a CD for $5, but include it free if they bought a T-shirt for a $18 or so. Most chose the shirt and felt like they were getting a "deal".

Albrecht Smuten
03-19-2013, 09:00 AM
It's been awhile since I was last in a productive (playing out) band - too many false starts past few years. My approach last time it mattered was to offer a CD for $5, but include it free if they bought a T-shirt for a $18 or so. Most chose the shirt and felt like they were getting a "deal".

Good idea!

We did an illustrated anthology book by several authors, telling a conceptual story and some of them (poems) were used as lyrics on enclosed CD. I did the book design, the illustrations and half of the song arrangements (and I wrote a short piece of the story). It was really fun and it looks fine, but it doesn't sell much :D
I love the idea though...

John Beef
03-19-2013, 11:15 AM
$260 for 100 CD's in cardboard sleeves is quite expensive. Good thing that I saw a perfect alternative to discmakers which is We Print Discs (www.weprintdiscs.com (http://www.weprintdiscs.com)). I ordered 100 full color CD's in printed sleeve and it costs $55 only. Well pricing will vary when it comes to packaging and additional small time fee for shipping.
Gettin' lucky in Kentucky! Thanks for posting that. I'll look into it.

We saw Muse on Saturday night. They were great! They're one of the only bands I'll go to a big stadium to see. They had shirts priced at $35 each! HOLY S***! And, there were four people at the merch stand selling the shirts, and the lines were long! People waiting 15 or 20 minutes to spend $35 on a T shirt! After spending $40 or $50 on a ticket to get in! And a 22 oz Sierra Nevada costs $12!

It seems so lopsided. I can get on stage at a club and rock the place and get two dozen compliments afterward but still feel like I would have to beg to get people to buy anything.

jaywhite
03-24-2013, 10:33 PM
Oh cool! That company is in Kentucky, just like you!
Nice hustle :top:

Yeah! I'm lucky to found one reliable company near my area. :laugh: