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?