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  • Question for guys in original bands...

    Hey, we were discussing some issues at band practice as we get ready to release our first album.  I was hoping some guys on here who are more active with this type of stuff could provide some insight.  I realize some things will be based on a situational basis, but I also realize the internet is probably changing the way things are done.  Here are some questions I have based on the conversation the band had yesterday....

     

    1) Is anybody still making cds these days?  And is anybody paying for cds these days?

    2) How do radio stations (college, streaming online... NOT clear channel) prefer to get music?  I.e. electronic vs. cd?

    3) If the album is self financed, how do you try to recoup your costs in making the album.... i.e. payment for gigs vs. people purchasing the music?  Or do you just chaulk it up to a "labor of love", IOW you aren't getting the money back?

    My biggest concern is putting a bunch of money into the production of cds that end up sitting on a shelf somewhere and that the band would have been better off spending even half that amount on other types of promotion.

     

    http://www.reverbnation.com/thedubiouscapture<br>

  • #2
    1.) Yes and yes. We're good. That helps. We sold about a dozen at our last show. Most of them came in the form of the t-shirt/CD bundle, for $20 (shirts are $15). The others were sold at full price for $10 each.

    2.) This varies greatly from individual to individual.

    3.) That really depends. Actual pressing of the disc came back, but we spent so much on production that we never really saw it again.

    CDs are still a very popular item. Regardless of what trends say, if you're a local original band, and somebody likes you, it's imperative to strike while the iron is hot and sell stuff to people right after they hear you. CDs, as merch goes, are a pretty high profit item, assuming you're spending the money on production anyway.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
    <br />
    <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

    Comment


    • #3

      CDs are still a good tangible product readily available for folks, and they do buy them, particularly at gigs when people are in the moment telling you what a great band you are, etc.

      I don't know enough about the current college radio situation.

      Gigs wont recoup the cost, but heavily promoting your CDs, and your online sources will help. If you are treating your music as a business (and I assume you do), production and promotion can be valid expenses.

       

      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="DarkRed"><font face="Comic Sans MS">Did I say that out loud ?</font>!?</font></div>

      Comment


      • #4

        I am sort of right at the point where, for projects I'm involved in, having a CD to sell at shows is no longer especially important. Doing a limited run through someone like Kunaki can't hurt, because a few people will still buy 'em at shows, and they're the most visible way to get them to a lot if independent radio. But as of the last year or so, my preference is something like download cards. That gives you a physical item to sell or give away, and serves as a reminder for the person that acquires it.


        Although a few people buy CDs, the number of discs a band of a given popularity can sell online, at shows, and in music stores (if any are left in your area!) is a fraction of what it was 15 years ago.


        I've only ever recouped the recording and pressing costs for one album I've ever been involved in putting out, and that was ten years ago, and it took an almost fanatical amount of work for every member of the band. (And we were pretty big locally and even had a little national attention) We put another record out in 2006 and we each still have 300 or so copies sitting in each of our closets today.


        So yeah, inexpensive limited runs can't hurt, but for god's sake don't press 2000 copies. (for a local-level band) Do a few dozen CDs at a time, download cards, and maintain a strong online presence.


        Exceptions if most of your audience is over 40 (more CDs) or music nerds/audiophiles (do some vinyl). But even in either or those two cases, I'd still make download cards.


         


         


         


         

        Comment


        • Jmarcus2
          Jmarcus2 commented
          Editing a comment

          Download cards?!

          Learned  me something new today.


      • #5
        An aside I mentioned in another thread. For a long time, until very recently, we gave away our album. Physical copies of it. Go grab one. Enjoy. Inventory was getting low, so we switched to download cards, with CD's available free to thosewho joined the mailing list. We gave more CD's away than download cards anyway. There's some perceived value there that the download cards just don't have. At that point we said, why not sell this freaking thing? And we did. A lot.

        We didn't recover the cost of the album production when we first started selling them. But that was an expense whether we pressed CD's or not. We recovered our first run of 1000, easily, on CD sales.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
        <br />
        <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

        Comment


        • Chicken Monkey
          Chicken Monkey commented
          Editing a comment

          We paid for our first CD with gig money.  We recouped that with sales, and socked away sales above recoupment for our second CD, which we'll be finished next week (I HOPE).  We've still got a couple dozen sitting around (we're on our 2nd or 3rd printing) and can give them out as calling cards; they're already paid for.  There are a lot of college/local/public/community radio stations (and even some online stations, review sites, etc.) that require a physical CD.  It's archaic, but it's an arbitrary barrier that allows them to filter out every group of 13 year olds with a room mic and GarageBand.  

          People still buy CDs, especially if you've got someone to shill them while you're playing--I've probably sold 5 or 6 (total), while my bass player's wife has sold dozens, working the aisles and tables while we play.  I don't think download cards work conceptually--people are paying to buy information, and information isn't something you pay for these days.  A CD is an artifact, and that's something that has value.  I get the feeling most of the people who are buying CDs are buying the opportunity to "cast a vote" for the band.  You put on a good show, they had a good time, and they want to join your team.  Whether or not they put the CD in on the drive home, or ever, who knows...


        • Iamthesky
          Iamthesky commented
          Editing a comment

          In terms of promotion, you can't put a download card in someone's hand and expect them to listen to it. Anything that requires effort on their part simply won't happen. Put a physical CD in their hand and there's a non-zero chance they might actually play it.

          But if you want to make your costs back in sales, you can't just cut a CD and hope people will want it. Unless you create a demand for it before you release it, you have to be aware you're going to be limited only to merch sales at gigs.


      • #6
        My general principle is that being ahead of the curve is great if it's an inclusive thing. Adding new, more "modern" options is great. Replacing old ones entirely is not always wise.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
        <br />
        <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

        Comment


        • TIMKEYS
          TIMKEYS commented
          Editing a comment
          I play in the live show/ touring band for a texas singer singwriter. He has 5 CDs out. The first two were home brew acoustic with a percussion track and pro mastering. The third one was a life show full band CD but still self produced. The hast two were with pro producer , top session guys and a radio promoter. They charted songs up toward the top of the roots pop country chart and the last CD has stuff charting on the spin chart. Most of his sales are from downloads but he still sells some CDs at live shows. The new CD is going to be stuff he plans on re releasing off the first three CDs. There are some really great songs on them but they never got the money spend on than that the last two did. My feeling is to self produce and home brew till you have your product and songwriting up to the level of spending big bucks. He has made his money back on his CDs,, but then he has been at it for a good while. hope this helps

      • #7

        Thanks for the replies.

        The guys were talking about 1,000 cds with packaging.  It seems like a lot to me.

        I am kind of venting here... but I find the entire thing very frustrating.  First original band I have played in whose intent it was to record.  We have been playing for about 6 months and not played a gig.  Without gigs I am not getting the "warm fuzzy" you get from interacting with an audience.  We have enough material to play out, but they don't want to do bar type things... just festivals, opening for touring bands, etc.  I think it's kind of putting the cart before the horse, IMO.  But, maybe original bands are done differently than cover bands?

        http://www.reverbnation.com/thedubiouscapture<br>

        Comment


        • Kramerguy
          Kramerguy commented
          Editing a comment

          Yer Blues wrote:

          Thanks for the replies.

          The guys were talking about 1,000 cds with packaging.  It seems like a lot to me.

          I am kind of venting here... but I find the entire thing very frustrating.  First original band I have played in whose intent it was to record.  We have been playing for about 6 months and not played a gig.  Without gigs I am not getting the "warm fuzzy" you get from interacting with an audience.  We have enough material to play out, but they don't want to do bar type things... just festivals, opening for touring bands, etc.  I think it's kind of putting the cart before the horse, IMO.  But, maybe original bands are done differently than cover bands?


          I should have read down further before replying lol..

          My 3rd cent-

          If you choose to do the CD's, make sure you have a solid plan to back it up with gigs and networking locally, regionally.  Without a plan and actually doing it, the CD's will undoubtedly be a fruitless endeavor that only leaves everyone deflated.


      • #8
        To imply that they are different seems to be frowned upon. But selling CD's without gigging won't happen. It's not as good as they think it is, to the point that you'll find the audience on the internet, and they'll never get the festivals and national slots without paying their dues or at least establishing connections. This situation is not good as it stands. You need to put your foot down quick. CD's are fine. They'll sell. But not without a great live act that you perform.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
        <br />
        <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

        Comment


        • Yer Blues
          Yer Blues commented
          Editing a comment

          SLScott86 wrote:
          To imply that they are different seems to be frowned upon. But selling CD's without gigging won't happen. It's not as good as they think it is, to the point that you'll find the audience on the internet, and they'll never get the festivals and national slots without paying their dues or at least establishing connections. This situation is not good as it stands. You need to put your foot down quick. CD's are fine. They'll sell. But not without a great live act that you perform.

          Playing in an original band is new territory for me.  

          These guys are pretty down to earth with good heads... well atleast as much as any of us musicians can be.  The "demo" we have would be good enough to get us on a multi-band bill locally.  From researching online and talking to guys in local bands they play once a month (twice at most) and it's usually multi-band things.  I've brought up trying to work with these guys and it usually doesn't get much of a response.  Personally, I'd feel a lot more comfortable investing money in to the cd if there was some positive feedback from an objective source, i.e. not a buddy or family member.



           


      • #9

        Yer Blues wrote:

        1) Is anybody still making cds these days?  And is anybody paying for cds these days?

        2) How do radio stations (college, streaming online... NOT clear channel) prefer to get music?  I.e. electronic vs. cd?

        3) If the album is self financed, how do you try to recoup your costs in making the album.... i.e. payment for gigs vs. people purchasing the music?  Or do you just chaulk it up to a "labor of love", IOW you aren't getting the money back?

        My biggest concern is putting a bunch of money into the production of cds that end up sitting on a shelf somewhere and that the band would have been better off spending even half that amount on other types of promotion.

         


        I'm no longer in the originals band (well, we're on hiatus since early 2011), but have been through it all.  Here's my two cents:

         

         1. Yes, CD's are important, critically important.  No amount of digital media or online presence will change that-  When people are at shows, you need merch to sell, not digital stuff either-  People are all about the "right now" that comes with the digital age, so when they are at shows, "right now" translates to t-shirts and CD's.  Download cards, website cards, etc.. is "later", not now.  

        2.  College radio still prefers CD's.  MOST college radio stations will only play "radio quality" music, meaning, it simply must be professionally mixed and leveled properly.  So many bands make the mistake of going the DIY route and creating a wonderful, crisp, vibrant demo, which is unfortunately also not professionally balanced with the EQ, volume leveling, or proper overhead on each instrument in the mix.  It sounds pro to you, and maybe even me, but give it to a professional producer and he will point out 10 things done wrong in less than 60 seconds.  This point also includes "amatuer" producers and studios.  Overall, this is possibly the greatest single mistake original bands make.

        3. Don't expect the money back, ever.  To best recoup your losses on the CD, you should always have a fantastic merch table set up before and after every show, and manned 100% of the time.  Band should mention the merch table at least twice per set.

        Of the biggest mistakes I've seen with merch tables are not enough petty cash to make change for $20 bills (or higher), not enough t-shirt sizes (like all small and extra large, nothing between), merch table person disappearing all the time, and the biggest offense:  The merch guy starts breaking down the table the minute the gig ends.. while the band is breaking down their rig..  People approach the band, and the band recommends the merch- the people go to the table and it's all packed up and ininviting.. they leave.

        Sell physical merch / CD's at shows.  Sell digital merch online.  Understand the difference, use it to your advantage.  Always have the CD's professionally labeled and packaged.  Art is still critical on front and back.  Don't spend a fortune on recording and mastering and then cheap out on the packaging!

        Good luck!

        Sig Fail

        Comment


        • #10
          Get on those multi-band bills. You don't even really need a demo for that. Most places will give you a shot once. If the guys in the band have connections with promoters or booking guys, you might get a shot at a national even. But no matter how good your album is, you need to prove that you are a live act that will make them money. It's maddening, and I'm there myself. We think we're one of the very best bands around, but we will lose spots to the road warriors every time. That's just the way it is.
          <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
          <br />
          <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

          Comment


          • Chicken Monkey
            Chicken Monkey commented
            Editing a comment

            Anybody talking about printing off 1000 CDs is living in the 90s.  It's just as easy nowadays to print 100, which is a much more reasonable amount to expect to move.  As I said, we're on our second or third run of a couple hundred.  

            And I've had this conflict before, but our CD has had a ton of airplay on community radio even though it wasn't professionally mixed and "leveled".  Just expertly done by an amatuer.  


        • #11
          Kunaki.

          I haven't done it, but their prices for modest runs are unbelievable. 100 discs would be $75-175 total.
          <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
          <br />
          <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

          Comment


          • #12
            Yup. I like the professionalism of a booklet, but it's a long way from being an issue that will make or break you, especially for your first hundred or so copies. You can always add a booklet and go elsewhere if you decide it makes sense to print a thousand.
            <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
            <br />
            <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

            Comment


            • #13
              Was the CD "Digitally Remastered?" I think it's the mastering in the digital era that you're hearing more than the medium itself.
              <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
              <br />
              <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

              Comment


              • Kramerguy
                Kramerguy commented
                Editing a comment

                SLScott86 wrote:
                Was the CD "Digitally Remastered?" I think it's the mastering in the digital era that you're hearing more than the medium itself.

                Yes, I have both the original and digital remaster cd's.  The original is definitely flatter.  As with most digital remasters, they do a lot of eq tweaking, which does improve the overall quality, but no amount of tweaking gains back the losses due to compression and hi / low frequency cutoffs that happen during the original transition from analog to digital.  

                I understand that part of it, and listening to other works (like Rush, Yes, etc..) all pretty much have the same effect- it's not just that one Tchaikovsky CD- I was just using it as the example.  I've had this debate before, and I believe several sound "experts" literally took turns correcting and schooling me on how fantastic digital is and how crappy analog/tape/vinyl is, ad-neaseum..

                But I still cling to what my ears tell me.  

                Original recordings on Vinyl, and even tape, will always beat the CD equalivent in my book.  The tones are more vibrant, the softs and heavies are more pronounced and have more presence.  No matter how many times they tweak and remaster a recording onto a CD or in the digital realm, it will always sound second-rate to me when compared to the Vinyl or tape.

                 

                (edit) As a side note, my personal observations also apply to all digital recording-  I haven't heard a new CD using all digital recording that can hold a candle to many older analog recordings.  Words cannot describe how poor most of today's recordings sound to me.  Like I said, I can't help what my ears hear.


            • #14
              Love the Donald Fagen quote in that article: "God is in the details, but there are no details anymore."
              _________________________________________________
              band websites:
              http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
              https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
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              Comment


              • MrKnobs
                MrKnobs commented
                Editing a comment

                Here's my experience FWIW:


                (1) 100% agree that people want something NOW.  There will be no later.  You must give them something to buy when they've had a little to drink and are caught up in the moment. 


                (2) Having said that, it doesn't much matter what the medium is at the show, just so long as they actually have the album to the point that they could immediately play it in their car, on their iPad, phone, or whatever if they want to.  Not saying they WILL play it immediately (if ever), but they have to feel like they could.


                (3) Considering point #2, we choose to give them EVERY choice of immediate access.  We sell conventional CDs (either album for $10 or both for $15, that works surprisingly well!), we sell MP3 CDs (both albums burned in mp3 form on a single CDR to save them and us mone), we sell USB jewelry so they can hang us around thier neck or wrist as an attractive pendant or bracelet and get some videos, pics, lyric sheets, unreleased songs, etc.   They just need some medium to take home with them so they can put it where they want it (iPod, computer, etc).


                (4) We've taken INCREDIBLE pains to make sure that our CDRs play on EVERY audio CD player, computer, car stereo, etc (ask me for details!) but still, every great once in a while someone tells us it wouldn't play in their 1947 Edsel or on their turntable but that's really rare.  I strongly advise you to also take great care with CDRs because one bad burn can sometimes really hurt you.


                (5) Have a well-defined arrangement with your bandmates how "freebies" are to be distributed.  If you pay for the run of CDs, I PROMISE you that your bandmates will give them away like they're blades of grass and then make YOU out the be the d*ck if you complain about the cost.   I've been in bands that agree to only give freebies to DJs, club owners, hot girls, etc. but somehow all of that goes out the window (because it's fun to give people CDs) and you'll find yourself hearing "oh, I dunno where all the CDs went" when you have to pony up $$$ for the next batch.  My advice if you're the person handling the manufacture, then charge the band for each batch you deliver so they, too, will feel the pain of learning that of the last 100 CDRs about six were paid for.


                (6) If the conventional rules of selling CDs aren't working, then screw the rules!  Try something different, anything, to get sales moving.   Send out the hottest band gf to people's tables with the CDs for sale, do a benefit and announce you're giving $2 from each CD the charity the benefit is for, CHANGE the mixes or song order or cover or songs on your albums just like software manufacturers issue version 2.0.  If people who bought 1.0 complain give them a free (or cheap) upgrade to 2.0! 


                (7) But don't give the farm away entirely.   If you say something is free, then people will assume it's crap and most likely they'll be right.  There's a guy we sometimes play with who tried a free CD box at the door.  He tells people pick them up but every night after his show he finds them strewn on the lawn and parking lot outside, unopened.  He says he's not too proud to pick 'em back up and put them back in the box for the next night.


                (8) And finally, if you sound like sh*t at your live shows (as we do) it won't matter how good the CDs sound, no one will buy one.


                Hope that helps!


                Terry D.


            • #15

              Get some fives. That can't be harder than doing an EP. $20 is a nice price point- we sold the crap out of the shirt CD bundle.

              <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
              <br />
              <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

              Comment


              • Chicken Monkey
                Chicken Monkey commented
                Editing a comment

                SLScott86 wrote:

                Get some fives. That can't be harder than doing an EP. 


                " id="smiley" src="https://guitarcenter.i.lithium.com/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-.png" alt=":smiley:" title="Smiley Very Happy" />  That's funny.  There are other draws to the EP (not least of which is that the local music awards' short-form category is really under-populated, so EPs increase our odds of becoming an "award-winning band").  I'm just wondering if getting the $5 back is enough of an incentive to get people to buy the second album.

                We've looked into the credit card scanner, but it doesn't really fit into our format.  We're all using our smartphones for setlists or interstitial music in between sets.  If we get to playing shows where we can routinely set up a merch table, it'd make more sense for us.



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