Harmony Central Forums
Announcement
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Are the days of independent CD releases over?

Collapse
X
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Are the days of independent CD releases over?

    It seems like more and more people are moving to streaming for their listening, and fewer CDs are being sold, and fewer CD players are being made - they're becoming the new floppy disks - lots of computers don't even come with an optical drive anymore. So where does that leave independent artists? What's the best avenue to take to get your music out to fans - streaming services like Spotify? Upload to YouTube? Does it still make sense to made CDs and offer them for sale at gigs in this day and age? Are you offering your music for sale at gigs in other ways, such as on thumb drives or as free, instant downloads?

    Is the CD dead? How, as an independent musician, are you dealing with the changing landscape?



    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

  • #2
    That's probably the case for musicians who dabble on their own and don't play out or tour, but for independent touring musicians, CD sales at gigs, even house concerts, are often what makes the gig profitable.

    Oh, and there are other ways to play a CD than in a computer. Like, maybe, you like to sit on the living room couch, put the CD in the player, relax and listen to the music without the distraction of checking your e-mail or Twitter feed every other song.
    Last edited by MikeRivers; 07-17-2018, 09:29 AM.
    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

    Comment


    • #3
      When I gigged on the cruise ships in the late 1980s we sold cassette tapes. It was not officially allowed but since we broke all-time attendance and liquor sales records in the lounge we gigged in, the cruise directors hinted that we could and turned a blind eye.

      After I got off the ships in 1989 we've played the same 4 county area. We work steady, gig like crazy in the tourist season, and thin but steady in the off season. I haven't bothered to record anything figuring our market it so small, it would be saturated fairly quickly. Add the recording costs, mechanical royalties, manufacturing costs and so on, I would make more profit in a couple of gigs.

      Since 1964 when I went on the road in a rock and roll band, with two short exceptions, I've made most of my money doing music and nothing but music, and most of that has been live in front of an audience. It's in fact my bliss spot. When I'm there I'm in that place where there is no space, no time, no me, just the music flowing through me.

      I've done some recording, mostly sax-for-hire at $50/hour at a local studio, but since they hired me (until they closed) as a one-take-jake I rarely made more than $50 per shot. Even the cassette sales on the ship paled in comparison to what we got paid playing live. I identify myself as a live performing musician/entertainer.

      Today the only recording I do MIDI recording making aftermarket style disks for Band-in-a-Box through my http://www.nortonmusic.com business (shameless plug). And even though I still call them "disks" they are all direct download now with no physical medium. (There I got the shameless plug on topic).

      I still call them 'disks' because I started writing them on 5.25" and 3.5" floppy disks back in the DOS/Atari/MacOS6 days and when I went direct download some years ago, the habit of calling them disks just stuck. I suppose it's like dialing a phone when dials went out in the dark ages.

      If I was still on the cruise ships or on tour with a new, fresh audience (untapped market) every week, I would invest the time and money for a CD, pay the royalties, and do it legit. I could see where that might be profitable, but for my limited market, I don't think it's worth the time and/or money.

      But there is more than one right way to do this.

      After saying all that, I still buy CDs, and if I can't find a physical CD of what I want, I'll buy the download and burn a CD. Why? I want to own the music that I buy so I can listen to it whenever and wherever I want.

      Insights and incites by Notes
      Bob "Notes" Norton
      Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
      Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
      The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

      Comment


      • #4
        Always looking for new sounds, solo players, new bands. that have a grassroots and novel approach to their recording and writing.

        There is such a multitude of talent out there of young/old people who buck the current trend(s).
        So easy to find and listen to live bands in my area, ..also a plethora of great stuff on youtube etc.

        Just have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        I buy maybe 10-20 CDs a month of new /old artists.

        I love to hold and handle something tangible and physical in my grimy little paws...put it in/on my many Turntables/cassette players/CD players..kick back and listen.

        I have a large collection of Rock 45s dating back to the early Fifties that I inherited from my Dad and my older brother, I have almost every LP I ever bought or stole( thanks Columbia House Record Club) 👍 from the 60's -70's
        boxes of cassettes, even the ones that self destructed, and hundreds of CDs...

        Lucky for me that I have a large space at my disposal @ Luke Manor as well as a understanding wife.

        Comment


        • #5
          I haven't created a CD/DVD in years, not even for backup purposes. Like you pointed out Phil, my main computer, which is a late 2013 MBP, doesn't even have an optical drive. There was a time back in the 90's when I spent lots of time designing inserts/covers and burning CD's of the music I'd recorded but I can't even imagine doing that today, in fact, I just recently tossed a couple boxes of jewel cases into the dumpster because they were taking up space and would never be used.

          I was fairly prolific in the mid/late 90's and early 00's when using a computer for recording was beginning to come of age for typical DIY guys like me. It combined two of my great passions at the time and I really enjoyed it.
          Since then my recording output has been sporadic at best and I've been ungodly busy with other things. I am beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel now and I'm really looking forward to getting back into some recording. It's going to be even more fun than before because my wife also shares my passion for music making!

          At this point I really can't imagine spending anytime to create an "official" release of a CD. I'm fully aware that the number of people who would be interested in them (or any music I create for that matter) will be extremely trivial and I'd prefer to spend my time working with video and animation programs to make videos that could accompany my music on outlets such as youtube on a song by song basis.
          http://www.crazydeliciousband.com/

          Comment


          • #6
            I should have asked this as part of the original post, but do any of you subscribe to a streaming service like Spotify? If so, has that impacted the amount of time you spend listening to CDs?

            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

            Comment


            • #7
              To answer your last question: No, I haven't subscribed to any streaming services at all.

              Notes
              Bob "Notes" Norton
              Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
              Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
              The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                I do any of you subscribe to a streaming service like Spotify?
                I've heard of it is about all I know about Spotify. I do have Sirius radio in the car and I'd like to have it on the Ultra Limited but it's a $400 add on, screw that! So, on the bike I just use a flash drive packed with hard rocking songs (soft rock/easy listening doesn't work well flying down the highway) and, of course, there's always regular FM/AM radio. There's also a flash drive in the car if the radio annoys me.

                For a couple different reasons I've moved three times in the last six years and I've not gotten around to unpacking my CD's. That hasn't been much of a problem because most of what I have was already converted into mp3 and stored on a HD. I may be unpacking CD's in the near future though when I start doing a lot of work in the garage and there's just an "old fashioned" CD player stereo out there.
                http://www.crazydeliciousband.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  I released a CD in May of last year, and put it on Spotify as well. Total Spotify income: 0.59
                  Total CD income: Around 500.00 (I wasn't real strict about accounting...)
                  Most of these were sold at gigs and festivals I played at. The music is all-original (no cover tines), and that may be a factor. I can't imagine paying money to a bar band for a CD of their cover songs; it just does not compute...
                  I sent about 30 CDs to area college NPR stations and got airplay on all of them. I'm not sure how much traffic this drove to my pages (streaming site, youtube, & facebook musician page) but I did notice an uptick in 'likes' and streams, so I guess it helps a little at least.

                  [Edit]
                  I think next time I'll try one of those sites that sell preloaded thumb drives with my logo. It appears significantly less expensive and allows including artwork, videos, and a surround mix in addition to stereo Wav and MP3 versions. Memory is MUCH cheaper than plastic.

                  [Edit 2]
                  I don't subcribe to streaming services either. The Satellite radio that came with our car sounded pretty terrible, like a 128k mp3, so when the trial period ran out I gave up on it.

                  I've got enough music to last beyond the rest of my life on my hard drive, and frankly, very little new stuff I hear even approaches being interesting, being formulaic and at best derivative. An exception is special genres like jazz and blues that I hear on our excellent area public stations.

                  Once a year or so I load about 10 GB from my collection onto my phone, and use that primarily via blue tooth, when travelling.

                  Every great once in a while I'll put on Pandora or Youtube to listen to something, but I bail at the first commercial.
                  Last edited by philboking; 07-23-2018, 02:48 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by philboking View Post
                    I released a CD in May of last year, and put it on Spotify as well. Total Spotify income: 0.59
                    Total CD income: Around 500.00 (I wasn't real strict about accounting...)
                    Most of these were sold at gigs and festivals I played at.
                    I realize this might be an irrelevant question, but how much do you figure it cost you to make those CDs? If your accounting method lets you say 30 cents each for the cost of the blank disk and case, because all of your labor is free and you had all the gear to record it yourself is free, then you're making money.

                    I can't imagine paying money to a bar band for a CD of their cover songs; it just does not compute.
                    I see buying merch from a live performer at a gig to be a way to support the performer and keep him in business. Personally, I'd rather drop a few bucks in a tip jar and not bother with a CD that I'd probably never listen to. But the band probably wanted to have some CDs anyway, to give away to radio stations (like you did). That might bring more people into the bar on nights when that band plays, which means they might be able to get a raise. So they might as well sell as many of the leftovers as they can.
                    --
                    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Oh, it's been a net loss, no doubt about it. But I'm not stupid or naive enough to try to produce any usable income from music.... Making CDs was mostly to get the music out there, as was streaming. It cost me 860 bucks for 300 CDs, all streaming registrations, UPC code, registering at musicexchange.com, registering to issue ISRC codes, ASCAP membership, copyrights and the rest. I do have about 100 CDs left, so there is potential to break even, though I'm not too worried about penny counting at this stage of the game.
                      Last edited by philboking; 07-23-2018, 01:55 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That's why I never bothered. I've done session work on a dozen or more self-produced, self-released albums, and I don't know of any that made money.

                        I don't listen to much new music. I have a collection of over 300 LPs and 700 CDs. That's enough to last me for a few years.

                        I listen to things my audience requests, some of which is new. crossover tunes that reach the adult market and some new country. If requested enough, or by a loyal customer, and if we can cover it well, I'll learn it. Some of the suggestions are good, and if I were younger and didn't have as many tunes in my head, I'd probably like them a lot. But I've played so many songs throughout my career so far, that they are too predictable so while they may be fun to play, they aren't going on my walkman.

                        For new music it's some jazz, although a lot of that is getting stale, and mostly symphonies -- especially from the Romantic era to the Contemporary with leaning to the dark and brooding ones (Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Shastakovitch, Suk, Dvorak, etc.). I can listen to a good symphony hundreds of times and still hear something new.

                        For example, I played Dvorak's #9 in school and had a few recordings of it (until I found one I liked a lot). One day, after hearing it hundreds of times, I'm listening to the 4th movement and I realize in this part, probably about a minute long he mixed the themes from all 4 movements together. Spliced parts of two for the melody, snippets of another for the counter melody, and part of a third theme for the bass line. Genius! Especially since it was done so melodically that I just enjoyed it so many times before realizing what was going on.

                        On the other hand, my Walkman also has Muddy Waters, Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Elvis, Sinatra, Andrews Sisters, Tony Bennett, Johnny Winter, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and thousands of other non-classical songs. It's the soundtrack of my life.

                        Notes
                        Bob "Notes" Norton
                        Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                        Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                        The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Notes -
                          Interesting that you bring up classical & jazz. After adding some room treatment and moving my monitors, I needed to listen to a lot of music to reacclimate myself to the changed sound in my room.

                          So I found a 4 LP set of Duke Ellington and a 3 LP set of John Williams concertos for classical guitar and orchestra in my to-do pile, and digitized them for my collection. It was quite a change to recalibrate my musical sensibilties to these; and I loved it!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My collection includes quite a variety, in addition to the pop/jazz/rock/country/blues that has fed me all my life, I also have Salsa, Merengue, and other Latin American, plus Calypso, Soca, Reggae, Cape Verde, Klezmer, Tuvan Throat Singing, Raga, Chinese Classical, Brazil, Fado, Guinea-Bissau, Afro-Pop, Csardas, Tango (Argentine), Roma (from India to Spain), Bedouin, and dozens of others.

                            I find listening to other forms of music enriches all the music I play.

                            In school, I played classical and loved it, but when I got home I played Rock n Roll. As I went on the road and made my living doing music and nothing but music, I left the classics behind. Not that I didn't like them anymore, but I just didn't have the time for them.

                            Then as the years went by and I started playing different kinds of music, I went to Jazz as my escape from the predictable pop music I was playing. The pop was still tons of fun to play, but for listening I wanted something else.

                            As time went by much of the jazz got predictable to me, and other forms just got too 'outside' to hold my interest. I like melody, harmony and rhythm. So I went back to symphonies.

                            I've always had a soft spot in my brain for Blues and anything else with minor thirds and occasional flatted fifths so as I got back into Symphonies, I gravitated to the Romantic era to the contemporary. Mozart and Haydn were geniuses and pushed the music of the day forward, but it's also to predictable to me. Music for me starts with Beethovan's third symphony. Plus I prefer things in minor keys, dark and brooding is good, the blues of the classics.

                            The thing about symphonies is the themes (motifs), variations of those themes, and the development of both the themes and the music as the piece goes towards the end. I can listen to a simple piece of music that I like hundreds of times, have every note memorized in my brain, and still enjoy it. On the other hand, there is no way I can memorize all the parts of every instrument of a great symphony, and even after hundreds of listenings find something new. (I never realized that was the first theme, inverted, expanded, and played as the accompaniment to the fourth theme). It's truly the most complex and advanced music ever composed. Not that I like all of it, I still have my personal tastes, and I haven't digested or even heard all the symphonies by my favorite composers and the new people.

                            In fact, the only concerts I attend now are symphony orchestras and only when it's the kind of music I want to pay $ to hear live.

                            So while I still have a blast enjoying playing songs as simple as 3 chord blues tunes or multi-chord jazz things, when it comes to recreational listening at home, I go for symphonies and I want to own the CD so I can listen again and again and again and be surprised of something I didn't get the first hundred times I heard it.

                            In the car I use my digital walkman that has over 10,000 songs on it of which perhaps a dozen are short classical pieces. The rest are everything from blues to rock to salsa to tuvan to soca to raga to whatever. It's culled from my >1000 LP/CD collection.

                            Streaming won't do for anything serious, any more than the radio.

                            OK, so I'm weird. I like being weird.

                            Insights and incites by Notes

                            Bob "Notes" Norton
                            Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                            Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                            The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

                            Comment


                            • philboking
                              philboking commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Interesting viewpoints. It's funny how life experience shapes musical taste. I was in Aruba one spring during Carnivale and the nonstop Salsa music was really getting on my nerves after 5 or 6 days.... But other people hook into it and develop a lifetime love of it.

                          • #15
                            Originally posted by philboking View Post
                            Notes -
                            Interesting that you bring up classical & jazz. After adding some room treatment and moving my monitors, I needed to listen to a lot of music to reacclimate myself to the changed sound in my room.

                            So I found a 4 LP set of Duke Ellington and a 3 LP set of John Williams concertos for classical guitar and orchestra in my to-do pile, and digitized them for my collection. It was quite a change to recalibrate my musical sensibilties to these; and I loved it!
                            I might have that same 3 LP set of John Williams Concertos...from the 1970’s?
                            I was gifted with them by a then girlfriend’s younger sister who I was teaching basic guitar to at the time.
                            Edit:
                            naw, my bad...mine is a 5 record set...Andres Segovia, Laurindo Almeda, John Williams, Carlos Montoya, Manitas de Plata, Alirio Diaz and Narsisco Yepes.
                            Last edited by Luke17; 07-24-2018, 02:20 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Notes_Norton
                              Notes_Norton commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Los Romeros are good too. I got to meed them when Celedonio was still alive. IMHO their best recordings are in the 1960s, 70, and 80s.

                            • Luke17
                              Luke17 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Not familiar with Los Romeros, will check it out.
                              Gracias.

                            • Notes_Norton
                              Notes_Norton commented
                              Editing a comment
                              el gusto es mío
                          Working...
                          X