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Mike B

Putting your songs out on a CD

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Most people are familiar with the easy ways to get your music online for people to download (iTunes, etc) with services like CD Baby and Tunecore, so I thought I'd just write up a little about doing 'hard copies' - actual CDs that one can sell online or at shows.   Of course sales of CDs have been in decline for some time now, and it seems that sometimes the only people purchasing CDs are hardcore 'super fans' and other musicians.


The first option I used was Amazon's 'Createspace' - basically because I came across when investigating self-publishing options (they also offer book publications).   7 years ago, when you used CreateSpace your CD would be offered for sale as a CD-R (made to order) on Amazon as well as downloaded MP3s available on the same Amazon page.   At some point in the past few years, they changed that and only offer the downloads now on Amazon, but on a dedicated createspace page they have the CDs for sale.   The choices were limited - single disc only, jewel-case with shrinkwrap only.  The insert is '4 panel'.  No charge for a UPC barcode.  Their templates for artwork were easy to use, and after you uploaded your music and artwork, you had to order and pay for a proof copy to verify everything was ok before ordering any volume of CDs.  Pricing is based on quantity ordered, and for the online direct sales, the price is high - $4.95/CD + 45% of sale price, so any sale less than $9.95 you would make no money at all!  Ordering 50 CDs your cost is $4 each plus shipping, 100+, it's $3 plus shipping.


The place I used for my volume orders for my next 3 albums is Kunaki.   Their pricing is very competitive - $1.90 for 6-99 copies, $1.54 for 100.  No options, though - jewel case with '2 panel' insert'.  They used to charge extra for the barcode, but don't any longer.  Shipping is rather expensive (I think they ship form China to the US to the person ordering), but never had a quality problem with them.  Hard to beat those prices, too.


For my new album, I am trying EasyDisc because I wanted to have a different 'package' than jewel cases, and they offer many options.  They also have options for the disc printing, whereas CreateSpace and Kunaki print over the whole disc face, Easydisc offers a 'silver disc with printing' that looks more like a standard commercial release. Their templates for artwork are not quite as easy to use (unless you've got photoshop), but they have a 'direct upload of JPEG' option, too.  Service was fast (2 week turn around), and quality seems ok.


Now all of the above options are 'duplicated' on CD-R discs.  That means there is no metadata included with the files (if you put the disc in a computer or CD player that would show the artist/song title. etc, it will just say 'unknown artist').  So making a decision on who you want to sell your discs to - or your intended audience - is crucial at this stage.  If you want your CDs played on a 'real' radio station (i.e. not an internet station), then they may want an actual CD with metadata- even though they'll rip the files to a hard drive anyway.


If you want 'replicated' discs - i.e not 'writable' discs - with metadata, there are minimum orders involved - for example, Discmakers, one of the more popular big commercial places, has a 300 disc minimum, and the cost, including 4-panel 'eco-wallets' is over $700.  Now that is not too bad if you think you can sell that many, and compares favorably to the cost of the CD-Rs from Easydisc or Kunaki.  But it's a lot of money to lay out at one time, too.  And that's not your only expense - you will probably need to have a master disc created with all the metadata, ISRC codes, etc, and this will cost you, too - typically anywhere from $40 and up per track.

I should also caution you - I have CDs from friends who used Discmakers (or a similar service) and not every song has all the metadata on it!  I've also bought commercial discs from well-known bands that has the wrong metadata on it - at least the song titles/artist come up as something different when a computer calls up the 'gracenotes' info.


Finally, if you just want to give a few CDs as presents to friends and relatives, don't overthink the whole thing.  Spend only what you can afford and learn from the process.




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