Is it still worth printing CDs when releasing music?
‘CDs are dead and not worth the effort to print’ or something along those lines seems to be an all too common response these days when I talk to artists about upcoming music releases or tour plans.
Honestly though, CDs are very much not dead. For any band about to release music or head off on tour these should be at the top of your shopping list.
Yes I can hear you all say ‘most people don’t have CD players these days’ …. but this does not mean they don’t know a family member who still listens to CDs. More commonly though, people are happy to shed out 10-15€ on a CD to meet and greet the artists at the merch stand post gig and get a signature – enter fanbase engagement and brilliant word of mouth promo.
CDs also allow you to release artwork associated with the music and to collaborate with visual artists and/or photographers who in turn then promote your music to other channels you may not have reached yet.
When touring you simply should not do it without having merch to sell. Vinyls are cool and back in (I’ll get more into this in another post) but not everyone is willing to drop the coin on one if they don’t have a turntable, and while band shirts are cool they are often not for everyone, CDs are great!
Also considering the costs of flights when touring abroad you will have limited storage/luggage room so carrying bulky vinyls or a multitude of shirts styles and sizes isn’t feasible. CDs on the other hand are small and light or even better you can generally get them printed in any country for around the same price – anywhere from 2-10€ per unit. With forward planning you can have them produced and ready for pickup when you touch down in a new country to start your tour.
Let’s be honest 30-50 bucks a night 5 nights in a row is nothing to complain about and it adds up to fuel and food money, and at times the difference between a tour breaking even or not. I can say from multiple tours done as a manager in Europe and Australia that the merch sales are always surprising and have always easily covered all running costs on the tour: fuel, accom, food plus some leftover profits which go straight in your pocket.
So while the age of the CD player may be well and truly past, the age of the CD is not. Start to look at them as more of a business card that truly represents your artistic output. As an artist manager I would much rather hand over a CD then a business card. It has so much more meaning and value as it is a snapshot of the artists heart and soul, rather than a piece of cardboard with my name and number on it.