While the internet has democratized music distribution with digital downloads and has made it easier for small bands to create their fan base through social media and live performance, CD distribution remains an important part of successfully marketing music.
Pictured above: Large scale CD Duplicators
There are a number of reasons why the seemingly archaic Compact Disc format is still going strong in the DIY age of downloads and the ever-diminishing influence of major record companies.
Physical CDs are an essential tool for press kits, which are the lifeblood for a band or artist in the booking of club dates. A CD is a very simple and effective way to deliver a combination package of visual info (insert photos, contact details, etc.) and music that still delivers a high level of audio quality.
The CD is also a great way for small bands to build their popularity when performing live, especially in new venues and demographic regions. It can function not only as a promotional item but also as a souvenir of a show that made a lasting impression on an audience. By purchasing a CD by an artist, a person is choosing to support that artist’s music and that commitment usually leads to fandom and positive word of mouth that will inevitably aid in expanding their fan base.
As an extra revenue source while on the road, CD sales can often be the difference between a tour’s net profit or loss, especially when some club performances wind up underpaying or if there are unexpected expenses (loss or damage of equipment, emergency medical bills, car repairs, etc.) Despite the rising number of digital downloads, Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research company, estimates CD sales will be about $10 billion in 2015.
With CD Duplication houses providing packaging, artwork and bar codes for store inventory record keeping, the CD is still a cost effective and vital tool for the DIY small band or artist who has chosen music for their livelihood. The CD has maintained popularity with baby boomers and many favorites of that generation have managed to maintain their careers through forming their own labels and making their own CDs. American folk singer Arlo Guthrie has stated that his income is higher on his own label now selling fewer units than when he was with Warner Bros.
As an alternative to going to a CD Duplication house, those artists who choose to maintain a true DIY ethos may opt to purchase their own CD duplication machines. Costs will vary depending on speed and the number of copies that can be made per burn cycle. Programs are available for ink jet printing on blank Compact Disks so that a professional looking and sounding package can be produced without going to an outside service, but the tradeoff is time spent in burning discs, printing and packaging as opposed to performing, composing or recording more music.
Although CD sales are decreasing as time goes on, it’s important to note that they can still be a useful part of marketing music and growing a fan base. Successfully marketing music takes a combination of effort; rising music groups can’t just offer digital downloads or occasionally post on a Facebook page. A combination of marketing methods to grow a fan base is key to establishing the band and spreading music, and the CD can help build a band’s identity.
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