I was pleasently suprised the other day to check my CDBaby account and find $40 worth of download purchases. Sure, it’s not a ton of dough, but for me every dollar counts. I am putting it all towards the funding of another cd.
Being an independent musician playing a relatively niche style of music, I don’t exactly sell a ton of albums. I am happy with $100 a month from album sales, both physical and digital. I’ll sell the occasional cd at my coffee shop or wine bar type gigs. At something like a house concert or celtic festival where folks are there to see a specific style of music cd sales are usually better. The biggest challenge is just lack of visibility. It’s a big world out there and getting name and brand recognition take time. I don’t have a record label or publicity department behind me. Thankfully the internet has partly leveled the playing field in that regard, and I can proudly say that more people know about my music now than a year ago.
I am already starting to contemplate another album. I’ve got ten or so tune arrangements kicking around in my head so far. I am envisioning some additional instrumentation, played either by myself or others. There will still be some solo guitar cuts as well, but more and more I am enjoying interacting with others when playing music.
One thing I have been contemplating is doing a download only album. Manufacturing and shipping physical cd’s adds a decent amount to the cost. For my first album it cost $700 after shipping to manufactur and print 500 units of my cd in jewel cases. I think $200 of that was shipping, jewel cases are kind of bulky, I seem to remember Fedex delivering four or five boxes. One things folks suggested is go with the digipack format instead. They are less bulky, so shipping would be cheaper. I am not sure if the digipack option costs more to manufacture than a jewel case. I do like how they look.
Of course, there are a whole lot of other things to consider if i were to release a download only album. It’s harder than sending a physical cd for review or airplay. I couldn’t sell cds at gigs, though I could sell digital download cards. Handing off a cd to a friend or family member is easy and convenient.
Until recently, guitarist Simon Fox sold only digital download albums, though it seems now he is selling a physical cd. Though more folks are buying music from places like iTunes or Emusic, I think a lot of us still like holding a cd in our hands. Especially if I want to buy something at a live show.
I guess I could always record an album and then not decide till the end if I wanted to print a physical cd. Or do a digital only release and put out a physical cd later on down the line.