In my interview with Ray Riendeau this issue, he brought up the fact that his newest CD, Atmospheres, was only going to be available as a download…no CD’s pressed. A sign of the times? It’s beginning to look that way.
A recent article I just read stated unequivocally that digital sales were on the rise and CD sales were dropping. Another reality that has been happening over time that adds to putting this decision in “your” hands is that labels have been merging, or being sold out to private firms, which unfortunately has resulted in artists being dropped left and right. So, we’re back to my question; if you’re making the call, is it worth it to press CD’s at this point? I tend to see both sides.
Webcasting, internet-streaming, and companies offering digital distribution are most certainly on the move. Experts predict that Internet Radio listeners are expected to grow to 196 million by 2020, all of this creating a compelling case for simply going the route of downloading with no CD’s being pressed. As an instructor, I’ve also noticed that a far greater percentage of my students are all strictly on ITunes at this point. If I slip and mention to bring in a “CD’ to lift some ideas, 9 out of 10 don’t own them anymore, in my eyes, another compelling case for strictly offering downloading. A final, and obvious point: by simply offering your project as a download, you’re going to save some serious capital by not pressing CD’s, and in these times, for most, that represents a more than valid consideration for anyone.
Let’s move to the other side of this CD pressing dilemma. If your project is a steadily working entity, be that local or on a touring level, having CD’s to sell is the obvious decision. Potential sales after a “live” performance is a strong marketing tool. Also, from my personal perspective as Editor, and for a short lived period of time as a publicist, I’ll go on the record as stating that I prefer to receive a CD as opposed to a download, and to the best of my knowledge, so would other reviewers in general. A final thought, (and I won’t be able to Google this one to get any kind of assemblance of an answer) is that I believe there is still a noteworthy contingency of the buying public that still literally wants to be able to hold the product in their hand, and add it to their collection. The fact that vinyl has resurfaced should give credence to that statement.
The greater perspective on all of this is to take in all of these considerations and make the wisest choice from your own personal vantage point. There are some out there that are strictly concerned about the release of an effort on an artistic level. I remember when I asked Anthony Jackson in my interview with him who was going to distribute his latest CD, his answer was I don’t know, and don’t care…that’s someone else’s job. I’m just concerned about what’s “on it”. And, obviously, there are an equal amount of artists that are more concerned about sales than anything else. There are no rights or wrongs here mind you, just different perspectives. Bottom line, whatever you feel is most advantageous (within your budget) to get your product out there, for whatever reason, is the path to consider. Never a dull moment in this business…is there?
Let me end with a quote from Kevin Breuner of CDBaby:
“For some artists, the CD has become a smaller part of there income stream, but for others, it’s just as strong as ever. It really depends on the style of music they produce and who their core audience is. We’re shipping 1,000’s of orders daily world wide, so other cultural preferences come into play as well. We’re definitely seeing a shift towards digital, but the CD is still an important revenue stream for the artists who are out there trying to make a living from music”.