I Am Not Sure Where the Money Goes

posted Mar 3, 2015, 10:48 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 11:28 AM ]
I see various kickstarter campaigns looking for money to produce various audio CDs, and I'm just not sure where the money goes. I mean, with digital audio capabilities being what they are today, who gets paid for producing a CD anymore?

On a lark, I started producing music CDs over 10 years ago through cafepress, one of the fist large print on demand sites. At that time I was just figuring out about a couple of audio formats, and my own recording device was basically just a microphone plugged into the audio input on my computer. I asked other artists for mp3 tracks in support of the King Arthur Faire, and just uploaded them to the site along with some graphics that I threw together, and "Sounds from the Village of Carlisle" was born. We purchased a bunch of the CDs (at about $3.50 each) for any artists on the CD that were interested, and then turned the Cafepress shop that I created over to others at the faire. The initial CD purchase cost money, but otherwise, we produced a CD for no cost to us.

I used Cafepress for a couple more CDs, but my recording studio had graduated to a Zoom hand held four track digital device. That way I could record a live performance and then add a couple of tracks for a bit of harmony.

Eventually, I ended up with a larger Zoom multitrack recorder and mixer with a built in CD burner, but I never ended up using it for two reasons. First, it broke the first time I was going to use it, and it took about six months to get it fixed under warranty. Second, the garage band software that came with my lap top computer was more effective for my purposes. It is very nice to be able to use both live and midi instruments with the ability to record vocals as a separate track.

Cafepress has since stopped Printing CDs on demand. They also developed glitches in their software that kept perfectly sized graphics from fitting correctly on their CD booklets. Too bad, because they also inadvertently did something that other print on demand services do not. They allowed for the production of hybrid CDs. You just had to mail them a master CD that was also a hybrid instead of uploading individual tracks. Hybrid CDs allow you to play them in your CD player, but when you put them in a computer, they also have an extra data track that acts like a CD ROM. I put little web sites on them filled with promos, information, and videos, and more music.

For a brief while, I printed sticker labels and burned music CDs on my own blank stock, effectively cutting down on overhead by eliminating the printer. Sticker labels, however, tend to bog down and get stuck in "toaster" type slots for CDs in automobiles and laptops, so I soon stopped. Now I use lightscribe CDs to burn pictures onto the CD surface.

So when recording and producing an album, I don't yet see where most of the projected monitory overhead comes in. I'm not hiring musicians, and neither would a band trying to do the same. With a computer there is really no more need for studio time., and most discs don't need much in the way of a cover design anyway. That seems to leave buying your own product for resale and maybe gas for a road trip to promote the music.