Handing someone an album in 2016

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Jerkatorium
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Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Jerkatorium » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:52 pm

What is the best way to manually distribute music these days?

These days I get most of my music through Bandcamp or directly from any given artist's website (also iTunes when I get a gift card from a well-meaning relative), and I imagine that a lot of us do the same or similar. But if I run into somebody IRL who wants to hear what Jerkatorium sounds like, how should I give them some songs? If someone were to give you their music in person, what format would you prefer?

Do people still use CDs? I don't. We didn't bother replacing the last CD player in the house when that broke (we'd long since converted the CDs to mp3s anyway). Would a thumb drive be a better option? Small-capacity (64MB-128MB) thumb drives are very inexpensive (like $1.50/ea) and can easily fit a dozen mp3s, plus they're re-usable by whoever you give them to. What about one of those scannable barcodes that routes your mobile device directly to a website?

If somebody were to hand you their music, with what option would you be most likely to actually end up listening to it?
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby fluffy » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:15 am

I usually give people Bandcamp download cards, except nobody ever redeems them so... I think the best bet is to just put stuff on SoundCloud and give them a link.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby ken » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:05 am

I still buy and listen to CDs. I tend to also buy music on vinyl, but rarely digitally. If I'm going to listen on a computer I will just stream it. I think a business card with a simple URL should be an easy enough way to share your music with people these days.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby josh » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:59 pm

I'd love a USB stick with tunes on it. Or a download code. I'd even buy a cassette with a download code, cause I'm a little bit of a hipster but don't have space for vinyl in my life... I probably wouldn't pay for a CD but if someone handed it too me and I was interested enough in the music, I'd rip it and then donate the CD to goodwill (in fact I've done that a few times recently).
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby jb » Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:18 pm

anybody know where to get cheap USB sticks? AliExpress has them for about $2 at the lowest price for the highest volume. It would be a great solution, but that price point is just not feasible for most DIY music.

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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby roymond » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:31 pm

Considering the time and effort required to make CDs at home $2 for a USB is cheap, no?
Drag and drop. No optical drive required (I haven't had one for years). Fuck album art (forgive me father for I have sinned).

Actually, business cards with a URL makes a lot more sense.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Jerkatorium » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:44 pm

jb wrote:anybody know where to get cheap USB sticks? AliExpress has them for about $2 at the lowest price for the highest volume. It would be a great solution, but that price point is just not feasible for most DIY music.

The best deal I've found so far is $6.73 (free shipping) for a 5-pack of 64MB flash drives. That works out to $1.35 each. 64MB is small, but it's more or less typical album length if you're using mp3s.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lot-5X-64MB-USB ... SwAYtWKzQf
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Jerkatorium » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:56 pm

My goal with this is to make the process of listening to the music as hassle-free as possible. I like the idea of a USB stick because it's so easy (you don't need to type in a URL or rip a CD in order to get the mp3s), but one of my friends mentioned he'd never accept a USB from anyone for fear of getting a virus. I also like the idea of just handing someone a business card with a URL printed on it (easy and inexpensive), but if someone gave me one of those I probably wouldn't follow up unless I'd already heard and enjoyed the music.

So far it's looking like the best option might be a combination: print a URL and barcode (one of those square barcodes you can scan from your mobile device) onto a CD label and hand out the CD. That way they can pick whichever option they prefer.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Caravan Ray » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:09 pm

I have about half a dozen CDs at home given to me by local musos still in their plastic wrappers. I have no CD player anymore, and my new iMac has no CD drive.

A business card with link would suit me better. I'd find it in my pocket the next morning and possibly follow up and have a listen.

And since I am about to order a run of business cards online for my "grown up" business - I may as well get some "Caravan Ray" cards too. I have a lot of people at shows ask me for my stuff - I usually just say "look up Caravan Ray on Spotify". If they are like me - they will forget the name by the time they get home. Card sounds like a good idea.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby HeuristicsInc » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:30 am

I'm still a CD guy but I think I am in the minority now. I would really be suspicious of any USB stick.
I would probably do the download code thingy from Bandcamp or follow a link on a business card.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Hoblit » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:12 am

I don't want to come off as a been-there-done-that kind of guy, but I actually did have business cards made for one of my bands. Effective. We did this basically instead of making people sign up for our e-mail mailing list. Nobody wants spam and this made it so those who really did like our thing could go to our website and get on our mailing list and listen to our music. And they did. Sure, we gave out a ton more cards than folks who signed up, but that's just the odds at work. It doubled as a nice way to introduce yourself to nicer venues who may not need the whole promotional package in order to see if your band could fill in one night. And sometimes it was just easier to slip someone a card than to have to go on and on about what you do or what kind of music you play. This way you don't go on sounding like one-of-those-guys in front of a group of people or other musicians who honestly couldn't care less, with the exception of that one girl. ;)

Just my $0.02 for those who are interested in that particular idea.

My only advice is to take care in the creation of your card. Make it artistic and stand out. (and don't do anything goofy like printing portrait style, that's lame and has been over done anyway.) Ours was black, had our animation logo, website information, and since we were a zombie themed band, there was a bloody thumbprint where yours would have been after handing the card to someone.

To go on and on, myself... CDs were still really popular back then and we'd often hand out a bunch of (non professional ones, we saved those for purchase) burnt 'singles' in and around the place we were playing on the day and day before we played...leaving small stacks of them if that particular venue was down with that. (Which they usually were) That too SEEMED effective but there wasn't much of a way to measure it. Only sometimes someone might say that they had been there the night before or something. Getting the DJ a copy of our actual full release was easy, trickier to convince them to play it...but sometimes that happened too.

I apologize for the longer post but you touched on a subject that I had a keen interest in just a few short years ago. Standing out in promotion is hard to do and it requires a lot of thought. We've come a long way since sticking an interesting image on a piece of paper and nailing it to a utility pole or cluttered bulletin board.

I have to say that I like the USB stick idea too... but the counter virus paranoia argument is a pretty convincing reason not to sink too much money into that. And there is the clunkyness of trying to carry around a bunch of those that only lay loosely in a pile instead of neatly stacked for easy distribution. Intriguing though.

And finally, I don't do CDs anymore, hardly at all. In fact, the only CDs I have are from independent artists like yourselves. I think they are little gems but the reality is that I listen to streaming music, my own mp3 collection or otherwise electronically distributed. It is very rare that I listen to one of those old CDs.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby fluffy » Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:30 pm

Yeah the only reason I even bother to do a short run of CDs is because I have a few friends and hardcore fans who want a physical artifact of the things I made. I don't make any money off of them, but thank goodness for Createspace to make it at least not an incredibly expensive money pit.

I think for promotional download cards I'll switch to just providing a link to a .zip file because otherwise it's frustrating how hard it is to keep track of which download codes from Bandcamp have been handed out and never redeemed, and I'd really hate to double-dip on a card that actually gets used twice (the second person being very disappointed as a result).
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Generic » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:53 am

For my first few albums, I hand-burned the songs onto CD-Rs, then just sharpied my name on the disc.

For my most recent album, I wanted something more presentable, for a number of reasons (it was a personal album that doubled as a marriage proposal, and it also remains the batch of songs I'm most consistently proud of). I knew I wanted some physical copies, but I also knew I wasn't likely to sell many, or make any money off them.

I tried to get the smallest run of print CDs I could for my most recent album. It was the first time I'd gotten anything professionally mastered, and the same company that handled the mastering also did the disc burning and printing. They wouldn't print any fewer than 100 per order. On the plus side, they look and sound great! I gave them out as party favors at the wedding, and also gave copies to all our family members. But on the negative side, I've still got a box of like 70 of them sitting in my basement.

Knowing what I know now, I'd probably still do it again... but only for that one album. I'm glad I didn't waste my time with this process on any of my prior albums, and I doubt I'll ever do it again. But for that one moment in time, it was worth it.

Also, anyone want to buy a physical copy of my latest CD? :-P
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby fluffy » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:38 pm

By "print CDs" do you mean actual pressing, or was it still a short run of CD-R burns? A run of 100 sounds ridiculously small for a pressing...

Broken record time but I still think Createspace is the best deal around for CD-R replication, especially for runs of 100 or less (and they apply the bulk discount based on the total number of discs in your order, not based on the run per disc, so if you have four albums and order 25 of each you still get the 100-run discount).
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Generic » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:47 pm

It was an actual pressing. They got the masters onto the disc and also printed a black-and-white logo onto the upside of the disc. They also provided slim cases, and I had one-page inserts printed at another company to complete the package.

I thought they looked great.

The company was called Affordable Sound Austin, and they were nice to work with. I don't remember the exact total cost, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $250-300 for the mastering and 100 CDs in slim cases (plus another $30ish from the other company for the inserts.) Seemed like a steal for what I was getting. Apparently they specialize in the kind of small-scale work I needed done, so it worked out well for me.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby fluffy » Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:25 pm

Wow, that's pretty amazing. I wonder how they do pressings so cheap. How was the quality of the master? I'd expect a decent professional mastering to cost many times that just for the mastering alone.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby iVeg » Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:50 pm

I just burned a cd-r of the 27 demos I did between Nov and Mar. It's only for my own consumption - because they were scattered around 5 different websites, and I had forgotten most of them. I listened to them once yesterday, once today, and plan to forget most of them again. Sigh.

$330 for 100 mastered cds plus inserts seems like a great price. But since I have no fan base, and don't play out, I just give friends a link to Songfight Jukebox or whatever.
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Re: Handing someone an album in 2016

Postby Generic » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:59 pm

fluffy wrote:Wow, that's pretty amazing. I wonder how they do pressings so cheap. How was the quality of the master? I'd expect a decent professional mastering to cost many times that just for the mastering alone.


Well, it certainly wasn't radio-ready. I could tell this wasn't a high-level professional job. But it was improved over my attempts to do it myself, and dramatically improved over the unmastered tracks. There were two tracks in particular that came out with "flaws" (by which I mean things that could have been done differently/better, but I wasn't unhappy with the result), and several tracks that were not just improved, but whose improvement blew me away.

Also, I was trying to look up the exact amount, and I couldn't find my receipt anywhere! But I did find an old chat record with my wife saying "I can't believe I just spent over $400 on printing a CD." I don't think it was much more than that, though.

I should do some comparison masters and post those. One unmastered track, one with my attempt at mastering, maybe one by LANDR, and then the finished product I paid for.
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