What can I do with CD backlog?

By Allison OuthitThe record label that I run has an overstock of our previous releases from when we were more naive about what potential sales could be. I'm finding myself lugging hundreds of CDs from home/"label headquarters" to the next home/HQ. Distributors/press only seem to want newer product thus rendering anything not made yesterday redundant for all purposes. I have been trying to be proactive in keeping the titles alive, keeping the artist profiles out there, putting the albums on iTunes/bandcamp, continuing mentioning that they are still for sale through our site but sales of course are down. And I have discounted the CDs as well on the site, compared to newer releases. I've been including them in with mail-outs to radio, giving them to possible interested friends, reaching out to distributors that may be interested in trades. Besides this, what really can I use these for, how should I treat remaining stock, besides one of our older calling cards as a label? Can I expect to ever sell these? One small part of me wants to put them on a curb, and then the other side damns that for possible sales in the future.

It sounds like you've realized that people aren't going to buy these CDs, but you're reluctant to toss them in the landfill. This is definitely a painful place to be. Have you thought about giving the stock back to the artists? If any of the artists are still touring/performing live, they might be able to sell them off-stage. If you feel like you need to make some money out of it, sell them back to the artists for a buck apiece, or on consignment. The sad fact is, after about 18 months you can expect the demand for almost any CD release to drop off to near-flatline levels. Coupled with the fact that most "long tail" music sales are digital, your many boxes of plastic are probably not going to turn into gold anytime soon. So you should probably hang on to a dozen of each release (they may have time capsule value in 20 years!), and prepare to get rid of the rest in the most ecologically sensible fashion possible. If you haven't done so, you should deliver a few copies to Library and Archives Canada. They keep an archive of Canadian music. You can find more info at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/index-e.html. The Toronto Public Library might take a few off your hands too.

Questions may be edited for space or content. Replies do not constitute legal advice and Exclaim! makes no guarantees about information accuracy.
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Article Published In May 12 Issue