Should bands be printing CDs anymore?

BY Allison OuthitPublished Jan 31, 2012

Last week, my label got an email saying that our distribution contract is being terminated immediately. When I called, the distributor said that other than a couple of artists, almost every label had been dropped. He told me that there wasn't much need for CDs anymore because most artists sell them at shows and Ma and Pa record shops, but that's it. He said that the industry has mainly gone digital except for the odd collector of vinyl here and there. HMV is changing its ways and so are many other box music retailers. So, should bands be printing CDs anymore? Should bands print vinyl instead? How do we adjust to the changes within the music industry?

That's a big question, so I decided to crowd-source some feedback on Twitter. I got great answers. The digest: If you're touring, you still need stock to sell at shows. CDs are a good option because they're cheap to manufacture, even in short runs, and they're comparatively small to pack. Some media outlets still prefer CDs over streams. But please consider SMRT (eco)packaging. Vinyl is more expensive and more collectible, but it may not suit your genre or your audience. For sure, provide a download code for free with vinyl purchases to cover the digital bases. Above all, know your fan base, and be ready to sell them what they want to buy.

As a side note, some music funding programs require that you release a professionally manufactured CD to get the funding. So if you get a grant, make sure you understand your release obligations before making any rash decisions!

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