Buying Music

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Buying Music

People often ask me, “Where can I buy your music?”

That is an easy one to answer (see below). But there are other aspects of this process that people should know…

CDBaby is my primary outlet. I pay a one-time fee of $35 per album release to set up my sales portal, and they take care of credit card transactions and getting my stuff out to other online outlets (except Amazon.com, they require special attention). They take a reasonable commission off of each sale, as they should. Overall, CDBaby is where I lead people for physical product. If you want MP3s only, all of my music is available on iTunes (via my agreement with CDBaby, and I still get paid). I realize MP3s are a standard now, and I try out lots of new music that way, but you really miss the full experience. So for albums like my new release Catch the Squirrel, where I went out of my way to provide unique, fun artwork, I don’t recommend the MP3 route.

Amazon.com is basically a “pay to sell” proposition for independent labels. Artists need to join their little club to sell their wares, requiring an annual fee that keeps their account active – regardless of how many sales are made. On top of that, Amazon takes a commission from each sale.

The combination of annual fee and commission makes my relationship with Amazon more of a moneymaker for them than for me. Every year I ask myself why I even bother with Amazon, and the only good answer I can come up with is: visibility. Knowing my own purchasing habits, I tend to use Amazon as a way to locate products, even if I don’t buy them there. I can usually find just about anything. When I do purchase from them, I get free shipping and reasonable turnaround. So as a customer of Amazon, I am pretty happy. Not so much as a vendor.

So, if you are just used to using Amazon.com, then by all means order my CDs there. It will help offset my costs, but unless you get 20 of your friends to do the same, it will still not amount to much in my pocket after expenses.

Otherwise, use CDBaby, because I’d rather see them get the commission.

Working in the underground as a sub-industrial artist, you do not make much from recordings. If you aren’t concerned with how they look, you can put out some cheap product, but otherwise they cost quite a bit to produce on such a small scale.

I continue to produce music for sale because I think it is important to document my creative output and make it available to those who can’t come to performances. And the bottom line is that I don’t do many performances, and my creative output is largely a function of being a producer as well as a writer and singer.

{This post originally appeared on MINDSPEAK.COM in August 2007, but I feel it is relevant here. I am amazed at how many musicians I meet that are still ignorant about how all this stuff works.}

Category : Blog


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