March 25, 2011 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone here recently had 1000-5000 actual CDs manufactured, silkscreened, DigiPak'd and shrinkwrapped? Can you share your experiences with me, and make any recommendations?

Yes, I've heard about iTunes. I've also seen AskMF 103213. Has anyone done this project recently and had real live actual CDs manufactured --- packaging and shrinkwrap and all? Do you have any advice or pointers, or even good links and webpages for me to look at? Also, did you set up enough of a company to get and register a legitimate UPC symbol?
posted by shipbreaker to Technology (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: American Media International
CD Man
Crystal Clear Disc and Tape
DiscMakers Gold Bookmark
Music Manufacturing Services
NW Media
Oasis Disc Manufacturing
Odds On Recording
posted by shipbreaker at 6:22 PM on March 25, 2011

Best answer: CD duplicating & packaging is super cutthroat these days. Most of the major places (Discmakers, Oasis, CDForge etc.) will offer more or less the same exact deals, maybe differing by a few pennies.

Any company that promises to undercut the going prices almost certainly has some hidden costs ready to spring on you. Seriously, the profit margin on CD manufacturing these days is a small fraction of a cent.

All of these places will offer a barcode as part of the package, maybe with a very slight additional cost. It's not really worth it to get your own barcode these days unless you are planning on manufacturing and tracking hundreds or thousand of different items.

Often significant price differences in apparently similar packages come down to the print options on the disk (b&w, process color, screenprint etc) so read the fine print carefully. I like full color discs - it really sets a good product apart from the short-run cheapos.

I know these things because my local guy loves to talk about them every time I place another disc order. If you have a local CD manufacturing broker available, USE THEM INSTEAD! They will love you forever.

I have a low opinion of digipaks. They take up the same amount of space (roughly) as jewelcases, but they don't look or feel as nice. That plastic thingy that holds the disk drives me nuts, too. I LOVE the 4- or 6-panel wallets : with a little effort you can make them look awesome and hold a great amount of content, but they pack a lot tighter in the van (or what have you) and it's way easier to stuff a few into your pocket when you hit the crowd for sales.

Their price has come down to be competitive with jewelcases now too.

One last thing: unless you are SURE you can unload that many CD's, don't get that many. Go for a short run instead until you get an empirical sense of your demand. I cannot tell you how many friends' basements are full of boxes of 950 CD's.

Best of luck & feel free to memail me if you need more info.
posted by Aquaman at 6:29 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've done it twice before and will be doing it again in a month or two. We go through a small local printer for a couple of reasons.
1. Face to face support - She is also a graphic designer and being able to sit down and discuss our ideas and work with her to craft the design is incredibly helpful.
2. Her prices are competitive with the big players like DiscMakers. Even if hers were slightly higher, the money we save on not having all those heavy boxes shipped is significant. If you are cost comparing, always factor in shipping costs.
3. Did I mention face to face support? If anything goes wrong, she's willing to work with us to get it fixed.

We've always gotten the barcode and I believe it's come in handy a few times with local retailers, but I honestly can't remember why.
posted by platinum at 6:32 PM on March 25, 2011

That should be "thousands" in paragraph 3, and dammit I like grocer's apostrophes when referring to things that are named by their initials. So there.

On preview, platinum, you must have a UPC code to market your product with any online retailer these days.
posted by Aquaman at 6:34 PM on March 25, 2011

Of course, that make sense! Thanks Aquaman!
posted by platinum at 6:36 PM on March 25, 2011

Also in paragraph 3, "not really worth it to get your own barcode these days" should be "not really worth it to get your own UPC account these days".  Sorry!
posted by Aquaman at 6:37 PM on March 25, 2011

Response by poster: Aquaman, you say I cannot tell you how many friends' basements are full of boxes of 950 CD's. But I am interested in knowing your answer to this. How many?? And, so, they put all their finest songs together, recorded in ProTools studios and paid big $$$ to do it... then after distributing some to friends and family, what happened next --- --- did they then give up??! mefimail if you feel like answering, thanks... ...
posted by shipbreaker at 6:44 PM on March 25, 2011

Response by poster: For membership in GS1 US, you must pay an initial fee of least $750 and then an annual maintenance fee of at least $150. The fees depend on the number of unique products you sell, along with your annual revenue.
posted by shipbreaker at 7:11 PM on March 25, 2011

Best answer: If this is for a band or music act, you'll be able to move that many units ONLY if you're touring. The difference between bands I know (and have been in) that have a shitload of unsold product in our basements and those who don't is pretty much perfectly split down the divide of who went on tour and who just kept playing local shows to the same general bunch of people every weekend.

If you're playing four shows (or more) per week while on tour, you're exposing yourself to a new market every time, and since playing four shows per week for a while makes you get REALLY GOOD at performing, and when you hit that stride, the kids like you and you want to buy your album. And also your t-shirts and stickers. Also, it's for this reason that you should think about hitting the cities in you hit at the beginning of the tour again on the way back.

When you do this, make sure not to make the mistake of seminal Long Island punk band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, who did so well on tour that they had to order a second shipment of merch halfway through the tour, but then couldn't pay the folks they ordered the stuff from because they spent all the proceeds from the sales on cocaine and dinners at the Olive Garden.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:29 PM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

For membership in GS1 US, you must pay an initial fee of least $750 and then an annual maintenance fee of at least $150.

No no no! I know we definitely didn't pay that kind of money for a bar code. I believe most cd manufacturers already have the membership, no need for you to get one too. If the manufacturer you pick doesn't offer a UPC code option, look at getting one through a musician's service like CDBaby or Indie Artist Alliance. Shouldn't cost you more than $20.
posted by platinum at 7:32 PM on March 25, 2011

I am interested in knowing your answer to this. How many??

Ha!  I cannot tell you because I do not know. But it's up in the high severals.

Why this happens to your typical band/artist making their first CD these days IMHO:

1) it's super-easy to overestimate your audience's demand for your album, especially when there is a lack of previous empirical sales data (as in, how many units did your last album sell?), and;

2) it's also REALLY super-easy these days to overestimate the general demand for a physical product as opposed to a digital one.

PLUS, the price difference between a short run of say 2-300 discs and a factory run of 1000 has, until pretty recently, been fairly negligible (by careful design I'm sure), which suckered people into "just going for the 1000 run". I've been hooked by this one myself.

These days though, tech advances have made short runs pretty competitive, so it's a lot easier to just pick up a few hundred CD's and see if your audience demand rises to your expectations or not before taking the plunge on a bulk order.
posted by Aquaman at 7:39 PM on March 25, 2011

Also totally what Jon_Evil said.
posted by Aquaman at 7:40 PM on March 25, 2011

Another corollary to the wisdom of touring is to bring a merch guy/roadie with you on tour, so when you're playing your awesome songs and somebody wants to buy that album NOW, they don't have to wait for you to finish playing and fighting your way through a bevy of adoring fans to make it back to the merch table. Especially when after playing an exhausting show, you'd much prefer to chill out and enjoy a beer, and not have to immediately jump into salesperson mode.

And for god's sake, make sure the merch person isn't any of your significant others.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:50 PM on March 25, 2011

Another touring tip: get someone to draw/design you a great shirt or two. Print half as many CDs as you were thinking of, and use the leftover money to print more shirts. You can't download a shirt, and a lot of people would rather pick up a shirt than an album at a show, anyway. Don't overlook small posters (11"x17"), either. They're super-cheap to print, which makes them super-easy to sell or throw in for free with a shirt/record combo, and people love 'em.

In my experience selling stuff at metal shows, bands with really cool shirts/posters/patches/whatever sell them at a ratio of 2:1 or even 3:1 over music.
posted by vorfeed at 12:33 AM on March 26, 2011

« Older Brokeback iPhone   |   What kind of questions do I ask a potential... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.