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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pandora And The CD

I rarely cross-post from my Music 3.0 blog, but I think this topic is important enough to make an exception.

Regardless of the trends towards online digital music, CDs are still important. Sure, you may sell a few, but it's the hidden advantages of the format that everyone overlooks.

Take Pandora for example. I came across the following section on their submission FAQ.

To submit music to Pandora, you'll need these items:
1) a CD of your music
2) a unique UPC code for that CD*
3) this CD to be available through Amazon as a physical CD (and not just as MP3s)**
4) the legal rights to your music
5) a standard free Pandora account, based on a valid email address, that will be associated with this submission
6) MP3 files for two of the songs from your CD
Once you have all of these items ready to go, you can submit your music to Pandora for consideration here:
Take notice that the only way to get on their playlist is to have a physical CD for sale.

It's the same thing if you want your music reviewed. It doesn't matter if it's on a blog or traditional media, you're not legit until you have a physical product that you can send to the reviewer. I saw this exact situation for myself a couple of years ago when I was producing the first SNEW album. I was all for releasing it digitally but the band insisted on a CD and they were right. Even though the music was released online months before the CD was available, they couldn't get a single reviewer interested until the physical CD was released. As soon as that shiny plastic disc was available, they were perceived as a viable entity and received more than 100 reviews (almost all of them great, by the way). For their recently released CD, "We Do What We Want," there was no question that it would be available on as many formats as possible, and once again we've been rewarded with at least as many reviews, band interviews, and a ton of airplay. I'm convinced that it wouldn't have had nearly the success without the physical product.

It used to be that pressing CDs was a pain since you had to not only pay for them up front, but keep them in inventory and distribute them as well, but even this isn't much of a problem these days. Services like Kunaki not only allow you to press CDs on demand, but they'll drop ship them as well. They look like a million bucks (as long as your artwork looks that way) so that old worry at the "CD-R look" doesn't apply.

So while there's no doubt that the music world is more digital than ever, the CD is still a useful distribution tool. Ignore it at your own peril.
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Cameron Mizell said...

Bobby, I agree with you, but I'm starting to wonder whether the trend is going to start changing after Paste Magazine announced it is ceasing it's print edition. Digital only. It would seem almost hypocritical to need a physical product to be taken seriously by a publication that ditched it's physical form for the same reasons. Yet many blogs have earned clout without ever printing anything, and eventually a band is going to come along and get a lot of people's attention without making CDs.

The reasoning behind requiring CDs seems to be that if you make CDs, you must take your music more seriously than those who don't. Do you think that reasoning will hold up much longer? Do you think there are other reasons?

Bobby Owsinski said...

CD's aren't going away anytime soon, Cameron. There are certain genres of music like metal, Christian, country, where there are still a lot more CDs sold than downloads.

That's going to change over time, but as of now, it doesn't make sense not to have one for a release.

tomschulte said...

The need to have a physical shiny disc in hand is certainly understandable. It is tangible and this aspect provides meaning to many due to its physical nature. However, I sense that this is a fleeting condition. As time goes on, the need for a physical object to create reality in the mind of people will fade as trust and faith grow. Just as my college age kids think that a text-via-cellphone "conversation" took place with me, new ways of getting data across to others will migrate to more efficient lines of communication and older (more meaningful means) of data transmission will not be required. The romance will be lost to efficiency. It happens all the time. I see soon that the days of tactile proof of existence of "real music" will fade as the the dinosaurs of yester-control die and the new-gen takes over. After all, it's just a playlist, man.


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