`No musician wants to make 5,000 CDs only to let half of it sit in the basement to gather dust. We don’t want to waste money by overestimating the number of CDs we make. Here are some questions to guide you in coming up with a good estimate:
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How many pre-ordered your album?
If you have a Kickstarter campaign or if you pre-sell your album through your website or other channels, you have to know the exact number so you can arrive at a good estimate of CDs to press. Pre-order has a number of reasons why it is proven to be an effective medium for local artists. The primary reason is that the all or nothing model works.
How many CDs have you sold in the past?
Do you have a record of how many CDs you sold in the past (you must!)? If you have sold more than one album in the past in CD format, add the numbers together and divide by the number of releases to get the average. The average number plus the number of pre-orders you have is a good estimate of the number of CDs to press.
How many have downloaded your albums in the past?
Although we cannot tell for sure how many of those who bought your downloads already bought your albums or how many of them are willing to buy the CD this time around, but we can at least see how many fans are willing to pay for your music. If only 100 downloaded your songs and you still haven’t released an album before, then it may not be wise to make 5,000 CDs right away.
How many gigs do you play in a month?
And how many people go to those gigs? Get a good estimate. If you think you’ve played twice or thrice more than you’ve played when you released your previous album and if you’re going on tour, maybe you should add 100-200 more to the number came up with above.
How many subscribers read your newsletter? How many likers do you have on your Facebook page?
Again, this is not hard numbers. Check how many fans actually read your newsletter in the past year and divide that by four or five.
Same thing with your Facebook page. They are just a “soft” way of measuring your popularity and marketing efforts. However, even if you have 5,000 likes on your Facebook page, that doesn’t mean half of it are willing to buy your music. Even if 10,000 subscribers opened your newsletter, that doesn’t mean a quarter of it are willing to buy your album. So this doesn’t matter a lot.
I just included them here to remind you that these e-mails and social media popularity shouldn’t be your basis for the number of CDs you make. Don’t assume that a lot of them will buy your album.
The number of CDs you need to have manufactured is necessary so you can determine whether you should have CD Duplication or CD replication. Click the link to read the basic difference between replication and duplication. BUT, there’s no need to worry as you can order as few as 100 pieces and order some more when needed but the difference in savings is quite big if you do it a hundred at a time compared to 500 or 1000. I hope you’ll find this useful. Good luck!
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James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.