Placing an order for compact discs feels antiquated and a bit foreign in the modern musical landscape where you can download whatever you want, whenever you want; or, if you're averse to torrents and megauploadesque sites you can simply stream entire discographies through a multitude of platforms. The reality of the situation is that ordering a full album package (in this case let's say a full color four panel eco wallet with 1,000 CDs) is too expensive for someone that isn't going to sell more than twenty discs. After shipping, the neato eco wallets with ultra cool, full color, silk screened CDs shakes out to around $1000, maybe you know a service that gives you a price break. I use discmakers and haven't entertained the thought of ordering more than one hundred CDs in six years. Last year, I self released an album, Blanket Arms, to yawns en mass. I wanted to make something special for the people that enjoyed my music enough to pay for it so I bought one hundred CDRs* with neato printing on them and hand made the packaging from a fabric similar to burlap but that's a bit more soft. I still have about 80 copies of the album on a shelf in my room and a lot of fabric folded neatly in my closet waiting for the day when it will be put to good use. And that's OK because I like making things and I wasn't really put out all that much, the fact that I can't remember an actual number means that I don't really miss the money. If it adds up to more than $150 I'll be shocked. Here's what the album looks like:
Last month, I released a digital version of an EP that I cobbled together over the last 18 months with the promise (threat?) of a possible physical release if there were enough orders to warrant such a thing. I received, literally, a couple of orders and decided to wait and see if I should order a few discs with some kind of artwork on them or if I should just send out CDRs with my chicken scratch all over them and a thank you note. I decided against this and ordered ten CDRs with weird art on it that discmakers keeps emailing me about (YES I WANT THE ART YOU GUYZ). On top of the apparently "too hot for CD" art I thought about how I should package the album, there's a familial theme running through the EP (music and art included) so I thought about doing something with that (and I still may) but I also thought that it would be fun to make separate album covers for each individual purchase. That way I could keep the familial aspect intact while making something unique for the people that wanted to help me out. As of now I'm looking at a RTF of album art ideas and I'll use my favorites until I run out of CDs and the rest will go in the trash. If I were selling more copies of the album I think this would be a hassle but as it stands now this is another way for me to say 'thank you' while exercising my artistic freedom (YUCK! I just typed that out). I know that it may be fiscally unwise to buy the materials to customize every album, and as I punch numbers into my calculator (get off my lawn you kids!) it looks like I'll break even if I sell each album and don't run in to any unforeseen costs (printing, extra shipping, etc...) but that's really not the point, if I can bring joy to someone for twenty minutes and get my artsy fartsy ya yas out my job is done.
If you'd like a copy of Niece, you can pick one up at my webstore. I'll post pictures when the art is finished and if I haven't sold out of the packages maybe you'll want to pick one up. If you have any experience with self made packaging or just have an idea to share, leave a comment. I need all the help I can get.
*CDRs have the blue on the back and regular CDs have the silver back, I can't hear the difference and don't think that anyone born after 1985 cares about whether something was replicated or duplicated.