Releasing CDs in an increasingly non-CD climate…

[Originally blogged 11/29/08]
What’s funny about releasing music these days is it’s a massive crapshoot, and releasing a CD, even after extremely modest success like Caustic has had (people always think you’ve sold more than you actually have, or significantly less if they don’t “get” it:)), is even more stressful than ever. Personally, I *like* physical CDs, but I completely understand and have increasingly utilized the wonderful world of insta-satisfaction digital downloading, and while either sale is still a sale, as an artist and member of a label that actually still makes physical CDs, I see it as a priority to pimp the physical product more than the digital, primarily because I spend an irrationally large amount of time coming up with the packaging for the CD to suit the music inside, and I also don’t want the label stuck with boxes of CDs marked “Caustic” in the Crunch Pod distro megawarehouse (again, Ben’s office closet, most likely).

So yeah, all in all I don’t wanna be that guy. Moreso, I refuse to.

At the same time I know that CD sales in and of themselves, as a physical product, are a dwindling marketplace. Nothing can really change that. I’m as fine with that as I can be, as I trust people to actually buy the digital downloads and have come to a level of acceptance that getting pissed about every d-bag mp3 site or torrent out there is just dumb, even though it means not just me getting screwed out of some small amounts of money, but the label that believes in me enough to back their confidence up with cold, hard cash.

So where the hell do we all go from here? There’s got to be a new model out there– what it is I have no idea, but I’m doing what I can. Basically the only way to assure some recoupment of the cash Crunch Pod is putting out is to pimp preorders as much as possible. Why? Pretty obvious, really– we’re a small label and the more we can offset costs by presales the less debt the label has to deal with before the CDs hits the streets and, inevitably, the mp3 sites. This means the label can (hopefully) stick around to fight another day and keep releasing stuff.

This time around I’m trying to pad the deal with special incentives for preordering, as I KNOW it sucks having to wait (and for the label to inevitably have some dipshit email it asking “WHERE’S MY CD??!!?!?” a week after they preordered the fucking thing. READ, PEOPLE!:)), but to me it’s an extremely kind gesture from fans of the music to sacrifice some cash up front to know they’re keeping the wheels greased at the always lean times for the label.

The interwebs are an awesome equalizer, but at the same time it’s really hard to separate the wheat from the really fucking awful music out there, and even harder to get people’s ears tuned into your stuff. On the whole I think advertising by traditional means is a dumb way to go, as it’s really difficult (IMHO) to see the direct results. Word of mouth will always be massively beneficial, and in fact online is still the best advertising, so thanks to anyone who pimps ANY music you like because we appreciate the hell out of it.

So the trick, as I see it, is simply to be more creative, especially if you don’t have a “traditional” hook, ie you’re drop dead hot or drop dead talented. If I was 10 years younger, 50 lbs lighter, and wearing a fuckton more vinyl Caustic would probably be a lot more popular “with the kids,” but since I ain’t and rather enjoy not dressing like I’m 24 and clubbing to get laid anymore (Christ, how sad would that be?) I resort to trying to use my actual strengths instead, and that’s just smart thinking to me…plus it’s all I got. Mind you, I also think that a good Caustic show is measured by the amount of beer I’ve drank and/or spilled onstage and how much stuff got broken, so I’m not the best judge of anything, but it works for me.

Thanks to the wonderful world of technology we have a massive amount of opportunity at our disposal, but again so does everyone, so it’s putting out 150% to rise above all the others out there. If you or your label can’t do that you’ve got to accept that you’re probably not going to sell as well. If that doesn’t matter as much to you, fine. Fuck, I almost wish it didn’t to me, but my sense of responsibility, ridiculous drive to annoy people with my music, and hardcore compulsion to slowly ruin the entire goth and industrial scenes single-handedly completely overshadows my laziness.

Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and don’t bring half-assed promotion to the interwebs. Both are a waste of time and will result in the same kind of embarrassing death.

Wow, that was a heavy way to end a stupid rant, wasn’t it? Awesome.


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