There’s a pile of compact discs on the floor of my office that I’m going to get to someday. I’ve promised my wife they’ll all get filed. Eventually. Truth is, though, that this possibility gets more and more remote each week as people keep sending me CDs.
Stop it. Please stop it.
With the exception of releases I really, really want (discs that I request or purchase), I’ve gone completely digital, especially when it comes to material that I review for this site. Between iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube, Dropbox, HiTail, FatDrop and the DMDS, the secure digital delivery service used by the music industry, I have access to everything I need and want for everything I do. Yet every day I go to the mailbox and there’s another couple of padded envelopes containing CDs.
I’ve pleaded with people to cut it out. “Stop with the plastic already!” I’ve whined. “Send me links to your music!”
“You mean you want MP3s?” a few dunderheads ask.
“NO! That’s even worse! MP3s gum up all my email accounts! Send me a link to where I can listen to your stuff. If I like it, make it easy to download. But for the love of god, stop with the CDs!”
I’m not trying to be an asshole. Really. I know you’re very proud of your album and the packaging that goes with it. But with the rest of the world gone virtual, CDs have become a pain in the gulliver for people like me. I listen to almost everything through a computer, through my phone or through my Sonos system. That means if you send me a CD, you’re asking me to spend a time ripping the thing and then hoping I’ll remember to listen.
“How long does it take to rip CD?” I can hear you say. “A couple of minutes? Boo hoo. You big baby.”
Yes, a couple of minutes times 30 CDs a week. But if you send me a link, I can breeze through your material in a very timely manner. And that’s what you want, right?
Same with Juliette and Larry and some of the other people who write for Music from the Inbox recommendations for this site. Why do you think we call it “Music from the Inbox” and not “Music from the Mailbox?”
And I’m not the only one. Danny Fournier, a guy who does a lot of good work for the Edmonton music scene, also has an issue with CDs. He doesn’t want to send discs of his acts to college radio, but so many of these stations insist on it.
A radio format that has refused to adopt a digital delivery model is College/Community radio. College/Community radio programmers still prefer that artists and labels send them physical copies of the CDs they want considered for airplay. Some stations going as far as posting on their webpage “We do not accept digital versions of your music!” As always, there are some exceptions to this ‘rule’ but for a grand majority of the stations. Physical CDs are still what they want you to submit.
This is something that needs to change.
From the artists/labels perspective the cost of sending out CDs has gotten expensive. Gone are the days of order massive print runs of CDs and most manufactures/duplication companies have removed minimum order requirements and replaced them with a tiered pricing strategy where the price to print increases the view CDs you order. There is next to no cost with a digital copy. Many artists have even started only making their music available digitally.
Aside from printing physical copies, other costs have increased for the artists and labels. Canada Post is in the process of revamping their service and included in that are steadily increasing rates. Sending CDs through Canada Post has had other impacts as well. Delivery times seem to have lengthened. What used to take a couple days, now seems to take a couple weeks, if the package gets delivered at all.
We’ve sent out 3 releases by three different artists since the beginning of 2015 and to date none of the college or community stations we sent them to have received them. All three packages where sent out on different dates. Sure in the past there have been the occational station that haven’t gotten the packages, but all of them??? For 3 separate releases sent out on different dates!?!?! Sure we could track the packages or courier them to the stations, but those services are extra fees and for the independent artists, which college/community radio are typically very supportive of, don’t make enough money to pay for extra things like that.
Makes sense, right?
Look, we all like physical product once in a while. But the truth is that if you want someone to review your music, you have to bend to the time constraints reviewers have. CDs just make getting to your stuff more difficult. And you don’t want that, right?