Pros and Cons of Using Createspace to Make CDs

album booklet exterior - small

Nearly everyone I know has thought about producing their own CD or DVD, whether they’re a business leader, public speaker, coach, or musician. Createspace, the platform I’ve been working with to help authors self-publish and distribute their books through Amazon, also does CDs and DVDs.

To learn more about their process, I published two albums of original music recordings in January. The press release showcases the album art and has a brief interview about the music. Here are some things I learned which you might want to know if you are considering making CDs.

Pros and Cons of Using Createspace to Make CDs:

I found the process pretty easy, but I have experience designing CD artwork and producing audio tracks for albums. If you have the technical skills to create print-ready graphics, and audio software that can create .aif files, you could easily self-publish a CD for virtually zero cost.

The printed CDs look great, and you can order your own CD from your Createspace account at wholesale cost: about $5 per CD. So, if you want to make CDs to sell at public speaking events or other public performances, this is a great way to have one on file and only order as many as you need, whether it’s 1 or 1000. (For DVDs, your wholesale cost is $7.50, plus $2.50 per additional disc in a multi-disc package.) If you sell the CDs at your event for $10 or $20, you can see your profit margin is significant, even moreso than online sales.

Pricing: So, how does Createspace make money on this? When someone orders your CD from Amazon, nearly half of the purchase price plus a flat fee of about $5 goes to Createspace. This is really important to think about when determining the price for your CD. It seems a little high, at first. But considering they charge nothing for the initial set-up, it’s pretty reasonable. And, if you direct buyers to the CD’s listing in the Createspace store instead of Amazon, Createspace takes a much smaller percentage of the sale.

For Musicians: Since Createspace charges nothing to set up the CD and list it on Amazon, this is an attractive service for independent musicians. But, as a musician, I can tell you two downsides you should know about before you get started. First, the individual tracks will not be made available as individual downloads. For that kind of service, you want something more like BandCamp. Second, Createspace does not preserve ID3 tags. In English, that means on the final CD, your meta-data about the artist and song title is missing. Instead, each track reads as “Track 1”, etc. One possible solution is to go set up the album with GraceNote, a service which stores album data online and informs playback devices which are connected to the Internet.

The Verdict:

The printed CDs look great, having an album on Amazon is awesome, and I love that I can order only as many as I need at wholesale price. I like the service, and plan to use it again to publish more of my own albums. For authors and public speakers, I believe this is a great way to create merchandise you can sell at events, and gain Amazon distribution at no extra cost. I would recommend that musicians take advantage of this distribution outlet, too, but still keep up their marketing efforts in channels that have individual mp3 downloads for individual tracks, or sites that allow you to get a buyer on a mailing list for future sales.

album booklet exterior - Copy

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