Thursday, November 18, 2004

Printing, Packaging, Bleeding, Shipping

I have been in several bands. I like playing music with other people, and have been generally fortunate with the people I've been in bands with, some equipment gone missing here and there but mostly not too awful.

Was in a band a long time ago in Philadelphia. To get to practice, a suburban basement in "Northeast" (as it is referred to), I had to travel about two hours on subway and bus. Was talking to a friend at where I was working, was complaining about how long it took me to get to practice, and she said, tongue in cheek, "You have to suffer for your art" which was funny in several aspects, not the least of which was the fact that this band was a cover band that eventually ended up never playing anywhere due to our inability to keep a drummer who could keep a beat (the drummer that could not keep a beat was only too happy to stay in the band), I could not convince the bass player that we should try some originals, so all in all the effort was not quite what you'd call "art".

So now, years later, as fate would have it, and hopefully indicative of Utenzil being much more art, I am suffering. It's 10:30pm, I am grappling with prying apart plastic CD jewelboxes so that I might insert the colorful printouts that I've created -- replete with tracklists, song times, barcode, liner notes and cover graphic-- without crumpling them too much. One of my knuckles is bleeding from a paper cut and I take care not to drip blood on one of the 14 color printed pages as I painstakingly trim it to fit almost nicely into the jewel case.

Bizarrely enough, in a bit of random synchronicity that leads me to believe I am on the right spiritual path, it is also the case that each CD takes nine minutes and forty two seconds to duplicate.

So let's tally costs for a bit, here: The jewel cases are kind of a bonus, because they came free with some media I bought. I paid nine dollars and forty two cents for the 14 pages of color printouts which will comprise the artwork for my first five CDs.

Basically, having been mass manufactured, the recordable CD media is far cheaper than the artwork.

I will send these first five CDs to CDBaby. Now, I will use priority mail, partly because I want to get them there fairly fast to be available before the holidays, and also because the nicely foldable box they provide is just the right size.

To ship the package to Portland, OR, home of CD Baby, via priority mail will cost five dollars and seventy five cents.

Small lots have high per piece prices: packaging and shipping per CD comes out to be three dollars and three cents.

I have crudely embellished the CDs with a magic marker, with random marks not unlike those left in caves by ancient hunter-gatherers, having reasoned thus with respect to that: "This CD will go into someone's CD player, where the labelling will be seen only briefly. Non-toxic permanent magic marker is mentioned in many sources as the best labelling with respect to ensuring longevity of the CD, and there is a certain naive touch to the package that will render a pleasant surprise when the music is played".

If I consider 48.5 minutes of duplicating, disc assembly and packing time at minimum wage, that's maybe another five dollars: one dollar per disc. Then I add the cost of the media, I think it came out to about thirty cents per disc, again bought in a small lot of 50.

So my cost for "manufacturing and pre-distribution" of each disc is four dollars and thirty three cents.

The CD will sell for 13.97, that leaves 9.64

CD Baby will keep four dollars from the price, that leaves 5.64.

Haven't driven to the post office yet, there has been and will be gas used to "move the product".

So, that leaves about five and a half dollars per CD for me, the artist.

Selling all 5 CDs will net about twenty seven dollars and fifty cents.


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