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How much to charge for Demo/Ep-ish CD?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by b to g is yummy, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. My band is wrapping up our first studio recording. The original plan was to record it as a demo; as in quick and cheap. However, it's turned out to be more than twice as time consuming (and expensive) as we figured, but also more detailed, professional, and GOOD! :) The main goal of this 3 song recording is to help us get publicity/gigs etc, and now we're also gunning to sell it in some local music shops, and also get local radio airplay. I think we're looking at roughly $1500 studio time, $700 to get the 500 cds/sleeves printed=$2200 total

    So, some of the things we need to figure out:

    1. Should we call it an EP or a Demo? Does it even matter? Do you write EP/Demo on the cd cover or just give the cd a title and EP/Demo is just a verbal description? (One of my band members thinks the buyer should know what they're getting, I think the price and the number of tracks is info enough) The songs are going to be mastered. Our producer said the songs will be near the quality of a full length album.

    2. Cost. We were talking $5 a cd, but I'm thinking that seems on the high side. We could sell quite a few at that price to our friends, but after that...who's gunna drop 5 bucks on 3 songs from a band they don't really know? We'd look like jerks to our friends than if we start selling the cd for less at shows because they aren't selling like we planned. Now I'm thinking $3 would be a good price. Even if we'd sell all 500 we wouldn't cover our costs, but..we were after more of a demo-purpose recording in the first place, which to me seems like more of an investment than a way to pay the bills.

    Hopefully those of you with experience can make sense of my questions and give me some advice.

  2. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    It sort of depends on the type of music and the length of the tracks. I'd say $3 is a fair price for average 3-4 minute rock songs (itunes is $.99 a track after all), even though you're not gonna cover your expenses you will hopefully get people listening to your stuff when not at your gigs, which will make them want to come back to your gigs... IOW, they'll hopefully become bigger fans and help support your efforts in other monetary ways down the road. Heck $3 per is $1500 if you can sell them all, that leaves you with $700 to make up. If you can get a couple of decent paying gigs because 500 people have your CD and like to come to your shows then it pays for itself pretty quickly.

    Make it as PRO as possible in regards to packaging. I would never put "demo" on something I was selling, and would expect a band to GIVE me something that just had "demo" written on it without having to pay any money. Basically, IME "demo" generally means "this is not the final version of these songs, we are planning to record them better but just wanted you to hear the rough ideas."
  3. no one buys a demo, so if you call it a demo then give it away for free. imho
    otherwise call it an EP ;)
  4. crimson_basser


    Jul 9, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I agree. Saying its a demo leads people to believe its low quality.

    Even though it may only be 3 songs, if you dropped that much money for quality recordings, you deserve to get something back for it.

    My band is going in to record this coming weekend, were also dropping 1500 for a quality sounding CD. Though its only going to be 4 songs.

    Weve been discussing the same kinds of things you just brough up, and we figured a dollar a song isnt too much to ask for, especially if its good quality.

    Also remember, you payed money for this, and if you want to be able to do it again, you will have to make some sort of profit. Obviously no one wants to front everything they ever do entirely, but you guys will have to sacrifice a bit of what you put down to get moving.

    I suggest putting songs online for download for a dollar. (find some host site or something) That way people from out of town etc can dowload a song or two of yours and you can get your name out on a wider level and make a bit of money in the process. Help cover your losses a bit more. And that way if/when you tour and go to their city, they might be a bit more inclined to purchase a hard copy of your CD to support you if they really like you.

    Remember, at first you will always have to put some money in to get going, and it may take a while before you completely break even again, but thats not what this is ALL about. Obviously you need money to continue but if your hearts are in the right place, youll keep doing it no matter what.

    Good luck.
  5. ForestThump


    Jun 15, 2005
    I agree - no demos for sale. Maybe you can do a deal at a gig- 5 dollars to get in or 9 or 10 to get in and a cd.
    Personally I feel if a band has advanced this kind of money they should make back what they spent and use some cd's to give away as promo to venues, press, etc.
  6. EviscerateNick


    May 9, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: THC GOLD
    $1500 for a 3 song demo!? that is crazy expensive. i did 10 songs for less than that.
  7. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Same here, my last band recorded 10 fully produced tracks over a few months, totalling 40 hours, for $800. You should find a less costly place to record, especially if youre just doing 3 songs.
  8. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    $20/hr ?? Nice price, usually those kind of rates don't belong in the same sentence as 'professional' though. Not bustin' your chops but you tend to get what you pay for unless you just happen to know someone who works at a nice studio and takes you on as a fun project. Then again maybe that's the going rate where you are, hard to believe though.

    To the OP, I'd say, slap on an acoustic or live track, call it an EP and sell it for $5 at shows. 3 songs is too few unless they are 10 minute jams, IMO of course.
  9. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    True enough, I didnt quite call the job professional, but they were well done.
    I live in Ca, it was actually a studio a guy had built in his house in Eagle Rock, about 10 minutes from LA. His going rate was actually $18 an hour. There are a lot of studios like that out this way, it seems anyone with ProTooland a mixing board is trying to provide service at reasonable rates. Though theyre not really a "professional" studio, you'd be surprised at how some of these guys can mix better than the big budget studios.
  10. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    Lets assume you're selling this at gigs:

    $5 is less than the price of a beer.
    $3 you're going to have to mess with change.

    Once people get drunk they're not going to notice the difference, and either is just pocket money - if you play a good gig you'll sell them. If not you wont.

    Make them look pro. Don't call it a demo. Charge $5.

  11. Thanks for all your good and varied advice so far guys.

    In my mind, I think I'd be a lot more likely to drop $3 on some bands cd than a $5 bill, but maybe that's just me.

    But Ian had some good points. $5 means no coin change to deal with, and ya, if we play a good show people will buy them. I'll hafta look into getting them available for download too.

  12. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I'd bundle it up with a T-shirt and charge $15.
  13. crimson_basser


    Jul 9, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    t shirts can run you up to 400$+ for a batch of 50 (at least up here thats the price for a pro job)

    so unless your band already has some money backed up that probably wouldnt be the best bet
    you dont want to put yourself into debt (or too far) before you even get going.
    not every band will make it (its the sad truth) and you dont want to have fronted that much money to get nothing back

    its a risky business and you gotta take them to get places, but i would wait out on shirts and check the response to the music first

    thats what matters the most anyways.
  14. Okay, so I've been thinking about it more. I think we'll go with $5 a cd, and it'll be an EP. We're getting them in full colour printed sleeves, and our keyboardist is a graphic designer so they should look pretty attractive :)

    Now, should we put the letters 'EP' on the cover? I've looked online and it appears some people do it, and some don't.
  15. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    About a buck a song is the going rate unless you have 12+ songs and 10 bucks is a good place to be at if you want to sell anything.

    If you put "EP" on the cover you are warning people they are getting less product (poor marketing approach). I would only put EP on it if it was a piece of vinyl.
  16. So are you suggesting a $3 cd??
  17. Guest043

    Guest043 Guest

    Apr 8, 2008
    if its only 3 songs id not get them printed, and sell for like $2 each..

    my band is right now recording an 11 song "demo" thatll be wrapped and such and sold for $5 each.

    my 2 cents..
  18. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV

    If you want to sell them, we used to give 3 song demos away for free for promotional purposes.

    I wouldn't charge for anything less than 5 songs unless you are selling them as single song online for about a buck.

    That's just me.

    5 songs = EP

    3 songs = SP (demo length)
  19. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Honestly, I don't think I'd pay $5 for 3 tunes by an unknown band unless I really liked their music. Have you looked into CDbaby?
  20. kaputsport


    Nov 14, 2007
    Carlisle, PA
    Atypical, not a typical...
    To put this into perspective...

    My band is selling our CD at the release party, 11 tracks, silver bottomed discs with full artwork, for $5.

    I'll sell them to talkbass members for $5 as well. We layed out more than $3500 for the songs recording, mastering, and production, but we are willing to take the hit.

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