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Is a CD Duplication business still a viable option for a small studio?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Franktierno, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    DO you guys think the CD duplication business is still worth the effort or have the big guys cornered the
    market? I live in the NYC area.
     
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    There's still a market for CDs?
     
  3. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Not sure. There must be something. No?
     
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Bands still sell them at shows with other merch.
     
  5. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Yeah I was wondering if it was worth investing in a high end duplicator and trying to get some business.
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    For years, I've put together a home desktop computer strictly designed as a CD duplicator. I was able to stuff 4 CD cutters into the desktop machine whose hard drive was on SATA while the CD cutters were on the IDE ports and it worked out well. A couple of years ago I splurged and installed a 10 stack CD/DVD duplicator to replace that machine which also allowed me to deliver nearly 100 CDs within 10 minutes of the band finishing their set at a local nightclub. (It was only nearly 100 because there will be a couple of CDs that fail in the duplication process. Thankfully the machine will tell you which one actually failed.)

    Today some people are actually delivering USB memory sticks instead of CDs. But you really can't print a label for a USB memory stick. So printed CDs and/or jewel case labels look far more professional and can have valuable information printed in hard copy on them/in them. So I was already printing the CDs before duplicating them along with the J. cards. A little hard to engineer and print simultaneously so having someone else on the gig with you is certainly advantageous.

    It sounds like you have the bug? We all do.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    We still do small run CD and DVD duplications for people that we do on location recordings for but as for others NADA. A good friend owns a pro duplication service but his company has gone from 17 full time employees to 1 full time employees over the past couple of years and it is not looking good for him in the future. Unless you have money to burn I would think seriously about this before you put down any hard cash. More and more musicians are going directly to the WWW and it is hard to beat the prices and quality at Disk Makers for even small runs. FWIW and YMMV
     
  8. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Thanks for the input guys....
     
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    The nice thing about CDs is that they have been around since the early 1980s. Everybody has a player that can play a CD. Lots of folks have them in their cars. And it gives them something to hold in their hands of sizable proportions along with printed information. It's a keepsake. It will be decipherable for years to come. Memory chips are cool but then they can also erase that. I don't want anybody erasing my productions and so a CD is an non-erasable entity. So do you want your stuff you erased? No? I didn't think so. So CDs are still a viable delivery format. Eventually they will disappear just like cassettes, reel to reel, vinyl and those 78 RPM thingies. Along with our gasoline operated automobiles. But not quite yet, as we are still in the transitionary period. So don't wait. You'll be able to tell your children all about it when they grow up.

    I'm waiting for reel to reel to come back...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  10. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Yeah I was thinking it would be a good supplement to a recording business but don't want to plunk down all that $$$ and then have it fizzle. Years ago I started doing some cassette duplication. Got a few clients for a while but basically didn't even make back the $$$ that I spent on equipment....

    Still on the fence about the whole recording business thing....
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    CDs are for entertainment purposes. There are still millions upon millions of people that have and use them. CD/DVD duplicators don't cost over $5000 like they used to. Mine only cost about 1500 for a 10 stack duplicator. And that's a worthy investment at that price point. Blu-Ray is still way too expensive and most folks don't deliver audio on Blu-Ray. While they have been pushing Blu-Ray relentlessly, I haven't quite seen the conversion over to a dominating delivery format. Not yet and maybe not never? There has been tons of the stuff introduced over the years such as HD DVD by Toshiba. It utilized standard DVDs with the MP 4 compression algorithm. It made total sense! But it was killed because Sony wanted it dead. Sort of like Microsoft buying out their competition. And we're supposed to like that? I don't like those kinds of business tactics from anybody. So I won't do Blu-Ray until I'm forced to, if ever? Unfortunately, I have to use Microsoft OS's because all of the external equipment I want to use is only compatible with that with their drivers. Everybody tells me I could write my own drivers for Linux but I don't do Linux and I am not a software driver writer. But then I couldn't be utilizing the software I want to use. You've got to love this kind of BS. Everybody wants to lock you into their " better mousetrap ". I don't go with the flow. I do my own thing. And that's because I've spent a lifetime being deeply involved with all of this. I like Chevys better than Ford's. I like a Rolls-Royce better than a Bentley. But I can't afford a Rolls-Royce nor a Bentley so it's moot. I never thought I could even own a Mercedes? But in 1990, I purchased my Mercedes 1117. When my dad hit town with the Cleveland Orchestra, I told him I was going to be picking him up in my stretch 30 foot long white Mercedes-Benz. Dad became very alarmed by that and asked me if I was selling drugs? I told him not exactly drugs. His attitude changed when I pulled up in my 25,000 pound diesel truck. And it was all paid for with money I had saved from my tenure at NBC-TV for 20 years. It worked in the 1990s but the business plan failed starting with the new millennia. Today I'm the happy owner of the most incredible control room and a top shelf studio I could possibly ever own. And with the over $150,000 I spent, I've maybe made back one third of that. But that's OK. I do it for the love. I do it for the passion. I do it for charity. I do it for friends. And occasionally these days, I do it for jobs. C'est la vie, I've got nothing to be unhappy about except I'm making nowhere near what I used to make at NBC. So I'm working on a different game plan of late. Hopefully, it may be an affiliation with another studio that is also teaching recording engineering? I had that for a while here in the DC Metro areas largest and most successful studio. Until the owner tried to rip me off on a Charlie Daniels band concert tour. At which point I severed our relationship. Even his own engineers were telling me he was trying to rip me off. So screw that!

    Nashville here I come!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Thanks for the reply Remy. I've been in IT for 26 years. Made/making a good living from it. But my heart is still in the music business. Had a couple of small studios in between. (Don't like being poor.) My dream would be to own a recording studio that made enough to pay all it's bills and still make me a comfortable living. But every time I do the math the numbers just
    don't add up without including some kind of product that can be mass produced - that's why I look to the CD duping business....or actually trying to open a record label (which I know next to nothing about). People close to me tell me to just stick with songwriting and music because I'm pretty good at it and forget the recording business.....but I'm to much of a pragmatist (is that a word?)
     
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    At least you have some technical experience Frank. That certainly makes for a good start. But yeah, not sure anybody is making a comfortable living anymore with the studio that actually cost something to make? The basement guys are probably doing better financially since their investment is considerably less. Though the idea of an independent label seems to be a viable one in this second decade of the 21st century? That's where most everything is going. Everybody is an independent label today marketing themselves on the Internet. And thankfully, disc mastering lathes, plating and pressing plants, which runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars is considerably less than the $1500 duplicator. Not everybody out there is a technical wizard that likes playing with memory chips and whatnot. Most folks aren't technical and just want to stick their CD into their car player or converted to MP3 for their iPod or whatever. So they still need a recording to do that with. Sure, being an IT guy, you should just be selling downloads. In being a passionate audio person and an IT guy, you'll certainly be able to make high definition downloads available for people that goes in and above the 16 bit, 44.1 kHz standard delivery format. So you could use that to help market yourself. You'll still want the duplicator since many of the bands you might be recording will want to sell CDs at live appearances they are doing. Otherwise you need a USB chip duplicator which are also available. The key here, I think, is that you don't want anybody to erase the USB chips you just sold them. And with CDs/DVDs, they can't. It's etched in stone or whatever that stuff is? So it's a keepsake for as long as it lasts of which we do not know yet. I've had some cheap recordable CDs with beautiful shiny tops crap out in just 1-2 months time. I have others from 1996 that still play just fine. Unfortunately, some of the newer CD/DVD/Blu-Ray players don't necessarily like those old dark green CDs much. Have you noticed? I haven't played with any of those gold CDs that are supposed to last 100 years yet because they're so expensive. Great for important archiving.

    Don't lose the passion
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  14. Steve@Russo

    Steve@Russo Active Member

    tape duplication is bigger up here in nj now
     
  15. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I think duplication is still a valuable service to offer, but not a big source of income. My Primera Bravo on-disc inkjet printer and generic 5:1 DVD/CD duper I've had for 8-9 years have both paid for themselves many times over. For me out here in the sticks, it's very sporadic work, so I would hate to rely on the income.

    I also have a great local printer who does beautiful color-laser printed materials for CD packaging and DVD Inserts. That really adds value and appeal to what we sell. We have done 4-color litho on a couple bigger CD projects, but color-laser is way more affordable for short-runs. The added beauty of using a professional printer for the paper-goods, is that they throw the whole stack on a big hydraulic shear-press machine at once and cut them all to the nearest 1/10,000th of an inch in less time than it would take you to hack out one with a regular paper cutter.

    Short-run duplication (burned) projects, of 200 or less, should be cost-effective for the client and profitable for you.

    Big projects 500+ probably deserve replication (pressed) and you'll be hard pressed to compete with the big boys price-wise there.
     
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    What Steve? Tape duplication as in magnetic or worms? Sounds like an outbreak to me? Be careful what kind of audio you eat if it's not fully cooked. Maybe it's because you're in New Joyzey? You know that in New Joyzey, when the chips are down your likelihood of losing is good? Otherwise you might drown when you are in the Atlantic City?

    21! I win!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  17. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Again thanks for all your thoughts. I'm at a tough point in my life. At this age I'm not going to get (or want) too many more chances and I need to start another business because of circumstances outside of my control. It sounds like a short run CD
    duping business may work....at least as supplemental to a studio....
     
  18. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Here are the 2011 numbers on physical CD sales vs. digital downloads from PC Mag.com

    Bottom Line:
    Sales of CDs were 2% of the total market in 2011.
     
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yes but bands still like to be able to sell some product at their gigs. Many churches present a fair amount of concerts where CDs can be used for fundraising and such. And those that also get CDs have fun converting them for their personal listening devices like iPods, MP3 players. You're certainly not going to get rich. You can also get kind of wacky going to large rock 'n roll concerts with a solid-state recorder. At the end of the concert, if you get a DC to AC inverter for your car, you could run a duplicator in the parking lot right after the show. Not 100% legal, mind you, so maybe you would have to just confine that to Grateful Dead concerts?

    I'm a recordist not a taper
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  20. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Hi Hawk. If I read that article correctly it looks like it was *Vinyl* sales that were 2% of the market and CD sales down 7.7% but no figure as to what market share that was???
     

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