The Power of the Physical Copy

How society takes in music has changed drastically since the invention of the record player. In 2019, a record player seems obsolete, useless even. Streaming tends to be the common go-to when it comes to feeding their ears. Why would anybody care about vinyl, cassette tapes, or CDs? Well believe it or not, these seemingly unnecessary items hold immense value. Streaming has taken music as a form of art and basically curb stomped it. Yet music in the physical form could make or break an independent artists bank account.

There are still plenty of folks who believe in the artistic value behind the sounds. Music in the physical form to an artist is equivalent to a painting for a painter, an illustration for an illustrator, a book for an author. If these items can be manufactured and sold in mass quantities for ridiculous numbers, why can’t a song or album? Selling a physical copy for ten dollars a pop even makes a tremendous difference than each stream bringing in less than a tenth of a cent. Sure that adds up when you are nationally and internationally known but for an independent artist you aren’t reaping many benefits.

I want to keep this short, it is simple mathematics. It’s up to you, as an artist, what you do with it. Let’s say you have 15 loyal fans, they support your every move and anticipate the next. If each of those 15 people bought a ten dollar CD, that’s 150 dollars coming to you. Depending on the price of the manufacturing this will still squash the percentage of profits from simply uploading to the internet with a tool like Distrokid. As your fans multiply, your money does too. As this happens, your price goes up. It is comparatively an abundant source of income and success if executed correctly. 

There are plenty of trustworthy independent record labels who have taken this method and applied it. Such as Fxck Rxp, Tuff Kong Records, Paxico Records, the list goes on. Needless to say they are out there and will supply not only the physicals themselves but also reach new audiences across the globe. That is one option, if you want to order copies without aid and embrace the meaning of “independent” to the fullest that is perfectly fine. There are plenty of companies that will press your music into a physical and leave the rest in your hands.

Regardless if you are an independent artist with even somewhat of a solid fan base, sell your music physically. Give your audience something real, something they can hold, something that captures the value of the art. Not only will income increase but supplying fans with more than just a one-dimensional stream goes a long way for the brand. It shows how real and passionate an artist is about their music. As well as their dedication to their audience.

The late Nipsey Hussle sold 1,000 copies for 100 dollars a piece. You do that math. I’m not saying you can recreate this out of thin air, it takes hard work and dedication to your fan base. Nip was giving back to his audience for years before he pulled off those numbers, that does not mean you can’t work up to that. Start small, get paid what you deserve, and reciprocate the process until you get there.