Music Self Publishing on CD and Amazon Audio Books

I'm not a musician and I've never written a song, much less published one. However, if I were to wake up tomorrow with a song in my heart and a microphone in my hand, I'd record it and sell it on Amazon, because I'm in the publishing business and that's what publishers do. The same Amazon Advantage program that is available to small and self publishers for books and e-books can also be used to sell your CD's through Amazon.

The cost to join the Advantage program is only $29.95/year, which will enable you to sell physical CD's through Amazon's Music Store. In addition, you can upload MP3 samples for free download to promote sales of your CD. I call it "Listen Inside," they call it "Listen to Samples," which isn't very catchy for a music program. The main challenge for self publishing your music on CD is getting a UPC code. UPC, or Universal Product Code, is the scannable barcode used for uniquely identifying every product under the sun, except for books, which use the Bookland coding of the ISBN. Even if your music CD has an ISBN number, you'll still have to get a UPC code to work with Amazon. It also has to be printed on the cover for your CD, or applied as a stick on label.

Once you sign up with Amazon, they'll make an initial stocking order of your CD, probably two copies, and you won't hear from them again until they sell one. They have a predictive stocking program that tries to make sure that your CD remains in stock for 24 hour shipping, but it takes a while for them to ramp up to meet demand, because they don't want to get stuck playing musical chairs with inventory. The publisher discount (the percentage they take from you) is 55%, which means for a $10.00 CD, you'll get paid $4.50. It's a better deal than any artist in the music industry gets.

What's really interesting to me, as a book publisher, is that Amazon is now soliciting publishers for a new audio book program. I e-mailed them to find out more about it, and it looks like Amazon will be selling downloadable digital audio books, which may be the real reason they purchased BookSurge, for their large file I.T. infrastructure. They don't have a contract ready yet, but they are willing to start accepting files for processing on either CD or USB 2.0 drives. Odd as this may sound, it's a real improvement over the start of the Search Inside program when small publishers couldn't participate in the first round and ended up many months behind the large trades. For music publishers, the question is, will they start selling large enough files to consider selling downloadable CD's? The current e-book system handles fairly large files, but nothing near the 680 MB that a full music CD takes in uncompressed stereo with 44.1 KHz sampling.

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