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Writer, director, musician, and multimedia junkie. www.felixemartinez.com © 2008-2009 F.E.M.

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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Distributing Apples & Oranges Digitally

    Our Apples & Oranges album, "Contrast" is now available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and other fine digital retailers in the world of ether.

    There's that rare feeling when everything clicks; when obstacles and challenges fall by the wayside and things just go smoothly...

    My tenure with Apples & Oranges goes back a ways. I performed, wrote, and produced in an unabashed pop-rock genre, released an album in the '90s, and had material in the can for the sophomore release. Then life intervened, and the stuff stayed in the can.

    By this time, the music industry had imploded (one can still argue that it's still collapsing into itself, a black hole that is expanding at an exponential rate), and we simply did not want to do the old CD master-replicate-self-distribute route. We hated inventory - tracking it, shipping it, dealing with it. So we waited for technology to catch up.

    Then we started hearing about CD Baby, an online music store where many independent artists (approximately 240,000) sell their wares. CD Baby sure seemed to make things easy: warehousing product, letting the artist choose the price point, and keeping only a small percentage in return (plus a one-time set-up fee). But we were stuck with still having to replicate CDs when the world was moving towards digital files and digital audio players.

    Then we saw that CD Baby began to offer digital distribution, and we finally jumped in. They encoded the album into iTunes Plus format (a higher-res encoding of the music, free of digital rights management), and distributed the product to their partner companies. All for a 9% cut and a $55 set-up and barcode creation fee. Can't beat that. Here's all you need to know about digital distribution. Truly a turn-key, affordable, professional, and artist-friendly system that was a breeze. The employees were also sweethearts to deal with. Big thumbs up from us!

    So now the album is out in the world, and we're quite proud of the final product. The original 24-bit 48kHz files sound pretty darned good at iTunes Plus quality (256 kbps AAC, no DRM), and it's just a big juicy mouthful of pop-rock confection.


    P.S. - as we were finalizing the album for digital distribution, CD Baby owner/founder Derek Sivers announced he was was selling the company to Disc Makers after a 7-year partnership between the two firms. This ideally brings together the replication and distribution worlds for independent artists. Which continues to beg the question: what in the world are the major labels good for...?

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    © 2008 Felix E. Martinez