to CD or not CD?….

The ‘great move’ of 2012 is done, thankfully, and this past week or so, we have been settling in and getting organized. The remodeling contractors completed everything last week and haven’t been here for the last few days so things are a little more relaxed around here now. A couple more photos from the final transformation:

The kitchen at la nueva Casa NoV....
and the Dining area...

We’ve begun to get back to our more-or-less regular routine after the upheaval and hopefully we will be here for many, many years to come… unless of course a move higher up into the mountains becomes something doable.

and the new view out the kitchen window after last night's spring snow in the foothills.

Now, there’s only the album to complete (I say “only”).

I’ve begun doing the final mixdowns for mastering now and should be finished by the end of this month (self-imposed deadline, putting on the record company exec hat for a moment). There will be 10 songs on “In 4 the Evening.” Three songs didn’t make the final cut as they didn’t seem to be a ‘fit’; I hope to release those as an EP sometime in the late summer or early fall this year.

But back to the original question of this post… to CD or not CD?

For an indie artist and if you’re doing everything yourself it’s an important question to ask. I brought up a few thoughts on the CD issue in a previous post (“the end of the CD as we know it” and I’ve been revisiting them lately as I’m putting the finishing touches on the album.

The CD format is supposedly going the way of the vinyl LP as far as new commercial releases for all but the biggest selling artists. There is the added expense of CD manufacturing as opposed to the more cost effective option of doing a digital-only (MP3) release. When you’re on a tight budget you have to think about it. But in the year since the Nights on Venus debut album came out as a digital-only release, I’ve had kind of a change of heart and mind on this.

For one thing, I read a few posts on Facebook and a couple of other forums by people in my age demographic who said they would never own an MP3 player and would not shop for albums on iTunes and other digital outlets. While at first that seemed to me to be a bit of a short-sighted position in the face of everything moving to digital files as the de facto music format, it also told me that for a certain number of listeners, this is probably the case. For whatever reason – maybe digital file downloads don’t seem as ‘real’ to them as something tangible you can hold in your hand like a CD, even though a CD has the digital .WAV files of the songs on them – they’re not going to switch, until they absolutely have to. They’re not ‘early adopters,’ but they’re still – or could be – part of your audience.

The takeaway here is that if you’re producing your own music and putting it out into the marketplace, you could be passing up both sales and a chance to expand your audience by not making the CD option available for that segment of listeners, not to mention the ‘impulse’ sales at your gigs.

I can kind of understand it. If you grew up in the golden era of vinyl, a record album was actually just that – the music on the vinyl LP, the record jacket and all the artwork and packaging. It was a total experience, and going to the record store was a big occasion. I know I could spend hours in one browsing, looking through the new releases and especially in the cut-out bins (remember those?) and it was a great way to spend an afternoon, doing just that – I miss that now and I’m betting more than a few people do. It’s probably one reason why when I opened Excellent Sky Gallery for my artwork in Empire, Colorado back in 2003, I also made it a used record store (and eventually a bookstore). Plus, I’ve just always loved records as far back as I can remember.

When CDs appeared on the scene and eventually took over the lion’s share of  existing shelf space (even pre-Best Buy), it was still sort of a similar experience – instead of LPs, you could browse through CDs and, for a while, if you wanted vinyl LPs, there was a certain amount of space left for them. Initially, the novelty of CDs made them just as cool as records had always been.

With MP3’s, there was a certain novelty factor as well but as we live in more accelerated times, novelty wears off more quickly too. For some people, I think MP3’s, digital downloads just seem more abstract, too nebulous – these things are floating around in cyberspace and you grab them out of thin air. What are you really getting? Well, the music of course, and a certain amount of convenience, but it’s not quite the ‘same.’ You don’t get the same overall experience even when you can browse online and listen to at least excerpts of songs before you buy.

I don’t think this is mere nostalgia or wanting to return just to old formats, but we have lost a lot in the inevitable march to the digital-only format. What we’re really doing when we create and record music is making memories for listeners and the artwork and packaging was a big part of that. Making another format option available, as an Indie budget will allow, seems to be the best way to go.

So the 2nd album from Nights on Venus – “In 4 the Evening” – will be released on CD as well as in MP3 format. Release date will be sometime right around Memorial Day, May 28th (putting on my logistics hat now), just in time for summer as it is kind of a summer-y album.  The first album will also be available on CD as well a little later. Both will be available on CD through CD Baby, Amazon, and ReverbNation.

Indie is do-it-yourself music, synonymous for hard work and no sleep.

Yep, I don’t know who originally said this but it’s true, although there is some sleep involved.

In the future I hope to make some subsequent albums available on vinyl as well, i.e., as financial circumstances allow, which right now seems to be in the same realm as a move back to the mountains (someday…). A lot of well-known artists have been putting their music on vinyl for quite a few years now – Pearl Jam immediately comes to mind – and it’s good to see.  And who knows, maybe I’ll re-open the gallery and record store too (I still have my turntables for in-store listening)…


Translator - "Big Green Lawn" (2012)

80’s psychedelic power-pop band Translator releases their first album in 26 years – TODAY! You may remember their song, “Everywhere That I’m Not” from 1982 – they went on to record four excellent, and criminally overlooked, albums through 1986. They’re back with “Big Green Lawn,” available on iTunes. Like R.E.M., Translator was Indie and Alternative long before the terms became mainstream, so give them a listen. Full story and video here:

Welcome back, guys! And the album sounds great!…

Early MC...

And another long-time fave, Marshall Crenshaw, has a current musical project underway that you can get involved with and contribute to. It’s a 6 EP Subscription Series of his music over the next 2 years. For more info, visit his page at Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects: There are 11 days left to fund his project.

Happy listening, y’all!

Nights on Venus - "In 4 the Evening" (2012)

The Nights on Venus debut album is currently available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3eMusic, and other fine online retailers. The new album “In 4 the Evening” will be released by Memorial Day, 2012.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

Author: nightsonvenus

Musician and producer with the band Nights on Venus.

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