Working across both the digital and physical markets, I am frequently asked my thoughts on the future of physical music sales. While I believe a physical market will survive for music, I also often point to services like Amazon Disc on Demand as an interesting space to watch. Many questions arise over this service, and I aim in the below to address some of the more common questions I’m asked.
What exactly is Amazon Disc on Demand?
Amazon Disc on Demand uses the digital files that are delivered for the Amazon MP3 store to print a CD or DVD on demand for customers who order a physical copy. The transaction counts as a digital sale, but results in a physical copy.
What are the benefits of Disc on Demand?
No stock is held. You are able to sell to customers who prefer physical copies of releases without the exposure of having hundreds of units of stock sitting in warehouses across the world when demand may not justify that level of exposure.
What releases are good for Disc on Demand?
If the physical release of a title does not exist in the market, Disc on Demand provides a good option to reach customers who prefer physical units but may otherwise be missed. Disc on Demand is a particularly good option for older catalogue titles on which sales have slowed to the point where the physical is deleted, or perhaps should be to save on costs of slow-moving lines. It could also be a way to test the water for developing artists and releases.
In what territories does Amazon have the Disc on Demand program?
Disc on Demand is only live for music in the US and Germany at the moment. It is to be launching in one or two “major European territories” in the near future. These territories are not confirmed, but one could likely make some educated guesses.
Can I have a booklet with a Disc on Demand release?
Disc on Demand releases do include booklets which can be 4-32 pages. However, DoD booklet artwork currently needs to be in a different format than booklets for the MP3 store. Releases via the Orchard are currently set up using a standard template, but if you have an important release for DoD with which you would like to add a more detailed booklet, please contact your Client Manager.
But isn’t the quality really poor?
The Amazon Disc on Demand program suffers from a bit of a perception problem stemming from the somewhat lesser-quality of the packages at the time the service launched. Amazon has long since improved the quality of DoD products, increasing the booklet paper weight to 130gsm. Having seen several DoD packages, the quality can be indistinguishable from many “proper” physical releases.
If CDs are being printed to order, doesn’t it take a long time for customers to receive their copy?
No — the order is immediately sent to Amazon’s printing facilities, and the CD can be shipped out within 24 hours. No additional processing time occurs.
How is the pricing set?
While Amazon reserves the right to set retail price, a vendor can specify a desired list price and a royalty is paid through on this amount when a disc is sold. Your Client Manager can assist with further information.
Do Disc on Demand titles sell?
Sales of course vary by title, but we have seen steady sales through Disc on Demand. A particular recent success story happened with Acoustic Live by Nils Lofgren. When Nils toured as part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Acoustic Live sold over 700 units through Amazon Disc on Demand in Germany, hitting #3 on Amazon Germany’s Live Albums chart. The physical version of this title had been deleted, and Disc on Demand was able to service a market that otherwise would have been missed.
How do I have my releases delivered to Disc on Demand?
Please contact your Client Manager for further details.