Hello all, and welcome to my first post at the DFTBA Records Blog.
Now it's no secret that I'm a big fan of clean technology, and one section of cleantech that I think is largely ignored is digitization. The ability to obviate the need for a physical thing is a very good thing for the environment. Streaming videos replacing DVDs, Kindle Books replacing books and, of course, MP3s replacing CDs.
So I was always very apprehensive about the idea of a physical CD. There were a lot of requests, and a good year before DFTBA Records was created, I honestly didn't believe that Nerdfighters, who are necessarily very comfortable with the online world, would have any significant desire for CDs.
But because John and I were going to be at some events, and John would be selling books and I didn't have anything to sell, I created an EP called "Several Songs from Hank Green's Pants" (I'd love to see one of those...if people still have them) that we sold at our keynote speech at a Library Conference in Michigan. I burned 20 of them myself and stuck them in jewel cases that I had lying around my house. John wouldn't let me price them at anything less than $15, and we sold all of them....very quickly.
Then, for our appearance at the Terminus Harry Potter Con, I had a heroic team of Kinkos professionals in Manhattan (I was there for a business meeting) print 100 copies of "Songs from Hank Green's Pants, Terminus Edition" in like 2 hours flat and we sold every single one of those. The songs on those albums were almost entirely ripped straight from youtube, with the only value added being me talking between songs (I think, my memory is a little fuzzy, which is kinda disturbing.)
So by the time the Tour de Nerdfighting rolled around, I felt fairly confident that people would buy physical CDs. I went into the studio, recorded beefier, awesomer versions of a six or so of my songs, put them on So Jokes along with some talking and some not-so-produced tracks. I printed up the cheapest CD I could find that didn't come from some back-alley printer; something I felt like would be high quality...something I could trust.
As I sat out front of the Library before the show in Plano Texas (the first show where I had the CDs) I was basically choking on fear. They hadn't been cheap, and I didn't want to be sitting there while John sold fistfulls of Paper Towns while everyone just sorta looked at my giant stack of obsolete plastic discs.
The first ten people walked by without giving them (or me) a second look, and probably the first person to ever buy a copy of So Jokes bought one because they felt sorry for me.
Of course, by the end of the tour, I'd sold all but 100 of the discs, much more than breaking even on the investment of buying the discs and recording the songs (a much bigger portion of the expense of the album, btw.)
So Jokes was a huge success, and it continues to sell in fairly good numbers. People have said so many nice things to me about the album that I have become very excited about my second studio release.
Of course, it's always been important to me to have my releases be environmentally friendly, luckily the company we print with (DiscMakers) has a ton of really great 100% recycled products (including the jacket that So Jokes is in.)
But nowadays, I'm much more excited about what the CD offers you, the buyer of my music. There is something about just having a physical CD that feels nice. Yeah, it's easier to play in your car stereo (for now) but there's also something about having a physical piece of a non-physical relationship.
But this time, I want to offer a lot more. As Alex said in a previous post, we want to offer you something really nice. I think So Jokes looks great (thanks largely to Sharkeye Jones) but my next release will be significantly more awesome (though, much to Alex's chagrin, it will not be in a jewel case...plastic is evil.) I think Taking Leave proved that you don't need a jewel case to have an impressive CD.
But it will offer a lot more than So Jokes did in terms of they physical experience. I hope you're as excited as I am.