Dr. AIX's POSTS — 13 April 2015

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The catalyst for all this talk about how records are made and the business behind them was prompted by a discussion I had recently with Paul McGowan at PS Audio. PS Audio and a couple of collaborators are producing a compilation of previously recorded high quality tracks. I can’t say that I know the exact provenance of the tracks but I’m pretty sure that they were well recorded in high-resolution…either at 92 kHz/24-bit PCM or on a Sonoma Multitrack System at DSD 64. I heard several tracks from the project and they sounded really good…if a little inconsistent. Paul told me they’re working on pulling new mixes together and Gus Skinas will be mastering the whole set…so I’m sure the tunes will fall together quite nicely.

“PS Audio plans to issue two discs in the package. According to Paul’s post of March 6, 2015, “Inside the physical media package will be two discs: a CD and a DVD. The CD will contain perfectly mastered copies of the original high-resolution files. The DVD will contain both the original master DSD recordings as well as 176/24 PCM versions, so each package has three formats from which to enjoy, all mastered expertly by Gus Skinas on his system and curated and checked for final results in Music Room One on the IRSV.”

The pricing and deal structure of Paul’s model goes something this, “The model of distribution and reimbursement will be very different. In this version we will sell the discs around the world ourselves without going through dealers, for $39.95 each. After covering the physical costs of the package itself as well as its fulfillment (figure about $10) the balance of $30 is split 80/20, with 80% shared between the musicians and the recording people that made and funded the studio and mastering time. 20% will go to PS Audio, the distributor and marketer, with the hopes of making enough money to repeat the process and make more. This is not a money making venture for us, rather, we want the lion’s share to go where it belongs, in the hands of those that make the music.”

So that we can get a handle on the economics of selling a $40 retail item (directly without and middlemen), let me breakdown some typical costs associated with replicating discs. CDs are ridiculously cheap… I pay $.21 for each one. This is just the cost of the raw disc no packaging…although it does include the cost of the silk-screening. The setup cost for the screens is about $40. And a DVD? They don’t cost that much more than CDs…around $.40. Throw in a nicely laid out 16-page booklet and cover with 4-color art, a plastic box of some kind, shrinkwrapping and the total cost of each package comes to about $1.75. The cost of replicating optical discs and printing paper are really pretty cheap.

To be continued…

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(6) Readers Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Mark.

    It’s wonderful to know that most of the dollars earned will go to the artists themselves and not in physical costs.

    I for one will certainly get the album when it is released.

    • The artists will never get the most dollars from a project. But there is growing power in the artist side of the equation.

  2. ….so what’s your point….???????????????????????????????????????

    • There are different economic models in creating and selling an audiophile record.

  3. What are the volumes required to get the prices you quoted above?

    • I only replicate 1000 at a time.

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