Micah's Musings

The Power of a CD or LP Album as a Souvenir

November 11, 2015

You may not think of them this way, but CDs and LPs — and the packaging in which they’re encased — are powerful, and popular, souvenirs.

A CD or LP album is more than simply a music-delivery vehicle. It conveys and memorializes the moment of its purchase: where you were and with whom and why — every time you look at it, you touch it, you take it in your hands.

As a souvenir, a CD or LP album is a more purposeful, less-accidental souvenir than, say, the ticket stub you save from a show or the garishly-printed travel postcards you pick up on a vacation. A CD or LP is enhanced with the artist’s chosen graphical imagery and photography, as well as — if the artist is being generous — their lyrics and track-by-track credits. All of which can come together to make, for the artist’s audience, about as perfect a souvenir as they can get.

If a recording is purchased at an event, it becomes a vehicle for an audience’s connection to a moment in time, to a particular locale, and a vessel, via the autograph and inscription, that conveys the performer’s personality, and likely their fingerprints and DNA to boot — the things by which you can ID a criminal or a saint.

So what can you do to enhance the “souvenir” aspect of the next CD or LP you put out? Here are some ideas.

First, reorient your thinking. Don’t only think of your next CD or LP in the conventional way, as simply a durable, tangible music delivery vehicle. While that part of the project requires a lot of important considerations — which songs (and how many) to record, how to get the best performances out of all the musicians, where to mix and where to master — the souveniring side of the project benefits from a different viewpoint. Here are some suggestions that may appeal to you when you put on your souveniring hat:

» Consider unusual packaging that’s eye-catching and that will go the farthest toward making the CD a true collector’s object for those who purchase it.

» Make sure your graphic design is intrinsically excellent, suits your specific artistic sensibilities, and is consonant with the musical message that you’re striving to convey.

» If you’re able to include room for lyrics and musicians’ credits, it makes for an especially nice package full of memories. On my own CD, I even took this one step further: Since the final song on my CD is an instrumental, I expanded on this principle by reproducing in miniature, as the last page of the lyrics booklet, the sheet music so people could learn to play it at home. My thinking was this: What better way to involve my fans than by helping them literally get their hands on my music?

» Have an extensive “Thanks” page, in a large and readable font. The reasons for this aren’t entirely altruistic; if you are running a crowdsourcing campaign (Pledge Music, Kickstarter, etc.), space in the credits is important to offer to your supporters; even if you’re not crowdfunding, a single superfan or patron of the arts — your art — is worth a lot of regular fans, and acknowledging them is a way to get them to further buy in to supporting your release.

» Be sure to leave an intentionally placed, big-enough space in for your autograph. (Though don’t actually add your signature to your release until you’re face to face with a fan.)

But you certainly don’t have to go to all of these lengths if they don’t fit your plans (or your budget). A souvenir is all about connection. So even a simple, short recording, packaged minimally and infused with love — love for your music and for the people who enjoy and support your music — will always be a hit as a souvenir.

Micah Solomon
President & Founder
Oasis Disc Manufacturing

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