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Audio vs. CD Products

Patti Hathaway

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This was my request:

I'd like to hear from speakers who have both spoken word audio cassettes and CDs -- what is selling best? What is your profit margin and price points on both? Since NSA is switching the VOE tape to a CD format, I'm curious what others are doing.

-- Kristin J. Arnold

I have been offering the choice of audio and CD for five years...initially, I was kicking myself, thinking "why did I waste all this money on CDs when everyone wants audiocassette?" Over time, however, I think more and more people are requesting CDS.

So...we're in the transition phase (and as a change agent, you know how difficult it can be to give up what you know for what you don't know...). Even automakers don't provide cassette players in cars any more...

SO, be prepared for the future. I still have both, but the CD sales are increasing. Any NEW products will be on CD. It's easier and now just as economical as cassettes (last longer too).

-- Sheryl L. Roush

I recently released both spoken word audio cassettes and CDS on "Solid Gold Marketing Tactics." I did 100 quantity each to start with -- to test selling power and preference. What is selling best? The CD, 2-to-1 right now! In spite of being $5 more than the audiocassette.

-- Toni Boyle

I am happy to pass on what I've heard from the audio industry. Every publisher will tell you that CDs are cheaper to produce -- but for the spoken word they still only make up about 15% of the market. Even though there is the ability to bookmark, the convenience of carrying them, and the increasing availability of players, CDs just aren't as accepted by the consumer as audio tapes are for spoken work. I just heard from one of the country's largest spoken word publishers that they can't get their customer list converted and consider CDs to be less than 20% of their business. They'd like to change that but people won't buy them. The major book publishers with audio divisions have found the same thing. The CDs that are most successful are those that are aimed at a specific interest group -- e.g. Star Wars or Trekkies or highly produced children's classics. My advice: Watch your audience. NSA speakers are pretty apt to adapt to CD quickly. You can't be certain your clients will be as flexible.

-- Wayne McKinnon

In response to your question, rather than just record a whole session or program on a CD, break it down into segments and record these on the same CD as separate "tracks". The benefit to the listener is that they do not have to "fast-forward" through the whole CD to get to the place they left off, or to that key tip that they wanted to replay. Just like a music CD, they can pick their favorite track (bit, segment, tip). You could also use this to show value much like a multi-tape album. Instead of just having one program, the perception is that multiple tracks = multiple programs and are therefore worth more.

-- Al McCree

Our record company sells 5-1 CDs-Cassettes. These are music CDs, not spoken word.

-- Larry Mersereau

Add NSA to the list of those trying to drag us kicking and screaming into the 21st Century! If you don't have a CD player, you'll have to buy one if you "want your VOE." I think your decision on which format to use depends entirely on your target market. If you're selling to sophisticated, upscale clients who all have CD players, the format is cleaner, more convenient, and lasts longer. If your typical buyer is less likely to own all the latest gadgets, you should stick with tape. IF STILL IN DOUBT, why not sell an inexpensive portable (Walkman style) player to go with whichever format you choose? Problem solved...new profit center created!

-- Judith Briles

I have audio and books. We sell over $100,000 a year in product. The great majority are books; I would say one out of 300 have asked about CDs. So, we are sticking with the audio format for the present.

-- Rob Sommer

I produce audio programs and recommend both formats for now. Most new cars will be coming out with CD players but there are still a lot of old cars on the road. The mastering is still the same with the exception that you do not put in words like "turn this tape over" etc. Your cost will be about the same depending on the length of the program. Four cassettes usually will fit on two CDs. People are used to spending more on CDs than cassettes so you might price them a bit higher. If your budget can stand it, I would recommend for this next year to make your programs available on both formats.

-- Tina Dupree

I rarely use CD's and have had only a few people ask me for them. Perhaps the CD trend is picking up, but for now, audio works great.

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