In What Format Should You Release Your Music?

Sell you music in CD, mixtape or vinyl?There are a few different formats you can release your music on, the main ones being Compact Disk (CD), vinyl, and data file (E.G. MP3, WAV etc). Depending on your aim and your target market, the format you release your music in will be different. If you’re releasing your music to a more main stream audience that like to download their music to their MP3 players, you may want to only release a data file. If however you’re targeting hardcore underground music fanatics, you may want to release a vinyl as there are pockets of people who still feel they’re more “authentic”, especially DJs.

Here are the pros and cons of each format:




  • The Compact Disk (CD) format is the most common tangible format around now.
  • Most people have a way of playing CDs in their house, and you wouldn’t have trouble bringing your CD to other places and being able to play it.
  • A lot of people are still drawn to owning their music in physical format, so it is still worth pressing up CDs.



  • While CDs are still popular, sales have decreased as sales of data files (E.G. MP3s / WAV etc, see below) have increased. It is now harder to sell CDs then before, as a lot of people favor the ‘instant delivery’ data file.
  • While durable, CDs can also get scratched and damaged. If damaged too bad, this can make the CD unusable and you’d have to purchase the CD again.




  • Vinyl can be good if you’re targeting a niche market where the Djs within the market still favor vinyls.



  • Vinyls are very expensive to produce. On top of this there aren’t many people that still use vinyl, making it hard to find a place to use them as not everywhere has the required equipment to make them work. While you can buy your own ‘decks’ to play them on, these are very expensive and limit you to playing the music in your house.
  • Vinyl is also big and heavy, so moving your music collection won’t be an easy job. It also wears down over time, so if you’re playing your music a lot you’ll be hearing crackles and jumps at some point.


Data File (E.G. MP3 Music File)


  • Data files such as MP3s, WAV and WMA can be cheaper then physical products for both consumers and artists. This is because unlike physical products, you don’t have to spend money on packaging and pressing up multiple units. Your only expense would be renting the space to sell your products, and if you get your own in house shopping cart (The way to sell your music and other non tangible products online) this is often only a one off fee. There are many websites that also let you upload and sell your products for free, only taking a commission for each unit you sell. This means if you don’t make any money you don’t have any expenses to pay.
  • Of course, these savings can turn out to huge and can be risk free. Remember, you can pass these savings on to your customer, so you offer them the product for cheaper then if they were buying a CD, but still have a bigger profit margin for yourself as you have less expenses.
  • Another pro about having data files is that they’re easy to deliver. You don’t have to rely on distribution companies taking them round to the shops, you can simply sell them from home on your own website or a website specially set up to sale music files.



  • Currently, data files are very easy to share. This is a problem, as with so many people getting your music for free, sales will obviously be effected in a negative way.
  • While your music can still be stolen from compact disk and vinyl, having the data file make it easier for these thieves to share.
  • Another con is there are still many people who don’t shop online for whatever reason. If you have a data file only release, you’re excluding some people from having your product, even if they may have wanted it.



If you’re on a low budget, a data file only release may be the way forward. It won’t involve much cost to sell your music (If any) and you’ll be able to get music to your fans instantly. If however you have got more of a budget and want to appeal to people that don’t buy music online, it may be best to go for a digital AND CD release. This should appeal to all potential customers and ensure you’re music’s easily obtainable (Provided it’s in the right shops of course).