Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Studio diary: part 2

Posted on 15 December 2008 13 comments

Article illustration for Studio diary: part 2

Since writing part 1 of my new ‘Studio Diary’ series the other day, you might be wondering why I’ve gone so quiet. And you would be right to wonder.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to temporarily put my music-making plans on hold. The reason for this is that the book I’m writing now needs to come out a month earlier, and therefore I need to write it a month earlier. Ultimately it should result in more high-street exposure for the book when it comes out in March, but sadly I’ve had to move my recording sessions to January.

However, In the meantime, while music itself gets put on hold, I thought I’d use the opportunity to talk about how I intend to release the EP

Physical vs. digital formats

I started discussing my plans for a release format with Terris Kramer in the comments of the last post, and Pab continued it by bringing up the tempting prospect of vinyl. If you can’t be bothered to skip back, here’s a summary:

“I love [CD packaging] not only because I’m a designer [but also because] I love pouring over it when listening to an album, especially during the first listen. Unfortunately, though, even a packaging geek like me has come to realise that physical formats aren’t always a financially viable option when self-financing an album!”

Which brings me to my next topic…

Pricing ideas

I don’t intend to make any real profit from music since it’s nothing more than an enjoyable past-time, but it’d be nice to make enough to finance a decent physical release, if that’s what people want.

My intention is to release one EP (of about 5 songs) early in 2009, and then a second EP (again of about 5 songs) later in the year. The idea would be to release each EP in download-only format and sell them for a very low amount, ideally leaving you guys to choose how much you want to pay (with £1 as a minimum payment). Then, if they sell well, I’d then combine the two EPs together to form an actual physical CD album (with lovely elaborate packaging), and probably add an extra track or two.

So here’s how I imagine the release / pricing options might work…

  • Early 2009: EP 1 (download only) – pay as little as you want (minimum £1)

  • Mid to late 2009: EP 2 (download only) – pay as little as you want (minimum £1)

  • Late 2009: Album (CD with lush packaging and extra tracks) – £10 or discounted to £5 if you bought both EPs

Your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think of this! Do you think it sounds fair? Ultimately I’m very keen to do a physical release, as long as people will buy it! I’d like to keep the cost as low as possible for you guys, charging only as much as I need to make back the cost of producing the album. Hopefully the plan outlined above is the fairest and most honest way of achieving this.

Please voice your opinion in the comments!


  1. James Abney-Hastings

    James Abney-Hastings

    15 December 2008 @ 05:27PM #

    Sounds like a really fair and viable way of doing it. If this will cover your costs (and perhaps a pint of beer or 2 on top) then you should go for it, it is certainly value for money for the buyer (assuming the tunes are good ;) which I’m sure they will be!)

    Look forward to hearing it, definatly will be buying at least one if not all 3 of these!


  2. Jernej


    15 December 2008 @ 05:34PM #

    I remember that we’ve been talking about this… I think you’ve found a great solution! Yap, I’ll buy it for shure :)

  3. Steve Rydz

    Steve Rydz

    15 December 2008 @ 06:04PM #

    I’ll be buying both EP’s and the physical if it ever happens, partly out of support for a fellow musician/designer and partly as I would to see how you’re going to package it.

  4. Ben Bodien

    Ben Bodien

    15 December 2008 @ 07:46PM #

    EP pay-what-you-like sounds like the way forward to me, and I particularly like the idea of rewarding buyers of the downloads with a discounted CD.

    Just make sure the files are compressed in a lossless format, or at least provide that download option as well as something lossy. And DRM free, ideally!

    Best of luck with the production, and I like the automation fade-out as the blog post image – very witty :)

  5. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    15 December 2008 @ 08:53PM #

    Thanks guys! I really appreciate your support!

    @ Ben Bodien: Heh heh. Well spotted. That was definitely aimed at the fellow producers in the audience! ;)

  6. Jernej


    15 December 2008 @ 09:13PM #

    @Ben Bodien @ Elliot : yah, I was clicking on the picture hoping to get some more:)

  7. Dan Donald

    Dan Donald

    15 December 2008 @ 09:52PM #

    Sounds like a good plan, man! For more independent artists, you can’t just follow the Radiohead pay what you want tack , so setting a minimum works well – after all you’ve got to cover your costs. The only thing I’d add is finding a little more value on the physical release by adding a couple/few tracks you can’t get anywhere else. You’re more likely to take a punt from the digital formats that way and you’re also going to know it’s worth your £10 for the CD instead of just £2 for the digital EPs (potentially).

    Hmmm..interesting…. ;)

  8. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    15 December 2008 @ 09:59PM #

    @ Dan Donald Yeah, I’ll definitely put some extra tracks on there. I guess it totally depends how many tracks I end up with after the recording sessions, but it might be that – if there’s a delay between the release of the second EP and the physical album – I might even have time to record some tracks that are literally new. But either way, I’ll aim for at least 12 tracks on the CD (versus the 10 on the two EPs).

  9. Terris Kremer

    Terris Kremer

    15 December 2008 @ 11:11PM #

    Nice! I’m glad we brought this up and I’m so glad you could come to this conclusion. Keep us posted on your progress with the book too.

  10. Grant


    16 December 2008 @ 01:39AM #

    I think your pricing strategy sounds right on Elliot. You may even want to consider giving away a free track or two to get things going and maybe even build a list to announce to out of the people who took advantage of the free download.

  11. Mike Robinson

    Mike Robinson

    16 December 2008 @ 05:11PM #

    I always go for a physical copy, I just can’t shake off that excitement of holding and looking at the CD/case/artwork.

    Those prices sound perfect, I’d be happy to pay that. And, of course, bonus tracks on the CD only make it even more delicious!

    Now, when do we talk about signed copies? ;)

  12. rama


    22 December 2008 @ 02:58PM #

    wow, that is a great pricing strategy. nice goin’ the Elliot!

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