It’s very difficult to calculate exactly how much each album cost to make. The fact that I run a business out of the same studio complicates matters. I was planning to include the cost of hardware and software used only for my albums, but that got messy fast. Subtracting the cash I received from gear I later sold is no problem, but then to make an apples-to-apples comparison, I’d need to also subtract out the value of gear I still own. To keep it simple, I decided not to factor in the cost of any computer or musical equipment, which total $88,000!

Items included in album costs:

  • CD replication
  • Graphic design
  • Mechanical royalties (monies paid to the writers of songs I cover)
  • Mastering (before I started to do it myself)
  • Outside studio fees
  • Hiring musicians (only for Something Beautiful)

Items not included in album costs:

  • Computer or musical equipment
  • Promotion (print ads, radio promo, web site hosting, contest entry fees, etc)
  • Mailing costs
  • Bank charges and transaction fees

Sketches in Grey

Sketches in Grey

These figures include both my initial pressing of 500 units, and my remastered pressing of 1,000.

$2,976 replication
$819 graphic design
$456 mastering (first edition only)

Total cost: $4,251
Sales since 1994: $9,340
Net profit: $5,089

Tuesday Song

Tuesday Song

The piano was recorded at an outside studio, where we also did the mastering. I pressed 1,000 units.

$3,058 replication and graphic design
$1,091 outside studio

Total cost: $4,149
Sales since 1997: $7,139
Net profit: $2,990

Perfect Tears

Perfect Tears

I really thought I could sell all 2,000 units!

$2,897 replication
$1,500 graphic design

Total cost: $4,397
Sales since 1999: $5,617
Net profit: $1,220

Life's Fairytale

Life’s Fairytale

The replication company went bankrupt before I could pay them for the 1,000 units.

$200 graphic design
$113 mechanical royalties

Total cost: $313
Sales since 2001: $4,943
Net profit: $4,630

Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful

This one would’ve been even more expensive if I hadn’t bartered with the drummer, Jonathan Moffett.

$1,438 replication (1,000 units)
$500 graphic design
$2,248 musicians
$750 outside studio
$680 engineer
$50 vibraphone rental

Total cost: $5,666
Sales since 2002: $3,451
Net loss: $2,215

Color Theory presents Depeche Mode

Color Theory presents Depeche Mode

The Super Jewel box and rights paid to Martin Gore made for an expensive 1,200 units.

$3,004 replication and graphic design
$1,192 mechanical royalties
$325 photography

Total cost: $4,521
Sales since 2003: $15,454
Net profit: $10,933

The Thought Chapter

It costs a lot less to produce a CD these days, but 1,000 Digipaks isn’t the cheapest option.

$2,328 replication and graphic design
$400 artwork
$106 mechanical royalties

Total cost: $2,834
Sales since 2008: $3,973
Net profit: $1,139

The Sound

Since I won CD replication for the album through the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, my expenses were very low – not factoring in 600 hours of my time, of course!

$500 cover image licensing
$590 graphic design
$130 mechanical and digital royalties

Total cost: $1,220
Sales since 2010: $3,895
Net profit: $2,675

You may be tempted to add these numbers together to generate a total profit/loss figure for the band, but it wouldn’t even be close. I can’t come up with a simple way to calculate it, but just factoring in the amount I’ve spent on promotion more than knocks out any profit from the albums. Good thing I’m not in this for the money!