I thought I would come back to the forum (I forgot I had an account) and respond to this thread, because it applies to me in a lot of ways too, as a customer and artist.
As a customer, I would prefer not to pre-order something. Though I realize it is unavoidable a lot of the time, because people need the money to produce it, and I do it sometimes.
However, I think pre-orders should not
be done strictly because it is a limited edition. It makes it seem exclusive (which it is), typically depending on your speed to order or available money as the answer to whether you get a copy or not. If you can make it a bigger edition, you should. These days it isn't so expensive to get 300 CDs pressed.
As a artist, sometimes pre-orders are necessary, unfortunately. When publishing myself, I try to only do it when there is no other way possible, for editions that are expensive to produce that few people buy (like vinyl).
Working with labels, however, the artist usually has no say in this matter whatsoever, which is part of the problem, because when customers are upset about limited editions being quickly sold out, the quality of the packaging, or the slow production time, usually it is not the artists' fault, yet they receive some of the blame as well. As an artist you just have to do your best and hope that it comes out well.
Another thing is about the 'why release on CDRs' question. Of course none of us want to release on CDR. It is the cheapest format (even more than tape, because there's no nostalgia associated), and the quickest to die or decay. These are the only reasons I ever release on CDR:
1) If you produce a lot of music, the options, if you can't release on vinyl or CD, are to #1 release it digitally #2 release on a CDR, or #3 not release it and hope an opportunity comes up eventually. Of the 3, obviously actually having a physical edition (even though pitiful and cheap) is still (sometimes) better than just digital, and better than nothing at all. Also you have the problem with #3 that no chance of a release will ever come up, or that so much time passes that you're more interested in your current music, and just forget it altogether.
Some people may say that with that result, it is probably better to not publish it at all. That may be fine for some people, but personally I think that all music has an important time and place. It's not always going to be perfect or your best album, but it represents something special that you do believe in, so it's important even if many people think you're already doing too much. You just have to follow what you think is right.
So in all, even though CDRs are barely worth publishing, sometimes it's doing the best (as in only) thing you can do.
I always try to print the maximum number, but I have tiny editions happen all the time too. You can't win all the time.
In response to some other people:
@Julio Di Benedetto @mgriffin Also, if you're the kind of artist who can quickly sell 200-300 discs, why not do pressed CDs instead of CDRs?
If the label won't press a CD and will only do a CDR, the artist doesn't have much choice. It's the labels' decision. My way or the highway sortof approach. It's tough enough just finding labels to release something period.
@drone on You know what I'd love to see? Somebody release a limited edition of ONE COPYhttp://onement-label.com/ONE-HOME.html
@| broken harbour | That's actually what I love about Steve Roach, he keeps nearly all his albums in print
Reissuing albums is one of the most difficult things to get labels to do, maybe not for Steve Roach, but for most everybody else lower than that