Musicians, what to do with those unsold CDs?

CD stacks

Back in the day when CDs were flying off the merch table at concerts, you thought you’d sell all those discs now gathering dust in your basement. Welcome to the modern age where even your grandpa is downloading music. Plastic is passé, right? Not so fast, buster. Read on for tips about what to do with those CDs.

free stuff

  1. Give them away

Take a box to shows and explain that they don’t suck, you just can’t bring yourself to toss this lovely music. They could be an incentive – give one to everyone buying a concert ticket or signing your mailing list. You could simply put out a box at your shows with a big free sign.


  1. Offer a deep discount

Slap a $5 sticker on that full-length CD. Offer a deal if fans buy one of each of your CDs. Get creative with pricing.

recycle box

  1. Recycle them

Check with your local recycling center. Some will take them if you separate the paper from the plastic. If a local place isn’t an option, check out this website. If you’re in the US, you can ship them unwanted CDs and they’ll recycle them. There’s also a function to help you find recycling in your community.

  1. Donate them

Do you have a lot of songs about peace? Find an organization with similar goals and ask if they could use some free CDs. Likewise, for any other topic. Or, you could donate to a thrift store or library but be careful because some don’t take them anymore.

mosaic with cds

  1. Make art

If you’re crafty, there’s a lot that can be made with recycled CDs. Many projects involve breaking them up with a hammer and making mosaics. It might be a painful thing for the musician who made the CD, though. Maybe you’ve got an artist friend who can do the dirty deed for you. This site has some ideas.



  1. Leave them

Keep them in your basement and wait for archaeologists to discover them. And who knows, maybe they’ll make a resurgence like LPs did.



For your next recording, consider going all-digital or making a small run for those die hard plastic fans.


About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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3 Responses to Musicians, what to do with those unsold CDs?

  1. joeltbennett says:

    Hi Jamie! I like your blog! I have a guitar website that focuses on lutherie etc, and has some nice apps to help learn and build guitars – I was hoping you might be able to take a look at it and maybe write a post about it ^_^ – it’s

  2. jono51 says:

    Geez, I feel like a Neanderthal as I still collect vinyl. It’s not a bad feeling, but CDs always seemed so fragile I never warmed up to them. Most of my cassettes still work, too. Fortunately, any band I ever played in never made our own CDs. Someone would record us live and give us a few, but we never cared what they did with the stuff as long as they credited us for the tunes. As a duffer I have never really had recording aspirations.

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