Digitizing Media as a Profit Center

The Band Director was approached by the choir director (Department Head) who, as part of his mission to clean up the over stuffed music library, asked about the LP records. “You guys have hundreds of LP records taking up space in here…. Are you ready to throw them away or maybe donate them to the library? ….something to get them out of here?”

He had a point, but it also brings up a huge couple questions:

  1. How many of you know Music Departments with massive collections of LP Records and VHS video tapes?
  2. How many of YOU have massive collections of old media?
  3. How many of you KNOW PEOPLE who have collections of old media?

In a recent Band Parent meeting, I asked how many had LP and VHS media at home. Someone asked me back if I was including 45’s and Beta. Oh my! Yes. Most of the adults in the room raised their hands. When I asked how many had a way to play them, about 3/4 of those hands went down. When I asked if they knew how, or knew how to get that media digitized (put on CD/DVD, etc), almost every hand went down.

There are options…..but…

You can easily find service providers via Internet who will digitize your old media. Because my main point is going to focus on records and tapes, I’m going to focus on those vs the Betamax tapes, 8mm and 15mm filmstrips and other media that some of you (and me) have….

Level of Service

The easiest, cheapest and least good option would be for an “Exact Transfer”, which basically means copying your media “as is” without making any changes to it. So if there is a pop or fuzziness on your old record, you will hear that on the CD/DVD. Prices I saw for making an exact transfer of an LP record ranged from a low of $15 to a high of $25 per LP with variations of discounts based on volume.

A higher level of service would involve using some “editing” software to create tracks and to correct some of the extra noise. Obviously if your record has a huge scratch, you might have an issue — but there is no question that digitized media has a more pure sound. A non-exhaustive search discovered rates as high as $39.95/LP to transfer and improve the recording.

Some negatives to the Internet providers…

The BIGGEST negative is that you have to send off your media. Some of us have old records that cannot be replaced. I have a couple dozen LP’s of my high school, summer camp, specialty clinic and college bands from “back in the day” where that was a popular form of recording. What if I ship them off and don’t get them back? What if they are damaged in transit — in either direction?

Some of the service providers SELL specialty boxes in which you can place a small quantity of LP records — and those boxes, which are almost a necessity, are a major profit item for the vendor. They also offer (some include, but others charge) to “wash/clean” the LP prior to playing/recording. So, by the time I order several of those boxes, get them shipped to me, then pay both the shipping to and from the digitizer vendor and have my records cleaned for best result — my bottom line price is significantly higher than even the prices they advertise.

Hence, people tend NOT to mess with it.

But what if…..

…there was a LOCAL OPTION?

What if you offered a FREE PICKUP/DROP OFF service (or even charge extra to do that)? I would be much more willing to provide a stack of my media to someone at my front door — or to take them somewhere local than I would be to do the shipping thing.

…YOU were the service provider in your area?


Need a way to supplement your fundraising business or to utilize during the off season?


What if your schools or bands ran a “DIGITIZING OLD MEDIA” fundraiser through you were YOU picked up the media, serviced it and returned it to them? It wouldn’t even have to, and probably shouldn’t  be an everybody does it at one time type sale for a couple main reasons: 1) You could be overwhelmed with an amount of work in a really short period of time, and 2) I believe people would be more apt to “test” a service with the idea of doing more later, and 3) if you operated like the magazine companies….you would service the first set and then communicate with the customers directly about additional digitizing ….. (or variations).

Your pricing for this ongoing service could be adjusted for those groups who also run their traditional fundraiser(s) through you.

Profitability Potential

What does a CD cost? A DVD? Both are under $.50ea, especially in quantity. Most of your overhead in this type of project would be TIME. Equipment needed is minimal and a lot of that is low cost or even free. If someone pays you $25 to spend about 45 minutes copying an LP, you’re doing ok. And if you can copy multiple LPs in that 45 minutes, or copying some while editing others, you’re doing even better.

Interested in collaborating or learning more?

Of course, any of you could figure out how to do this if you have the time for the research and either the expertise (or access to it) that you would need ……PLUS the legal connections to protect yourself as a service provider.

To my fundraising or “work from home” friends, I do not present this as a FREE offer of information. If you’re looking for free or dirt cheap advice, don’t bother me, please.

If you think you have expertise to share as a contributor, I could consider you as a collaborator.  

If you want to learn more, I can provide you with additional information as this project unfolds….  I will NOT post all the details here.

Email John@QDPCorp and reference DIGITIZING MEDIA in the subject line and I will put you on a smaller followup list.

Thanks for reading,

John Gardner


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