Anyone Bought Commercially Released CDs That Seem to BE CD-Rs?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by clearvinylsounds, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. clearvinylsounds

    clearvinylsounds Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I have, on a couple of occasions recently, bought commercially released CDs that on close examination seem to be CDRs. The first one that comes to mind is the 2013 Sunbeam Records reissue of Morgen (cat. SBRCD 5090 – UPC: 5051125509010). It appears to me that this is a very nicely presented CD-R, complete with a professional label, glossy paper artwork, etc. This fact is not a problem with me at all, as long as I didn’t end up with a "well done bootleg" instead of the "real thing." The CD was shrink wrapped in a clear plastic jewel case with the Sunbeam Records’ sun logo sticker affixed to the front of the cellophane. The artwork is complete, and not marked as a promo or remainder, nor is it substandard in any way. The label side of the CD is smooth and glossy as you would expect from a commercially manufactured CD. In looking at the playing side of the disc, however, you see the faintly gold/green tint of a CD-R, rather than the bright reflection of a regular silver CD. I sent an inquiry to Sunbeam Records asking if they were releasing some titles on CDR. I never got a response, which made me think that they probably were doing so but didn't want that fact widely disclosed.

    Secondly, I bought a copy of the 2013 EMI/Harvest 2CD reissue of Gravedigger by Janus (UPC: 5099997545521) about 5 months ago. This copy was clearly a silver CD. Disc 2 had a scratch on it so I'd been waiting for "the right price" to turn up to buy a replacement copy. I bought another copy about a month ago and, upon arrival, I looked at the playing sides of the two discs and they seem to be CDRs. The playing sides of the discs have the identification numbers "RFD80M 79247" on the inner ring where the matrix numbers usually go. A search using these identifiers reveals several items listed on discogs as commercially released promo CDrs, or just promos. This search also resulted in another thread on this forum regarding OJC/Concord reissuing some titles as CDRs ( The artwork appears to be identical and of good quality. The labels look a little different (the CDRs have a darker green Harvest logo and the yellow background is brighter yellow, whereas the silver CDs have a near-metallic yellow background. I attribute these differences to the fact that the labels may be different because of the different medium (CD vs. CDR).

    Anyone else noticed this going on? Since Sunbeam is a small label, I didn't question that the use of CDRs might be a cost saving measure, but with the EMI discs, it makes me wonder if these well done CDrs represent yet another bootlegger ploy to sell counterfeit CDs that are almost indetectible. With that said, it would seem kind of silly for a bootlegger to expend the effort and expense on something as obscure as a release by Janus called "Gravedigger", which sort of makes me think that maybe I got hold of a promo with my second attempt at buying this release, or possibly the bigger labels (like EMI) may be using the CDR as a way to save money. There is nothing shabby looking about the packaging or anything else, but if nothing else, I'd like to be sure it is an official release.

  2. TheLazenby

    TheLazenby Forum Resident

    Amazon sells CD-R's of particular commercial releases, I know that. Sort of "made on demand" items.
    ccbarr, slovell, Rukiki and 12 others like this.
  3. melstapler

    melstapler Reissue Activist

    Yes my friend, this seems to be a problem with smaller labels and the made on demand items TheLazenby mentioned. I mostly avoid Amazon and always contact a storefront or seller prior to purchasing a CD. To cover yourself, always ask them whether the title is a real silver pressed "replicated" disc or if it's some type of CD-R disc with a blue-ish tint on the reflective side of the disc.
  4. drasil

    drasil Former Resident

    the smithsonian has on-demand physical releases available on its website for all or most of the folkways catalogue--but they're CDRs with a black-and-white laser-printed sticker label and photocopied artwork from the original release (and sometimes with a contemporary essay, also printed
    on an office printer and stapled in the upper left corner). it's kind of charming and appropriate for a government organization, and the smithsonian definitely deserves your money. but I think the CDRs might be burned from the mp3s of the recordings available for purchase on the same page, so I'd seriously consider the latter. the artwork and essays are also available to download there, for free.
  5. elgreco

    elgreco Forum Resident

    This seems to happen more and more. Small labels do this sometimes, and a record service like CDBaby, which sells independent releases, offer CD-R's as well, next to silver pressed CDs. Sometimes it's hard to tell what you're going to get, other times it's cleary disclosed. That Amazon service that TheLazenby mentioned usually states upfront that they're CD-R's, but not on all occasions. I have received several CD's from big labels like Universal through Amazon and third-party sellers that turned out to be CD-R's, sometimes even for a pretty steep price. I have returned them every time.

    It's a confusing practice that I don't like at all. It not only muddies the water in the sense that you can't always be sure what you're going to receive, but it's also a nightmare for collectors. When you own a hard-to find disc that gets re-released as a CD-R its perceived value will go down.
  6. Blue Gecko

    Blue Gecko Forum Resident

    I have been fooled in identifying CDrs vs. CDs more than once. I now use the Disc tab of the free Nero InfoTool software. The Extended Information section clearly provides different information for a CD vs. a CDr. The software is easy to use and a download link is below.
    ispace, klockwerk and melstapler like this.
  7. Jerquee

    Jerquee Take this, brother, may it serve you well.

    New York
    I feel ripped off when I find a CDr instead of an actual CD when the choice was made by the record company. Such discs should be labeled as CDr's and the cost should be significantly lower than an actual CD.
  8. clearvinylsounds

    clearvinylsounds Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Yes, I am aware of those discs that are usually identified by a small note at the bottom of the page that says, "This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media," but I am talking more about the bigger labels (like Universal as mentioned in elgreco's post, or EMI in the case of the 2CD set of "Gravedigger" by Janus mentioned in my initial post). While I agree that, if the discs are CDRs, that fact should be identified, but I guess my more immediate interest is knowing whether these discs are legitimate, or whether they clever ripoffs. Or maybe I should say clever illegal ripoffs since it might still be considered a ripoff for a label to issue CDRs as CDs of music the label has legally licensed, without disclosing to the buyers that the product is a CDR, but if the label has the license to release the item (as opposed to the item being a knock off), it would not, technically, be illegal; at least not in the bootleg sense of the word.

    As you all have alluded to, in the collecting world, if a silver, factory made version has been available, and then the label starts pressing CDRs, the silver CDs are the ones a collector will want. I guess that, if the CDR versions are unquestionably legitimate, once the label stops producing those, even the CDR versions should have some level of increased value as long as there is some means of identifying them as legitimate.

    I have never bought an on-demand CDR from Amazon and, when I see the notation mentioned above about "CDRs and recordable media," I usually check with the used and marketplace sellers to see if their versions are the silver CDs. Once when I did that, though, the seller, upon realizing that there was some enhanced value in his copy being silver, doubled the price. Needless to say, I didn't buy his copy. A friend of mine who is a big ELP fan bought one of ELP's "on demand CDRs" through Amazon (probably more out of curiosity than anything). He said that artwork was disappointingly minimal.

    Grey area labels like Particles, Past and Present, Psychic Circle, Aurora, Kismet, Relics (not the Grateful Dead-related imprint) and others of their ilk, which have historically released silver CDs of music that may have lost its copyright protection, seem now moving into the professionally made CDR world. Kind of appropriate for the type of music they are releasing, but with labels like EMI, I find such a move a little surprising if, in fact, it is a "move" at all, as opposed to an injection of well crafted counterfeits into the market. This is definitely a topic I will keep my eye on. This forum's input is, as always, appreciated.
    klockwerk likes this.
  9. ShallowMemory

    ShallowMemory Classical Princess

    I got the Hip-O issue of Diana Ross (1970) and only to find it was a cd-r and with the disc starting from the second track to end and AND ending on track 1. Screwy????
    I'd rather have a flac download with PDF than it with that mistake and a badly copied set of inserts.
  10. clearvinylsounds

    clearvinylsounds Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Yeah, those Smithsonian releases are kind of like the Creel Pone releases of classic and otherwise unavailable electronic, avant garde, and experimental music, although, as nicely done as I think the Creel Pone releases are, they are surely less "authorized" than the Smithsonian discs.
  11. Platterpus

    Platterpus Forum Resident

    Unfortunately the Smithsonian/Folkways website from the very beginning has only sold CD-Rs of their catalog. The price is not cheap either considering this format. Some of the ESP-Disk titles were on their website at one time but are now gone.
  12. seed_drill

    seed_drill Senior Member

    Tryon, NC, USA
    Chase's Live Music, which came from his family run Bill Chase web cite is a CDR. Oddly, my New Tweedy Bros. CD with the octagonal packaging that I bought from Midnight 15 -20 years ago is one of those early gold colored CDRs. It still plays fine, though.
    jay.dee likes this.
  13. Platterpus

    Platterpus Forum Resident

    Creel Pone is a little different as they are a one man bootleg operation. I remember seeing for sale a couple of the Ruth White albums which from what I have read are poor sounding CD-R needle drops. Glad I never purchased them. Probably the same versions on YouTube.

    Limelight Records had some really good electronic releases that should get a proper release like the Fifty Foot Hose album did. Cork reissued his "Cauldron" album on his own Weasel Disc label himself after getting the rights to it. Then shortly after, Big Beat licensed this album from Cork for their reissue.
    drasil likes this.
  14. matthew2600

    matthew2600 Forum Resident

    Guess they didn't use my Ruth White Short Circuits needledrop that some people have.
  15. Platterpus

    Platterpus Forum Resident

    Creel Pone only did the two occult/esoteric themed Limelight albums. Your Angel Records LP was not done by them. I would love to hear that Short Circuits album as well in good fidelity.
    Mr. Explorer likes this.
  16. melstapler

    melstapler Reissue Activist

    That is very concerning, because that Diana Ross reissue was issued as a real CD. It sounds as though a seller is illegally making homemade CD-R copies of the original now OOP Hip-O titles.
  17. melstapler

    melstapler Reissue Activist

    There is a fairly well-known UK re-issue label called Acrobat Music, which specializes in re-issues of classic music (from the 50s, 50s, 60s, 70s etc.) Although the label has been around for quite a while, they've switched from CD to CD-R. Unless you're fortunate enough to have purchased an older pressing of a title when it was manufactured as a replicated "real" CD, then just be aware that it will be a CD-R. I've learned my lesson the hard way with several of their titles.

    Acrobat Music »
  18. johnny 99

    johnny 99 Down On Main Street

    HMV in Toronto is selling Jackie Mclean's "It's Time" for $25.00 and at first glance you'd think it was a 'real' Connoisseur Series CD like the one originally released.
    It's not; it's a blue/purple coloured CDR!!

    A totally misleading rip off.

    Buyers beware.
    Jackie P, basie-fan, Maggie and 2 others like this.
  19. zongo

    zongo Forum Resident

    Davis, CA
    Really? That's a CDR? I have that and never even considered the possibility it's a CDR. I will have to check mine out.
  20. Heavy Music

    Heavy Music Forum Resident

    South Florida
    This Cameo Parkway box set I have does not "seem to be" cd-r's, they definitely are "black cd-r's" a nice compilation of good tunes.

    Jimmy B. and melstapler like this.
  21. melstapler

    melstapler Reissue Activist

    Thanks for the heads-up, that's very sad news. Do you know if any of the Cameo Parkway single disc 1CD releases currently being shipped to retail are CD-R?
  22. eric777

    eric777 Astral Projectionist

    This has never happened to me but if it did, I would be mad.
    LoveYourLife and melstapler like this.
  23. melstapler

    melstapler Reissue Activist

    Something needs to be done to crack down on these dishonest labels who are misrepresenting product by deceiving music distributors, retail stores and innocent consumers by shipping CD-Rs. When a consumer purchases an official release which is listed as a CD, they trust that it will be as described.

    Most retail outlets will not knowingly accept CD-R titles and even online independent music sites who do (such as CDBaby) require the artists to state whether it's a real CD or a CD-R in the product specifications.

    If someone were purchasing an illegal bootleg, then I could understand if they received a junky CD-R. As they say, play with fire and you get burned. However, this thread is focusing on situations where unsuspecting consumers have purchased official/legal CD titles, but have been ripped off by dishonest labels.

    At this point, it's very important for everyone who's been "burned" by a ripoff bait and switch CD-R to immediately take photos of the CD-R in question and to promptly initiate a return on each item. From my experience, it's much easier to complete a return through a brick and mortar record store, although most major online retailers will do their best to correct any problems
    Eric_Generic, Malina and eric777 like this.
  24. The7thStranger

    The7thStranger Part of the Rhythm Nation

    An der Lahn...
    The only CD-R's I've purchased have been through some print-on-demand services.
  25. Malina

    Malina Forum Resident

    Sheesh. I bought mine a year but never got around to listening to it. I just checked - black cdr's. I did a search on the reviews - not one mention of "cdr" or "cd-r". I saw this in a review from May 19, 2005 and Amazon is showing a release date of May 17, 2005 so it seems this set was always cdr. "Abkco pressed these discs very much like they did with the Rolling Stones SINGLES box set, on black "45RPM" CDs".
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016

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