Having your own CD manufactured is a massive moment for every artist, for the first time and every time after. A physical release doesn’t just get your music from A to B; it isn’t just an extra revenue stream – it’s a fantastic opportunity for artistic expression.
The Beatles: Abbey Road, Nirvana: Nevermind, Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon. Most of us can recall their CD cover as well as the albums themselves. Even today, in the age of streaming and download, to both the Artist and Audiophile – there is no beating a physical album.
To most artists, producing a CD for the first time can seem like a huge undertaking and may be one of the bigger financial investments they make. The 10 tips below are vital to making the manufacture of your CD stress-free, successful and perhaps even enjoyable:
- BROKER vs MANUFACTURER – KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!
The first challenge is to find someone to make your CD. Here it is vital to be able to recognise a manufacturer from a broker. There are just a handful of manufacturers around the globe, where your account manager is seated in the same building your CD is being made and will personally oversee the production.
A Broker meanwhile acts as a go-between. Working from home or an office they will sub-contract your production to a manufacturer.
- REPLICATION vs DUPLICATION – ALWAYS ASK HOW YOUR CD WILL BE MADE
A Duplicated CD-R is produced through the same process as burning a CD at home. Ideal for short-runs (less than 300 pieces), the quality is dependent upon the disc being used. Be wary of cheap CD-Rs!
A Replicated CD is an injection moulding process in which a nickel stamper is used to mould your music to the disc during disc manufacture. This method is used for 300 pieces+ and is often the production method required by many retailers and distributors. Find out more here!
- KNOW WHICH PRINT METHOD YOU WANT
A duplicated CD-R will usually be inkjet or thermal printed on a desktop machine. The print achieved will be similar in quality to a paper inkjet printer, with a gloss commonly applied over the top.
A replicated CD will be lithographic or screen printed. These CMYK print processes achieve a higher quality and provide extra options such as metallic or fluorescent prints. As a rule, lithographic will be used for photographic prints whereas a screen print may be used where the artwork requires a pantone match.
- DESIGN vs COST – A BALANCING ACT
Digipaks are the big trend in CD packaging this year – lightweight, colorful and easily customised with extra panels, booklets and multiple discs. However, they are more expensive and you must ask questions about the quality. A heavier weight card should be used to protect your disc and give your product that quality feel!
Explore at different designs which work well; the Jewel case may be considered a little old school – but a good design will soon erase that idea (whilst falling within a more modest budget).
- DON’T BE PUT OFF BY COPYRIGHT FORMS
Before your job is manufactured, you will likely be asked to fill in forms declaring you are the copyright owner and/or have the right to reproduce the content. These normally take just a few minutes and are in place to protect you. If you get stuck – give your manufacturer a call and they should be able to walk you through it.
- THINK ABOUT FORMATS
Before having your CD manufactured – stop and think. Is a CD the best physical format for me? Is it the only format I want? Vinyl and audio cassette are on the rise and offer their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.
- IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE…
Today music lovers buy CDs to display, to play and to feel as though they truly *own* your fantastic album. Don’t get caught up by a super-cheap price – you may end up with a low-quality product! A good CD will be durable and should last for years.
- GET YOURSELF A BARCODE
Barcodes aren’t just for products in shops all round the country, they are vital and accessible to all. Most retailers will require your product to have its own barcode. The good news is they are in-expensive and an experienced manufacturer can point you in the right direction (or even sort one out for you).
- DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE
Don’t think you have to wait until your music and artwork are all ready before you contact a manufacturer. Even more importantly, don’t leave it until a week before your big gig until you order your CDs. Choose your manufacturer early, use their expertise from start to finish of your production. Your CD manufacture begins when you start to play – everything after this will influence your final product!
- ENJOY IT!
The best products are the ones which have heart and soul put into them. Get enthusiastic and get involved! Ask questions, pay the manufacturer a visit. Don’t feel guilty about being picky or making changes – it’s your money, your product and your art!