How to Produce, Release & Market Your own music CD: How to produce and album

So what's the best way to sell CDs, beyond your merch table at shows and from your local record store? Once you're set up, you can link to your storefront from your website and your social media. And if you're using CD Baby as your Digital Distributor, they offer a free customizable store widget you can embed on your site.

Making actual records takes time. Not only are there multiple steps required before production but the whole vinyl industry is notorious for delays. You'll need to be prepared to pay for Mastering, lacquer-cutting, test presses, album-jacket printing and shipping along with the vinyl manufacturing costs. The same Mastering Engineer you use to master your digital files can create a secondary digital master specifically tailored to pressing vinyl - it typically takes a little more time so there's an additional cost, but engineers and audiophiles will encourage you to do it. Yes, of course you can just use the digital master for your vinyl but vinyl manufacturing introduces a different set of quirks and dynamics, so if you want your record to sound its best, Master for vinyl!

After you have your Mastered files there is a second step involved in creating a vinyl master, known as cutting lacquer. This is the process by which the audio from your Master is transferred by a mastering lathe onto the lacquer, cutting the grooves into it. Here's a fly-on-the-wall video demo:. The benefit of having a specialist do it is that they are really focusing on you and making your vinyl sound as true to the Master as possible.

The benefit of having the record plant do it is efficiency - it'll save time and, as long as you're happy with your digital Masters, it should sound fine. But a record plant is cutting a huge amount of lacquer and they're not really promising the service of a "close" listening. Some lacquer-cutting specialists with sterling reputations they also all happen to be popular Mastering Engineers prices per standard 12" approximate:.

Vinyl Manufacturers typically make a distinction between the services they offer: Some people prefer to have their Album Jackets and any insert material printed by companies that specialize in custom printing such as Imprint or Dorado. If you need fewer than the minimum, you'll simply be left with a stack of extra jackets As with lacquer cutting, the costs are about the same whether you have the Vinyl Manufacturer print your packaging or send it to a specialist. One advantage of having the Vinyl Manufacturer print the Jackets is that they will typically insert the records into the jackets for you at no extra charge as opposed to having to do them all yourself in your studio apartment.

Either way, if you want to keep your LP costs down, stick with the standard or default options and consider limiting the number of colors on your artwork and labels! From United Record Pressing: There are a number of other Vinyl Manufacturers both in the U.

Here is a good reference list. The prices are premium, but if all you're looking for is a limited number of copies of your album on vinyl, there are services that will lathe cut each record one-by-one, allowing you to make as few as 1 copy!

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Keep in mind that lathe-cut vinyl is done by hand and not by the precisely-calibrated machinery of a record plant, so it is susceptible to volume and fidelity fluctuations, but still Here is some sample pricing from Vinyl On Demand prices are effective Summer '16 and do not include shipping: Other lathe-cut vinyl specialists to check out: Along with being a fairly premium-priced professional manufacturing option, Qrates offers a crowdfunding business model, where you can create what-will-be your product and then crowdfund it through them. Just as with CD Manufacturers, Vinyl Manufacturers are on the look-out for unlicensed samples and will waste no time pulling your project from the production line if they locate any unlicensed samples in your music.

A few simple ways to make a bigger impact at your next CD release party They work hard and drop lots of cash to record and mix their songs, and once the product is in on your own site or someone else's), the release date for the full album promote the hell out of it (along with your new album) online. Advice for anyone thinking of releasing their own album, including schedules, Write, record, mix then name your songs and album; Create artwork; Register to Bandcamp or wherever you're planning to sell your CDs.

The Manufacturing plants are always the one's that will call you out, by the way -- the Mastering Engineer and the Lacquer-cutter won't care. How have others bypassed the problem? They've taken their chances, and by taking their chances, I mean avoiding the cheaper, high-volume Manufacturers and trying to find smaller Manufacturers who may not have the manpower to run everything through detection software. But unlicensed samples are always a gamble when having your music manufactured, so consider yourself warned!

To get your LP in record stores across the land you will need a Distribution Deal, which is typically only an option if you are signed to an established record label. For more details, see CD Distribution.

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Without a Distribution Deal, your best bets for selling vinyl are: Cassette culture, like vinyl culture, is passionate about the warmth and imperfections of analog sound and the human, tactile pleasure of a physical product. If it is, there's a pretty vibrant market for tapes and a manufacturing industry there to support it. You can use your Digitally Mastered files for cassette manufacturing, though some people recommend a Mastering treatment closer to what you'd get Mastering for Vinyl to make the best-sounding tapes. Either way, your Mastering Engineer will be able to make whatever adjustments needed if you plan to manufacture cassettes.

How to Promote Your Album

Cassette Duplication companies accept masters in the following formats: WAVs you can send higher quality but they will most likely downgrade them to bit. To get a sense of the cost difference between D. If you plan to order supplies in bulk, Delta Media also has great prices on blank Tapes , a variety of cases , Labels and J-cards. Quotes include printing and packaging but do not include shipping prices effective Summer '16 - always double-check!

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All you have to do is place your cassette order with them. There are a few holy grail names in tape shops, like Mississippi Records in Portland and Burger Records in Fullerton but I have no inside scoop on how to get them to carry your tape other than to send them a copy and hope someone takes an interest manufacturing with Burger subsidiary Wiener Records might increase your chances of getting into the Burger store Here are a few recommended tape-centric sites to send a copy of your finished tape for review along with sending links to the digital versions of your music to your favorite music blogs: The catch is that you can't just "hire" these professionals - they have to want to be hired by you!

And they can be expensive. So what do you do if you can't afford to professionally promote your record or can't interest any Publicists or Radio Agents because they've never heard of you and don't want to have to create interest in you out of thin air? Yes, it takes having to come up with a gameplan. And yes it takes a lot of mundane legwork.

And, sure, you're probably not going to be quite as effective at promoting your music as a professional would be, since you don't have their reputations or connections. But it's totally doable. And if you've successfully made a record in the first place, you're definitely capable of successfully promoting your record! This is now your Release Date!

How to Release a CD without a Record Label: From Start to Finish

If you're planning to release your record Digitally, and you plan to go through a Digital Distributor, and your Album Artwork is complete, now is a good time to start the Digital set-up process it typically takes an hour or two to get signed up with a Digital Distributor and to upload your mastered. Your next task will be to assemble your assets, get your Electronic Press Kit together and begin letting publicity outlets know you have a new record coming out! Electronic Press Kits, or "EPK's" , consist of all the standard tools you'll use to promote your record.

From here you can downsize the file to whatever dimensions you need for promotional purposes. They typically include who played on the record, what they played, who wrote the songs, who recorded it, where it was recorded, who mixed it, who mastered it and any shout-outs and thank you's. So write your Bio exactly the way you want your audience to read it. Let your bio serve as a time capsule of where your band is at - and leave it there, no reason to ramble on!

I recommend that you write your Bio to be pretty interchangeable with your first Press Release. Nothing fancy - have someone take a few shots with a digital camera or smartphone and upload them to your computer. If you have a photo editing application like Photoshop even iPhoto or Picasso will do , maybe crop it a bit, and adjust it to look its best.

Music videos, however amateur, are a huge asset to your EPK and my advice is to either dedicate yourself to making one before your release date or find someone skilled and dependable in your social world to help make a video for you. Even uploading a "music video" that simply shows your album art while the song plays is useful, since it allows your music to be discoverable and monetizable on YouTube. If you know someone whose remix skills you admire, hit them up! A good remix of one of your songs is a great way to cross-pollinate audiences, deepen the interest in your album and is another excuse to drum up some social media and publicity buzz.

For the majority of bands, who are not able to afford or retain a Publicist, getting word out about your music depends on you.

A good strategy is to do 3 press releases, each serving a distinct but complimentary purpose if you're also trying to push a single before your album, a press release for the single is customary a few weeks before you announce the full album details:. Otherwise you're just kind of banging the drum -- then again, banging the drum is how you raise awareness in the first place, so Research and make a thorough list of email contacts for all the Music Blogs , Magazines and local press outlets you want to send a press release to. Make sure either the entirety of your album or whatever select songs you want to share are properly hosted at a linkable source such as Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

Compose a paragraph or two announcing, describing and tastefully hyping your upcoming Album. Compose an email to yourself that looks something like this:. A paragraph or two describing and tastefully hyping your new album. What are the handful of most important and most original things you can say about it? Where was your album recorded? What makes this album of yours special? The things you say in this section of your press release will often be used verbatim by people writing about your release, so one approach is to write this section as though you were the music writer!

Not a great writer? Ask a friend who knows your music to help!

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Copy Link Link copied! One of the most efficient ways for bands to sell their music is CDBaby. A successful record is nothing without the music. The bad news is that the competition for Licensing dollars is super intense. Just be sure you're approved for production before you pay them anything!

If you have rich-text-editing capabilities in your email service like Gmail , Yahoo or Mac mail , be sure to give the layout some Pop! If you need help inserting images into your email, here are instructions for Gmail , Yahoo , Mac mail , and Outlook. Test it by sending it to yourself. Make sure your links are working! Using the BCC field on an email addressed to yourself is recommended for bulk email send-outs. If you have specific blogs that you want to connect with, it's a good idea to send an email addressed exclusively to each one, personalizing it however you see fit.

Start thinking about how you can make your "friendly reminder" stand out. It's safe to assume that if someone wants to write about your music, they'll let you know. The best follow up is another Press Release or two , up to and through your release date, anytime you have something press-worthy to add videos, remixes, tour dates, press or social media blurbs! The benefits are the custom formatting they offer, as well as, if you're into it, the detailed analytics they provide you about who is checking out your email and what they're clicking on.

One potential disadvantage is that these services make it easy for the bloggers you're sending it to to "unsubscribe", and many will SubmitHub is a service that attempts to connect your goal of getting your music heard by music bloggers to the music bloggers interest in being financially rewarded for taking the time to listen to your music.

There are two tiers: Credits get cheaper the more you buy. Either way, with SubmitHub you get the statistical satisfaction of seeing if and when your song has been at least listened to by any of the blogs in their network. StoryAmp is a free service that helps tailor your press release s and tour date info to Music Journalists and media outlets. Promoting your music through a service like StoryAmp - especially if you're touring - can be a nice compliment to your own DIY music blog send outs. Simply being able to afford one is oftentimes not enough. They have to want to work with you.

And if they've never heard of you, and you have no inside connections, they probably won't be interested. Is it worth a shot? Try sending an introductory email with listen-links to any of the Radio Agencies you'd like to hire. Typical Radio campaigns are a few thousand dollars sometimes less, depending on duration and whether or not you're sending out physical copies.

Here's a list of cool indie Radio Agencies you can try reaching out to: If you're one of the majority of bands who can not afford, or can not pique the interest of, a Radio Agent, getting your music considered by radio stations depends on you. Submit your music to Pandora. Upload a few of your tracks to the always-influential L. Research and make a thorough list of email addresses for all the College Radio and Internet Radio stations you'd like to contact. Make sure a stream of your album is properly hosted at a linkable source such as Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

Compose a paragraph or two announcing, describing and tastefully hyping your Album can be the same as your Press Release. Create an email to yourself that looks something like this: Name of Track 1 Track 1 duration - for example: Name of Track 2 Track 2 duration 3. Test it by sending it yourself. If you have specific stations that you want to connect with, send an email addressed specifically to them. I recently submitted some music to you guys and was wondering whether you'd had a chance to listen to it The "Search Engine Optimization for Music" theory is that your music is not something people discover on the web through random searches "indie rock", "chill electronica" - rather, that people discover your music first through friends, playlists, shows, blogs etc and then take to search engines to search specifically for you.

So it's your goal to ensure that when you're being searched for, you can be found. Here is a bare bones strategy for optimizing your searchability for more elaborate ideas, check out Dan Shure's fantastic "Music SEO - 7 Lessons in Brand Optimization for " article:. Having your own Website, dedicated to your music, full of all of your keywords that the bots can crawl and index, is the fundamental way you can create and control your presence on the web.

They were really friendly and helpful, and we were delighted with the results.

Independent Artists: How To Promote Your Music

Song, By Toad suggests a number of others in his guide. Most companies will probably have their own templates and submission guidelines, so be sure to follow them closely. You have two options when it comes to ordering CDs: By contrast, replicated discs are manufactured from the master disc provided to you by your mastering engineer. Print quality on the discs is better and the cost per-disc is lower, but the up-front costs are much higher. Do you need a barcode?

I found out late in the game that EmuBands the distribution company I used assign barcodes for free, which seems to be common amongst many digital distributors. With your CDs ordered, you can go about distributing your album to digital stores and streaming services. There are a myriad of digital distribution companies available to those of us looking to self-release. When considering your options, think about:.

I went with Glasgow-based EmuBands. My own timings were:. Buyers can choose from a whole load of digital formats, you can customise the look of your page, you get purchasing stats, embeddable widgets and loads more. You should be able to view the specific contracts with each retailer when signing up for your distribution service, so take a proper look when you get the chance. By now you should have your promo photos to hand, CDs ordered and album submitted for digital distribution. It goes without saying that you should sign up for and populate your profile for any relevant social networks or other sites.

Here are a few for your consideration:. My good friend Alex, who is far more experienced in these matters than me, has some really handy tips about how best to send music on his site How To Send Me Music. Give me a shout on Twitter if you have any questions or feel I should be mentioning other stuff.

Artwork and photography Start thinking early about your whole artwork package. Who to register with In the UK there are are at least three organisations you should consider registering with to collect your royalty payments: What you should expect from your mastering engineer A physical master disc of the album, which will be used by the company you hire to duplicate or replicate your CDs.

The album in multiple digital formats: A document summarising the album metadata: CD production CD package for Riots In The Rain, as seen on Bandcamp Even small runs of CD packages can take weeks to manufacture, depending on who you get to print and press them, so have everything ready to go after receiving your physical master disc and digital files from your mastering engineer. Duplication vs replication You have two options when it comes to ordering CDs: Barcodes Do you need a barcode?

Digital stores and streaming services There are a myriad of digital distribution companies available to those of us looking to self-release. When considering your options, think about: