Starting from Scratch: What it takes to Release a CD

reallygreat concept album cover

really great concept album cover

very simple and clean

very simple and clean







looks like its from the 80s. and too much info on the cover

looks like its from the 80s. and too much info on the cover

great artwork that matches title
great artwork that matches title









Here’s a question someone asked me last week.  It definitely deserves a blog for those of you who are spanking new to this music thing.   Some of these questions have been answered in this blog but here is some depth

Q: I’m interested in putting together a small CD for my fans with two or three songs on it because I’ve been getting alot of requests on where to buy my music.  So my question to you is how do I go about this?  Obviously I know I record the CD in the studio and make copies; but where do I take my photos to be made into a CD cover?  Is there a place where I can ship it and get it done all at once?  Does that include the printing on the CD itself?  And last, but not least…how do I setup something on my myspace page that allows people to purchase the CD right then and there if they wish?  Kind of like what you have on yours?

So yes, the first and most important peice of the puzzle is obviously getting your project recorded.  Visit the “Cutting Costs w/out Cutting Corners” post for some clever ideas on how to go about finding someone to help you get this done.

Photography & Artwork

Think about the songs on your CD.  Is there’s a theme? What’s the title of the project? Let the artwork reflect that.  If your CD is about shipwrecked relationship, maybe you should have an image of a floating log or a boat crashing against your face. I dunno…  Your call.  I think photography and graphic design should be taken very seriously.  You can’t judge a book by its cover but you can certainly buy one at face value.  People will invest in something if they think its worth it.  And if it doesn’t look valuable, well… read the “Creating Value: Is your Music Worth Something?” post.  See above images for a quick critique of CD artwork (these are just my opinions).

If you decide to have your face (or body) on the cover, find a photographer. Usually if you ask around (i.e. other artists, friends, or family), you can easily find a photographer.  Most bands have had to take pictures at one time or another.  Referrals are best b/c you might get a cheaper rate, but if you find someone whom you’ve got no connection with, they have no reason to cut you a deal

I still also think doing a simple search on craigslist is a legitimate way to find a photographer, graphic designer, and even a recording studio. 


Duplication & Packaging (has alot to do with artwork)
Once you’ve got the image(s) for your CD, work with a graphic designer to determine placement.  Is this going to be a CD in a simple jacket, jewel case or are you going to have several panels?  Depending on what you decide, you will have more atwork for the front, back, inside…etc. I got these images from




 As I’ve mentioned in the past, Dicsmakers and Oasis are the most popular Cd duplication companies for indie artists. They can handle your artwork as well and do an all-inclusive package but it’s pricey and I don’t recommend having them do your artwork.  But people love Dismakers b/c they set up your digital distribution through iTunes, Napster, Payplay…etc.  It’s a great perk. 


Oh yea…Keep it simple
If you’re doing an EP (i.e. a CD with just a few songs) don’t go all out. Just do a jacket.   You definitely don’t want to go broke over an ep.  But the music should still sound like quality. You still want others to respect your music.



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6 Comments on “Starting from Scratch: What it takes to Release a CD”

  1. Great post– I want to mention that here at my company, Oasis Disc Manufacturing, we **include** the opportunity to sell your music at itunes, napster, and dozens of other reputable sites, and the sale of your CD at CD Baby. There is no additional charge.

    Check out this direct link for more info:

    Plus we promote your music to more than 400 radio stations on our OasisSampler radio CD sampler in your chosen genre. We have genres ranging from OasisAcoustic (that one goes to more than 700 stations) to OasisUrban, from OasisAlternative to OasisUnderground to OasisRock&Roots to OasisBlues to OasisJazz to OasisAmbient to… You also get the complete radio list it was sent to so you can follow up as you see fit. Again, there is no additional charge for this service.

  2. […] Grassrootsy grassroots marketing for independent artists « Starting from Scratch: What it takes to Release a CD […]

  3. KSE Says:

    I recommend using Oasis as well.

    If you live close to a university or have a community college close to you, many have a music & arts department. Most of the students have projects to do for their grades. Many of these projects include artwork design, music recording, and video recording for a very low cost and sometimes they do it for zero costs to you.

    Check out Craig’s List as well. We have found photographers on there that will do photo shoots for nothing if you will give them credit on your website(s).

    There are tons of in-home recording studios…..most of the time you can find many close to use just by using Google. You can acquire studio time from $25 – $150 / hour. You do get what you pay for, but, for recording a demo, try to use someone that knows what they are doing, plus, they can mix and master for you. You have a choice of doing acoustic recordings, tack recordings, live recordings, and laying down all your tracks separately (which is what most people do).

    The main thing is to be totally prepared before you go into the studio…once there, you want to be all business and productive.


  4. I forgot to mention that there is a page I’ve set up where you can get a sample of the Oasis radio sampler for our clients that I mention above and more complete information on the iTunes and other distribution you discuss as well. We can only currently ship these within the 50 united states, for which I apologize, but I would love for you to have them. Here’s the direct link.

  5. Ricky Says:

    I went with a local So Cal company called edocpublish to get my cds made. The owner was very friendly, took the time to discuss my options and really just educated me more about the whole cd duplication process rather than push a sale.

  6. Ricky Says:

    Forgot to post a good source of information about what the difference between cd duplicatoin and cd replication

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