Short Run CD Printing, Outsource or In-House? Project Budget, Timing and Artwork Software

CDs versus Digital Downloads

With the increasing popularity of digital downloads as a means of getting the latest music track into your collection, the audio CD printing and duplication business has seen a decline in large volume orders but it’s certainly not a dying industry. The change has really only been in order quantities but to counter this development there has been a marked increase in the amount of short run CD printing orders that are placed. An audio track on a CD is a higher quality recording than a downloaded mp3 file and this little detail matters to some music fans, especially audiophiles. Music is as popular as ever and the recording industry is now even more accessible for artists on a budget. You can download amazingly complex electronic studio software with multitrack recording facilities and load it onto your laptop for less than a hundred pounds. High quality digital multitrack recording devices are also inexpensive to obtain and will fit into your pocket.

Do It Yourself or Call In The Professionals?

This facility of being able to very cheaply set up a home recording studio has led many artists to consider producing their CDs themselves. A CD duplication tower can be obtained for a few hundred pounds enabling people to burn a hundred CDs relatively quickly in their own home studio. Printing the CDs can be done using a regular inkjet printer and inkjet compatible printable CDs. The problem is, all this is time consuming and without putting in a tremendous amount of time and effort, it’s never quite as good as the professionals. So, do you spend the time to do it yourself, or do you spend your money with the professionals and get a short run CD printing job done with a specialist company? Let’s look at pros and cons.

Project Budget

The short run CD printing project budget is always a major deciding factor when it comes to the in-house or outsource decision. If you are a particularly talented graphic designer with experience in designing artwork for CD printing and CD packaging, it may make financial sense to try to do the job yourself. If your graphic design skills are not up to scratch, however, you would probably be much better off paying for the professionals to take care of the CD printing and packaging and putting your extra time and expertise into the studio sessions perfecting the music recordings and mixes.

If you do work something out with a supplier, then the next consideration is the quantity of CDs to order. As with most businesses, the more you order, the lower the unit cost. This is especially important for orders of less than 500 discs where there can be a significant difference in price bands per hundred units ordered. After the 500 unit mark the savings per 100 units become smaller as the fixed cost doesn’t change, but if your order goes into the thousands, then you will see a good saving. You also need to be confident that you can sell this amount of units. Obviously, it’s no good paying for 300 CDs to be printed if you can only end up selling 100 units. Selling online through a website may be a sensible consideration as it is very easy to set up a half decent website for your band or as a solo artist.


If you’re pushed for time with your short run CD printing project and you have a critical deadline, then outsourcing your CD printing would be advisable. There are many small businesses out there which can turn around 200 CDs in 48 hours. You must, however, pay close attention to the artwork that you submit to your supplier if you choose to do it yourself. Many game breaking delays have been caused by unsuitable artwork or even copyright issues where the artwork involves an image created by another artist preventing the supplier from being able to legally produce the work for you.

Artwork Software Skills

Creating artwork for a short run CD printing project and for CD packaging can be a challenge, even for an experienced graphic designer. Knowledge of design for CD printing and packaging is important but also, knowledge of the printing processes that are likely to be used to print onto the surface of a CD, is equally important in order to produce a design that can be easily and effectively printed. If you’re getting your CDs printed professionally but you don’t want to pay the supplier to produce the artwork as well, to save some money, you should most certainly ask them for their disc and packaging artwork templates and for some detailed advice about their particular artwork requirements. Different suppliers will use slightly different templates which are tailored to their particular process and, whilst there probably won’t be a huge difference, it may be enough to cause a delay if artwork has to be re-submitted to suit their process.

For those of you who are going it alone with the artwork design, the following information will prove useful and may save you from a major headache later in the project.

There are various artwork software packages available that can be used to design a CD on-body print and the CD packaging print. Some are quite basic but are designed specifically for this job. The following packages can be downloaded from the internet and some are free downloads:

· CD Label Designer 6.0 – (Free download)

· Cover XP 1.65 – (Free download)

· Nero Cover Designer – (Free download)

· Sure Thing Disc Labeler v6 Deluxe – (around £20)

· Disketch Disc Label Software – (around £17)

· Ashampoo Cover Studio – (around £15)

True to the old saying, you get what you pay for with these packages (or don’t pay for in some cases) but they may serve a purpose for you.

If you already have some graphic design experience then you may have come across or may have experience of using a professional artwork software package. The following examples are not specifically for producing artwork for CDs and packaging but they will all do an amazing job if you work with a template and pay attention to the finer details as they can be used to produce very high resolution or vector quality artwork files:

· Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop

· CorelDRAW Graphics Suite

· Quark Express

· Xara Designer

· Serif Drawplus

As you would imagine, these professional software packages don’t come cheap but if you don’t mind using an older version from a couple of years back you can pick them up for a good price from various websites if you search for them on the internet. If your experience with any of these packages is limited then you can also find many tutorials on the web to point you in the right direction. You may even be able to find a tutorial specifically assisting with CD on-body design or CD packaging design. There are also forums and communities of users who will happily advise you with any aspect of your short run CD printing project design efforts.

Audio Recording Software – The Best of the Bunch

Audio recording software has finally reached the point where anyone can compete with major studio releases from the comfort of their own home. However, it’s still about knowledge. No matter how strong the software might be, it’s worthless unless you know how to use it. You have to ask yourself what your needs are and then determine how much you are willing to spend to get it. Let’s take a look at the top five audio recording software packages used around the globe.

ProTools from DigiDesign. The de facto standard to music producers worldwide. The learning curv with ProTools is pretty steep, but if you are serious about making high quality music, the time invested is well worth it.

Logic Audio from Apple. Whereas ProTools is both PC and Mac compatible, Logic works only with a Mac. It is, however, the most complete software package out there today.

Cakewalk Sonar from Twelve Tone Systems. This was the recording software I started using before making the move to ProTools. It’s much easier to pick up quickly and runs smooth on a PC.

Digital Performer from Marc of the Unicorn. Definitely a solid performer. Works with Mac.

Cubase from Steinberg. This PC/Mac compatible software makes multitracking a breeze; especially solid for more experienced producers.

Audio Recording Software for Loops: A Simpler Approach

For those interested in making beats using preexisting loops, the following software can be a lifesaver:

Acid Pro from Sony. PC based and a premiere leader in the industry.

Fruity Loops from Image Line Software. My personal choice.

Free Audio Recording Software: Great for beginners.

We all know at least one person who spent hundreds of dollars on recording software only to find it wasn’t for them. If you are starting out, don’t let this happen to you! I suggest using one of the following two software to start with. Once you feel confident in your abilities you can shell out the money for the higher end models listed above.

The two software packages are Kristal Audio Engine and Audacity. Both offer multitrack recording, editing and mixing capabilities. There are loads more free software packages, but these two offer the novice all the functionalities they need to get started without the confusing added features like those on ProTools. Whether it’s country, rock, blues or hip hop, these software packages provide a low barrier of entry into what may become a lifelong passion of making music.

Learn How to Make Beats With Software

If you are a budding musician without a large budget and need to make music without backup musicians, then you can learn how to make beats with software. The rhythm of rap and hip-hop come alive with beat maker software and you can do your own recording with ease.

Even better, with good beat maker software you can create hot free rap beats that could be the next big thing in the industry. You’ll need to shop around and find software that is right for you because there is a lot from which to choose and that suit many different budgets.

To make beats with software your software choice will play an important role. You need to consider how much you can spend and you need to shop around. There is good free software available, although you may want to invest money in some if you are really serious about making beats.

In the beginning you can use a free one to familiarize yourself with how to make beats with software. The software will have a database of instrument sounds from which to choose and you will be able to mix and match to create the sounds you want.

The first thing to do is to become familiar with the voice you are working with. If it’s your own voice, then that should be easy, but if you are recording someone else, then you need to listen and get used to that person’s sound.

Next you can have the song recorded and then add the beats in the background. Start with the drums, as they are such an important part of the recording, the part of it that will make the best free hot rap beats.

Once you have your chest-thumping drum beats, you can start adding the chords with various instrument sounds, such as guitar, piano, and horns. This is where you can create sounds that are original and unique to this particular soundtrack.

The key is to get really creative. Play around with it to get the sounds you want and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and really shake things up. This is how new free hot rap beats get made and noticed.

In order to create good beats you will need at least a basic knowledge of music. If you have this and you have good software, then you will be able to create some incredible sounds that are sure to be a hit.

Modern technology is amazing and with it you can make beats with software that will rival the professionals out there. If you are a professional or planning to be one, then this is a way to get your name out there and become well-known for your creations.