These days, releasing your own CD is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive. There are many companies that offer both CD duplication and CD replication services, but which is best for your project? As a general rule, duplication is the best choice if you want a small run of discs and replication is your best choice at quantities above 500. Here are some tips on preparing for duplication or replication.
Preparing the Packaging for Your CD Duplication
If you are designing your own packaging for your CD – the insert, tray card or jacket and disc face – you will need to use a graphic design program like In-Design, Illustrator, Quark or Photoshop. To prepare your electronic files properly, be sure the layout, including the margins, bleeds and trim lines, matches the template guides provided to you by the duplicator. You should also make sure the type is legible (no smaller than 5 point) and that copies of all fonts and linked images are included in your submission. Most importantly, be sure that the colors in the image files are set to CMYK mode instead of RGB mode, which is often the default mode in a graphic design program. In addition, make sure all of the images you use have a resolution of 300 dpi.
One more important point. If you plan to sell your CD through traditional retail distribution, you should add a barcode to your CD. The barcode is the number that uniquely identifies your product, and all distributors and retailers will require it. A barcode is recommended, and your duplicator will probably offer a barcode service, but it does cost extra to get one. If you decide to use one, be sure to leave a space that is 1.25 inch wide by .5 inch high on your tray card for the barcode to be added.
Almost every CD duplicator will offer you a PDF proof of your printed inserts and disc art. This is called a soft proof because it will show you how the layout and design of your insert will look in print, but the colors in the PDF proof will not be completely accurate. If you want to see accurate colors, you will have to request a hard proof, but this costs more and often extend the production time for your CD duplication job.
Creating the Master Disk for CD Duplication
Prepping the actual disk for the duplicator is much easier than the artwork. You simply have to make sure that your master disk is exactly how you want it to be on the copies. The duplicator will duplicate exactly what they receive from you, mirror image copies to be precise. The company will not check your disc for accuracy, missing tracks, recording quality, skips or any other errors. That responsibility is yours. Also, it is wise to send two top-quality master discs to the duplicator. That way, if a problem arises with one disc, they have a back-up to use.
Preparing Your Submission for CD Duplication
As you prepare to send your CD materials to the duplicator, make sure you include everything they need. As noted earlier, you must include your layout files, copies of all fonts, copies of all image files, and two copies of your master disc. You also must include a listing of the tracks showing song titles and run times, and an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) form that shows you own the rights to distribute the songs on your CD.
Creating your own CD can be complicated, but your duplicator is always ready to help. Be sure to read all of the preparation guidelines the duplicator provides and don’t be afraid to call if you have any questions. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.