When I design or layout a CD or DVD for a client, they are responsible for providing me with the text and photos they want to include. After over 400 projects, I have noticed a few commonly forgotten elements. I don’t have time read everything, as I am usually concentrating on the design, but I do try to watch for a few critical things.
#1 Contact info, website
This is probably the most obvious, important and the most overlooked of all, and the one everyone kicks themselves over forgetting. Try to only use websites or phone numbers that probably won’t change.
TIP: One great way to get people to actually USE your contact info is to post your lyrics and other exclusive content (more pictures, free downloads, etc.) on your website with a place for them to sign up for your mailing list.
#2 Track times
DJs need these times to schedule their playlist.
#3 Musicians and other credits
Anyone who has contributed to your album deserves to be listed. And by the way, DO be sure to spell their names right. It’s nice to also provide contact info for them if they want it (especially photographers, studios, etc.). Honor the people who have made the CD and the music possible. Good Karma.
#4 Publishing and copyright info
This is as important whether you wrote the songs or you are covering someone else’s.
#5 Photos of other players (especially of them playing)
Not required, but few CDs feature a single player. Fans love to see the faces and instruments of the music they’re hearing. They love to see you in a less formal setting and in the process of making music. Furthermore, it shows appreciation for your players, even if they’re a session player and not a regular part of your band. (Don’t forget to identify the people in the pictures).
A few other optional and often ignored liner notes ideas:
- Discography of your other projects and how to buy them
- Notes about each song, especially if they are originals. People love to learn about the creative process you went through, and what the song means to you.
5 most common mistakes made in CD liner notes
1. Songs not listed in correct order (ouch)
2. Hard to Read: Tiny Print or text over background in a color combination too faint/dark to read. (This is generally my job, but I get a lot of requests for design concepts that aren’t readable that I have to speak up about. What’s the point if no one can read it?)
3. Misspelled words and poor grammar. Don’t rely on spell check.
4. Misspelled names. (big ouch)
5. Pointing people to a web address for your lyrics or credits and then not posting them! (Boo)
Proof carefully. Proof again. Show it to someone else. And then read it backwards.
We are all only human and mistakes WILL happen, and when they do, don’t stress. It happens to even the big label names – Beatles’ albums are notorious for all sorts of errors. A Google search for “liner notes errors” returns hundreds of posts about big name mistakes. Fix it in the reorder and the first run will become a collector’s edition.