Introducing Webinar Wednesdays

Sponsored by Crescent City Duplication and Crescent Music Services
In conjunction with Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Op

Join Diana Thornton and other music industry pros for a free webinar series covering a variety of topics musicians need to know about CD design, manufacturing, mastering, packaging and more. These focused webinars are chock full of information, tips and techniques from experts to give you the tools work more effectively with professionals or do it yourself.

Each webinar will run 15-30 minutes, with open Question and Answer time after.

Registration is free, but will be limited to 15 people to allow for personal attention during the Q&A session after the presentation.

Watch from any computer with no special software,
or even from your tablet or phone with a free app.


CD cover design demonstration

October 19, 2016   1:00 p.m. cst

Watch Diana design a CD cover in Photoshop. Learn the basics about fonts, bleed, resolution, design concepts, and saving for print and web. 30 minutes

CD label design demonstration

November 23, 2016  1:00 p.m. cst

Watch Diana design a CD label in Photoshop. Learn about templates, elements to include (copyright, contact), track names or no track names, font size, CMYK vs. spot color. 30 minutes

CD packaging options

December 14, 2016  1:00 p.m. cst

Review the most popular options to package your CD. Presented by Diana Thornton. 20 minutes

Preparing your music for mastering

January 11, 2017   1:00 p.m. cst

Learn how to create the best mix down and format to prepare your pre-master correctly to get the best results from mastering your music. Presented by Mike Hogan of Necromancer Digital Mastering and co-owner of Crescent City Duplication. 20 minutes

CD/DVD Production: Shortruns vs. Manufacturing

February 15, 2017  1:00 p.m. cst

Learn the differences between the two processes, the pros and cons of each, and when to use one over the other. Presented by Diana Thornton. 20 minutes

Photo Resolution

March 15, 2017   1:00 p.m. cst

Learn how file resolution affects the quality of your printed materials, why you can’t use images from the web, why you shouldn’t just enlarge a photo in Photoshop, and how to salvage low res images. Presented by Diana Thornton. 20 minutes


More topics to be scheduled – let us know if there is something you’d like us to cover.


Visit Diana’s training website for more information and to reserve your seat.


About Diana Thornton

Diana founded Crescent Music Services in 1997 to provide CD design and manufacturing for the New Orleans music industry soon after she recorded her own album. After Hurricane Katrina, she partnered with mastering engineer Mike Hogan to start a second company, Crescent City Duplication, to continue to provide shortrun duplication services, still the only dedicated source in New Orleans.

An award-winning designer for over 30 years, Diana works with many New Orleans’ greats including Basin Street Records, Kermit Ruffins, Ellis Marsalis and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. She also designs books and is the art director for Bruce Spizer, one of the foremost Beatles experts. Diana has a Master’s degree in Underwater Archaeology from Texas A&M and she is the grandniece of the late William Russell, renowned Dixieland Jazz historian and composer.

About Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Op

Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Ops provide fully-equipped work space for musicians, filmmakers, and other digital media professionals. For those who cannot afford, or do not otherwise have access to them, the Co-Ops offer: Windows 7 and Mac computers, high-speed Internet connections and WiFi, laser printer and scanner, color inkjet printer, telephones & fax, page layout tools, web design tools.

Recording space with access to Garageband, Pro Tools 12, Presonus Studio One, & other digital audio software, Final Cut Pro video editing, help with basic computer skills including word processing, spreadsheets, graphics & page layout and digital PR kit creation. ELLA, a pro-bono music business legal assistance program led by top entertainment business attorney, Ashlye Keaton & Gene Meneray, that has helped hundreds of local artists secure and protect their intellectual property and resolve contractual issues. Contact Mark Fowler: Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Op 504.891.0580

Reasons You Should Never Scrimp On Your Photo Shoot

This is a great article on one of my favorite blogs,

Promotional photos are a huge component of a musician’s marketing and branding. It’s necessary to have just the right images to effectively market your music and its message.

However, as an image consultant for recording artists, I see a lot of mistakes made by independent artists when securing promotional photos. This includes:

  • Not budgeting for all the things required for a photo shoot (i.e. wardrobe, stylist, etc.).
  • Waiting until the last minute to try to book the photographer and stylists (allow at least two weeks notice and another two weeks for retouching).
  • Not using the best photographers and team you can get for your money.

Read the entire article

5 things that can delay or degrade your CD/DVD project

1. Lack of quality photos for cover/insert

Frequently I am sent low resolution or poor quality photos for the insert and even for the cover. I usually recommend reshooting them, but of course it’s too late by the time people get to the design phase. So we “make do” and I have to try to work my Photoshop magic on substandard photos. If your music looks unprofessional, people will interpret your music accordingly.

Think ahead by hiring a photographer early on, and schedule several sessions with them. Don’t forget to get photos during your recording or filming sessions. A recording studio are a particularly difficult place to get good shots because of the lighting and tight space. Flash is not very flattering, especially in a tight space, so without a good fast lens, photos are often dark, blurry and full of noise (grain).

Quality photos can be used for more than your CD/DVD insert – you need good photos for your website, posters, promotions, newspapers articles, and of course for posterity when you need to publish your memoirs.

As a graphic designer who is also a photographer and a musician, I have a unique perspective on how I take photos. I take extra shots of backgrounds, details of instruments and with an eye toward what will work on a cover or interior spread. Other important features even many professional photographers don’t take into consideration are the proportions of how the image will be used – a CD cover is SQUARE (as are thumbnails on websites), DVD covers are tall while film is wide – and the key parts of the image (heads, feet, hands, instruments) should be well within the margins because the printed piece often cuts off a small amount of the outside of the photo (bleed). Leaving room for writing for a cover is also helpful.

Bonus tips:

  • Be sure to get a full release for all photos for indefinite and unrestricted use.
  • You cannot pull sharp, high resolution photos from video, even HD. Video is usually shot at a frame rate which results in about 1/250 of a second shutter speed, so any motion will be slightly blurred – by design – motion blur is actually what makes video look smooth and pleasing to watch, but does not make for a quality sharp still photo. That is why film productions always have a still photographer on set.
  • Proof potential cover images at about 1 inch to see how it looks when it gets used as a thumbnail on a website or catalog.

Further Reading:

Check out my full photo portfolio at

2. Packaging files not designed and formatted to correct specs

Designing CD/DVD inserts and packaging is unlike any other design, especially web design. Many designers are very talented with a wonderful creative eye. But when asked to layout and design a CD/DVD, they are not qualified. When I began designing CDs and DVDs I had been doing general graphic design for nearly 10 years, but when I designed my first CD, I felt like I was learning it all over again. CDs and DVDs have particularly tight specs, and every printer uses different templates. They also include required elements such as copyright, publishing and contact information that are often overlooked, even by seasoned musicians.

When someone calls me to get a quote on a project and they tell me they are doing their own graphic design, I grill them regarding who their designer is and what program they are using. This is because, more often than not, I receive files that are not printable – they are not in my templates, don’t have bleed, in the wrong format, and even low resolution. Then I have to explain what is wrong with their files, and we all wait for them to be fixed. I even had to start offering “finishing services” because I was getting so many unprintable files from clients and designers.

As an experienced CD/DVD designer, I recommend people use me or a designer familiar with CD/DVD design. I know budgets are tight, but your music is worth an extra 44 cents each to look professional and stay on schedule.

Bonus tips:

  • Start your design well before your master is finished. By having your files ready to go to print the moment you finalize your times and tracks, you can keep things moving along.
  • Digipaks can add as much as a week to your production schedule.

Further Reading:



Check out my design portfolio

3. Licensing not obtained early enough

Another delay is often caused by researching and getting your licenses at the last minute. The factory will not reproduce your CD/DVD without proof of licensing. Many projects can be held up because the licenses are not on Harry Fox or are held by an overseas publisher. This is particularly tricky when the publishing is held by multiple parties, and you have to track down and contact someone for 25% of a song. And sync licenses for film are a whole other level of complexity.

Once you know what tracks you’re including on your album, start doing your research. Find out who the publishers are and how you can obtain licenses for each (Harry Fox, etc.).

  • Bonus Tip: You don’t have to go through Harry Fox to get a mechanical license. If you know the writer/publisher, especially if they are local, you can get a written license directly from them. Here is an example of a license you can use.

Further Reading:

4. Missing ISRC codes

ISRC codes are not required for CDs, but they have become standard. I recommend purchasing your own code which is good for all future releases as well. You then assign each track a number and your mastering engineer will encode your master with them before creating your PMCD or DDP. Have these ready for your engineer before the mastering session.

Further Reading:

5. Master not finished/reviewed

Before you send your CD/DVD to the factory, you will need to have it mastered/authored and then review a COPY made from that master to be sure all is exactly right. When I started Crescent Music Services back in 1997, I was fortunate to have as my business partner mastering engineer Parker Dinkins. I learned a great deal from him. One lesson was that the production master (PMCD) should not be touched by anyone but the engineer and the factory (he sealed it in a ziplock). Instead, he made a REFERENCE COPY directly from that master for review. If the reference copy is OK, then you know the master it was copied from is OK. Many things can happen during the burning process, so without this final and careful review, you can inadvertently send the factory a master with errors, missing tracks, pops, clicks and cut off songs. They do minimal error checking, so it’s up to you and your engineer to provide them with an error free master. Just because the mix sounded great on the last CD you were given doesn’t mean your production master burned correctly.

I can’t stress this enough. Do not wait until the day you are sending the master to the factory to get it from your engineer.

Bonus Tips:

  • Always get TWO productions masters (PMCD) from your engineer – one to send to the factory and one for you to keep somewhere safe. That way if your master gets damaged or lost on the way to the factory you have another to send quickly. Remember to get a review copy from EACH master.
  • Even if your engineer uploads your music to the factory as a DDP (image file), request a PMCD and review copy for your own records.
  • Don’t send your PMCD to the factory via the post office. Use a trackable carrier/method such as Fedex. I’ve seen too many masters get lost on the way with the post office (even their trackable service). Package it in a jewelbox and in a solid outer box (don’t use bubble mailers).
  • Have more than one person review the reference copy.

Further Reading:


I hope these tips help your next project go smoothly and on schedule. Give me a call to discuss your design, photography, and manufacturing.

Please download my free ebook “CD Project Planner” for even more information.

Remote Design Sessions

Usually when I design a CD or DVD, my client and I can do everything over the phone and email. They upload their photos and text to me, we discuss the design concept they are looking for over the phone, I put together a draft and then email them a jpg or pdf to review. For most projects, this works well and smoothly, and allows everyone to focus on the design at their convenience. I’ve designed hundreds of projects this way.

But occasionally there are times when we need to sit down together at my computer and try different concepts or colors. Scheduling a session in my office or at a coffee shop can be challenging with everyone’s lives so hectic. Especially when time is tight and we need to finish the design fast and get it off to the printer to make your deadline.

What if you could just sit down at your own computer or tablet and see my computer screen as I move things around and try different ideas while we talk on the phone. No matter where you are – on tour in Seattle, at home with the flu, or at the studio between takes. No driving required. Clothing optional.


Group Sessions: We know how hard it is to get everyone in one place at the same time. With a group session, everyone involved with the design process can log on from where ever they are to participate.

  • All you need is a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
  • No software is required – use any browser.
  • Any platform – PC or Mac. There are even free Ipad and Android apps.
  • Evening and weekend sessions also available to fit your schedule.


Fixed-price design packages now include a FREE 30-minute Remote Design Session if needed. Longer sessions available for additional charge. No extra charge for hourly billed projects.

Remote design sessions probably aren’t necessary for most projects, but it’s nice to know it’s just a mouse click away if you need it.

Give me a call to discuss your next CD, DVD or publication.

Songs for Junior Rangers Wins 2nd Children’s Music Award

jr ranger digi_Page_1

My latest design for the National Park Service, “Songs for Junior Rangers,” a children’s CD, has been named a 2013 National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA) Silver winner, recognized for its high quality music, production, and appeal and value to children. This is the second prestigious children’s music award the album has received. Last spring, the 20 song CD was awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award from the Parent’s Choice Foundation.

The latest award comes from The National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) which is one of the most respected awards programs in the family market. NAPPA enlists a panel of independent, expert judges and parent testers who carefully evaluate hundreds of submissions. Only the best-of-the-best are chosen to receive an award for quality, innovation and entertainment and educational value.

“Parents look to NAPPA to recommend the best products for their children, which is why our judges meticulously test and evaluate each submission to make sure they deliver only the best of the best,” says Julie Kertes, NAPPA General Manager.

Park rangers Stephen Dale, Bruce Barnes and Matt Hampsey from New Orleans Jazz and Jeff Wolin from Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument appear on the album as well as many talented New Orleans musicians, and youth, such as Navajo singer/songwriter Krishel Augustine and members of the Youth Ambassador Program from New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. The album also features celebrity guests such as the a cappella group Committed, the Grammy-nominated children’s group Trout Fishing in America, PBS personality Aaron Nigel Smith, and celebrity children’s singer Johnette Downing.

“Songs for Junior Rangers” is a Servicewide project of the National Park Service, funded by the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, and distributed by Eastern National, a non-profit cooperating association.

“Cultivating the next generation of park stewards is imperative to the vitality of our national park system,” said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation.  “The National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program and this new album are great ways we can engage our country’s youth, instilling a love for the parks at a young age.”

Click here to see more of this deluxe digipak packaging



Creative LIVE Online tutorials

I never stop learning. Especially with all the new software, technology, and skills to keep up with. I discovered a website that offers free workshops – often multiple days worth. They cover a wide range of subjects, from photography to business to music to meditation. The live viewings are free, but you can buy the option to watch at your convenience later. I like to play the free live version while I’m working and let it play in the background, switching to it if there’s something I want to take notes on.

A few examples of upcoming courses:

Digital Drums with EZDrummer with Eyal Levi

Music Business 101: Networking with Steve Rennie

Meditation for Everyday Life with David Nichtern

Managing Stress & Optimizing Energy with Dr. Pedram Shojai

Sign up for their alerts and catch what you can.


Digital Liner Notes Design

Liner Notes are NOT DEAD! Even with so much music now being sold digitally, many even digital-only, that doesn’t mean liner notes aren’t important. In fact, digital liner notes provide even more opportunities to provide information, photos and other features to fans.

Read on to learn more about my
Itunes-compatible Digital Booklet design
to complement your digital and physical releases

Case Study – Beth Patterson’s USB Digital Album

Beth Patterson just released an innovative Digital album on USB WRISTBAND and the internet. She included a Digital Booklet PDF file along with the MP3 files. At 17 pages, this would have been very expensive to print, and we were able to include an interactive table of contents, all her lyrics, images, hot links to her websites (including her cool new Japanese site), and even a printable insert and traycard for the fans to print and assemble their own physical copy.




Click here to learn more about Beth Patterson’s Digital Release and how we designed her Liner Notes PDF

Tell your story!

Including a digital booklet as part your digital release is a great way to make additional content available to your fans with lyrics, pictures and liner notes.

A digital booklet is the equivalent of the liner notes often included with physical formats. Most digital booklets include the same basic facts found in the typical CD insert, such as song lyrics, photos, recording details, acknowledgments and other information from the artist. The new interactive booklets can even include video and links to websites.

Digital liner notes are much cheaper than making CD booklets. No physical material is needed, unlike CD’s where every copy requires paper, printing and a plastic jewel case or cardboard case. Just invest in the initial layout and design.

Give Credit where credit is due.

Including credits for musicians, engineers and designers is just good etiquette. How would you like it if you play on an album and no credit is given? This is happening every day now that albums are released digitally.

Learn more about the Recording Academy’s (Grammy Awards) campaign to “Give Fans the Credit”: Real music fans want to know who wrote, produced and played on their favorite tracks and all music creators deserve to be credited for their work.  Credits in the hands of fans will lead to more music discovery, as fans will want to know what other songs a songwriter wrote or a producer produced. “The staggering pace of digital innovation gives consumers access to more and more information but in this case — digitally released music without liner notes — the music fan is getting less information,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “As a songwriter, producer and music fan myself, I love the way technology has allowed us to listen to more music in more places. But without liner notes, fans have no way of knowing who wrote, produced or played on the songs they love. ‘Give Fans the Credit’ will help music fans learn more about those who created their favorite songs — and ultimately discover more great music.” — Skylar


How it works on the Itunes Store

Apple introduced the first Digital Booklet with U2’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” album in 2004.

Because the booklets are PDF documents, they are easy to transfer from an iTunes library to another location on a computer or to a compatible device, such as an iPod or iPad.

If a digital booklet is made available as part of a release, when someone purchases your release the booklet will automatically be included as part of their download. Digital booklets can only be made available as an ‘Album Only’ item which means the booklet cannot be downloaded individually, will only be made available when purchasing the entire release.

It is important that it is designed specifically for the iTunes store and meets with all their specifications. Other sites can use the same file.

Digital booklets cannot be attached to a release that has already been delivered to iTunes.  DO NOT set your release to Final until you have attached the booklet and are certain it meets iTunes extremely strict specifications. If they do not meet their specifications iTunes will reject it.

With the purchase of the albums on iTunes, buyers will automatically receive the digital booklet. This booklet is in PDF form and can be accessed from the Purchased media list in iTunes. Double-clicking the booklet will activate the default PDF reader, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader on a PC or Preview on a Mac, and open the file.

The PDF can then be included in iTunes playlists – iTunes then treats it like another song on the album.

The file can also be imported into iBooks where they are easily read on the iPad. Sync it the way you do any Ebook.

Not all distributors can submit the booklet file with the music. Please check with who you use (CD Baby, Tunecore, etc.) to see if they do this.

Digital Distribution Options


Currently CDBaby has no way to make the liner notes accessible through iTunes. I suggest contacting them and telling them they need to add this feature and that they should be submitting them to iTunes and Amazon!

Here’s what they emailed me when I inquired: CD Baby does not have a way to host digital booklets, and our standard distribution does not include a digital booklet. You can use the “links” section on your account to include a link to where you have a booklet displayed on your own site.


If you use Tunecore, they will send your PDF to Itunes for an additional charge. Read more here on their site.


They will include bonus items with any album downloaded from their site. You can add PDF booklets, videos, alternate art. Read more here on their site.


“Not At This Time” (November 2013)


You will receive an Itunes-compatible PDF that can be submitted to iTunes,, other download sites, emailed to fans, and of course posted on your website.

Existing projects I’ve already designed for print:

  • $10/page to transfer and redesign existing artwork. Note that Itunes requires your file to be a minimum of 4 pages.

New Projects and additional pages to existing projects:

  • Cover design: $125
  • Inside pages: $20/page plus $5/photo
  • Table of Contents: $20

Projects designed by someone else:

  • I’ll need to see the files/packaging before I can quote this.

Prices include TWO proofs and assume text submitted is final. Changes and corrections (other than my errors) after 2nd (final) proof will be charged at $85/hour. Call for a free consultation to discuss your design needs.


Note that you must have permission to include lyrics from cover songs (songs you did not write) in your liner notes, whether printed or digital.

Blue Note App


Experience the sights and sounds of the legendary Blue Note Records, with streaming audio, album covers, session photos, live performance videos, web articles, newspapers, and  playlists. The app is for both music lovers who want to learn more about the genre, and discerning jazz aficionados who want to dig deeper.

The free app includes some free music to stream (mostly 30-second previews), but you can link through to the iTunes Store for purchase or spring for the monthly subscription fee to get streams from their deep catalog of full length songs.
Each month Blue Note will highlight an album, artist, article, or a featured playlist compiled by musicians, journalists, and other jazz experts.

Get it from Itunes




In addition to honoring the best of recorded music each year through the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy is a 24/7 member services organization. The Academy offers an array of professional development and networking opportunities for its members and the music community at large. The Academy also offers numerous benefits to its members…including discounts on duplicating CDs, rental cars, hotel rooms, music/computer magazines and software, music conferences, insurance, music museums, etc.

The Academy also works on behalf of its members through its advocacy and government relations efforts, where they work on Capitol Hill as well as in local governments to affect legislation and policy that has a positive effect on the lives of musicians. The Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing works together to shape the future of music recording. Sound quality, development of new technologies, technical best practices, education in the recording arts, and advocacy for the rights of music creators are all part of the P&E Wing’s mission.

The Academy works in music education and archiving and preservation through the GRAMMY Foundation and our MusiCares foundation, which distributed nearly $4 million to the musicians of the Gulf Coast after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, continues to help the local musicians, through financial assistance grants and drug rehabilitation programs and most recently, through free dental clinics for musicians.

Another important reason to renew your membership is the ability to participate in the Academy’s, a website that connects Academy members and provides an array of social networking tools. The goal of the site is to provide a means of personal communication between Academy members, creating a community where members can connect, communicate, collaborate and participate 365 days a year. I am also including a link to our most recent digital GRAMMY newsletter:

Learn more about or apply for membership online at Or contact Reid Wick at 504.861.7219 / He can answer any questions or take your membership application information over the phone.


Recently my site was hacked. It still worked, and no one visiting the site was in danger, but some nefarious degenerate had piggybacked another site onto my server, buried deep in the file structure. I discovered it when my site would not allow me to update things. It took hours and hours to clean. There were thousands of files I had to delete and they had altered some of my system files to hide their activities so it kept coming back after I thought I’d deleted everything. I eventually had to start from scratch – take down the old site, reinstall WordPress, and then recreate the site (luckily all the articles and content were untouched).

Anyway, a participant from one of my wordpress seminars clued me into a free plugin called WORDFENCE recently – Thank you Helen. It scans your site every day and alerts you to any changes to files or plugin/theme updates. You can then ask it to fix it for you by replacing the hacked files with the original ones.

If you have a WordPress site, install Wordfence today and run a complete scan. Be sure to have it scan theme and plugin files (optional check boxes in the setup) since those are common back doors for hackers. Keep your site software (like WordPress, Blogger, etc.), themes and plugins updated because most updates are to fix security holes. Also, it’s a good idea to change your passwords every so often for your site, your ftp and your hosting – and DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR EVERYTHING.

This advice goes for other things as well – phone apps, website logins, and even your computer operating system and programs.

And, of course, keep your virus checker up to date, and back everything up regularly (don’t forget your phone). I use CARBONITE for automatic offsite computer backup. Click on this referral link and get backed up TODAY: GET CARBONITE. Using this link will give you 2 months free.


I use dropbox to sync files to my ipad. It creates a folder on my computer to which I can drag files to. It then uploads them to their server and when I need to access the files I just open my dropbox app on my ipad or iphone and I can download the file wherever I am. I can also have it download and keep the file on my ipad for offline access. I use it for all sorts of documents I need to have with me. Great for traveling. And I love that it acts as a backup for important things in case my computer crashes because anything in the dropbox folder is also online in the cloud. You can password protect the files as well so it is secure.

Use this link for a bonus 500 MB for both of us. The service is free for the first 2 GB (plenty of space), and you can even share your folders with others for quick file transfer.



I use Carbonite to back up my computer to the cloud. It works in the background and anytime a file is added or changed, it copies it to a secure server so that if (when) your computer crashes, is stolen, hit by a virus, dropped or you accidentally delete a file (ack, I’ve done that), you can just go online and it’s all there for immediate retrieval. It’s one of the few that still offers unlimited storage for a reasonable yearly price.

Use my referral link and we both get a $20 gift card

LinkedIn for Musicians and Filmmakers

I started using LinkedIn a lot more lately. I have really really tried to be a regular Facebook user, but alas, after the 10th cute kitten picture, I get frustrated and log off and I LOVE kittens. I realized I was missing so many important posts because they were buried under 10 pages of kittens and deep thought quotes. And if I’m missing other people’s posts, then people were missing mine. If you post something on Wednesday and someone doesn’t look at their wall until Friday, they’ll miss your post. I was getting lost. So I began exploring LinkedIn and already I feel like I’m getting some response.

I’m still learning how to finesse LinkedIn. Just like Facebook, there are strategies, do’s and don’ts, and you have to keep it updated. LinkedIn is geared more for business connections, and not social. They have groups (like forums) you can join in your areas of interest and expertise. The idea is to interact with people and learn from each other.

First I made sure my profile was complete and as good as I could get it. This can take a little time, but is REALLY important to do this BEFORE you start inviting connections. Plus it creates some starting links to people who went to the same school, same industries and region. Then I started inviting people who I know or who know people I know to connect with me. This is really easy using their “People you may know” tab. You can send a direct request to connect with anyone who is 2 generations from you (a friend of a friend).

You can also connect with someone who is in a group that you are in. This is the real power – join the larger industry groups and you will gain access to thousands of people with whom you now have a connection you wouldn’t otherwise have through your circle of colleagues. I’ve tried to be selective – you’re not supposed to try to connect with everyone – I’m inviting mostly people in the music and film industry in my region who might be interested in my services and expertise. I have over 300 connections already and I’ve actually had a few people contact me for quotes and inquiries. And I love hearing from people I’ve known for a while who see my profile and call to say “I didn’t know you did that!” Pretty cool.

As you add connections, you start seeing what you have in common with people you didn’t even know existed. It’s the original social networking site based on the Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon principle. So, for each person in your network, it tells you all the other connections you have in common (like Facebook does), and then you can invite them into your network, and so on and so forth. And, of course, the world often revolves around who you know. Sometimes having gone to the same school opens doors. I had one connection who didn’t even know me ask for a quote on a CD project because we both went to Texas A&M.

Are you a LinkedIn Member? If not, I recommend you at least try it. It’s free. And then please connect with me. I’d love to add you to my professional network. I’ll keep using Facebook. Facebook has its uses, especially when it comes to connecting to your fans. But for business, LinkedIn seems to be the place to be. I see a lot of musicians and filmmakers on there and tons of musician/film oriented groups where people share ideas, and even post requests for songs for licensing deals, films, TV, etc.

Please visit my LinkedIn profile and Connect with me: Just indicate you are a colleague.

I’d still also love to be your Friend on Facebook. “Like” my Crescent Music Services page and my personal page. Subscribe to my email list to receive the occasional emails I send out. (I still refuse to get a Twitter account.)

Just Google search “how to use LinkedIn for musicians” and you’ll find a ton of videos and how-to’s to help you get started.


5 most forgotten CD design elements

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
  • Biography
  • 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.

Further Reading

FREE CD Project Planner EBOOK

Writing Liner Notes

Preparing Your Text

Project Checklist


What Does Your Music Look Like?

Have you ever decided to purchase a CD solely because of the cover? Even in this digital age, many sales can still be attributed to the energy, style, essence or visual message captured in an image that attracts someone to take a chance.

The cover is often the first impression people have of your music, and it should reflect the theme and quality of the sound. It is the visual representation and an extension of your music. Album covers function not only to sell music, but to present the concepts and images behind and inside the music. It sets the mood and theme for the entire packaging.

While it’s true that browsing for CDs in stores is almost a thing of the past, cover images are still used to identify music on web sites, catalogs and at gigs. Can you imagine Jay Lenno introducing a band without a CD to hold up?

Sound creates mental imagery, and imagery affects how we perceive sound. While it will be different for each listener, the emotions music evokes are undeniable. The cover and packaging should capture that. You want to draw your listeners in. It should be an invitation, a tease, a temptation, an connection to a total experience.

Your cover should be distinctive and memorable, even bold and graphic.

On the other hand, it must still function to inform. Don’t make people guess too much about what your music is about. And don’t make them work to read the artist name and album title.

Look at other covers and ask yourself:

  • Can you tell just from the cover what kind of music it is?
  • Is the name of the artist clearly readable? Is it distinguishable from the title?
  • Does it communicate something about the artist or the music?


If Design is like making music, layout is like reading music and hitting the right notes on the keyboard.

Layout is more about the technical aspects of manifesting the concept and design. It consists of typography, software and crop marks. It is not enough to have a great concept and an amazing design. If you can’t produce a printable file, it is worthless. Having the right tools and technical expertise is as critical as having creativity and vision.

Function over form

This is the final challenge – making the concept and design FUNCTIONAL & CORRECT. If you can’t read it, why bother? If the printer can’t use the files or the factory can’t fit the insert into the jewelcase….

It is the designer’s job to know the industry, the terminology and the standards. For example, the barcode has to be a certain size and always knocked out, the artist name is often best put at the top. They need to know that DJs want the times on the traycard – and, by the way, what a traycard is.

Designers must also be organized and efficient. Most projects are on a tight time schedule, and are composed of many pieces that must be compiled and organized. The designer’s job is to literally bring and keep it all together.

This article excerpted from my CD Project Planner Ebook. Download Here


Untangling Cover Song Licensing on YouTube

Found this article on Wired. Good reading, although rather frustrating.

There are millions of cover songs on YouTube, with around 12,000 new covers uploaded in the last 24 hours. Nearly 40,000 people covered Rolling in the Deep 11,000 took on Pumped Up Kicks, 6,000 were inspired by Somebody That I Used to Know.

Until recently, all but a sliver were illegal, considered infringement under current copyright law. Nearly all were non-commercial, created out of love by fans of the source material, with no negative impact on the market value of the original.

This is creativity criminalized, quite possibly the most popular creative act that’s against the law.

Read the article: Criminal Creativity: Untangling Cover Song Licensing on YouTube – Wired

DDP masters

If you are submitting your music as a DDP, please follow these instructions:

Uploading a CD/DVD Image file or RAW disc files to the factory

For an Audio CD project DDP Image files work the best, .iso files do not work for Audio CDs.

It is best to create an image file of your disc before uploading  iso and DDP image files are standard for cd/dvd data discs and dvd video discs, and may be created using most disc burning programs (.gi, .iso, .nrg .udi, .cue and .c2d are also image formats we can process).

Next:.please zip the image file or files to be uploaded, as this adds in a layer to insure file integrity during transmission and may decrease the transmission time.

Connect to FTP site using the following information.:


Email me for the username and password


Please email the following information to, kristin@theadsgroupdifference, and

  • Name of the .iso image file you’re sending.
  • The expected source disc name after it’s written.
  • Reference Crescent Music Services, name of artist and title of project

Don’t send artwork files to this FTP folder.

Recycled wallets, jackets and digipaks

Eco-wallets, Eco-jackets and Eco-digis

Now you can request 100% recycled paper for your wallets, jackets and digipaks for no additional charge.

Add 100% plastic trays in your digipaks for 15 cents each for the total recycled experience.

Furthermore, our printer is FSC & Rainforest Alliance Certified and use Linseed Oil based inks and water-based gloss coating.

AND, our DVD cases are also 100% recycled.



Does the paper look recycled? I don’t want my packaging to look rough or dull.

The recycled paperboard is just as bright and white and smooth as the non-recycled stock. The plastic trays do have a very slight tinge to them, but it’s subtle, and they say “100% recycled” on them.

Can I reorder my cds on the recycled?

Yes, just let me know and I’ll add it to the purchase order.

Can I order recycled for my jewelcase inserts or cases?

No, not yet. I’ll let you know when that is available. Only DVD cases are recycled.


Call Diana today at 504-312-2354 to order your next wallet, sleeve or digipak on 100% recycled!



Costa Rica travelogue

Greetings from Costa Rica!

My mom and I are on a two-week sojourn through costa rica. 10 days on a caravan tour, followed by 5 days on our own with a rental car to see a few other spots and visit some friends who live here now.

Here are some highlights so far to give you a taste of what we are seeing here.

Today is day five of our caravan tour. They really have all the bases covered. We are staying in really nice hotels and resorts and the tour includes all our meals (buffet style). We are a group of 46 with our tour guide Jose who is very knowledgeable, and bus driver Jaime who navigates the narrow streets and mountain roads with incredible expertise. Since i don’t speak spanish (even after 4 years if high school spanish) this is a great way to get aquainted with a foreign country and then explore on our own after we get the lay of the land so to speak. So far i have ‘hola’ down pretty well, and here they say ‘pura vida’ (pure life) as kind of an all purpose greeting and response.

Our flights were uneventful and we even got a hot meal on our flight to costa rica. Easy breezy through customs, and caravan tour bus was waiting for us to take us to our hotel in san jose.

The next day they took us up through the cloud forest to poas volcano. On the way we saw lots of rainbows

which made up for the fact that when we got up to the volcano rim it was so cloudy and misty we couldn’t see into the crater.

There is a volcano down through that mist :

Our group milling around at the top of the crater…

On the way back to san jose we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the central valley.

And then toured a coffee plantation

And saw more flowers…

Day two was a very very long bus/boat ride to Tortuguero in the Caribbean coast in the rain forest. The trip there was long and slow up over the mountains in the rain.

We stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant that had a nice little butterfly garden.


On the way we passed through little towns with little stores and carts

And i am sorry to report that walmart has invaded.

The last few miles were on a narrow dirt road through some beautiful countryside

Did you notice the satellite dish on the roof?

Our huge bus had to go about 5 miles an hour due to pot holes and uncertain narrow bridges.

Eventually we made it to the edge of the swamp and The boat ride to the lodge was nice.

Tortuguero has quaint resorts with Clusters of rustic cabins in the midst of the rain forest right at the Caribbean coast.

It rained a lot our two days there (surprise!), but we did get some sun. We had a few monkeys running through the encampment,

along with lizards and a few birds, but I was sorely disappointed by the noticeable LACK of fauna of all kinds. I was expecting much more. Very few birds, not much in the way of insects (thankfully), and we were not awoken by howler monkees as we were warned, although we saw them around. A few sloths, iguanas, and a couple crocs and caymans. But it was not “teaming with life” as i had expected. Indeed my mom’s place on bayou liberty in slidell louisiana has more abundant wildlife just outside her front door. Guess i’m spoiled. But we enjoyed the thick flora, lots of greenery and flowers. Still very nice.

They took us to the turtle nesting grounds on the beach, and then through the touristy village of tortuguera. Cute, but i guess after living a couple summers in a real caribbean fishing village of port royal, jamaica, this was not something i needed to experience.

The next day we went on another boat tour looking for wildlife. We didn’t see much – a couple sloths, blue heron, a cayman, a few other birds.

Can you see the tail of the cayman (small croc)?

An anhinga drying its wings after the rain

After another long boat/bus trek back out of the jungle, we headed towards arenal volcano near the west coast.


On the way we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that had a huge ancient tree called the white almond, still around because the wood is so hard the loggers couldn’t float them out and nails can’t be driven into it. They told us this type of tree was the model for the tree in the avatar movie. Does kind of look like it.

Some of our bus mates to try to give you an idea of how truly massive and tall this tree is.

We also saw a sloth on the grounds, more flowers, and a poison dart frog Jose found for us.


Can you see the sloth?

So now here we are at a super nice resort at the base of arenal volcano, a still active crater, although it just spits steam mostly lately.

Most of the day the top is covered by clouds, but i was able to catch it early this am and could see the steam hissing out of the top. Our “cabin” is next to a field with cows and orange trees, and there are bananas growing in our front yard.

Last night after traveling all day across the country we soaked in the hot springs here. Sweet.

The food so far has been nice, lots of beans and rice, but what really stands out is the fruit we get every meal. Sweet and fresh. We stopped at a pineapple plantation, and we pass many banana plantations, guava groves, and all manner of sweet edibles.

The banana picker hauls the bananas on a track to the processing plant.

Lots of cows – well treated and mostly bramas. Nearly everyone has a dog or two and they appear well cared for. Roads are good, only saw one minor fenderbender, and not much poverty, mostly on the outskirts of san jose. We drove through a lot of little towns, and the houses are small but neat. People are super friendly, and do seem very happy.

Costa Rica is a unique country. They abolished their military so they could apply those funds to healthcare and education. Everyone gets healthcare. Education is very important. And it really shows. Internet is everywhere. Everyone has cell phones. the cars are nice and fairly new. The country is modern and clean and they try to do things in a responsible way. Big on ecology, conservation and agriculture. Tourism is the biggest indusry here and you can tell they care.

Internet has been good everywhere so far. Free either in the room or at least near reception. So i have been able to keep tabs on my email and voicemail, upload pictures and of course send this out. Even allowed myself to check the news, but am trying to avoid that.

Tomorrow we head to a marriott resort on the Pacific coast for some sun and sand, and then back to san jose to wrap up the canned part of our trip. From there we rent a car and drive back down to the southern part of the Pacific coast for a few days near Dominical.

But today we are taking it easy, catching up with laundry and rest, the weather is perfect, and life is sweet.

Musicians can reclaim old copyrights

“When copyright law was revised in the mid-1970s, musicians, like creators of other works of art, were granted “termination rights,” which allow them to regain control of their work after 35 years, so long as they apply at least two years in advance. Recordings from 1978 are the first to fall under the purview of the law, but in a matter of months, hits from 1979 will be in the same situation “and then, as the calendar advances, every other master recording once it reaches the 35-year mark. The provision also permits songwriters to reclaim ownership of qualifying songs.” Read the full article: New York Times

“Under the Copyright Act, authors (and their statutory heirs) may terminate certain transfers of copyrights that were effected in 1978 and after on the 35th anniversary of the transfer (although in some circumstances, different time frames may be applicable). Transfers of sound recordings and musical compositions are among the classes of copyright transfers that may be terminable. An author’s right to reclaim ownership of his or her copyright(s) is optional and must be exercised in accordance with strict notice provisions and within strict time limits.  If you are the author of sound recording(s) and/or musical composition(s) that were transferred to third parties, it would be advisable to contact your attorney or other advisors to learn more about this important topic.” Source:

Icontact Email Service

Get a $50 ACCOUNT CREDIT by using my link

I use Icontact to send out my emails. I switched some years ago when I realized that my emails were getting bounced back more and more. Some of the email servers (yahoo, aol) were “blacklisting” certain other servers and I just happened to be on one of those.

The advantage to email services such as Icontact and Constant Contact is that they are “whitelisted” and usually can get your message through. They also help you format your message so that it doesn’t appear as spam.

But there are tons of other reasons I discovered once I signed up:

  • Nice looking templates
  • database management
  • automatic signup forms for Facebook and my website
  • automatic responder emails, even ecourses.

It is a great communications tool in its own right, so I have stuck with it.

AND recently they have integrated social networking linking for Facebook and Twitter.

Please use my link here to sign up so I can get a few pennies of commission for referring you. According to their site, you will also get a $50 ACCOUNT CREDIT by using my link.

You’re welcome to call me to find out more.

When I Do Your Graphics … What I need from you

Please allow enough time – 3-14 days is typical.

Compile all material that you want to include in your design: photos, text, original artwork to be scanned, logos, etc.

Text for lyrics, credits, song titles, liner notes, etc. in an electronic format.

  • Submit all text in a single file if possible. Please don’t send pieces, changes, etc. in many different emails – this can lead to our my missing something. It also makes it difficult for me to see an overview.
  • Don’t worry about formatting (making it look pretty) your text – that’s my job.
  • DO insert comments such as “back page” or “put band photo near this” to guide me.
  • DO mention items not included that you plan submit later so that I know to leave space (ex. “Thank you’s – 2 to 3 short paragraphs – to come by Friday”).
  • Don’t use spaces in place of tabs. Just use the Enter key twice to start a new paragraph.
  • Don’t use double spaces between sentences.
  • Don’t lay things in columns, especially by tabbing. Run your text straight down the page. If you want things in columns, let me know and I’ll format that on my end. If you tab over for a new column, I literally have to cut and paste the text out of that because it doesn’t flow the same in my program. Very time consuming and leads to things ending up in the wrong place.
  • I prefer Microsoft Word, RTF, or TXT, or you can email your text.
  • Non-digital (hand-written or paper printouts) text may incur additional input charges.
  • Spell Check and Proofread BEFORE submitting file to us. See “Proofing Checklist”

Photos, Artwork, Logos

COPYRIGHT: When providing artwork or files to Crescent Music Services, you represent you have the right to use and reproduce this image. You may not reproduce copyrighted materials from artists, photographers, or other authors of original works without express written permission from the author. Crescent Music Services is not liable or responsible for any inappropriate uses.

When shooting your photos or drawing your art, please consider the following:

  • The shape of a CD insert is SQUARE, not a rectangle
  • You will need room for your title and band name and other important cover text
  • Allow for about a 1/4 inch to be CUT OFF around the outside of the image (it’s called Bleed) if you want your photo to go to the edge of the paper
  • High contrast, colorful images work best for covers.
  • Consider the impact and message of the image. Does it communicate the message of your music or other content of your disc?

Digital Images:

  • If you provide your photos digitally, TIF is the best.
  • If you provide an EPS, do NOT check the box “include half-tone screen” in the save dialog.
  • Images should be either CMYK or greyscale at 300dpi or more at 100% of the size it will be used.
  • If you must provide JPG, save as largest file size possible to avoid degradation, and avoid opening and resaving the file too many times because that decreases quality each time.
  • SCANNING: Clean your scanner glass with a soft cloth before placing each item.
  • Digital cameras should be set to the highest uncompressed format your camera has. Avoid cameras under 2.5 megapixles.
  • Don’t send images in a Word file. I can not easily extract the images.
  • Pulling images from a website: DON’T.
  • Pulling images from a video: DON’T

Hard Copies: If you provide your artwork non-digitally:

  • Don’t supply inkjet-printed art unless that’s all you have.
  • I prefer prints of photos rather than slides or negatives. Slides or negatives will incur additional charges. Or you can take your slide to a local photo house (or even the local drug store) for digital conversion.
  • You can provide a photo in color even if it will be reproduced in greyscale (black and white). I can convert it.
  • I can accept artwork up to 11×17. Oversized art will incur additional charges for scanning.
  • The bigger (up to 11×17) and cleaner the artwork (such as a logo), the better it will scan.

Don’t have artwork?

  • I can search for photos and artwork if you don’t have anything. I have access to royalty free photos and artwork that might suit your purpose. I will spend a limited amount of time in this search for no additional charge. I can also point you to these sites to search yourself at no charge.
  • I can create custom digital art in photoshop (up to 1/2 hour for no additional charge). Check out my digital artwork in the portfolio.

Sketch and/or mock up of the layout to the best of your ability. This will give me a clearer idea as to how you would like your insert, traycard, and disc to look. These can be simple drawings on folded paper (or even a napkin).

Commercial Examples: If there are any other CDs or DVDs you like the look of, show me. You can just give me the name and I’ll look it up on Amazon. Or you can send/give me the real thing to examine (I’ll give it back!). I can emulate any style. Or if there is a certain color or font you want, show me to match as closely as I can.

File Submission:

I accept files in the following ways:

  • CDR
  • DVDR
  • FTP (File Upload)
  • Email (files should be zipped or stuffed) up to 5 MB
  • USB Thumb Drive

I will be doing your layouts in Adobe InDesign (for paper elements) and Adobe Illustrator (for disc art). I use Photoshop for photographic elements and special effects. I work on the PC, but can read most Mac files.

FONTS: TTF or OTF (I have about 12,000).

  • You can provide your files partially created in these applications, if you wish for me to finish and do the prepress. If you plan to go this route, please refer to my  designer guide in order to avoid file issues once I take over.
  • I cannot accept file formats such created in programs like Quark, E-Z CD and Neato labeller. I can, however, accept a PDF or EPS exported from many of these programs. Please speak with me before doing anything with these programs.

Proofs: I will provide you with PDFs of your layouts for proofing online. Modifications can be made until final approval with no extra charge (up to 3  drafts).

Typical Design Process:

First Meeting: Discuss concept, schedule, review your materials, look at colors and fonts.

  • I REQUEST THAT YOU PROVIDE ME WITH ALL OR AT LEAST MOST OF THE MATERIALS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS. If you are still gathering a lot of stuff, it is usually better to wait until you have most of it.
  • You are welcome to schedule a preliminary design consultation before your official “first meeting” to review your project and determine what pieces you need to gather.

Drafts/Proofing: I layout, search photos, format your text, etc.

  • The first draft can take up to 1-10 days depending on complexity and whether I have everything..
  • This first draft might be very very rough if I am still working out the design or waiting on some elements, or it might be 95% there. Every project will proceed differently.
  • Your PDF Draft will be uploaded or emailed.
  • You review carefully and then give feedback, changes and corrections
  • Each additional draft incorporating new changes can take 1-3 days
  • I will provide up to 4 drafts with no additional charge.
  • Please read “Proofing Checklist” to help you avoid embarrassing and costly oversights. Also, please don’t assume I am perfect either – proof everything I do with a critical eye. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Approval: Final artwork must be approved IN WRITING by providing a written OK in an email.

  • Once you approve the final artwork I will submit the files to the printer for production. IF YOU GET BACK TO ME BEFORE NOON, YOUR PROJECT CAN GO TO PRESS THAT DAY. ANY APPROVALS AFTER 2 WILL START THE NEXT BUSINESS DAY.
  • Once the press is rolling you WILL incur additional charges if you need changes. How much more depends on where production must be stopped and how much work was done by the printer up to that point.
  • At this point I can tell you when to expect your discs.

The Blues Masters featuring Big Al Carson – 4th Edition

I just finished up designing and manufacturing a new CD for Al Carson and The Blues Masters. This “4th Edition” was a lot of fun with the running theme of the Funky Pirate. With Bill Wilson’s great artwork on the cover, Misha’s great recording, and Al’s funky vision, it is bound to be one of Al’s best releases.

For more information, visit his websites:

Google Alerts – what are people saying about you?

Do you know what people are saying about you on the internet? Google Alerts will notify you anytime someone posts a blog or review about you so you can keep tabs on what’s being said about you and where your name is being dropped.

Think of Google Alerts as a customized automatic Google Search that delivers the search results to you in your email inbox anytime something new hits the internet.

Google Alerts are also helpful when you’re trying to keep up with certain topics, news, or people.

This is very helpful for musicians to keep track of reviews and places their album is featured.

Free and easy: Just go to and create a free account if you don’t already have one. Then you can enter search terms like your name.

Enter your keywords just as if you were running a normal web search. A good basic starting point is to set up Alerts for the name of your organization, for the names of your key spokespeople who are likely to be quoted in the media, and for keywords that are relevant to your cause and/or community.

Tip: To get an idea of what sort of information might be returned for any specific keywords, do an ordinary Google Search and see what turns up. Based on those search results, tweak your keywords to match your needs. You can always change it later, or delete it and set up a different Alert.

Be sure to enclose terms in “quotes” to focus on that term only. You’ll start getting your own personal google search results in your inbox right away

Suggested Alerts:

  • your name
  • your band name
  • your album title (to find reviews or places carrying it for sale)
  • your company name
  • your competition
  • your genre or area of interest
  • other people you want to keep track of what they’re doing
  • product names
  • Anything you are researching or learning about.

It is not the critic who counts …

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.

Passport Travel Tip

Scan your passport, important documents, prescriptions and photos of your instrument and equipment in case they are stolen.

Then email them to someone (you can contact easily by the internet) staying home so that if you lose your documents you can have them emailed to you (or your embassy – or the authorities) to make it easier to get replacements.

If you have a secure file server with your website, you can also upload the files there for retrieval by you. I also read where you can upload the images to a free account on Flickr and then set it as “private” (not sure how secure this is.)

Other items to scan :

  • Traveler Check numbers,
  • Credit Cards,
  • Important telephone numbers,
  • prescriptions,
  • eyeglass prescription,
  • critical medical info,
  • itinerary (with phone numbers of hotels and gigs).

Be sure everyone in your party knows how to retrieve the information (such as who is holding the info) in case something happens to you.

Also, take pictures of your instruments and equipment in case they are stolen. Be sure to take close ups of any interior labels or identifying marks (like stickers, dings, scratches). This is helpful on tour in this country and even in your home town and for insurance purposes.

Got any other handy travel tips? Leave comments below.

Happy traveling! Send pictures.

Email Overload – Take control of your inbox

How many emails are in your inbox right now? Yes, it’s probably 80% spam, but that leaves 20% that’s not. How many missed opportunities are in there? How many irate people are waiting for your reply?

Every day you wait it gets worse. If you have 400 email messages, do the math – if you spend only one minute reading / answering each email, that would take almost 7 hours! And when you add in the fact that you probably already read some of them but didn’t respond/address it then, you’re doubling your email time. The trick is to deal with emails regularly and completely and immediately.

You need a system.

Clear your in-box of all messages, daily. The goal is an empty email inbox at the end of each day. The inbox is for temporary storage only.

Use the touch it once strategy as much as possible. Try to respond immediately when you read an email for the first time so you’re not wasting time rereading the message.

If you can’t deal with the email right away, send a quick response telling the sender that you received their email and will take care of tomorrow (or whenever). Then set yourself a reminder on your todo list or flag it. That way they won’t bug you until your new deadline and you can focus on to the next task/email.

Ways to clear out your inbox:

  • When you check your email, first delete all spam so that all you have left are things you need to attend to.
  • Use subfolders to move emails to that you have responded to or need to keep. Some folders I use: Orders (for receipts of online orders), Client stuff, personal, look later, good jokes, website.

Outlook tips:

  • keep your Mail Folders sidebar open at all times and drag and drop messages into the appropriate folder.
  • Move an open message to a subfolder directly without closing it – add “move to folder” to your top menu in the message screen.
  • Move emails with appointments/events to your (Outlook) calendar (yes, you can drag and drop) or to your (Outlook) Task Pad.
  • Microsoft’s online course to dealing with email overload, including setting priorities and organizing emails:
  • Set up automatic message rules that deliver emails with certain words in the subject or to/from a certain email address directly to subfolders.
  • Keep your spam filters current and train the Junk Mail feature. But do check your junk folder daily to be sure nothing important ended up there.
  • If you are more of a paper person, print out the email right away and put in the file that relates to that. Then move the email to a subfolder.
  • Forward it. If you can’t deal with it right away or ever, forward it to someone who can.
  • If you can’t do it, respond to the sender that you don’t think you can.
  • Considering using the PHONE to respond to an email – cuts down on the back and forth of emails, and can take care of the issue right then and there so you can delete/file the email out of your inbox. This is especially helpful when you have an email conversation going into its fourth or fifth round and you’re not getting anywhere.

Keep things from coming in at all:

  • Unsubscribe. If you are receiving regular newsletter emails from a subscription, determine whether you are really reading/using those emails. If you want to remain on the list, but the subject is low priority, set up a subfolder and have all incoming messages from that source automatically routed using rules for you to read through later (in your “spare time”).
  • Keep business and personal email accounts separate and only “send/receive” for one account at a time. Have an email account for business only and a separate email address for personal correspondence. That way you can let the personal emails sit on the server until you’re home or off. You can even set up a separate email address for low priority stuff like newsletters.

Schedule time or set a reminder to go through and respond to emails you’ve moved to subfolders.

Use “follow up” flags to remind you to deal with an email.

Color code messages. You can either do this manually when you read it for the first time, or set up a rule (“automatic formatting” in Outlook) to automatically set a certain color depending on who it’s from or what it’s about. Then, when you scan your inbox, all greens will pop out at you even if they’re not next to each other. I like to set certain senders as red if I need to be sure to respond immediately.

SORT your email messaged differently occasionally. I usually keep my inbox sorted by date, but every so often when messages start piling up I sort by sender which reveals extra messages I either missed or forgot to move to a subfolder. then I can delete/move a bunch at a time. If you use follow up flags or categories, sort that way too.

Learn the keyboard shortcuts for your email program. For example, Control R is resply in Outlook. I also set up hotkeys for my categories (now if I can only remember them – note to self – tape shortcut and hotkey list to monitor).

In conclusion – once you take control of your inbox, you will feel better, be more productive, stop missing opportunities, and prove yourself to be a reliable person to work with.

Now, I need to get back to clearing out my inbox. Only 1,234 messages to go.

More resources:

Youtube has lots of training videos about using Outlook and organizing emails.

Anatomy of a Jewelcase

Jewelcase / Jewelbox – The industry standard plastic CD case. Recommended for retail projects. Also called a Jewelbox.

Tray – the plastic part of the jewelcase that the disc snaps onto. Usually black, white or clear. The left side of the tray shows through when the case is closed. Clear trays allow printing on the inside of the traycard to show through (see below). Custom colors can be requested.

The pieces that go into it:

Insert / Booklet / Folder – The front paper part that has the cover. The “back cover” is what you see on the left when you first open the jewelcase but don’t take out the paper. It slips in the front of the jewelcase to show through.

  • 2-panel – a single sheet of paper with no folds – panels include the front cover and the back of the cover where you can put credits or other info.
  • 4-panel – a single sheet folded in half like a greeting card.
  • 6-panel – a single sheet folded twice like a letter.
  • Booklet – A folded set of 4 panel inserts stapled together. Always increases in fours (8 pages, 12 pages, etc.)
  • Folder – An insert without staples – usually folds in on itself, although there are other ways (gatefold, poster fold). Always increases in twos (4 panels, 6 panels, etc.)

Traycard / Inlay Card – This is the paper part that is embedded in the back of the case under the disc that is not removable. It usually has the barcode and track listing on it, and also has the side spine text (artist name) that you see when cases are stacked. It is perforated left and right. If it is printed only on one side, the plastic tray is usually black or white. If the traycard is printed on the inside, the plastic tray would be clear to be able to see the printing through it, including the left edge when the case is closed. Also called an Inlay card.

Airbed N breakfast – great resource for places to stay or to rent out a room

Do you have an extra room/apartment/house to rent? If you have a spare room to rent out during mardi gras/jazz fest you need to get on this site. I use this site to rent my house in New Orleans during jazz fest and mardi gras. The people I get are wonderful.

Do you need cheap places to rent while traveling / on tour? There are some really great deals on this site. Don’t be fooled by the Airbed in the name - most have real beds!

Creating MP3 files

You want the following specs no matter what program you use:

  • File type: mp3
  • Bit rate: 192 kbps or 256 kbps
  • Be sure your embedded tags include your artist name and song title
  • Remove track number from file name

Windows Media Player

Put CD into drive

click on the “Rip” tab

WMP should automatically detect and scan it.

Media Player should then query an online CD information database to figure out album and track information. If it doesn’t find anything, it will ask you for track names and artist name. Be sure it is correct – it will encode the mp3 file with this info.

Change the settings before ripping:

  • Right click on the “Rip” tab. Select MORE OPTIONS
  • click on the Rip Music tab

Here you can change where the file is saved to.

Rip Settings

  • Format: MP3
  • Audio Quality: either 192 or 256 kbps

Click OK

click on Rip Music

I recommend you play each file to be sure it ripped properly.

Also, you might want to rename it to remove the track number that media player often inserts.

Here’s a YouTube video that’s pretty good:


I’m not a mac person, so I’ll let this guy tell you. Remember, 192 or 256 kbps, MP3 format.

Attitude is Everything

Warning: planning creates problems challenges. And when you look for problems, you will find them. And when you find them you will make them bigger.

Before you start looking for problems, remember:.

  • What we focus on becomes our reality.
  • Search for solutions that already exist
  • Build on what is working.
  • Every moment we spend focused on a problem is a moment not spent on moving forward.

Vision is, by definition, currently impossible.  Otherwise you’d be doing it not just dreaming and talking about it.  You accomplish your vision by solving all of the things that make it currently impossible. It’s called reality. – 60 minute strategic plan

Before you go any further, avoid using words like PROBLEM and IMPOSSIBLE. These words create a negative, self-defeating mindset that will actually hamper you and take all the fun out of your journey. We can take a life lesson from athletes. Sports are based entirely in overcoming obstacles and challenges and excelling despite of them. The hurdles are the point.

Until 1953, no human had been able to crack the four-minute mile. Some physicians claim that humans were anatomically incapable of doing so.  Or if they tried there would be physical damage. Roger Bannister, an Oxford medical students and a world-class runner, put himself through intense physical training to overcome what actually turned out to be a psychological barrier and not a physical one.  Within one year, 35 others did what was universally and historically considered impossible. – 60 minute strategic plan

Choose different words that better describe what you are dealing with : challenge, obstacle, issue, stepping stones, goal or project. When you stop using the word Problem, suddenly you have no problems, just opportunities to grow, learn and move closer to your goal – and to enjoy the journey.

Problems are just:

  • Results of other things happening
  • Warning signs of directions not to go
  • Goals to achieve
  • Puzzles
  • Detours
  • Issues
  • A starting point for something you want to change
  • Solutions waiting to be discovered.
  • Decisions you haven’t made
  • Opportunities

Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?

Success Planning
for Musicians and Bands

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where . . . ,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Lewis Carol – Alice in Wonderland

Planning is for

 Dreamers who decide it’s time to start doing.

People who are feeling their lives are out of control

People whose to do lists are several pages long.

Entrepreneurs who wear a lot of hats and are juggling lots of duties.

People who have discovered that what they are doing isn’t working.

People who are at a major transition point that they need to reevaluate where they are, where they want to go and do now such as times of catastrophe when you might be having a hard time setting priorities such as after Katrina, a band member quits or you have a new baby or when something major breaks in your career such as one of your tunes being featured in a commercial.

Planning will

help you face each new challenge with confidence, clarity and success.

get you thinking

help you generate more ideas, clarify your thoughts.

generate excitement, enthusiasm and motivation

act as a catalyst for your ideas.

quickly and concisely crystallize your vision.

help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, obstacles and problems, opportunities, set priorities.

help you order your thoughts, set goals and identify milestones.

help you use your time more effectively

help you decide whether you are doing the right thing

get you moving on your dream.

Help you avoid mistakes and wrong directions

Help you succeed.

A plan is like a song

Luckily, most musicians are already used to transcribing something from their head to paper – lyrics, a tune, an arrangement. Yet, they often fail to write down the most important words that will let them succeed – their master plan.

Writing something down makes the intangible real. Musicians know that a song in your head, like a breeze through your hair, is useless beyond the fleeting sensation of emotion and memory until you write down the notes and the words. The next step might be to record a rough version into a tape recorder. Then you go back and tweak and refine. Then you record it for real and voila – you have a song that other people can experience and reproduce and play along with. Planning is the same process.

Why You Need a Plan

Musicians make music, businesses make money. Like it or not, musicians must also act like a business if they want to make money making music so they can keep on making music. Bands and musicians operate with a combination of luck and planning.

Musicians often confuse dreams and hopes with plans. A dream is something in your head. Hope is an emotion. Neither is a strategy. The plan is what makes the dream a reality. Hope is what keeps you going.

There are many types of plans. The typical business plan, written to obtain money, is what we usually think of. But that doesn’t fit most musicians’ situations. Most traditional business models don’t translate well for the music industry, although many of the concepts must and should be considered and followed. Most business plan tutorials start you out with the question “What business am I in?” This may sound elementary and common sense, but doesn’t quite fit the musician or band model because musicians are in a lot of businesses, and that’s where typical business plan models break down. The musician is not only the singer and guitar player, he is the record producer, the promoter, the website developer, the marketing director, the roadie, the tour manager. The musician is pulled in twenty directions at once, often unprepared and uninformed about what is involved, what his options are and even how to start.

Myth: Business plans are long tedious documents filled with numbers and projections.

I’m sure someone told you somewhere along the line that you needed a business plan. Unfortunately, as you started learning how to write a business plan, you probably were confronted with instructions on writing pages and pages of economic projections and market analysis. While these can be important things to know, most musicians don’t need this, and won’t do it, and don’t care.

A strategic action plan, on the other hand, is intended to be an internal document created to focus and guide you. It is a repository for your ideas and resources, and, if integrated into your daily activities, is a powerful tool along with your guitar and computer.

What you really need right now is some direction to get you on track, keep you on track and help you achieve your dreams. Do you need to just tweak what you’re already doing? Or do you need to find a whole new direction and literally change how you’re doing things?

Right now you need to

  • get focused fast
  • figure out where you are going
  • identify what you need to do now and later to get there
  • figure out what NOT to do

Getting your CD track info to show up on computers

When a music CD is inserted in a computer connected to the internet, the media player application (like Itunes and Windows Media Player) go through a convoluted system of taking the number of tracks on a CD, the running times of the tracks, and then comparing this information to a database of existing CDs online where it then retrieves the album, artist, track information, and even album cover from a central database. Different media players use different databases – Itunes uses Gracenote. Windows Media Player uses AllMusic.

Then what is CD-Text?

CD Text

YOUR COMPUTER DOES NOT READ CD TEXT. CD Text refers to the track names and other information encoded into the disc during mastering. Only Text-enabled CD players (in your car or home) read this info.  These devices are not connected to the internet so they do not have access to any on-line database.  Their text display (showing ‘CD-Text’) presents info that has been included when the physical disc was created, either as part of ‘pre-mastering’ or ‘mastering’.  Any duplication from a disc with encoded with CD Text will transfer the track names only to another CD. HOWEVER, ripping an MP3 will NOT read the track name (remember, the computer can’t read the encoding).

One word of warning about CD text. Because this is encoded in your master, if after the mastering stage you decide to change the name of any tracks, the master will need to be re-made with the new track names encoded.

Online Databases

One of the most popular online database is Gracenote. Gracenote recognizes a disc by analyzing the sequence of tunes on the disc and their lengths. This isn’t foolproof. Occasionally you may see album information from the wrong CD and you have to manually tell it which CD is in the drive. For individual tracks, Gracenote generates a fingerprint of a portion of the music file, and thereafter identifies the track with that section.

This information is usually then stored on your computer by your media player as well as the online database for others. It is NOT encoded on your disc.

Album data can be extensive, and includes album title, artist name, record label, year of released CD, genre, musicians, producers, ISRC, and even label website. Track data include track title, artist name, record label, year of album-released song, credits, genre, subgenre and more.

Believe it or not, the information in the database can come from anyone: the record label, the artist, or even a fan. Whoever uploads the info first. When someone puts the CD into their computer, if their media player doesn’t find it in the database, the program will ask the user to enter the album and track information and then uploads it to the online database for others to then download when they play their copy of the CD.

How do I submit my CD track information?

There are currently 3 different competing online databases. Gracenote, AMG, and FreeDB. You should at least submit to Gracenote and AMG, but while you’re at it, you might as well do the other. Every database has a different submission procedure.

1. Never submit info completely in capitals or completely lower case, if there is no special reason for that.
2. For bands that have a leading “the”, simply leave out the “the” (e.g. use “Rolling Stones” instead of “The Rolling Stones”)
3. Names of people should be written “first name last name” – NOT “last name, first name”. (John Doe)
4. Use the name of the artist repeated on the “title” field if there is no title (usually seen on an artist’s first major label release, such as with the B-52’s)
5. For a sampler or compilation, you should include the track-artist in the track-name, using the syntax “artist / track-title” and set the CD-artist to “Various”


Note: Only media players licensed by Gracenote will submit the data to Gracenote.

  • If you use Itunes, the easiest way is to just put your CD into your computer. Click on the first track and select ‘file’, then ‘get info’ and enter the track information (You can also click in the edit fields or, on a PC, hit [ctrl]+[I].)  When you have entered all the track information go to ‘advanced’, ‘submit CD track names’, fill in the requested information and hit [OK].
    The software will try to identify the CD. If the CD is not identified, you will be asked if you’d like to submit the information. To submit the information, type the following information in the required fields then click the Submit button.
  • Or, you can submit your CD information directly to as a “content partner”
  • Or just wait until your first fan puts in their CD and enters the information for you (correctly you hope!).

Once a CD’s track listing is in the database, anyone playing that CD in a Gracenote powered player will have it recognized. It can take up to 48 hours for a new submission to show up.

Full submission of all data (including audio and graphics) are only accepted through the avenue of specialized accounts.  This is how songs appear for on-line sale through the various providers.  For iTunes, product is only accepted via their iTunes Producer software that does the rip, encode, and meta data formatting, and submits as a full single file uploaded to that labels account. CDBaby has deals in place with all the various online services.

FYI Gracenote Inc. knows almost any time a CD is “ripped” for use in a portable music player. Apple, Creative and Rio use its service, along with hundreds of software products for playing and recording music CDs.

To learn more about CDDB, visit or read their FAQ page

All Music Guide/AMG (Windows Media Player)

Many retailers like Itunes and Spotify pull bio info from All Music Guide so it is important to submit to them.

The album, artist and song information on AllMusic comes from their data provider, Rovi. Rovi provides them with written content like reviews and biographies, tagged metadata like Genres, Styles, Moods, Themes and Similar Artists, as well as information about credits, album covers, sound clips, music videos and a ton of other good stuff. Providing your product to Rovi is the best way to get your information on AllMusic.

Mail Rovi one copy of the product along with any relevant promotional materials, such as artist bios and press releases, and email a single message containing artist and release images (in JPEG format and at least 300 pixels wide) and other promotional materials using the addresses below. Rovi adds products and other materials to their databases at their discretion. By submitting products and other materials to Rovi, you acknowledge and agree that those products and materials will not be returned to you, will become the property of Rovi upon receipt and may be used by Rovi at its discretion. All products and materials should be sent to:

Product Submissions
Rovi Corporation
1168 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Email, for music

Your CD or DVD will go through data entry, scanning, and sampling processes, in which everything from credits to track listings to cover art to sound samples will be added to the database. Rovi editors may also assign descriptors such as genres, styles, and moods to the artist or album. Your product will then be stored in Rovi’s archive in case there is a future need to review, update, or correct the data.

Rovi’s editorial policy is that all reviews, synopses, and biographies must written by their staff and freelance contributors, so they cannot simply copy and paste content supplied by artists and labels or studios. However, this copy is very helpful to them as research material, so please do send it along.


You will need a freedb-aware program supporting submit. For Windows you can use MAGIX Music Manager, Feurio!, CDex or Audiograbber, for Linux you can use Grip. A longer list of freedb-aware applications can be found on their site.

Musicbrainz at

Creating a Compressed (zipped) folder

For Windows

  1. Open the drive or folder where your files are located
  2. Select the files you wish to include.
  3. Right-click
  4. Choose “Send to” and then “Compressed”
  5. A compressed or zipped folder with the same name as your new folder will appear in your folder. You have an opportunity to name it anything you want. It should have .zip as its extension.

Submitting tracks via the internet

Formats I can use to duplicate your CD:

  • MP3 Version 1, Level 3, save at 192 bit (this is CD quality)
  • WAV

Then ZIP the files, either individually or, if together, don’t let the zip file get more than about 50 MB large.

Upload the files – DO NOT EMAIL THEM

I will be notified via email that new files have been uploaded.

Send artwork files separately.

IMPORTANT! Name each file according to track number/sequence on finished disc:


Track 1 Here Comes the Sun or
01 Here Comes the Sun (notice the leading 0 that forces it to stay in order)


I cannot add ISRC codes – those must be encoded by a mastering engineer.

Stock Photo Sites

Green Disk mus073a Blue hills Eagle Nebula

Stock photo sites are especially good for finding backgrounds and enhancements to complement your own photos for your CD/DVD insert.

Here are some sites you can search to see if anything jumps out at you. BE SURE TO CHECK IF THEY ARE TRULY COPYRIGHT/ROYALTY FREE and always check how the credit (if any) should read.

What’s the Difference Between Free and Royalty-Free Images?

“Royalty-Free” may not mean FREE. It usually means that when you PURCHASE the right to use an image, you can use it as many times as you like without any additional payments.  A royalty payment is a payment that must be made each time an item is used or sold. So royalty-free images for sale, means you pay a one-time fee for the use of the graphic.

These are my favorite sites: (free) – Photos only – some require permission. (free) ($5 or $10 each for the sizes I would need) – Photos only SEND ME THE IMAGE NUMBER AND I’LL DOWNLOAD ($4-$6 each for the size I need) – Photos and illustrations SEND ME THE IMAGE NUMBER AND I’LL DOWNLOAD FREE. Be sure to download the Largest size. Limits you to 15 MB downloads per day unless you pay for a membership.


Here are a few others you can try: royalty free photos and illustrations. Every image is free, with an option to buy high resolution versions for use in print or graphic design. – not the best quality images (more like people’s snapshots) but you might find something here (especially for backgrounds, etc.) $1-20 Clipart, public domain. Free. Most are very small though and probably unusable for print. Many free. Some $1.50 each. Be sure to check resolution and format. Photos. Free. You’ll need to download and email to me – they don’t seem to have numbers. Medium resolution should be fine for a cd cover. Those run $5-$40.  Try using couponcode BAKER25 for 25% off. – US Libray of Congress – Old/Historic Photos – most copyright free, but must credit. Check collection copyright restrictions first. If you download a photo, get the wording of how they want it credited (in your liner notes).

Space – Public domain, just credit NASA. Also (may have same images)

“Our Earth as Art” Satellite images – public domain – just include credit. Be sure to download the hires version. Great for backgrounds. I do not have a subscription to this, but it’s not too expensive if there’s something you really like. Illustrations, photos, fonts. Free. must be credited with the image. May not be high enough resolution, but I can probably use. – $50 for use on resale items. $3-4 for items not for sale (personal use). $4-5 each for personal use, $10 for resale. large for $15 large images cost $5 to $15. Try code HW2333 for a free image (got this from an ad) $2 each. EITHER DOWNLOAD THE HIGH RES IMAGE or give me the image number and I’ll pull down the high res version to use. If you have me download, I will pass on any costs associated with obtaining the image(s) you want. royalty free photos and illustrations. Every image is free, with an option to buy high resolution versions for use in print or graphic design.

Font Sites

Here are a few sites I use to find fonts for my projects. It might be quicker for you to browse them and find exactly what you want.

IMPORTANT: Enter your text into the custom preview and hit submit so you see your words in the actual font – the letters in your word might not work well in some fonts.

Hint : enter your sample text as UPPER CASE, Upper and Lower case AND all lower case. Some fonts have character sets that work better in one or the other.  Especially if there are numbers or punctuation (some fonts don’t have them. So for example, if I was looking for a font for my name I’d enter “DIANA Diana diana” in the customize box.) – has some nice fonts, but many require “donation” to use them commercially, so please abide by their licensing.


Once you find one or two that you like, you can email me the ttf (true type) or otf (open type) font for PC.

Disc Face Design Instructions

Creating artwork for disc requires different techniques than creating artwork for paper printing.

Furthermore, manufactured and Short Run disc templates are different.

Duplicated Discs

Download template or

Create your own template.

Software: I recommend using Photoshop or Illustrator.

  1. Set your page size to 120 mm (4.72″) square – do not alter this size – The duplicator will try to resize your image if you change this and it may not size correctly.
  2. color mode: CMYK or Greyscale – discs are printed in either full color or black only. No spot color with duplicated discs.
  3. Resolution (raster effects) High (300 ppi)
  4. Outer circle is at 116 mm
  5. Inner circle is at 24 mm

Create your artwork

  • Use high res images – DO NOT USE AT 72 AND THEN INCREASE!
  • Do not use copyrighted images
  • Allow enough margin inside the inner and outer circles.
  • Type: No smaller than 6 points. Serif type faces for small text is not recommended. Consider using bold type to increase the legibility of small text. Use bolded 8pt or larger for reversed text (light on dark).
  • Note: The ink may appear differently on the clear inner hub, the mirror hub, and the silver surface of the disc.
  • Note: Colors can shift from how they look printed on paper because of being printed on a reflective surface (plastic).

Create production file

  1. DO NOT MASK or knock out the inside or outside – your artwork should bleed past.
  2. Hide anything you don’t want to print (crop marks, template elements, notes, etc.). What you see will print.
  3. Save as a PDF, using High Quality or Press Quality settings.

Upload / email file

  • Name file with artist name, project title and “label” (example: “Beatles Abbey Road CD Label.PDF”)
  • ZIP files before uploading.

Manufactured Discs

Download template or
Create your own template

  1. Set your page size to 120 mm (4.72″) square
  2. color mode: CMYK
  3. Resolution (raster effects) High (300 ppi)
  4. The inside print diameter is 24 mm. The outside diameter of the disc is at 116 mm.
  5. Allow enough margin inside
  6. Create a small cross hair registration mark in the exact center in a small white circle no bigger than 15 mm.
  7. The mirror band runs from 36-46 mm.

Do NOT knock out the inside or outside – your artwork should bleed past.

For Spot color discs: Use standard PANTONE (PMS) numbered colors only. Use a PANTONE “solid coated” chip guide. Be sure to notify me of what spot colors you use.

File submission:

For Manufacturing:
  • if disc print will be CMYK: TIF, PSD, PDF
  • if disc print will be SPOT: AI with all text converted to curves and attach all linked files.
    Warning: TIF and JPG files cannot maintain spot colors. If you don’t know what I’m talking about please call Diana for assistance in preparing your files.
  • Name files with artist name, project title and “label”
  • ZIP files before uploading.

Determine whether you will use CMYK or SPOT colors.

Shortrun (duplicated) discs are printed with CMYK (or black). CMYK printing is the way magazines are printed.

Manufactured discs can be printed with either CMYK or SPOT. Spot color disc printing is similar to how T-shirts are printed. Each color gets printed one color at a time like painting a wall – you only get the colors you indicate.

CMYK disc printing

  • Create your disc art as you would for paper printing using Photoshop and/or Illustrator.
  • Colors can shift from how they look printed on paper because of being printed on a reflective surface (plastic/silver).
  • Using a white flood fill underneath is standard to help reduce color shifts and effects from the silver beneath. You do not have to indicate this in your file, but please let me know if you want a white flood fill.or

Spot Color Disc Printing

  • Use standard PANTONE (PMS) numbered colors only. Use a PANTONE “solid coated” chip guide – this is not something you can just run out and buy. It is an expensive swatch book ($70-100), which you can usually ask to see at a local service bureau or printer. It looks a lot like a paint chip book at your paint store.
  • Please alert us if you choose Metallic, Flourescent or Pastel PMS colors.
  • Do not use RGB or CMYK or hexachrome colors.
  • Be sure to tell us what PMS color numbers you use.
  • Tif and Jpg files cannot maintain spot colors.
  • Spot color process is best chosen when you have solid backgrounds or other simple designs. Spot color printing is more even and solid than CMYK.
  • Do NOT rely on a screen or inkjet printer representation of PMS spot colors, as your results will vary. That’s why they make the swatch books.


  • Avoid thin fonts or fine lines and detail.
  • Lines: minimum thickness for lines within positive images is .25 pt; and for reverse or negative images, .5 pt.
  • Type: No smaller than 6 points. The use of serif type faces for small text is not recommended. Consider using bold type to increase the legibility of small text. Use bolded 8pt or larger for reversed text (light on dark).
  • Screens: Keep screened areas between 20-80%. Lower values will not be visible, higher values will fill in. Screen printing is a relatively coarse output. Complex designs are possible, but the simpler designs tend to look better. Avoid gradients.
  • Trapping: Multiple spot-color designs are printed in order of lightest to darkest tonal value. We recommend that wherever two colors meet, you provide a .5 pt. stroke. This will guarantee that no silver disc (or under-color layer) is visible between colors. A final black layer may always be overprinted.
  • The ink appears differently on the clear inner hub, the mirror hub, and the main silver surface of the disc.
  • Flood fills: All images will be printed on the silver reflective disc unless indicated that a flood fill background needs to be printed first. Whatever is white on your computer screen or printout will be the silver background of the disc. If you want a solid color background, just request a flood fill and tell us the PMS color number. You do NOT need to create a layer for this color since no film will be output (as long as you use one of our standard template sizes). A flood fill does count as a color. Use caution with colors other than white, since it can alter the shade and tone of other colors printed on top of it (because the inks are slightly transparent). If you are concerned about this, then don’t use a flood fill – create a new layer under so that it separates and knocks out.
  • Design Tip: Request a clear matte finish over the top of a coated ink to achieve the look of uncoated ink. Not recommended for small or highly detailed imagery. (Matte finish is considered an additional color for additional charge.) Get fancy and apply the Matte Finish over only parts of your design for a two toned effect. Varnish counts as an additional color and will have additional charges.
  • REMOVE ALL EXCESS GUIDELINES, TEMPLATE MARKINGS AND MEASUREMENTS. The only thing that should be visible is what will print on the disc, the registration marks, the center cross hair, and any identifying text such as release number, color names, etc, (set outside the image of course).


Delete unused layers and colors.

Save Illustrator file for submission

1. Make a backup of the finished layout. Once you create outlines there is no going back to re-type words and sentences. Save a version of the non outlined layout before proceeding. You’ll need the original file with text as text in case you need to go back to fix something.

Save the file, then Save As and call same name plus “curves” at the end of the name.

2. Convert all text to curves:

Select, Objects, Text Objects

Type, Create Outlines

3. Remove all circle guidelines in the template – Leave center cross hair.

4. Save File (with the “curves” in the name)

Business card, post card and poster printing services

There are lots of online printers who specialize in business cards, postcards, etc.
  • If you check a bunch, you can usually find a sale going at one of them for the item you need printing. I just got 500 business cards at gotprint for $23 with shipping cause I caught a sale.
  • COUPON CODES: Google “promo codes” for the printer you want to use and you might even find a coupon code for a couple bucks off.
  • I recommend ordering 500 or more – you will find the prices for 250 and 500 are almost the same.
  • watchout for sales tax now – some printers are starting to collect sales tax across state lines due to a new law or having a plant in your state.
I’ve used:
I’ve also seen ads for: – seem to have good prices. – have a cool square card, slim cards, and even specialty shapes (circles, rounded, etc.). Prices seem good too. – claim to be environmental and union – small quantities at good prices – try HOWMAG coupon code for first time order, 20%

Inserting Track Info onto your Master

CD Extra – Interactive Music CD

CD Extra is an interactive music CD. It combines video and audio.

CD Text – Text Encoding

This is NOT the track info you see when you play a CD on a computer with iTunes or Windows Media Player.  (See Getting your CD track info to show up on computers)

The artist, CD title, track names, etc. are encoded onto a CD like a table of contents. It enables certain CD players to display text information such as artist, title, track names … etc. It can only be read in players that support CD text (usually in cars or multi-disc carousels) and usually have an LCD display which scrolls the song info while it is playing each track.

This is encoded into the master, and not each track, so if you submit individual tracks for duplication, the cd text encoding will not transfer with it.

Track Info for your Computer

When a music CD is inserted in a computer connected to the internet, the media player application goes online and retrieves the album, artist, track information, and even album cover a central database. This information is usually then stored on your computer. It is NOT encoded on your disc. [READ MORE]

Internet Concerts

If you thought YouTube was a great venue to connect with the world, you need to explore one of the latest trends – online performance sites. Some are geared around a specific venue. Others feature live performances from all over.

Live from Daryl’s House Live from Daryl’s House started with Daryl’s light-bulb moment idea of “playing music with my friends and putting it up on the Internet.”

Black Cab Sessions A unique venue – the back of a cab.

They Shoot Music Don’t They? Viennese videos