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.

Beth Patterson – Forward

Beth just released an innovative Digital album on USB WRISTBAND and the internet.


She included a Digital Liner Notes 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.








The USB wristband is available directly from Beth or at Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans. The digital album is available for download at CDBaby.


Check out her website at

Get her album at CDBaby

Click here for more information about Digital Liner Notes design services

Wendell Eugene – If I Had My Life To Live Over

Special Anniversary Edition 2013 – Wendell turns 90 and celebrates his 75th anniversary this year as a highly skilled trombonist and a New Orleans Jazz Legend.  “I know over one hundred tunes; much more than the young guys will ever know,” says Wendell.  This recent release showcases just a few of his favorite songs.

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.


The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay – Digital Edition


“Hot Off The Presses” so to speak is the Digital redesign and reissue of a book I designed over 15 years ago. I did all the layout, design and image work.

Author Bruce Spizer, a New Orleans attorney, published this book as his first in a series of 9 books total, chronicling the recordings of the Beatles in America and UK. Primarily geared towards collectors, it also has lots of great stories about how the music was made. If you’re a Beatle fan, this is a must-have.

The original book was a heavy coffee-table book full of images and detailed descriptions of every conceivable label.  Bruce re-edited the book by placing all such information at the end of each chapter, giving the reader the opportunity to skip the label details without missing any of the stories. You can merely tap on the highlighted page number and skip forward to the next chapter, bypassing the highly detailed information. The digital book also gives the reader the ability to navigate pages by touching the screen. By merely touching the page reference, the desired page appears on the screen. And after checking out the new page, you can touch the GET BACK key to take you back to where you once belonged (or at least back to where you were reading). The digital book also gives you the ability to enlarge images. This is particularly helpful when you want to read small text in advertisements and on record labels. It’s a really cool feature that can’t be done in a regular book.

vjtocexamplevjp2vjp342 vjp348vjp19 vjp407   vjp11


To learn more about this eBook or to order:



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

Dukes of Dixieland – Celebrating Satchmo

CELEBRATING SATCHMO, performed and taped at Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans, was produced for PBS. The DUKES OF DIXIELAND celebrate 40 years in 2014, and claim the spot as the oldest continuously operating jazz band in New Orleans. Featuring Louis Armstrong favorites such as Mack the Knife, What a Wonderful World, Struttin’ With Some Barbecue and You Rascal You, Celebrating Satchmo is a tribute to the influence the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner trumpeter had on the music of New Orleans, where he was born in 1901. This CD/DVD set was released in 4 different formats: an EP cardboard sleeve for each, a full jewelcase for each, a deluxe double disc digipak, and a USB.

John Fohl – Teeth and Bones

Teeth and Bones is the third solo album from this fantastic New Orleans based musician. 30 plus years in the music business has found John recording and touring with a wide range of artists including Dr. John, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Shemekia Copeland, Charley Musselwhite, The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Klaus Voormann, Johnny Sansone, Shannon MacNally, and many others. Along the way he’s been awarded a Grammy, a Platinum Album and several Big Easy and Best of the Beat awards. He’s also appeared in and had his original music used in several television programs, feature films and documentaries.  (




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