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

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.


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.


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

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.

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.

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.

30 People to Watch – New Orleans Magazine

Diana Thornton - one of New Orleans' 30 "People to Watch"
Diana Thornton - one of New Orleans' 30 "People to Watch"

What happens once a musician is finished recording songs in the studio? In New Orleans, it’s usually a visit to Diana Thornton at Crescent Music Services on Crete Street.

Thornton and her graphics team work with some of the city’s best-known musicians, including Ellis Marsalis and Kermit Ruffins, helping them to design and produce their CDs for maximum consumer appeal.

“Packaging is the face of the CD,” says Thornton, a graphic artist and digital designer. “It is the visual presentation of the music and is often the very first impression someone has of your music.”

Thornton first came to New Orleans in 1989 to be with her great-uncle, jazz archivist Bill Russell. Although she didn’t plan to stay (she has a master’s degree in underwater archaeology), Thornton says she was captivated by the city’s music scene – and decided to make New Orleans her home.

“I enjoy helping make people’s dreams come true by guiding the process of CD production,” she says. “There’s a lot of competition out there on the shelves, so we try to create a certain intrigue with our designs.”

[Note: I received this magazine in the mail the day before I evacuated for Katrina. I left it on the counter and drove away with my critters. It was still there when I returned over a month later. Unfortunately, being one of New Orleans’ 30 people to watch in the post-katrina New Orleans didn’t mean much anymore. But I’m still around and still helping New Orleans musicians and am proud to have been recognized.]

Business struck a chord with special mix of musical services

CityBusiness article by Brett Clanton, Staff Writer

Every day, Diana Thornton’s humble home office in Metairie welcomes young musicians big on dreams but short on cash. Some of them come with freshly recorded studio albums in hand, ready for Thornton to design an eye-catching cover or with hopes she can find a manufacturer for their CDs; others just bring their questions. She sees them all.

In 1997, Thornton, then a struggling freelance graphic designer, and partner Parker Dinkins, an independent sound engineer with his own CD remastering business, formed Crescent Music Services LLP. The idea was to save young musicians the headache of navigating the far-flung music industry by consolidating several typically freelanced services under one roof. The new business could provide an artist with a CD cover, promotional posters and fliers; find a printer for glossy CD booklets; digitally buff the imperfections from a ragged studio recording and locate a manufacturer to press 1,000 CDs at a time – all at a discounted rate.

Business took off immediately, says Thornton. Though she won’t discuss numbers, Thornton says gross sales in 1998 doubled her first year’s total and doubled again in the following year. Last year, she says sales rose by 30%. The rapid growth encouraged her to make a go of it on her own, and in 1999, Thornton dissolved the legal partnership with Dinkins and kept the Crescent name for herself. Thornton says she still considers Dinkins’ Master Digital remastering business an affiliate.

With 20 years experience as a graphic designer, Thornton says designing album covers is her greatest strength. But it’s the other services in the company name that allow her to make a living in the music industry. It’s the combined package that filled what she calls “the huge gaping hole in the Louisiana music industry.”

She didn’t want aspiring musicians to have the same experience she did when making her own CD: the shopping for printers and manufacturers, the fumbling around, the mistakes, the expense that comes from inexperience. There had to be a better way, she thought.

Today, Thornton’s client list includes Rebirth Brass Band, Ellis Marsalis and jam band Iris May Tango, standouts among a much longer list of unestablished local artists with perhaps only a single demo CD to their credit. For the lesser known, she feels a special affinity. A songwriter herself, Thornton says she’s uniquely qualified to advise up-and-coming musicians because “I’ve sat in my client’s seat. I’ve been on both sides of it.”

In 1999, Thornton won Offbeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat Award for an album cover she designed for local singer-songwriter Beth Patterson. But her crowning achievement may be landing the business of Basin Street Records owner Mark Samuels. Basin Street’s catalog features hot-selling trumpeters Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield and Latin jazz band Los Hombres Calientes. Thorton’s designs on these artists’ CD covers, now recognizable all over town, have increased Crescent’s exposure, and Basin’s strong sales have improved Thornton’s standing with her subcontractors.

After working with a graphic designer in Houston on an early project, Samuels says it’s “super great” to have someone local to work with, especially when he needs to turn around a project fast.

While Thornton limits her clients to New Orleans musicians, she has found it difficult to have the same commitment to local printers and CD manufacturers – the printers because they’re too expensive and the CD manufacturers because the few local outfits doing it can’t produce the quantity and quality she desires, she says.

Artists often seek her out because of her relationship with Sony Disc Manufacturing in Terre Haute, Ind., which packages and presses 1,000 CDs at a time “that look national,” she says. A CD’s cover and packaging are the first impression a buyer gets of an artist and deserve the best quality available, she says, and so far, she’s only found that outside New Orleans.

A typical package from Crescent Music – including cover design and printing of four panels of art inside and outside the CD cover, shipping and 1,000 wrapped CDs – runs about $2,400. While there are cheaper packages, such as Santa Monica, Calif.-based Rainbo Records and Cassettes’ $1,249 deal with the same services included, Thornton says no one in New Orleans provides the same quality and hands-on consultation. Anthony DelRosario, owner of local rock record label Turducken Recordings, says he’s used a CD manufacturer in New York to press his label’s CDs and plans to work with another in Portland, Ore. for an upcoming release.

“I would look into Crescent Music Services and compare prices,” says DelRosario.

But for graphic design and digital remastering, DelRosario believes New Orleans can’t compete with what he finds out of state.

George Buck would beg to differ. Buck’s GHB Jazz Foundation, with nine record labels, one of which claims clarinetist Pete Fountain, produces one CD a week on average, he says. With the exception of the CD manufacturing, which he does with JVC Disc America in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Buck finds local craftsmen to digitally remaster and design the foundation’s CDs.

For 10 years, Buck has worked exclusively with Wendel Printing in eastern New Orleans and has found them to be inexpensive and highly qualified. But, he says, his needs are always basic, rarely requiring more than a simple photograph on the CD cover or a spare CD booklet — all of which he leaves in the printer’s hands.

For a young artist, needing guidance, a service like Crescent “would be very helpful,” says Buck. “The more people doing it the better.”

01/08/2001 – Vol. 23 – Issue 28 – Page 8

Mastering the Art of Musical Image

Biz New Orleans

A professional graphic designer, Thornton had long been interested in music, but it wasn’t until she came to New Orleans in 1989 that she started dabbling in singing and songwriting. When she went to record a CD, she discovered there was no one in the area to really help her through the process.

Working with a local mastering engineer, the person responsible for “polishing” a recording for production before it goes to the factory, Thornton launched Crescent City Music Services in 1997. Her company provides musicians with a place to develop the look of their CD.

Once artists have recorded an album and had it mastered, they bring the master along with any artwork they want included to Thornton. In her Faubourg St. John studio, Thornton, 41, compiles the graphics for the CD insert. The insert goes off to an out-of-town printer, and the CD master goes to Sony Records. In a short time the artists’ CDs come back, shrink-wrapped and ready to sell.

The factory manufacturing process begins at 1,000 CDs. But for those who want anywhere from five to 500 copies, Thornton also does in-house duplication and can turn around an order in a matter of days. That comes in handy for artists who want a recently recorded CD available to audiences at Jazz Fest or other events.

“I wanted to provide a local place where someone can sit down and make their CD happen,” she says. “There are a lot of out-of-state companies that do what I do, but on one else here. And trying to do graphic design long-distance is a nightmare.”

Thornton says in a city with such a rich musical culture, her business is filling a vacuum. “As soon as I created the company, people came knocking.” She says sales doubled between her first and third year in business and have generally increased since.

One area of the company Thornton wants to grow is corporate sales. A growing number of companies, universities and other organizations are providing CDs of presentations and data to large audiences, and they often need the product fast.

From her vantage point working with a number of prominent area musicians along with those just starting out, Thornton says the city’s music industry is getting better, though it still has a long way to go. “The Mayor’s office is actively trying to bring musicians together, but we need more attention –  musicians are still struggling,” she says.

Still she wouldn’t have started her business in any other city. “The door’s here are very open, you can talk to anyone and people will try to help you. You don’t find that in other places.”

One problem Thornton mentions is a state sales tax on her product that out-0fo-state companies don’t have to contend with. She says is not right that artists get charged taxes first on the production of their CDs than then again when they sell them. She says the tax also puts her at a competitive disadvantage with peer companies elsewhere.

— By A.J. Mistretta

Published in
Biz New Orleans
June, 2005