Hi there and welcome to The Record Factory Blog,
This blog is all about tips and tricks to help you get what you want out of your music career. I hope you find the info useful… If you have any questions, or are looking to make a cd and would like some free help, advice and contacts, please email me.
Anyway, onto the task at hand…
So first things first – well done! You had some songs, workshopped them and got them sounding fab. You rehearsed them, played them at live shows and got the band sounding really tight. You sought out and found a great producer at a great rate and you’ve got your hands on the masters of your album.
“Now for certain rock stardom! Nothing’s gonna stop us now!” I hear you say…
And yes, you’ve certainly taken a great big step, but there’s still a way to go yet…
In this blog, I’m going to chat through the next steps to releasing your own CD, on your own label.
“But why would I want do that? With this material I’m bound to get signed by a major and go on tour with Kings of Leon…”
Releasing an Independent CD.
Releasing your own music gives you the freedom to design your own future, promote yourself in your own way (who loves/knows the music better than you?) and means that you get the best return possible from your hard work. Remember – there’s been a technology revolution, it is now easier than ever to self-release an album which is equal to major-label releases for a fraction of the cost. You’ll have spent way less money and therefore you’re likely to break even (and start making money) quicker.
“Hey Simon that sounds great where do I sign up?”… well before you jump in head first, let’s consider the costs involved to get your CD into the collection of your fans.
Getting set up
First up it’s a good idea, (if you haven’t already got one) to get an Australian Business Number (ABN). To get one you’ll need to visit www.abr.gov.au/ABR_BC/. This way you can set yourself up as a ‘sole trader’ – for more info on types of company, ABNs and other business setup information visit the Government’s business site www.business.gov.au.
If you’re a sole trader you can use your own name and you won’t need a separate bank account. However, if you’re a band it’s a good idea to set up a joint account matching the name of your business which will help you all keep track of your earnings and expenses. It’s a good idea to get an account that has a debit card, it’ll make buying band stuff much easier. Remember to keep all your receipts and save online invoices in a folder for tax time!
No, it’s not rock and roll, but it is good to be organised. Buy an a-z folder and file your receipts in different categories, petrol, postage, equipment etc. Why? Well many of the expenses incurred in making your CD will be tax deductible. If you think accounting software is necessary, MYOB and Quicken are two market leaders. I’ve always found an excel spreadsheet works pretty well too… Prices for accounting software generally run from $150 to $300.
Remember, if you’re organised it will take your accountant less time to do your tax. If you save your accountant time, you save money.
The Sound of your CD
It is very important to have a technically consistent sound (i.e. levels, quality of sound) on your CD. For example if you recorded your album over a period of 3 years, it could be that when played back to back you notice small differences in how the songs sound.
This is where mastering comes in. Mastering is the glaze on the pottery! What mastering engineers do is ensure that the levels and sound quality are consistent across the whole album. During the mastering session, you’ll also be able to decide the amount of time between the songs on the CD. Mastering a 11 track album will cost in the region of $500 to $2,000, depending on who you choose and where you have it mastered.
The look and presentation of your CD
1. The writing
Writing lyrics is not writing copy. They are two very different skills… You may want to consider getting someone to write your bio, press release or adverts. This will cost anything from $100 to $300. If you spend more than $300 on an independent release, you’re probably going overboard. If you want to give it a go yourself, there’s some great online resources.
1. Press release www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Press-Release
2. Bio www.musicbizacademy.com/knab/articles/artistbio.htm
3. Ad www.startupinternetmarketing.com/pagelinks/how2ad.html
2. The photography
If you are going to have pictures of yourself on the disc, then good photography is the most important aspect of your design. Pictures stand out and are worth getting done professionally. If you have a plan and are well prepared for the shoot, you will make it easy for the photographer, thus saving time and money.
3. The Graphic Designer
Next, you’ll need to combine your text and images and layout the design of your release. A good graphic designer can take your materials and create a package that is greater than the sum of its parts. You may be able to call on talented friends to help, or you could solicit the services of disc manufacturers, who often have staff designers with an appreciation for music products. If you go with a manufacturer that offers this service, you can expect pay about $100 per page for package design.
Here’s some good news. The cost of CD manufacturing over the last few years has dropped significantly. One word of caution though – make sure you get your CDs manufactured locally. Sure it’s a little more expensive, but in my experience having someone on the end of phone onshore if there’s a drama is better than having to wait through time zones etc. There’s also certain local manufacturers that will spot the little things and fix them up for you.
In addition, non-local manufactured discs are often replicated, not duplicated. That’s why they’re cheaper and there’s the risk that replicated discs won’t play in all CD/DVD players.
For budgeting purposes, figure that you can get a basic 1,000 retail-ready disc package with four-page inserts that are professionally printed and replicated for $1,200 to $1,500.
Before you go to manufacture you might want to get a bar code for your CD. Get one from AIR (www.air.org.au).
Phew! Let’s cover off the remainder next time. Hope this is helpful – if you have any more questions, just shoot me an email – happy to try and help.