Technically, the word for it is 'replication' because they are making multiple copies from a mold.
- Be ready to submit high quality files or camera-ready artwork to the replicator.
Before approaching a CD replication company, think about getting the CD artwork concept completed by a graphic artist. Many CD replication houses have graphic artists that they work with that can create your artwork and make it camera-ready, but you might sacrifice getting exactly what you had in your mind. If you have the time to spend, hire a graphic artist that you can work with and get your concept artwork fleshed out before you contact the replicator.
This includes any lyrics and the layout of the lyrics, plus all the credits and anything else in print.
Choose a graphic artist that has worked with creating art files for CD replication houses, or at least find one that is willing to go through the process with you. The proper software and artwork formats used are critical.
The other artwork option for the project is on-disc printing. There are two basic options. If you have a design that your graphic artist is going to flesh out, know that the printing requirement from the replicator is for the artist to specify up to three Pantone colors (for the three-color printing process), which is usually the standard option. The upgrade option is the CMYK 4-color process, which is full-color printing.
If the replicator is on the ball and really wants your business, they'll have all sorts of forms with lists of things that are needed to submit. One of those forms is going to be to collect graphics information from the artist. You are in charge of connecting the artist to the duplicator.
You or your artist can supply only the high quality files and the replicator (usually) can create the camera-ready artwork for a fee.
Now that you got this far, start thinking about the type of insert you want (the place for the cover artwork, song lyrics and credits,etc.) Inserts come in as simple as 2-panel and can be as complicated as 16-panel. Stapled or folded. Poster art or individual panels. Of course the higher the fold, the higher the cost.
- Submit an Intellectual Property Form to the replicator
This form is a requirement of all replication houses. All it does is tell the replicator is that you have the right to replicate these songs. If they are your originals, no problem. If they're cover tunes, you'll need to provide proof that you've paid the proper mechanical royalty license to the holder of the rights of the song. For more information obtaining licenses, see harryfox.com. You can often pay for the rights online.
- Choose the quantity to be replicated
There are plenty of short-run CD replication houses out there, but many of these will not have artwork or printing capabilities. When working with a full-service CD replication company, it usually costs about the same to produce 500 as it does 1000. The price-per-unit drops anywhere from 10-20% for each additional 1000.
But the prices continue to drop. The artwork capabilities are minimal, but that changes all the time. Check out the short-run prices from the full-service companies.
The price is depends on what kind of insert you're requesting. A competitive price for your completed product for a 2-panel insert would be about $1200 per 1000 units as of 2007.
- Select the number of panels on the insert, or other packaging and extras.
See above under number 1 for a basic description of panels. There are also other packaging options like colored jewel cases, slim cases, eco-packaging and more.
One extra you can request is single-speed glass cutting for the master. Here's the basic: The first step in manufacturing is the creation of the glass master, which is then used to create the stamper used in production. The creation of the master is done at high speeds, up to 8x. There is usually nothing wrong with this. But audiophiles contend that there is less possibility for error and less "jitter" (digital timing errors) associated with single speed glass cutting.
- That's it!
There's really not much more to it. It's just that all of these details coming together at the same time make you nervous! They say that timing is everything, and there's no worse feeling than waiting for your CD project to be on time for a CD party or concert! Most duplication houses these days are giving some sort of delivery time guarantee.
A very excellent CD duplication company is Oasis. You'll learn a ton just by visiting their website.
If you're interested in learning how to shop your product, check out the article here on Submitting Your Demo to a Record Company or Producer.