10 step Quick Guide for producing a CD

by Heather MacLaughlin Garbes, Lifelong Choirs Coordinator

1. Venue Rental:

a. Look for a place that is reasonably quiet and has an acoustic that will work well with your ensemble and also the repertoire that you are recording.
b. Early mornings and very late evenings can be the best time

2. Artist Stipends:

a. On average, it will take 1.5 hours to record a 3-4 minute octavo, so plan out how long you need for each piece
b. Some ensembles do marathon sessions and get everything done and others do a series of 3-4 hour recording sessions

3. Recording Engineer:

a. Person who does the actual recording on site
b. Seattle area: Scribe records, Bill Levy, Roger Sherman

4. Editing and Mastering :

a. Person who can make changes and takes out small blemishes
b. Usually is the same person as the engineer, but can be different
c. Write down every detail that you hear

5. Graphic Design :

a. Outlay and design of CD package.
b. Specific dimensions should be gotten from the manufacturer.

6. Licensing :

a. Each piece on the CD needs to have a licensing agreement to be ​included on the CD
b. Harry Fox in New York is the main clearinghouse for licensing. We have ​also worked with C.F. Peters for a few pieces. Other services for ​acquiring mechanical licenses are:

i. EasySongLicensing (http://easysonglicensing.com)
ii. Loudr (https://loudr.fm/licensing)

c. If the piece is not listed with Harry Fox , try to contact the composer or ​the composer’s estate directly.
d. If there is no response after a length of time, you can consider it “due ​diligence” and proceed with having the piece on the CD, but keep ​documentation that there was an effort to contact the composer.

7. Manufacturing :

a. This company takes the mastered CD, graphic design and puts it ​​​​together.

​i.Real Time in Seattle is excellent! http://realtimepip.com/
​ii. A to Z Media http://www.cdbaby.com/

8. Physical Distribution:

a. Stores the in area, distributor, setting up credit card payment
b. CD Baby : http://www.cdbaby.com

i. a one-stop shop for many of these things. They will do ​​​​physical distribution in their warehouse as well as digital set-​​​up.

9. Digital Distribution :

a. Amazon, iTunes, Spotify

​i. CD Baby will set this all up

b. Other digital distribution companies: DistroKid, Ditto Music, ​​​​Mondotunes, Tunecore, Symphonic

10. Release and Marketing :

a. CD release party, promotion materials
b. Setting per unit price


1. Copyright — rights to print music and/or lyrics held by the composer or publisher​​​a. Composition rights and lyrics rights may be held by different ​​​​​entities
2. Public performance Rights – right to perform the piece in public (not applicable to ​recording)
3, Mechanical license (grants right to cover, reproduce or sample specific parts of a ​composition, not required for original work)

– US Copyright law specifies a compulsory license for any song that has been previously recorded in the US, which gives anyone the right to cover a composition by paying the statutory rate (9.1 cents/song). You can also negotiate directly with the rightsholder for a lower rate.
– Physical (CD) and Digital rights are licensed separately

4. Recording Rights or Master Rights

– the rights to the actual recording of the song ​
– Your ensemble can chose to either retain all rights to the recording, or ​become part of the record company’s catalog.

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