What a CD should include besides music? Professional packaging.

Once you have your masters, it’s time to think about packaging. I’m sure that you have thought about how you want your CD to look, but have you given much thought to how much it’s going to cost? Have you thought about all of the information that should be included on the CD cover and inserts? You should collect all that information before you even talk to the graphic artist.

Of course, you may be able to do your own artwork by using Photoshop or some other graphics program. If you can, that’s great. You could save yourself a good deal of money. But you still need to check with the CD manufacturer so that you will have the proper specs.

Covers and inserts

The covers and inserts will need to have the name of your band, obviously, as well as the song info. This includes who wrote the songs and their respective publishing affiliation. This information is important, because you want it to be logged at radio stations so that you can get your performance royalties. You also want to provide the song runtimes so that radio stations will know how much time each song will take to play. Make sure that you include all copyright and trademark notices as well, because you don’t want your stuff to fall into the public domain.


You should include all appropriate credits for everyone who worked on the record. This is very important, so make sure you discuss it with the studio, the engineer, the producer, the musicians, and everyone else involved. If nobody asks for credits, or that issue is not even discussed, you may want to bring it up beforehand. If you don’t give everybody credit for the work they did, there really isn’t much they can do other than get pretty upset about it, and most likely they will.

However, most people will make sure to have proper crediting written into their recording agreement, production agreement, and the like. If they do, and you don’t give them proper credit, you will be hearing about it. It’s extremely important to these people, so always give credit where credit is due.


The CD cover should have your logo, or at the very least your name or band’s name, as well as the name of the CD. If you are releasing your own CD, you may need to set up your own label. You could just do business under your band name, but having your own label could lend an air of professionalism. However, before you turn the CD over to manufacturing, make sure that you own the rights to your name. You don’t want another label or band to claim that you are causing confusion in the marketplace and therefore infringing on their name.

Other content

You should also include as much contact information as you can. People may lose your card, so make sure the CD label tells people how to contact you. If you have a Web site, put your domain name on the CD so that people can get more information about you and your products, and get in touch with you if they want to book you or talk about a record deal.

Once you have compiled all of your information, your logos for the label and the band, and any photos and other graphics, you are ready to meet with the graphic artist. You should consider having the artist sign a work-for-hire agreement so that you will own the rights to the artwork. Otherwise, the artist will retain the copyright and could sue if you use his work without permission. If the artist won’t agree to work-for-hire, you may be able to get him to sign a release of copyright or license the artwork. Ownership is what you are after, though.

Mind copyright

Also, don’t use any picture or artwork that you do not have the rights to use, or that are not in the public domain. You don’t want to get sued for infringing someone’s copy­right. Also, if you are using a picture of a person, make sure that you have the license for the publicity rights to use that picture. You don’t want to have to recall all of your artwork just because you didn’t get permission to use a graphic or a person’s likeness.


The graphic artist may charge a flat rate or an hourly rate. Since art is a very subjective thing, the graphic artist may be willing to give you a few ideas so that you will know what direction he is heading. He may even do this without charging you. However, remember that just coming up with basic ideas will take up a good deal of his time. If he is willing to do this for you, that’s a good thing, because you can stop him if you don’t think he’s headed in the right direction. But recognize that he is taking up his valuable time to give you something that you can use. The more understanding you are about the needs and concerns of your graphic artist, the more likely you are going to get quality artwork.

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