A hopefully helpful bit of advice to singers / musos / producers / graphic designers etc
Over the last 16 years I’ve had thousands of CDs sent me from record companies and from individual artists both pro and amateur and I hope the following observations / hints help those interested
They aren’t a set of rules but they just might help to get your stuff played on the radio or wherever
1 Typefaces – aaaaargh!!!! some designers seem to fail to realise that the real and only point of graphic design is communication.
Using an 8pt type in light grey on a medium grey background renders it unintelligible and makes people who can’t read the stuff mad. Black type of a legible face and size on white (or cream) works for most of us.
Don’t be fooled by clever design – design has to be a melding of style and content – not style for its own sake. Style is the tail that too often wags the dog.
Don’t go out into the forest and lie on a lot of leaves for your cover shot – we’ve all had enough of leaves. And please – no more jumping in the air while holding instruments and grinning inanely – tell the photographer you are grown up and don’t jump any more unless you are pissed.
Front covers are important – but most people simply want to know what you look like. Pictures of you and your fellow musicians inside always help. Be happy and smile a bit – the person that’s looking at that it has just paid hard earned mazoolah to buy / download it. Snarling / looking sullen / cool / bored / above it all is a bit of an insult – there’s a subtle difference between arse-licking or smooring the public and saying thanks politely and nicely – like yer mams taught you.
Finally – when on a photo shoot – don’t get pissed or you will end up jumping up and down and regretting it every time you look at that CD you did back when.
2 Always number the tracks and always put the running time alongside the track name – this gives radio / website producers an idea of how a track will fit in the prog.
3 Please send the tracklisting and the album artwork to Gracenotes etc – many producers programme the material for their shows using iTunes or Media Monkey – it’s a great help having all the info up there on the web. I have (and still do) input info and sent it to Gracenote but it’s tedious having to do it, and the time spent typing in your tracklist would be better spent putting your track in the show.
4 If you send out a “white label” in a plastic sleeve always remember to follow it up with the full version ASAP with a spine etc – single CDs in sleeves will not end up on library shelves – at least not on mine.
5 Make sure you have a biography on your website – and websites are always better than Myspace or Facebook – Myspace seems dead in the water nowadays and Facebook is a clutter. But producers need to be able to get straight through to your biog details / tour details etc.
Also if you have an active website it can be linked through to show websites – listeners often want some information on the tracks they are listening to and if they want to hear / find out more they can always go to your website.
6 Don’t think you always have to send a full CD of songs – more people are making EPs now and good on them. Waiting until you have enough material for a full CD often means waiting a long time, and things change over that time so that you may have moved on from those early tracks and be tempted to go back and change them – then the whole process starts over again. Five or seven great tracks you really believe in with no fillers is better than a full 14 track CD that doesn’t quite work all the way through.
7 People don’t always have time to go and check your stuff out on Soundcloud or whatever. Sending an email with a couple of Mp3s attached is more immediate.
8 Wrapped or unwrapped? Personally I would love it if all CD’s came in the new cardboard cases rather than the old jewel cases (which always seem to get cracked and split) and I would love it if they came without the shrinkwrapping – it’s a bind cutting your way into ten or so CDs in the morning before you even start to listen to them and there are times when I’ve been cutting open CD cases when I’ve nearly lost a finger / emasculated myself / stabbed the cat.
9 Try and avoid a count in – we all know most bands start a song with a count in – with “One / Two / Three / Four “ or even “ A One / A Two / A Three / A Four “
But we don’t need to hear it. We know you can count and we know you were alive when the record was made so that’s ok – you can snip it of and save me another job.
10 MASSIVE LISTS OF THANK YOUS – will please friends and family but don’t mean much to the customer – a set of lyrics / publishing details / which musician is on which tracks etc – is much nicer for us who aren’t married to you or who didn’t bring you into the world.
All this may seem a bit nit-picking but…
Everything you can do to make things easier for the people you send your CDs to might seem a bind to you – but it will make them feel more positive towards your stuff. If you approach it in a friendly but professional matter then you have more of a chance of getting your music on air.
Hope that helps
BTW – before I go can I point out that in my time I have made more than 20 CDs and
I have been guilty of breaking every one of the above “rules” at some time or another
Apart from the jumping