Short Run CD Duplication: The Master, Copyrighting Help and ISRC Codes


Short Run CD Duplication

In-house duplication of CDs is, again, something that can be done relatively easily with high quality results. The big issue here is the amount of time it takes. If you’re burning half a dozen discs in the optical CD writer in your desktop PC or your laptop then that’s OK but if you need 50 discs or 100 then that could equate to many hours needed to complete the duplication side of the project. One solution is to buy a duplication tower that enables you to burn multiple CDs simultaneously. Investing £400 in a duplication tower that burns up to 10 discs at once may be a good idea if duplication is something you’re planning on doing quite a lot of. But, if your short run CD printing project is a one off or only a very occasional requirement then outsource the job and save yourself some time. Even if you have printed the discs and paper parts for the packaging yourself, you will be able to find a supplier who will carry out the duplication part of the project only. Most service suppliers have duplication suites housing hundreds of drives in towers. This means that they can duplicate 100 or 200 CDs very quickly and inexpensively.

Master CD Content

Whether you decide to stay in-house or seek outside assistance for your duplication, you are going to need a good quality master CD to produce copies from. No matter how beautifully printed and packaged your CD may be, if the sound is poor or the mixing is rushed then the end user will not be happy and will be unlikely to make further purchases or to recommend your CD to others. If time is a big concern with your short run CD printing project, then go for a simple disc print and basic packaging and spend the majority of your time refining your master. As mentioned previously, the last 15 years has seen some fantastic software packages become available to almost all musicians regardless of whether the budget for the project is small or large. Believe it or not, a high quality multi-track recording suite that will run on a PC or laptop with average specifications can be sourced for less than £20. They also present the user with a staggering array of effects and refinements so that you can perfect every aspect of your recording. Take your time to watch tutorial videos or join a related online product forum to find advice on the best way to use the software to get the results you want. This software is particularly useful for multi-instrumentalists who want to release recordings onto the internet and make them available via Sound Cloud or iTunes.

Your finalised files need to be in a high quality .wav format. The standard iTunes submission requirement for audio files is 16-bit/44.1kHz sample rate which is a standard CD quality audio file but if you can record at 24-bit/48kHz (or higher) sample rate then iTunes will accept your files and you can produce a higher quality master. The maximum sound frequency that is generally audible by the human ear is 20kHz and the vast majority of audio releases are mastered at 44.1kHz so this should be perfectly fine for the majority of musicians.

Track Length and Standard CD Capacity

Something you will need to be mindful of is the maximum capacity of a standard CD. You can fit a maximum of 74 minutes of music or 682 MB of data on there so be sure that the final edit of all tracks will fit onto your CD. If you have more than 74 minutes of audio then you will need to spread the tracks over multiple discs and this will markedly affect your packaging choice for the project as well as the production costs.

Copyright Issues Affecting Audio and Software CDs

If your audio compositions contain any work, in whole or in part, that has been previously recorded and registered for copyright by another artist, then you must obtain permission from the copyright holder before you can release your work into the public domain. This type of issue usually arises where samples of other artist’s work are featured in a recording.

You will also need to attend to the copyrighting of your own original recordings as well. Copyright law in the UK is basically as follows:

Copyright in an audio recording is held separately from any copyright in the lyrics and music in the recording. The initial owner of the copyright in an audio recording is normally the producer of the record.

The music composer in an audio recording will be the musical work author and will normally own the copyright in that music. Song lyrics are protected separately by copyright, as a literary work and will normally be owned by the writer.

An audio recording will also contain performer’s rights, such as:

  • The right to reproduce the recording
  • The right to distribute the recording
  • The right to rent out or lend the recording
  • The right to benefit from equitable remuneration

In order to obtain copyright for an audio recording your best source of information is the internet. There are organisations who will register your copyright for you for a small fee and they will act with you in the case of any future copyright infringement.

ISRC Codes and CD Text

Once you have your recording finalised and you’re happy to release it for duplication, you may then need to consider arranging for ISRC Codes (International Standard Recording Codes) to be included on the master for each separate track. The ISRC system is recognised all over the World as the standard system for numbering audio and video recordings. The code consists of 12 alphanumeric digits and is used to individually identify each track so that you can get paid royalties for digital music sales and tracks offered via online music and video streaming services, and also when your music is played on the radio or in a public place over a sound system.

If you have a large fan base and you are expecting your music to be very popular, perhaps you’d like to track your music in the Billboard charts. You would need to register your ISRC codes with SoundScan so that your sales figures can be recorded independently.

Search for “ISRC code application” online and you will find companies that can help you get hold of ISRC codes and register them with the appropriate industry bodies. The process is very simple and cheap and will help you to secure your due royalties or in case there are any copyright issues after the track release.

If you would rather leave the sound engineering to an expert at a professional recording studio then you will have to be prepared to pay them for their time and if you’re only intending to release a small number of recordings then it may be difficult to recoup the cost.

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