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Tips And Guides

10 Step Quick Guide For Producing A CD

By January 28, 2023February 20th, 2023No Comments

1. Venue Rental:

  • 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.
  • Early mornings and very late evenings can be the best time

2. Artist Stipends:

  • 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
  • Some ensembles do marathon sessions and get everything done and others do a series of 3-4 hour recording sessions

3. Recording Engineer:

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

4. Editing and Mastering:

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

5. Graphic Design:

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

6. Licensing:

  • Each piece on the CD needs to have a licensing agreement to be ​included on the CD
  • 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:
  • If the piece is not listed with Harry Fox , try to contact the composer or ​the composer’s estate directly.
  • 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:

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

8. Physical Distribution:

  • Stores the in area, distributor, setting up credit card payment
    • CD Baby — 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:

  • Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
    • CD Baby will set this all up
  • Other digital distribution companies: DistroKid, Ditto Music, ​​​​Mondotunes, Tunecore, Symphonic

10. Release and Marketing:

  • CD release party, promotion materials
  • 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.


This article was originally published on the Washington Choral Directors Association website on August 8, 2017.