CD Pressing

CD Pressing

Some say it’s a dying format and there is no denying the damning statistics, but neverless bands are still undertaking CD pressing, so let’s learn about how to do it properly.


Why do band still press CDs?

To hold a physical product in their hands

To see the artwork, have a booklet, and lyrics/credits to read

Greater profit margin

Can bundle with merchandise

Some fans still prefer physical formats to digital

To have something to autograph for fans

Can be more personal to hand a copy to your fan, or include a handwritten note

For competition giveaways and free promotion handouts

To have it stocked in physical stores

Radio stations still like CDs

Reviewers & Press often want copies of your CD


When to consider NOT to press CDs

To experiment, if you got the balls – ie if your heart tells you it’s not necessary

If your target market is that which prefers digital

Low budget, when pressing and postage will hurt your wallet

Uncertain fanbase, you don’t want to be left with physical items clogging up your stockroom

Not a live gigging band

If physical stores are unlikely to stock your CD anyway

Digital only singles or EPs


How does it work?

Less than 300 copies is generally done by Replication, the process of creating a glass master and stamper of your data (CD Audio, CD-Rom, DVD video) then injection moulding the discs using that stamper.

Over 300 is generally Duplication, the process of taking blank, recordable discs (CDRs or DVDRs) and writing the information on them with a laser.

Turnaround time – Around 2 weeks in most cases


What does it cost?

Anywhere from $2 to $5 per unit, which adds up to $2000 pretty quickly if you’re ordering a lot.

The more copies you order, the less it costs per unit. Companies will often quote you on multiple quantities

Depends if you order Digipak, jewel case, shrinkwrapping, barcodes, and how many pages in your booklet

A recent quote that I have gone ahead with, is 500 x 4 panel digipaks with a 12pg booklet for $1595 inc postage.


Audio requirements

Format – DDP where possible, that is Disc Description Protocol. An error-protected delivery format that has become industry standard for reliable CD & DVD replication. Your Producer should be able to provide this on Audio CD or digital. You may also use high-quality WAV masters, but just check with your pressing company first.

Test – Test your CD masters only on a set top CD player, computers can affect the file formats

Submit – Provide via Dropbox, post master CD in mail, or drop into store if local

ISRC encoded – We chatted about this on episode 24, click here for the shownotes

Barcodes – Consider if you need these or not. They usually cost an extra $50 or so. Only really useful if being stocked in stores.


Artwork requirements

Find an artist (or DIY) for front cover and booklet/layout. Can be the same person or can be different.

You should provide a concept/idea of what you want and be available to provide feedback throughout. You should also provide them with a word file of lyrics, credits and anything you want included in the design.

Get PDF templates from your Pressing company with specifications they require. Give these to your artist who can make sure it’s all to spec.

Other technical art stuff – Leave 3mm bleed, switch off the template layer, leave the registration marks turned on, then output everything as PDFx1a.

Upload to dropbox, or submit on a CD or USB


What company to choose

Research websites of both local stores and online providers.

Get quotes. Some will have prices/quotes on their websites, others you will need to email/phone.

Read reviews & ask other bands about their experience.

Choose a company that are helpful, quick to communicate, good info on their website and good price.



How to effectively use CDs in today’s climate

Give free downloads or discount codes with your physical sales

Upsell merch when people buy a CD from your online store

Get you CDs to online distributors who have their own stores plus eBay and Amazon



Need more help with CD Pressing from BandTools? Please reach out to us!

Templates, examples and guides are available in the BandTools database, to access visit our Patreon page to subscribe!



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