CD Pressing, Design for CD Packaging and Social Media Graphics, Music Promotion, Digital Distribution, Social Media Support and more… Birnam Case Study

CD Pressing, Design for CD Packaging and Social Media Graphics, Music Promotion, Digital Distribution, Social Media Support and more… Birnam Case Study

We’ve been working with independent musicians for over 30 years now and consider ourselves very privileged to be able to continue to work with a huge number of dedicated and talented musicians. We know that sustaining a career in the music industry is not easy and we like to think that we offer a complete service, supporting artists through all the stages of an album release and beyond.

A few folks have said that they thought we only offered CD, DVD and Vinyl pressing (well, we have built a reputation for that over the years). We actually do a whole lot more, so we’re introducing a few case studies to demonstrate and explain about the broad range of services that we offer.

The first case study features Liza Mulholland, an independent musician based north of Inverness. Liza came to us early in 2016 when she was planning her debut solo album. She wanted to have physical CDs in attractive packaging to sell at her gigs but also fancied the idea of the album being available to download and stream. She was keen to achieve widespread radio airplay as well as press and online reviews for her work. We discussed various packaging, design and promotion options and put together a full package covering all of Liza’s requirements.

You can read the case study HERE.

Liza gave us some really nice feedback, here’s a short excerpt:

‘Although technology and the internet have revolutionised the music business, making it much easier for musicians to release their own music, it still involves a lot of work. To be aided throughout the process, and relieved of much of the stress and hassle, has been a huge benefit and one that I would highly recommend. Self-releasing a solo album can feel a wee bit lonesome, with the burden of the whole project on your own shoulders; with Birnam CD at my side I felt like they were taking care of everything for me. Even better than that, I’m now getting nice reviews coming in and plays on radio stations I previously didn’t even know existed!’

Look out for a few further case studies over the coming year. We welcome, listen and pay attention to all feedback and we’re constantly striving for ways to build on and improve our services. In 2016 we revamped our website to make it more ‘user friendly’ and easier to navigate. We’ll be continuing to streamline and build on our range of services in the coming year and beyond, so please drop us an email with any suggestions or comments.

Looking Ahead in 2017

And we’re back!

After a very relaxing festive period, all of us here at Birnam CD are primed, ready and looking forward to 2017.

The year just gone was our 30th year as a business, and also our most successful year to date. To flag up just a few of last year’s milestones, we produced and delivered a record amount of CDs, DVDs and vinyl, made more tracks and albums for more artists than ever before available for downloads and streaming, launched a host of new services, overhauled our website and saw our (now expanded) promotional packages have their most popular year to date. Now we are looking ahead to further progress in 2017.

An awful lot of the artists we have worked with have already confirmed that 2017 is going to be a very busy year. Here are just a few events we are currently eyeing up…..

Just round the corner is the world-renowned Celtic Connections festival. Last year, we delivered 16,000 CDs to a range of artists in time for their album launches at the festival. This year, the number of CDs being delivered is already up there (and we aren’t done yet). As always, we are looking forward to heading to Glasgow to attend a number of album launches, events and concerts throughout the festival. The full list of Birnam clients performing is – as in previous years – too huge to fit into a humble blog post, but we will be providing extensive coverage of what they are all up to at the festival through our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

Further down the line, the Scottish music scene in 2017 remains as rich and far-reaching as ever. TradFest returns to Edinburgh at the end of April and spills over into early May, providing some fantastic concerts and great networking opportunities. In May, the Orkney Folk Festival celebrates their 35th year, with Eddi Reader and Flook amongst the acts already confirmed. June sees Skerryvore’s “Oban Live” return for its second (well, technically third, but who’s counting?) year, with one of Scotland’s most renowned bands again joined by We Banjo 3 and Skipinnish, with many more acts yet to be announced. Out on the beautiful Isle of Lewis, HebCelt will be back in July, and already have Dougie Maclean, Skerryvore and Peatbog Faeries confirmed to appear. August brings two of Scotland’s most popular events with Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, and the incomparable (and often inexplicable) Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Of course, all of these events are just a drop in the ocean when stacked up against the full wealth of Scotland’s music scene. Be sure you get out there and enjoy what Scotland has to offer in 2017.

As for Birnam CD, we have no intention of slowing down. We are working on several exciting new projects and services to roll out over this coming year. Unfortunately, we’ll have to keep tight lips for now, but expect to see some big announcements from us in 2017. Or, better still, sign up to our newsletter here and have news of new developments delivered straight to your inbox.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We’re closed from Friday 23rd December and open on Wednesday 4th January 2017.

If you’re looking for things to do in January then check out Celtic Connections in Glasgow which starts on 19th January and runs through until the 5th February. It’s the largest annual winter music festival of it’s kind and we’ll be posting about it when we come back in January but in the meantime, have a look at the Celtic Connections website to see the great line up of musicians and gigs. Hope to catch up with some of you at the many, great events.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year.

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2016

trad-awards-2016

 

The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2016

What a fantastic night we all had at the Scots Trad Music Awards this year. Hosted by Dundee’s Caird Hall for the second year in a row, the event is justifiably touted as one of traditional music’s biggest highlights. This year did plenty to retain that sentiment; wonderful performances from a variety of Scotland’s homegrown talent, moving speeches from some of the most renowned voices on the scene and, of course, and great craic.

The ceremony launched with a thunderous performance by the Scott Wood Band, backed by an impressive accompaniment of guest musicians. Passers-by on the street from outside the scene could be forgiven for thinking they were overhearing a roaring rock’n’roll performance, for you’d be hard-pressed to find more energy in a performance across any genre.

As ever, the awards were hosted by Mary Ann Kennedy and Tony Kearney, who did a great job of keeping things moving along at a good pace, with one notable (but very understandable) exception. When BBC Radio Scotland’s Take The Floor claimed Trad Music in the Media, and Robbie Shepherd (who this year retired from the show) took to the stage to collect the award alongside his successor Gary Innes and the rest of the team from the show, the audience couldn’t wait to jump to their feet and offer the longest standing ovation of the night. Given how much Robbie has contributed to our traditional music scene over the years, the comperes certainly can not be held to account for the time this show of admiration went on.

With the Scott Wood Band kicking things off with such a high-octane set, one might have wondered if that would set the tone for the rest of the evening. However, the other acts that were brought out to play really demonstrated the wealth and breadth of the Scottish folk scene. Dallahan brought their far-reaching brand of music to the stage, blending traditional Scottish elements with material from across Europe. Songs of Separation, which combines the talents of many of the most respected and recognised women in Scottish and English music, delighted with their beautiful harmonies and moving arrangements. Abercraig, a collection of very talented youngsters local to the area, reminded everyone that traditional music is alive and well in the next generation. Talisk, featuring BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year Mohsen Amini, got the feet moving with their compelling music. The Halton Quartet injected a little jazz into the evening, the Robbie Shepherd Tribute Band brought along some fantastic dance music, and as if all that wasn’t enough, the crowd were also treated to performances by Tryst and Wilma Kennedy with Finlay Wells.

To round off this post, Birnam CD would like to reiterate not only our sincere congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, but also special congratulations to all of our clients who took home awards: Skerryvore (Live Act of the Year), Feis Roise Life Long Learning Project (Community Project of the Year), Piping Live! (Event of the Year), Ellen MacDonald (Gaelic Singer of the Year), Rachel Newton (Instrumentalist of the Year), Lori Watson (Scots Singer of the Year), Trail West (Dance Band of the Year), and Kris Drever (Composer of the Year).

Thanks to Simon and the team at Hands Up For Trad for another great evening. We look forward to seeing everyone in Paisley next year for the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2017!

songsofseparation talisk abercraig scotwoodband

Christmas Songs – Copyright & Public Domain

Christmas Songs – Copyright & Public Domain

When it comes to Christmas Songs, (not just Christmas songs but any songs) it’s important to check whether the song is copyrighted or whether it’s in the public domain – not all Christmas songs and carols are in the public domain and therefore licenses and permissions will be needed.

Just because a Christmas song/carol/hymn was written in 1934 does not necessarily mean it is in the public domain.

A Musical Work or Sound Recording is in the Public Domain when the copyright has expired. From the date that the copyright expires it is not controlled or owned by anyone. In the UK, the songwriter’s copyright lasts for 70 years after their death (musical works) and the recording artist’s copyright lasts for 50 years after their death. (prsformusic.com)

Songs in the public domain can be used without permission or credit to the original author however, this does not apply to copyrighted arrangements of songs in the public domain – songs that are copyrighted will require permission/licensing.

Christmas songs which are now in the public domain include:

Jingle Bells’ (James Pierpoint, 1857)

Good King Wenceslas (John M Neale, Thomas Helmore, 1853)

Holy & The Ivy (Henry R Brawley, John Stainer, 1871).

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (G Whitefield, William H Cummings, 1840)

Christmas songs which are not in the public domain include:

Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry, Oakley Halderman 1947)

White Christmas (Irving Berlin, 1942) – According to Wikipedia “White Christmas” is one of the most-recorded Christmas songs; there have been more than 500 recorded versions of the song, in several different languages.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (John F Coots, Haven Gillespie 1934). Recorded by many artists including Perry Como (in 1951), Michael Jackson (in 1970), Rod Stewart (2012) and Kylie Minogue (2015). In 2015, the Court of Appeals ruled that rights to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the all-time most performed holiday song, will revert to the heirs of J. Fred Coots. Coots, along with fellow songwriter Haven Gillespie, wrote the song in 1934 and made a deal with Leo Feist, who ran a publishing company that was eventually acquired by EMI.

For more information and to check copyright/public domain information please visit PRS for Music and www.pdinfo.com

Nominations Shortlist – Scots Trad Music Awards

Shortlist Nominations.

Shortlist nominations have been released for the 2016 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.  The 16 awards cover a wide range of categories and recognise the best Scottish trad talent across Scotland.  We sponsor the ‘Album of the Year’ and this years’ 10 nominations are all hugely talented musicians – we wish each of them good luck!

Public voting is open until Friday November 18th, place your vote HERE.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday 3rd December, at the Caird Hall Dundee. The full list of nominees:

Album of the Year

Abyss by Talisk

Astar by Breabach

Brighter Still by Adam Holmes and The Embers

Hearts Broken, Heads Turned by Jarlath Henderson

Hello, Goodbye by John McCusker

Matter of Time by Dallahan

Songs of Separation by Songs of Separation

SYMBIOSIS by Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton

The Hebridean Sessions by Daimh

The River by Hamish Napier

Composer of the Year – Sponsored by PRS for Music

Graham MacKenzie

Hamish Napier

Kris Drever

Freeland Barbour

Mairearad Green

Joe Armstrong

Community Project of the Year – Sponsored by the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust

Merlin Academy of Traditional Music

Feis Rois Life Long Learning Project

Fuaran – Fèisean nan Gàidheal

Friends of Wighton

Event of the Year – Sponsored by VisitScotland

Piping Live

Orkney Folk Festival

Pulse

Hamish Feature Film

Gaelic Singer of the Year – Sponsored by Macmeanmna

Ellen MacDonald

Calum Ross

Joy Dunlop

Kaela Rowan

Instrumentalist of the Year – Sponsored by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

Tony McManus

Innes White

Mohsen Amini

Rachel Newton

Craig Paton

Live Act of the Year – Sponsored by Greentrax Recordings

Blazin’ Fiddles

Elephant Sessions

Mànran

Niteworks

Skerryvore

Treacherous Orchestra

Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year – Sponsored by the Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland

Simon Gall

Lori Watson

Hector Riddell

Shona Donaldson

Up and Coming Artist of the Year – Sponsored by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Dosca

Top Floor Taivers

Ryan Young

Tannara

Club of the Year – Sponsored by Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland

Stonehaven Folk Club

Dundee Acoustic Music Club

Rolling Hills Folk Club

Mauchlin Accordion and Fiddle Club

Scottish Dance Band of the Year – Sponsored by the National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs

Trail West

Sixties Bairns

Peter Wood Shetland Dance Band

Lomond Ceilidh Band

Folk Band of the Year – Sponsored by Threads of Sound

Rura

Rant

Barluath

Breabach

Scottish Pipe Band of the Year – Sponsored by The Glenturret Single Malt Whisky

North Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Band

Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band

Johnstone Pipe Band

Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band

Trad Music in the Media – Sponsored by Skippinish

Scots Radio Podcast

Take the floor

fRoots

Fresh Folk

Music Tutor of the Year – Sponsored by Creative Scotland Youth Music Initiative

Jim Hunter

Simon Chadwick

Daniel Thorpe

Mhairi Marwick

Lynsey Tait

Rachel Hair

Venue of the Year – Sponsored by the Musicians’ Union

The Cat Strand

The Reel, Orkney

The Glad Café

Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin

To find out more about the Scots Trad Music Awards visit : scotstradmusicawards

To book tickets for the Award Ceremony please visit: www.dundeebox.co.uk

Scots Trad Music Awards

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards

The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards is an annual event which takes place in December. The 2016 award ceremony will be held in the Caird Hall, Dundee on 3rd December. The awards highlight Scotland’s wealth of traditional music in all its forms and aims to create a high profile opportunity to bring the music and music industry into the spotlight of media and public attention.

There are 16 categories of awards, including Live Act of the Year, Album of the Year, Composer of the Year, Instrumentalist of the Year and Gaelic Singer of the Year.  Winners of the awards will be unveiled at the awards ceremony in December.

Public voting is open until Friday 14th October – To nominate your favourite acts and organisations VOTE HERE

To find out more about the Scots Trad Music Awards visit : scotstradmusicawards

To book tickets for the Award Ceremony please visit: www.dundeebox.co.uk

CD Printing – using a white base

CD Printing – using a white base

A CD disc has 3 different areas and the surface of each area is different. There is the main playing area, made from polycarbonate plastic which is coated in silver on the non-playing side, an ID ring – which is a shiny metallic silver colour printed onto the inner plastic ring – and a clear plastic hub. The recordable surface and ID ring are not constant silvers, and if you are not using a white base then the different areas can significantly affect any finished design.

A white base is used to provide a neutral base layer and covers the ID ring and inner plastic hub. It basically acts like white paper, providing an even surface for more accurate colour printing. When printing CMYK onto CDs we would recommend that you specify a white base as printing CMYK onto a disc without a white base results in a washed out finish.

If you would like your disc design to include some ‘silver disc shine through’ either the basic silver shine through or some part of the design/colours printed direct onto the silver disc then we would suggest you use a custom white base. You will need to supply 2 different artwork files – one with your full design which will be printed onto a white base, and another showing just the area you would like knocked out. Remember, if you are undertaking this then it is important that the 2 separate artwork files are accurate, if there are any spaces or overlaps between the white base design and the second knocked out design then the end result will mean that the finished disc design will have outlines or halos, the colours will be different if any overlap is present and the design will not look sharp – so it can be a bit tricky.

We would generally recommend using a white base for disc printing. Give us a call if you need any more information – we’re always happy to help.

ISRC

International Standard Recording Code

ISRC codes are only necessary for the final version of the recording – if the recording is purely for personal use, a rough mix or a rehearsal recording then you won’t need an ISRC code at that stage.

ISRC which stands for International Standard Recording Codes is an international system which allocates a unique code which is encoded into any music recording – unique ISRCs identify any music recordings for payment.

ISRCs consist of 4 parts:
·         Country Code: 2 letters which represent the country in which the registrant is based, for example, UK for United Kingdom.
·         Registrant Code: 2 alpha-numerical digits, which, when used with the Country Code is unique to the registrant.
·         Year of Reference: the last 2 digits of the year in which an ISRC code is allocated.
·         Designation Code: 5 digits which are unique to each track.

ISRCs for CDs – the ISRCs are encoded during the disc mastering process. ISRCs must be encoded for each track in the pre-master stage. Remember, ISRCs are important as they enable payments to be made for any music recordings or music videos.
The ISRC code for any music recording/music video stays the same no matter how many albums the track is on. A new ISRC is only required if there are any changes to the original recording for example, the track is re-mixed or the track length is change.
ISRC codes and Bar Codes are different – ISRC codes identifies individual tracks and the Bar Code  or Universal Product Code (UPC) identifies the complete album.
To find out more information please visit:  isrc.ifpi.org

We can supply both ISRCs and Bar codes so give us a call if you need these.

 

 

Audio mastering for replication

Audio Mastering for Replication

In the recording process, audio mastering is the stage after mixing. The purpose of mastering is to improve the audio quality of your music and to ensure that it will sound its best whatever it is played on – a state of the art sound system, portable radio, iPod, in-car stereo or your computer. Put simply, it will make your recording sound better.
To achieve this, the tracks are processed using a series of audio enhancement tools and effects including tonal adjustments, limiting, compression / expansion, equalisation, noise reduction, harmonic excitement and signal restoration. The relative volume between tracks is levelled out and any extraneous noises (pops, clicks and bumps) are removed.
The tracks are put into the correct sequence, with fade-ins, fade-outs or cross-fades applied and the spacings between tracks set. Additional information such as CD text (with the artist name, album and track titles), ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codes) and the product barcode can be added.

A production master is created – it’s important that you always listen to and approve the final master.  The mastering engineer should also supply a PQ sheet, which is used as a reference by the pre-mastering engineer when preparing the glass master.

Production masters can be supplied electronically as DDP filesets or physically as PQ encoded (Red Book) Audio discs.

DDP FILESETS – DDP is short for Disc Description Protocol – producing audio masters as DDP filesets is now widely recognised as standard practice across the industry. When producing a DDP it’s important that an MD5 checksum is created for each file – an MD5 checksum is like an electronic fingerprint. Once the DDP has been downloaded at the pressing plant a further set of MD5 checksums is created and compared to the original sums. If both sets match, then the receiver can be certain that what has been downloaded is exactly what was uploaded, that there has been no corruption in transmission and the files can safely be used for production of the CDs.
It’s also important that all files (including the MD5 checksums list) are compressed and saved into a single zipped folder which should be named with the Product Catalogue Number and / or the Artist Name and Project Title.

RED BOOK AUDIO DISCS – Ask your engineer to include a PQ sheet or, at the very least, a track list with titles and timings. If you are sending red book audio discs always keep a back up copy – do NOT send us your only copy.
Masters for Duplication – for short run duplication (under 500 CDs), we can also accept WAVs. Please note, we do not accept WAVs for CD replication (500 CDs upwards).

CD Replication and Duplication

 – The difference between compact disc (CD) replication and duplication is that replication is a professional process that creates a CD by moulding the disc to be an exact copy of the original master. Data cannot be added or changed. 
Duplication refers to burning data to a disc – the master is copied directly onto recordable discs, as is done in home computing. Short-run duplication is ideal for small runs but if you are intending to sell CDs or use them for promotional purposes we would suggest that you go for CD Replication which is the industry standard.

With replication (pressing) the digital data from your master is processed to create a glass master. Glass mastering is undertaken in an exceptionally clean environment as even very small dust or dirt particles can affect the finished quality of a CD glass master. A metal stamper is made from the glass master and this is then used to press the finished copies. Each disc, which is a clone of the master, is then lacquer coated for protection. The discs are printed using screen or litho print methods, depending on the nature of the design – screen printing is generally more suitable for designs with solid blocks of colour, while litho printing achieves superb results for full colour picture discs. For replication orders, the packaging is always produced using offset litho printing, the professional standard.

 

 

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