Our line of work is very subjective, and there are many questions that our clients frequently ask us about their projects. We have selected the most common of these questions and provided answers below. We hope that you find this information helpful but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.
Frequently Asked Questions Disc Pressing
What's the turnaround time for producing CDs, DVD, Vinyl
Replication (glass mastered discs) – once we receive your master and artwork and everything has been approved for production, turnaround is generally between 8 and 12 working days depending on the type of packaging you have chosen. We can offer an express production service (5-7 working days) for some types of packaging.
Duplication (“burnt” discs) – for short run duplicated CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, the turnaround is generally 5 working days or less, again, depending on the type of packaging chosen.
Vinyl – turnaround times for vinyl vary according to the time of year, but are always significantly longer than for CDs and DVDs. At best, vinyl turnaround time can be 6 – 7 weeks, but this can stretch significantly at periods of high demand.
Please note that, for all formats, production will begin only when we have received all the relevant parts (artwork, masters and paperwork). We process and check all submitted artwork before sending you final pdfs to approve. We must receive your approval before we move forward to production.
What is the difference between replication and duplication?
Replication – for production runs of 500 discs upwards, we use the industry standard production method of replication (pressing). The digital data from your master is processed to create a glass master from which a disc stamper is produced. This is then used to press the finished copies. 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.
Duplication (burning) – is ideal for short runs of less than 500 units. Your master is copied directly onto recordable discs. For printing on to the disc faces, we employ the same professional processes are used for the replicated discs. For the disc packaging, we offer highest quality digital or offset litho printing depending on the quantity of parts to be produced.
What is "audio mastering"?
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 if required.
You are then supplied with a test copy. Once your approval has been granted, the production master is created and delivered to the pressing plant.
The mastering engineer will also supply a PQ sheet, to be used as a reference by the pre-mastering engineer when preparing the glass master.
We work with a wide range of hugely experienced mastering engineers and are happy to put you directly in touch with them to discuss your requirements. When your finished master is submitted to us, it must be submitted in what is called a “DDP File Set”. Submitting your master in a different format will incur additional cost.
What is "DVD authoring"?
In DVD authoring, the engineer collects the various components, such as video & film footage, stills, the audio soundtrack, the navigation menu etc. and assembles these into the format required to ensure that the finished discs are compatible with industry standards and will play and respond correctly in all DVD players. If an unauthored disc is supplied as the production master, the DVDs can still be replicated, but they may not play as intended (or at all!).
What type of master do I need for audio CD replication or duplication
Replication – for audio CD replication, we require a DDP (Disc Description Protocol) master fileset. Your mastering engineer should be able to supply this. If not, please get in touch and we can sort it out. If your engineer can only supply the master on disc, we can create a DDP production master here quickly and inexpensively.
Duplication – for audio CD duplication, we can accept a DDP fileset (see above), a fully edited audio disc or WAVs.
In all cases, your engineer should supply a PQ sheet along with the master.
What type of master do I need for DVD replication or duplication?
Replication & Duplication – for DVD replication & duplication, we require a fully edited master disc. The disc should be finalised and it must be a “write-once” recordable disc. Do not use re-writable discs for DVD mastering. For dual layer discs (DVD-9s), a separate master disc should be supplied for each layer.
What type of master do I need for vinyl pressing?
Vinyl – for vinyl pressing we accept WAV or DDP masters. For WAVs, supply a single WAV for each side of the disc.
In all cases, your engineer should supply a PQ sheet along with the masters.
How can I send my master to Birnam?
Audio Masters – DDP or WAV masters can be uploaded via the link on the audio master upload page.
DVD Master Discs – please clearly mark the artist, title and catalogue number on the disc face and on any accompanying paperwork including the case insert. To avoid damage and scratching to the disc surface, pack your master into a hard jewel case and send it in a padded envelope or jiffy bag. If sending from within the UK, we recommend Royal Mail Special Delivery Post. This is an inexpensive, secure method and is available at any Post Office. Delivery is guaranteed by 1pm next working day (or earlier) and the package can be tracked if it does go astray.
Be sure to make – and keep very safe – a copy master of at least the same standard as the one you send to us.
NEVER send us the only copy. Our postal address is on the footer of every page.
What is a "catalogue number"?
Any product to be sold commercially should be allocated a catalogue number to make it easily identifiable for ordering, tracking and other purposes. This can be anything you want, but typically, a catalogue number will be a combination of letters and numbers (e.g. ABC123: ABC123CD: ABC123DVD etc). Once you choose a format, it is a good idea to stick with it for further product releases. It’s also a good idea to check whether your catalogue number may already have been used for another product. Type the number into Google and see what results come up. This isn’t a failsafe method, but it’s a good starting point.
Check that the catalogue number appears everywhere you would like it to on the packaging. For CD packaging, it is usual for the catalogue number to appear on both spines, on the back page (for card packaging) or the rear tray card (for jewel cases) and on the disc face. For DVD packaging, the catalogue number will generally appear on the spine and the rear page of the outer cover as well as on the disc face. It may also be included on the rear page of the booklet, if the package includes one.
Do I need a Barcode & ISRCs?
Barcodes and ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codes) are required if you intend to release your music commercially. High street stores require that your release is assigned a barcode, as do all major online retailers. ISRCs are required if you intend to release your music through platforms such as iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. They can also be used for tracking royalty payments for radio and online airplay.
Birnam can provide barcodes and ISRCs.
Should I include a copyright notice on my product?
CDs, DVDs and Vinyl products should always carry a copyright notice to protect the rights of the individual or company producing or releasing the discs.
A typical copyright notice reads:
© 2018 Your record company name* ℗ 2018 Your record company name*. All rights of the producer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved. Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this recording is prohibited.
*If you don’t have a record company name, you can make one up (but check that it hasn’t been already used), or simply use your own name or the name of your band. Check that the wording is correct and that the correct year has been specified for the © & ℗ Rights credits.
Does Birnam provide a graphic design service?
Our in-house graphic design service is second to none. Over the years we have produced eye catching, imaginative designs covering all types of disc packaging for a large number of extremely satisfied clients throughout the UK, Europe and North America. When we undertake to create your packaging, we will work with you to establish the style, look and feel of the packaging you want. We will then produce a draft design which will be developed and refined in full consultation with you. You can supply your own images and photographs or, if preferred, we can source suitable images from one or more of the online libraries we subscribe to and/or recommend one of the top quality photographers we regularly work with.
We are happy to offer advice based on our knowledge and experience, but we will never lose sight of the fact that the goal is to achieve a professional design with which you are 100% happy with and which will greatly enhance the quality of your production and, therefore, attract even more attention.
Engaging us to do your graphic design doesn’t just give you access to decades of experience and creativity at the very highest level – we’ll even throw in a bundle of goodies to cut down on your paperwork, help to promote your release and ensure that your discs arrive ready to go on sale in shops or at online stores worldwide.
For details of the Design Package Goodies please click here.
Can I provide my own artwork files?
Absolutely – and we will work with you to ensure that we achieve the best outcome in terms of the print quality.
Please contact us to acquire the artwork specs for your selected packaging option and refer to our reference guide which can be accessed here.
What are MCPS & IPR?
MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) collects money from music users in the UK who record and release music on CDs, records, etc.. MCPS collects royalties by issuing licences to music users in respect of the mechanical copyright in musical works.
In order to have music products manufactured by Birnam, you must obtain an MCPS licence or “Notification of No Claim”.
If you wish, we can apply for this licence on your behalf. Please contact us for details and prices.
IPR stands for “Intellectual Property Rights”. Before we can produce your discs, you must confirm that you own the Intellectual Property Rights to the material you would like us to copy. To do this, you complete and sign an “Intellectual Property Rights Declaration” and send it to us. It’s a very straightforward form. We’ll send you a link to the form and are very happy to guide you through completing it if required.
Is delivery included in the price?
As standard, our prices include one mainland delivery within the UK. In most cases, we can deliver within mainland EU at no extra cost, but we need to know the exact delivery address before we can confirm this.
If you require your order to be split into more than one delivery, that’s no problem. Contact us with the details and we’ll get back to you with prices.
Frequently Asked Questions Music Promotion
Where will my CD be sent?
Our database features media contacts from all across the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Some of the shows that we send to are broadcast internationally, and many of the publications are released world-wide. Whilst your music will be sent to contacts within the UK and the Northern Ireland, it can achieve airplay and reviews much further afield.
Furthermore, Birnam offers an international promotion service. For this service, we send your CDs to fifty key contacts across Europe. Many of these contacts contribute to multiple shows and publications all over the world.
How are the media contacts chosen?
When determining who to send your music to, our team listen to your CD and then select the contacts from our database that we feel will generate the best response to your music. The genres you would classify your release under are also factored in.
Can you tell me who you will be sending my CD to?
Unfortunately, we cannot disclose our specific contacts. This is for two reasons:
- Our database of contacts took considerable time to construct, and takes on-going efforts to maintain. For that reason, we are not willing to disclose who our contacts are.
- Data Protection Laws prevent us from disclosing contact information for our media contacts.
If I am sending out my own promotional CDs too, how do I avoid duplicating contacts?
This is something that comes up quite often. Because we cannot disclose who is included in our database, if you are intending to send out your own promotional CDs in addition to our mail out then we ask that you make us aware of the radio shows and review outlets that you will be sending to. This way, we avoid unnecessary duplication.
Can I provide my own media contacts?
Absolutely! If there are any contacts you would specifically like us to send to, please just let us know and we will include them in our mail out.
What do I need to provide?
A member of our team will work with you to construct your promotional flyer, which will accompany every CD that we send out. For this, we require key information such as the record label (if appropriate), the release date, a list of all outlets where your release will be available, the genres you would use to classify your music, and some contact information that presenters and reviewers can use to contact you.
Furthermore, we require a press release that can be added to the flyer. We will provide a number of examples to you for reference (if you require them), and a member of our team will guide you through the process of crafting a press release. Beyond that, if you wish, a member of our team can put a press release together for you – all we would ask is that you supply some general information about yourself and the release.
Frequently Asked Questions Design Service
What can Birnam design for me?
The short answer is, anything! We have designed all types of album, DVD and vinyl packaging, as well as many posters, flyers, leaflets, concert tickets, logos, branding, social media graphics and more. Whatever it is you are looking for, just let us know and we’ll get to work.
Are there any restrictions on Birnam's design service?
The only restriction is time. We can only accept a certain number of design jobs each month. Please ask us about our design service availability and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
How much does Birnam charge for design?
The price of our design services varies depending on two main factors: what it is that is being designed, and the amount of time that the design takes.
On the first point, for example, we charge more for album packaging design than we do for a poster. Album packaging can be an in-depth process with many complicated factors to consider. A poster, by comparison, is far simpler.
On the second point, the amount of time that the job requires affects the price. If, during the design process, we reach a point where the price is likely to increase due to the amount of time required to complete the work, we would of course notify you before proceeding.
Who owns the copyright for artwork designed by Birnam?
This is a common misconception. When artwork is designed by a company for a musician, the copyright for that artwork is retained by the company and not passed on to the musician automatically. Birnam retains copyright control over the artwork that we put together.
Frequently Asked Questions Digital Distribution
How quickly can Birnam make my music available online?
Ideally, we ask that you allow two weeks after submission for your music to appear online. Were it to be submitted on January 1st, we would set it to go live on January 14th.
We can push releases through in a shorter period than this, but if we do so then we cannot guarantee that there will not be any issues or delays. Whenever possible it is always best to allow at least two weeks.
Do I need to provide any artwork or music files?
None at all. A member of our team will take the song files from your original master, and the appropriate artwork files will be adapted from your original album artwork. This means there is no chance of corruption; the music on your CD is guaranteed to be the exact same music that is available online.
Some clients have in the past provided us with specific “Mastered for iTunes” files, and if you wish to do so then by all means please do. We work with a number of quality mastering engineers and many of them could accommodate this service.
Is there anything I should check before making my album available for download and streaming?
It is always a good idea to do a Google search for your artist or band name and see if anything comes up. Having the same performing name as another artist or band will create headaches for you (and us) both immediately and further down the line. If another artist exists with the same name, and they already have music available through download and streaming platforms, then the best solution (unfortunately) is to change your performing name.
Now, to clarify, we are not suggesting that you change your name to something completely different. It is better for all parties (including the fans) if you can still be located easily through iTunes and the other platforms. If your name was Artist X, for example, then we would suggest changing your name (on iTunes and the other sites) to “Artist X (UK)”.
We appreciate that this is not an ideal solution, but the unfortunate reality is that performing names for artists and bands are available on a first-come, first-served basis. If someone else is already using the name that you would like to use, changing yours to differentiate from the others in one way or another is the only solution.
Can I add description text to my download and streaming listings?
Unfortunately, no. Download and streaming platforms do not permit descriptions for the majority of products. Clients can add a description to their online CD listings, but not for downloads and streaming.
Do I need a barcode?
Yes. Music cannot be released through iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, or any other digital outlet without a barcode.
If you require a barcode, Birnam can provide one for you.
If your CDs have already been manufactured without a barcode, Birnam can still provide a barcode number for the purposes of downloads and streaming.
Do I need ISRCs? (and, what are ISRCs?)
Again, like barcodes, ISRCs are required in order to make music available for downloads and streaming. ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code and one code is required for each track on your release. Birnam can provide as many or as few ISRCs as you require.
Do I keep 100% of the profits from my downloads and streaming?
Birnam does not directly work with iTunes, Amazon, Google, Spotify or the other platforms. Instead, we work with an aggregator who deals directly with these platforms. Whilst Birnam charges a one-off set-up fee, our aggregator recoups their costs by making a 10% deduction from all digital sales and streams. The remaining profits will be passed on to you.