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Archive of ‘CDs’ category

New Single Monkey Mind Coming Soon

I am quite excited to be launching a new single “Monkey Mind” very soon indeed, including some sweet, sweet video action and an ebook to go with the song too, how’s that for something different. I will also be packaging the song up with my various releases of the last five years into an album. You know, one of them CD things or if you prefer, intangible downloady goodness.

Gearing up for a lot more gigging too after some gig downtime, did a couple in July including a great gig at the Yarra Hotel in Abbotsford here in Melbourne. Really, really fine pub. Also played at Station 59 in Richmond which is a pretty sweet little venue too with delicious Coopers Dark Ale on top.

I am playing at the Ferntree Gully Hotel twice in August, on the 3rd and the 17th, so that will be cool, first time there.

other news is that the Zuiiza album is FINALLY in its last stages of the 7 year epic effort to fruition, and will be released in spring this year. More soon, oh my breathless expectant public…

How to Get Your Head Around CD Track Listing Metadata

When you make a CD of your own music for commercial release, the last thing you want is for people to pop their copy into their player of choice – whether it be iTunes, car stereo or a boom box – to get greeted by “unknown album – track 1”.

Not exactly great branding 😉

Well I sent my first few home-made discs off to CDbaby for sale, and only then thought about this, so seeing as I am about place an order for a bunch of commercially made CDs, I thought I’d better get up speed on how to get the track listing information happening properly.

Well I don’t have time now to write up a funny rant about how irritating it was trying to Google that information, but suffice to say I didn’t really know the correct search terms (now I do, and you will too by the end of this post). After a couple of days and the help of a couple of mates, I was starting to get a pretty good picture although it was still all far from clear. (Why is everything so complicated these days? Am I really getting that old that I can’t keep up?)

Then today I got a reply to an email I had sent on a whim to Brian of CDBaby and ladies and gentlemen! We have a winner! Brian get’s the 2008 “legend award for explanatory clarity”!

I asked Brian if he would mind if I pasted his answers in here for the benefit of confused musicians everywhere and he said that was fine. But before I do, can I just say (and I am not getting paid for this) that CDBaby as an organisation of enthusiastic and pleasant individuals has consistently blown my mind over the last few months. They simply offer the best customer service of ANY organisation EVER.

Ever-ever ever.

The following words are Brian’s not mine, and admittedly I haven’t actually tested all this out yet, but I will post updates if anything turns out to be wrong (or you can leave a comment). Ok, so here goes, prepare to be enlightened:

“As for the information (metadata) on the CD…

There are 3 ways (I know of) that a CD can be inserted into a computer, and “automatically” know the artist, album, and song information.

== METHOD # 1: Directly recorded onto the CD

The name for the technology by which information about a recording is embedded into an audio CD is: CD-Text. The information itself (album title, artist name, etc.) is often referred to collectively as “metadata”.

CD-Text is part of the Red Book standard for audio CDs. Basically: if your burning program can do Red Book burning and offers the ability to specify the artist / album name and track titles for a CD, it can probably do the CD-Text when you burn the CD.  Most reputable mastering houses will allow you to specify CD-Text to go on your CD, as well.

These links can tell you a hell of a lot more than I ever could:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Books (all optical disk formats)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Book_%28audio_CD_standard%29 (Red Book CD format)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD_Text (CD-Text)

Be sure to see the links at the bottom of each article, too.  For example: http://web.ncf.ca/aa571/cdtext.htm : Nero can burn CD-Text onto CD-Rs. According to the above Wikipedia article, iTunes 7 can as well.

Here’s one I found when Googling “metadata audio.cd” which *looks* free: http://www.poikosoft.com/

== METHOD #2. Looked-up from an internet service like CDDB or FreeDB

There are several variants on this, and the only difference really is how they identify CDs when popped in.

The most common (and by “most common”, I mean “99.98% of time”) method used by the major audio players (e.g. iTunes, WinAmp, Windows Media Player) is extracting an ID number from the non-audio part of a CD and looking it up in an online database.

It basically involves getting some kind of unique “code” off the CD (usually referred to as a “catalog number” or “id number”), and then matching it up with an online database that stores all the information about the CD with that unique code.

Different online databases use different codes, but most of them are variants on the CD’s “table of contents”: http://www.cdrfaq.org/faq02.html#S2-27 … which is just a short blurb on the inner ring of a CD that tells an audio CD player where the tracks start and stop.

The biggest online databases are:

CDDB/Gracenote: http://www.gracenote.com/
The most popular and widely used online database. Most media players get info from the CDDB. It used to be free for all, but since Gracenote bought it, costs money for software companies to use.

FreeDB: http://www.freedb.org/
Still free. Less comprehensive than the CDDB, but still very comparable.

AMG AllMusicGuide: http://allmusic.com/
AMG supplies data about releases to lots of other companies. They also maintain the allmusic.com website, which is sort of like Google for mass-released recorded music.

Muze: http://www.muze.com/
Kind of like AMG, except they also provide the music too. (One of CD Baby’s
Digital Distribution partners.)

== METHOD #3. Audio player software keeps a local database on your computer.

This is what iTunes and Windows Media Player and others also do.

If you pop in a CD and explicitly type in the artist, album, and track names, it stores all this in a file somewhere, probably accompanied by an id number like the CDDB does. Then, when you pop that CD into your computer again, you don’t have to type all that junk in again.

So… what should YOU do, for YOUR CD?

#1 – For future CDs you press, definitely look into #1, and try to encode the information directly into the CD.

#2 – Submit your CD’s info to CDDB/Gracenote.
The easiest way to do this is through iTunes.
1. Insert the CD into your machine.
2. Open iTunes. Be sure it recognizes your CD with your artistname / albumname. If it doesn’t, you can right click on both the CD itself (on the left-hand side of iTunes) and the individual CD tracks (usually in the playlist window on the right) and choose “Get Info” or “Properties”. There you can enter your artist name, track titles, and all the other info, and iTunes will save it (this is Method #3 discussed above).
3. Click on the “advanced” menu.
4. Then just “submit CD track info”.
Save the submission and it will automatically be uploaded to CDDB/Gracenote. (This is Method #2 discussed above.)”
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SEAMUS ANTHONY: Dogs May Bark
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DIY my Butt – Homemade CDs Suck and here’s why…

The following is the story of one idiot (me) trying to take the cheapskate option and hand-make five CDs to send to CDBaby to sell. And of how it nearly drove me to cause some kind of act of mass destruction that, had it actually happened, would more than likely have involved a printer, an Officeworks outlet, the five CDs in question, a life-size reconstruction of that zeppelin that blew up and one of those really long BBQ matches.

Let me explain…

A few weeks ago in an inspired (but stupid) moment I decided to hand-make the first five copies of my forthcoming “Dogs May Bark” CD. My rationale, if you can call it that, was to make them cheaply as a kind of mini-investment, sell them, re-invest the profits, make a few more and so on so that as I made more discs each time each batch pays for themselves and contributes to the next batch, or something like that.

I mean, I didn’t actually do a budget, I just figured it’d work out …

What’s more I gave myself 7 days to do it.

Yeah right.

I would like to say now, to the very few that will read this, that I will categorically never ever do that again even if some axe-wielding-maniac threatens to castrate me unless I do. I mean that. I will place my precious boys out on the block without resistance and contort myself in such a way as to give the man a clear shot and no chance of missing.

You see it should have been easy to make 5 CDs – but nay, it was in fact a complete pain the arse.

It started with the design. I asked my wife-except-for-the-marriage-bit to design the cover for me. That turned out ace but me nagging her to get it done within the 7 days didn’t do our relationship any good, especially seeing as our little darling 9 month old was keeping us up all night for no damn good reason (that we could ascertain anyway – you think WHAAAA! makes no sense during the day, try figuring out that shit at 4am).

seamusanthony_front_cover.jpg

Then I had to buy the discs. I went to Officeworks and bought those discs with the white printable tops – but they only seem to come in those thin covers with no back insert facility. This would have been ok if I hadn’t just spent five days stressing my girl out to get a back insert made. So I had to buy another bunch of non-printable discs so I could use their full size cases.

Of course I didn’t notice this in the shop, my girlfriend noticed it back home. So I had to go back to Officeworks to get those bigger jewel cases. That took me about a week to get around to. (It’s cold out there in Melbourne right now, and we live in the hills too. So you can see why I am so ambivalent about losing my nads – I can’t feel them anyway.)

Oh and on another tangent: Why are they called jewel cases? Is it because if you didn’t extract the oil to make the plastic covers that oil might turn into a diamond one day?

Anyway so then I needed five covers and we had run out of paper to print them and besides normal office paper wasn’t going to cut it so I bought some nice card but they only had 80% recycled. Hey, we all make compromises sometimes.

Yeah so look I went home and the printer was in its box because we moved house two years ago and we never seem to use it. Meanwhile we have changed computers to a nice new Mac (from a shitty old PC). Of course the printer wouldn’t work would it. And no idea where the driver disc is and it probably was just for PC anyway so spent an entire Sunday finding a driver to get it working. You know, searching through lame suggestions in forums until you finally find the answer yourself in some kind of zen-koan satori breakthrough. (I know what I mean, that’s all that matters.)

But, says the little pop-up, there are three empty printer cartridges….

One million dollars and another trip to Officeworks later…

Printed the covers. Ok. Look good.

Somehow it takes me until the next Sunday to get around to figuring out how to print the discs. By the very end of that nice sunny-outside Sunday I discover that although the driver I downloaded works for paper, it won’t work with the CD-Label print software that I spent the first half of the day discovering I needed. I think it was Tuesday before I printed the CDs.

And of course the whole 7 day thing is a dead duck by now obviously.

So now I have paper covers and sweet looking discs but I need to cut them out. I cut out one with some crap old scissors we have but it looks all wobbly and it took far too long. And then they don’t fit anyway. The cd artwork template we downloaded from the internet (we googled “CD artwork template”) wasn’t the right size! They were about a centimetre out!

Damn it! I DEMAND my free useful shit from the internet to be accurate ok?! Jeez!

So then (about a week later) I have to go to Officeworks AGAIN to get them to guillotine the covers. Which they slug me five bucks for. And while I was waiting for the McGenius who served me to find the time to slice my paper, I impulsively bought some cool computer speakers that I couldn’t believe were only $120.

Suffice to say, my little budget has gone right out the window by now and there is no way in hell I am making anything less than a $500 loss on these first 5 Cds – especially because in my infinite financial planning wisdom I totally forgot to factor in that I paid to get the recording done in a studio (well, the basic tracks, I did the cool computer sounds on my iMac). So what the hell kind of bizzaro-budgeting planet I was on in the first place I do not know.

And then I go to post them. I never post shit so I thought you know, maybe it’s be five bucks to send them to the USA from Australia. U-Uh. over $20 bucks. So I’m like “Oh so they get there pretty quick though huh?”

The post office lady just grunts. I had to strain to hear her sweet dulcet tones properly but I am pretty sure she said “A week”.

What are they sending them by? Canoe?

So suffice to say I was more than glad to wave those five little fuckers off and I hope the CDBaby people enjoy them and I went straight home and got three quotes for 100 cds done professionally and was perfectly happy to place a $500 order and I will never, ever go near the idea of home-making my CDs ever again. Good luck to you should you try.

And my back hurt typing this drivel so go to my myspace page shop and listen to my music already and then email cdbaby at cdbaby dot com and tell them you want one of the only five hand made CD copies of “Dogs May Bark” by Seamus Anthony, which are currently being paddled furiously to Portland from Melbourne, Australia by one poor sod who alone in this world truly knows the deeper hidden meaning behind the popular adage “to go postal”.

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The Hidden Costs of Rockin’ the Suburbs

It’s important to watch out for hidden costs when executing your music marketing plans.

As I have been setting up my CD Baby page it somehow eluded me that there were a couple of set up costs: a once off $35 joining fee and a once off $20 fee for a barcode. And I also didn’t factor in the cost of posting off the first 5 cds to the US for CDBaby to sell for me. Couple that with the recycled (refilled) ink cartridges I had to buy for my printer, the CDs themselves (with the printable white discs) and the nice card for the covers (I could only find 40% recycled which sucked). Then when you factor in the (roughly) $500 I paid the guy to record my guitar and voice, the costs mount up. Off course if I was any good at sound recording I could have saved a bunch and done it myself but I firmly believe in not trying to do everything yourself – it’s better to be good at a few things and enlist the help of others who have their own area of expertise.

Other costs: Petrol to drive around getting stuff. Time away from my work. New guitar strings. Oh dear, the little red numbers are getting bigger!

Well firstly, you can’t let it get to you. You have to spend some cash to make some and the trick is not to worry about money, just keep an eye on it. Be it’s master not it’s slave. (And if it really starts to get to you – let go.) Be wealthy in your mind and your reality will soon follow. (This does not, as some people mistakenly believe, mean “spend lots of money on a lavish lifestyle when you can’t afford it”. And yes there is a difference between “being wealthy” and “being extravagant and financially irresponsible”.)

Secondly I am having to amend the amount of CDs it will take me to sell before I get my investment back. I originally expected a small return after just ten CD sales, but I guess that was a little hastily thought out. It will in fact take more like 100 BUT I am sure as hell going to get my investment back plus a return. (Also, this doesn’t factor other streams of revenue like gigs and err, *cough* t-shirt sales?)

In other exciting news, CD Baby seems great so far. I have set up my CD Baby account and they are just waiting for the CDs to get to them before they can sell them. They also offer what seems like a fairly comprehensive digital distribution service so that’ll hopefully result in a far greater reach for my music.

And I discovered a function to embed some HTML from CD baby into this blog which will result in a “Buy Now” kind of thing and a link through to the sales page, so that was freakin’ easy (I was quietly having a little non-geek panic attack about how to do that). Actually, I’d better get on with doing that now, not to mention my day job! Back tomorrow 🙂

Now, you! Go do one thing to get your music out there!

The CD art is like, done, man…

So this weekend I print ’em up and ship ’em out.

Then my training into online music marketing begins in earnest. And maybe a gig or five as well.

Meanwhile check out the first song from the disc, “Go Away”, here at the ubiquitous MySpace page

Here’s the cover…

seamusanthony_front_cover.jpg