An Unsigned Band’s Guide To Self-Releasing A CD

As an unsigned band looking to get your music out there, releasing an album is probably something that is on your list when it comes to getting your music in front of your fans and help to spread your sound.

Sure, you don’t have a record label to do a bit of the legwork for you, but that doesn’t mean that your album can’t still be a hit, and follow in the footsteps of the likes of A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, and many others who have successfully self-released and gone on to achieve big things.

While some people seem to be under the impression that the rise in popularity of streaming services means that physical formats like the CD are somewhat dead these days when in actual fact the revenue generated by CDs in 2015 was around £468m according to the Financial Times!

If you’re not sure where to begin, we thought we’d put together a little guide to help you out when it comes to releasing your own album, to cover everything you need to do it yourself!

Get a plan together

The first thing you want to do before you begin is to get a plan into place so that you know exactly what you need to do and have a rough idea of your timelines.

  • Generally this will include:
  • Recording and mixing the music
  • Having album artwork designed
  • Photoshoots of the band/musicians
  • Registering for royalty payments
  • Having your album mastered
  • Getting CDs made
  • Distribution and promotion

You’ll need to figure out when you can schedule the above in a way that allows everything to come together nicely. For example, you’ll need to have your album artwork ready before your album is mastered, so make sure you schedule for this to be completed on time.

Establishing rights

There are organisations you will need to make sure you register with in order to receive royalty payments and to make sure that you have the rights to your music.

In the UK, you’ll want to register with either PPL, PRS, or MCPS. All of these organisations do slightly different things, but PPL will assign you with International Standard Recording Codes, which you will need before you master your music as well as at various other points throughout the process, so we would advise that you definitely register with them.

If you’ve literally never heard of any of this, this article is very helpful and detailed when it comes to self-releasing an album so it’s great to refer back to.

Have you CDs produced

Once you’re all ready to go and you’ve mastered your music and got everything planned out, you’ll need to find a company to actually make your CDs for you. Try to choose somebody with a good reputation, as they will have heaps of knowledge and experience and be able to help you if you need any advice. VDC Group are a good choice, they’re an official UK Partner of SONY DADC, and they have a quick turnaround time.

Figure out whether CD duplication or replication is going to be best for your release. Typically, for runs under 500 CDs duplication is the most cost-effective option, whereas replication is great for huge runs and gives a more professional end product.

VDC Group offer both, and have a useful page explaining the difference between the two services, which you can find here.

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