FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions About CD Production
 
Notice To User
The contents of this FAQ segment is made available strictly for information purposes. Summit Sound SIAD Inc. specifically disclaims any and all liability regarding the use of this information. The data contained in our repertories is obtained from a variety of sources and is updated on a regular basis. Nevertheless we cannot guarantee its accuracy. For this reason we invite you to contact us directly in case of doubt regarding any information contained herein.
If your question isn't here email us directly at: info@summitsound.com or call 1-800-403 9755 and one of our representatives will provide a personal response to your inquiry.

Q: What is Audio CD mastering (or pre-mastering) & do I need it?

Q: Why should I check the reference CDR of my master?

Q: What is the "CMYK process" required to print a CD cover?

Q: If I have a PC or MAC and some graphic ability, can I do my own cover artwork?

Q: What are the typical problems with PC (non-Mac) graphics files?

Q: What happens if I want to change the graphic or CDR proof I receive?

Q: How can I get permission to record/release songs that I did not write? (Mechanical licenses)

Q: How can I protect songs I have written? (Copyright)

Q: Why should my original songs be registered with a performing rights organization?

Q: What is the Canadian MAPL symbol & should I use it?

Q: Do I need a resale certificate in the USA or Vendors permit in Canada to sell CDs?

Q: What is a catalogue or release number & do I need one?

Q: Do I need a barcode & how can I get one?

Q: Why do CD manufacturers have a policy of shipping up to 10% over or under?

Q: What are your terms of payment?


Q: What is Audio CD mastering (or pre-mastering) & do I need it?
A:
Audio CD mastering in it's most basic form is the step in manufacturing following mixdown where this master is loaded into a digital workstation and a final master "Red Book compatible" CDR is created including proper P&Q codes and a time/frame accurate log. More advanced mastering can be a very complex process involving additional compression/ limiting (for louder CDs), noise reduction, EQing, reverb and/or stereo enhancement as well as very sophisticated editing. Summit Sound offers all of these services at competitive rates.
If you can provide Summit Sound a professionally formatted "Red Book" compatible CDR including P&Q codes and a time/frame accurate log, (and you are fully satisfied with the present sound of your master) you may not need additional mastering services. It has been our experience that most masters benefit from post production "mastering" services.

Q: Why should I check the reference CDR of my master?
A:
If Summit Sound is involved in mastering your CD, we routinely send a reference CDR for your approval. It should sound and perform exactly like your finished CDs. This CDR will be created in our mastering suite with industry standard software and includes the proper P and Q codes as well as a time/frame accurate log (both) required to generate a glass master for CD replication.Whether we create a reference CDR master for you, or you supply your own, you should take the time to check it (listen to every track) CAREFULLY since your finished CDs will be exact copies of this CDR. Our responsibility is to recreate digital "clones" of the final CDR master.

Q: What is the "CMYK process" required to print a CD cover?
A:
The term CMYK stands for C-Cyan / M-Magenta / Y-Yellow / K-Black. This is the industry printing standard 4 colour "process". All full color cover content (including photographs) must be divided (or separated) into the 4 CMYK (primary) colors (usually on computer) and then uploaded to a digital press for "Direct-to-plate" print production. The traditional process (prior to direct-to-plate presses) was to create a piece of negative film (and a colour proof) for each of the 4 CMYK colors. (These films are created from computer files on a high resolution 2550dpi imagesetter by a graphic service bureau.) Thus it requires 4 digital plates which are created from hi res PDF files and placed on a digital press OR 4 negatives plus a color key proof of each of the 4 colors, which are then used to produce the final printing plates on a conventional offset press. Note that even for covers printed direct-to-plate, the film process is still required to create Pantone (PMS) color negatives & plates for direct-on-disc CD imprinting.

Q: If I have a PC or MAC and some graphic ability, can I do my own cover artwork?
A:
Although Apple (Mac) computers have long dominated the graphics (and music) industry, recent changes in digital print processes involving the use of printable PDF files, have made it much easier for PC owners to also create files that can now actually be used for "direct-to-plate" offset printing. If you are a Mac or PC user with current professional graphics software capable of creating hi-resolution printable PDF files, and are familiar with the process involved, you can easily download our applicable cover layout templates in either QuarkXpress or the Acrobat PDF formats and then supply your final design to us in the universal PDF format - from which we can go direct-to-plate. (See our design specifications for more details)
Mac or PC users commonly use programs such as QuarkXpress, Photoshop, Illustrator or In-Design to create their design and to manipulate images... when the design is complete convert all colors to CMYK, "flatten" layers, and embed text, then re-save as a high quality 300 dpi Acrobat (PDF) file and write to CDR or upload to our FTP site. If additional file conversion or extra design work is required by Summit, it is billed at $60. per hour over and above any package prices quoted.

Q: What are the typical problems with client-supplied PC or Mac graphics files?
A:
Common problems with supplied files from amateur or part-time designers, typically involve file and font incompatibilities, missing bleed and crop/fold/perf marks and poor color matching, (due to improper monitor calibration and a general lack of understanding of the CMYK process) which means the final output can vary DRAMATICALLY from what you see on your monitor. If you have never done this before, your CD or DVD cover isn't a great place to experiment. Not everyone who owns a computer is a graphic designer! Summit Sound designs music product covers every day, and our professional staff can provide all related services with no hassles and guarantee "major label quality" results. To avoid extra cost and needless work, before beginning any "DIY" cover design work, be sure to call and speak with one of our consultants to ensure that you are taking the best approach.

Q: What happens if I want to change the graphic or CDR proof I receive?
A:
Summit Sound usually provides a PDF color proof of customer supplied files or our "in-house" designs. We also routinely do a laser printed pre-press proof, to ensure the printed result is accurate before going to press. We guarantee your satisfaction with our design and any proofs, but if additional work is required that exceeds the package limitation(s) or you want to change the cover, or alter the audio master further, (after we have presented proofs) we do charge for the extra work required. In order to avoid extra charges, please make sure all cover information is complete and supplied to us correctly, and that you are clear about what mastering services, song re-sequencing etc. (if any) that you need us to do.

Q: How can I get permission to record/release songs that I did not write? (Mechanical licenses)
A: In order to record and release someone else's copyrighted composition(s), you need to obtain a written mechanical license. Mechanical licenses cannot be denied (as long as you do not alter the original words or music), but obtaining them can be VERY time consuming, and sometimes quite a complex process.
1.) The first step (if you don't already know the author and/or publisher's names and addresses) would be to contact the performing rights organizations to find out who owns the copyright for the song(s) you are recording.
In the USA contact BMI (212) 586-2000 www.bmi.com, ASCAP (212) 621-6160 www.ascap.com, or SESAC (800) 826-9966 www.sesac.com.
In Canada contact SOCAN 1(800) 557-6226 www.socan.ca Once you have this information, you can contact the author/publisher and negotiate your own rates.
2.) If you don't want to negotiate your own rates, there are recognized agencies who act on behalf of affiliated publishers to issue mechanical licenses for them at standard statutory rates (out of which they deduct a commission)
In the USA contact: The Harry Fox Agency/NMPA (212) 370-5330 www.nmpa.org OR Integrated Copyright Group (212) 370-5330 icgi@ix.netcom.com .
In Canada contact: CMRRA (416) 926-1966 or www.cmrra.ca
OR SODRAC (514) 845-3268 www.sodrac.com
For songs up to 5 minutes long, standard rates are currently about 9¢ per song, per copy released. Songs over 5 minutes are calculated at approximately 1.62¢ per minute additional.
3.) If you are part of a nonprofit group and cannot afford the standard fee, in the USA contact: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (215) 545-3385 and they may be able to help negotiate reduced royalties.

Q: How can I protect songs I have written? (Copyright)
A:
Any original work (song, poem, art etc. ) is your copyrighted property, the moment you conceive it, but it is up to you to validate this.
1.) The most common method is to mail a tape or CD of each of your songs (in separate envelopes with the song title written on the back) to yourself by registered mail. When you sign for this at the post office they will have a record of your signature and the date, but DO NOT OPEN the letters. (These should be kept in a safe place to be produced as evidence in any legal proceeding.)
2.) Copyright registration: In the USA you may also choose to register your copyright with the US Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (202) 707-9100 http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright
In Canada contact: Canadian Intellectual Property Office/Industry Canada (800) 567-2345 or http://cipo.gc.ca/
Procedures and fees vary in the US and Canada, but the Library of Congress is generally considered the better alternative, because they place a copy of your work on file (unbelievably, CIPO do not) and the "L of C" rates are about 1/3 of the $65. CIPO fee.

Q: Why should my original songs be registered with a performing rights organization?
A:
Performing Rights organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, SESAC in the USA and SOCAN in Canada, exist to track and collect royalties for the use of music on radio, TV, film and even live performances. Technically, radio/TV can refuse to play music that does not list performing rights affiliation, since part of their licensing agreement with the FCC in the USA or the CRTC in Canada requires that they pay these collectives for the use of all music that they broadcast. Since it is impossible for individuals to know what every station is playing at any given time, performing rights organizations provide this service to affiliated writers and publishers through a very sophisticated polling process and then divide proceeds collected between their members according to usage. If you plan to collect royalties for public performance of your music, you will need to join one of these organizations and list them in your author/publisher credits on your CD cover to serve notice to those playing your music.
In the USA contact BMI (212) 586-2000 www.bmi.com, ASCAP (212) 621-6160 www.ascap.com, or SESAC (800) 826-9966 www.sesac.com.
In Canada contact SOCAN 1(800) 557-6226 www.socan.ca

Q: What is the Canadian MAPL symbol & should I use it?
A:
The MAPL symbol was created by an executive at RPM magazine (the Canadian equivalent of "Billboard") to make it easy for Canadian broadcasters to determine if music qualifies for broadcast under "Canadian Content" regulations. When the symbol is used, MAPL compliance is graphically represented using a "pie-chart", with the quarters of the "pie" representing the following 4 items as defined by the Canadian Radio Television Commission (CRTC) : M - Music / A - Artist / P - Production / L - Lyrics. In order to qualify as "Can-Con", a minimum of 2 of the 4 MAPL categories must be Canadian. Canadian broadcasters are required by law to play minimum percentages (typically 7 to 40% depending upon their licensing agreement with the CRTC) of Canadian Content. If any song on your CD meets 2 or more of the 4 MAPL requirements, you may want to include the MAPL symbol beside it. You can find a MAPL symbol on the Summit download page. (This could also apply to US artists seeking Canadian airplay who co-write with Canadians and record/manufacture with companies like SUMMIT in Canada.)

Q: Do I need a resale certificate in the USA or Vendors permit in Canada to sell CDs?
A:
Resale Certificates or Vendors Permits, license you as a retail vendor and usually allow you to purchase your CDs or cassettes without paying state or provincial tax on the wholesale cost for these items; but you are then obligated to collect and remit that tax on the retail selling price. In some states or provinces it may actually be illegal to sell your CD or Cassette without a license (and add tax), however, in some parts of the USA, unless you run a full time business, it is may be difficult to get a resale certificate from your state. To be safe contact the sales tax dept. in your region and get a written ruling on your specific situation.

USA customers of Summit Sound are exempt from both Canadian Federal (5%GST) and Ontario provincial (8%PST) sales taxes and CDs are duty-free if your product is shipped to you from Summit by a common carrier (such as UPS).

Canadian Summit customers must add GST, and unless your product is shipped out of Ontario by a common carrier (such as UPS) or you have an valid Ontario vendors permit number, you will also need to add applicable Ontario PST.

Q: What is a catalogue or release number & do I need one?
A:
This is a specific identification number for your CD or tape. The number consists of a combination of letters and numbers (At Summit we use "in-house" numbers such as SCD 5432 for a CD and SC4 5432 for Cassette) Every project needs a release number to help the manufacturer keep all your parts straight. At Summit Sound, we keep track of your project by release number so it is ESSENTIAL to include it on ALL artwork or negatives. The bottom line is that each part MUST contain your catalogue/release number.( If you do not provide a catalogue number with your project, we will assign it one.)

Q: Do I need a barcode & how can I get one?
A:
A barcode or UPC code (as it is known in North America) is usually required if you plan to sell your CDs or cassettes in stores. (You also need a different barcode for both your CD and cassette ...unless they both are the same price.)
Summit Sound can create & provide you with a UPC barcode and incorporate it in your design for a fee of $50. per bar code.
You can purchase your own barcode number (approx $600.US./yr) PLUS you will also need special software (approx $300.US) to generate the barcode if you do it yourself.
To get your own (license to create) Barcode(s):
In the USA contact: Uniform Code Council, 1-800-543-8137 or (513) 435-3870
In Canada contact: Electronic Commerce Council of Canada, 1-800-567-7084 or (416) 510-8039

Q: Why do CD manufacturers have a policy of shipping up to 10% over or under?
A:
In any custom manufacturing process there are fluctuations in the actual quantities manufactured. At Summit Sound we usually manufacture extra units, because we may reject a few units that do not pass our high quality control standards. Depending on the number of rejects, your total quantity will vary slightly, plus or minus 10%. If for example we were 25 CDs short, it would not be practical to put your CD back on the presses to create 25 more copies... so you will not be billed for any product you do not get. By the same standard, if there 25 extras you will be billed for these . You only pay for the exact number of tapes or discs received (up to 10% plus or minus). This process is completely determined by quality control, so please don't ask us not to MAKE specific numbers of overs or unders. At Summit if you pre-pay your order in-full at time of placement, including applicable taxes and freight, any over-run is FREE!

Q: What are your terms of payment?
A:
A minimum deposit of 60% is required to begin any project. Balance (with adjustments for +/-10% on the final quantity shipped), applicable taxes and shipping fees are payable PRIOR to final shipment. If you pre-pay your order in-full in advance including applicable taxes and freight, any over-run is FREE!