Releasing a DIY CD

There are many different options available for putting together your own DIY CD. First, consider what your goals are for your release. To sell to fans? Or for promotional purposes? Keep in mind that many radio stations will likely toss your CD if it doesn’t have a sturdy, easily legible spine. But if your main concern is getting new music out to fans, or having something to give someone who might book you, then the options can become overwhelming. Below, I’ve outlined some main things to consider.

  1. What type of case?

    • Jewel case
    • Slim Case
    • Digi-pack
    • Sleeves (paper, cardboard, or clear plastic. For the plastic sleeve, print your artwork on cardstock, fold in half, and insert in the clear plastic sleeve. Fast and easy.)
    • Blank pre-made recycled packaging options from Stumptown Printers
    • A variety of cases and poly bags: Bags Unlimited
    • Hand make a special cardboard box covered with fabric and filled with photos to go along with the cd (time consuming but if you have lots of time it can be very unique.)
  2. How is your artwork is going to be applied to the case (for a non-jewel type case)?

    • Use custom made stamps: Barnard Stamp Company
    • Screenprint (learn how or find a friend who knows how.) I will be screen printing my own record jackets soon.
    • Digitally print the artwork, cut and glue on.
    • Make a stencil and use spray paint
    • Other DIY supplies such as poly bags from Stumptown Printers
    • Don’t scrimp on the artwork. Spend the time to find someone who can help you made a good looking, uncluttered cover.
  3. Duplicated vs. replicated

    You can have small quantities of CDs duplicated and for pretty much most situations, that will work fine. You can even burn your own CDs at home, on a white faced printable CD and use a stamp on the front. Or, like it’s made to, print on it with an inkjet printer. A word of caution: One of those inkjet printable CDs have recently become stuck in my laptop computer. And those sticky CD labels….DON’T mess with them Replicated Cds can be ordered in smaller quantities, but not as small as duplicated CDs. Personally, I like having someplace else burn the CDs because they can usually put black text or an image on the face of the CD for fairly cheap. That leaves more time and energy to focus on making the packaging. What is the difference between replication and duplication?


If you’re strapped for time, I’d recommend doing a short run order from CD Baby or Discmakers. You can get just 100 fully packaged CDs for about $2.80 per CD. I have done this ordering 300 replicated CDs, and the cost goes down from there. It’s an easy solution if you need standard professional looking CDs but don’t want boxes of CDs cluttering your apartment. When you’ve sold them all, you will have enough money to restock your supply. FINALLY! When your CD is ready, make sure EVERYONE knows about it! Most cities have a local publication that will cover local music. Also, the people at CD Baby have a blog with some great tips about getting your music out there.

By: Beth Bombara ABOUT BETH BOMBARA: Beth writes and performs Americana music infused with a shot of the blues. She has self released 3 CDs, one LP, and is working on a 7″ single (out for Record Store Day), and 2 EPs for 2013. She was named 2012 Best Singer-Songwriter by the Riverfront Times.