Think you’re ready to make a CD or DVD?

by Dwight Cook

With disc duplication, there are so many choices that a little knowledge and preparation go a long way toward getting the product that is best-suited to your purposes. The goal of this article is to inform you of considerations before you talk with your duplicator.

What is your target market demographic?

istock_000005431002xsmallIt’s good marketing to determine the graphic design and packaging of your disc for its intended audience. If you are designing artwork for a product that is targeted toward women, you would have a different design than one aimed toward men. If your product has a younger audience, your artwork and packaging should reflect a more edgy, multifaceted look than product intended for retired senior citizens. If your disc content deals with a green environmental issue, you certainly don’t want to package it in a plastic case! Make your product attractive to your target market.

Is your disc content for business, music sales, movies or software?

There are many different kinds of discs. The most common are music and data CD’s as well as video and data DVD’s. If your disc is an audio CD, you want to master the assorted songs to have similar volume and tonal properties as well as sequence the best “flow” of the material. Also, at this point, the disc metadata should be addressed. In turn, a video DVD may need authoring to have a menu or different chapters indexed. Your duplicator can usually provide this, but there are also businesses that specialize in mastering or authoring services. Lastly, if your disc is for retail, you will need a unique bar-code so it can be scanned at checkout.

Will you mail your discs?

If you intend to mail your discs, you will want to consider flexible packaging that is not brittle. I suggest that you step away from the standard jewel case and choose a trigger case, clamshell or custom-printed eco-friendly digipak for mailing. In addition, you will want to insert your package into a bubble-cushioned mailing envelope to minimize the chance of damage in transit.

What is your timeline?

Dollar rainTime is money – Allow your chosen duplicator sufficient time to complete your order without a rush charge. It usually takes a major national duplicator 3-4 weeks to complete a 1000+ order, with full-color offset-printed packaging and glass-master stamped (replicated) discs. In most major metropolitan areas, there are companies that specialize in short-run orders and can offer a quicker turnaround, usually at some compromise to the packaging and perhaps containing laser-etched (duplicated) discs.


You may want to use your logo or an illustration that you have on your web site on the disc. You should provide a high-resolution photo or illustration to use in the design. WARNING – Do not take graphics from the web (most web graphics are 72dpi while printing specs may be 1200dpi) and expect them to look good printed on the disc or packaging, especially if the discs are laser printed! Even a printed paper label appearance will suffer without good quality artwork. I prefer a four color process printed directly on the disc for the best graphic appearance over a paper label any day. You want a professional overall look to the disc!

Dwight Cook is a principle at Sound Works, Houston which does full retail or short-run duplication. If you have questions or comments you can contact him through various social media or email @