How to Replicate Multiple Copies of Your Home Recordings

By Jeff Strong

Replication is used for making commercial CDs and involves recording a glass master (the master disc from which all your CD copies will be made) from your master CD-R. The glass master is then used to transfer the data onto CD media. Replication is designed for larger runs of 500 or more copies.

Quantities less than 300 aren’t cost effective because the glass master often costs between $100 and $200, and the film needed to print the CD, sleeve, and tray card can cost several hundred dollars more.

CD replication usually comes with printing on the CD in one to four colors and a tray card and sleeve that are often printed in four colors. Most CD replication companies have retail-ready CD package deals that cover everything from the layout of your artwork to printed CDs, jewel boxes, and shrink wrap. You can expect to pay $1,200 to $2,000 for 500 to 1,000 copies from most manufacturers.

If you want to go the replication route, you need to provide the replication company with a master audio CD, artwork set to the company’s specifications, and a completed order form. Oh, and you probably need to pay half the money upfront before the work can start (bummer).

After people at the manufacturing company receive your order form, the CD, and artwork, they make a reference CD and proofs of your finished printed material. Be sure to look over the art proofs carefully and listen to every second of the reference CD.

Any mistakes that you don’t catch are your problem, so take your time and compare the reference CD very closely with the master recording. (You did make a copy of your master CD before you sent it out, right?) The master and the reference CD should be identical.

Having your CD replicated is a stressful thing. You’re spending a ton of money and getting quite a few copies that you need to be proud enough of to go out in the world and sell them. So, choosing a CD-replication company is an important task. Quite a few companies are out there, so choose the place that makes you feel the most comfortable and that makes a high-quality product.

Following is a list of the larger CD-replication companies:

For more possibilities, input the term CD replication in your favorite Internet search engine.

Many CD-replication companies can provide you with great resources, information, and even opportunities for promoting your work. Take advantage of these opportunities if you can, but don’t choose a company based on its promotional promises. Choose a company because of its customer service, price, and the quality of its product.

Be sure to ask for referrals — or at least a list of satisfied clients — before you choose a duplication or replication company. As always, your best bet when entrusting someone with your precious music is to ask friends for recommendations. Also, take timing estimates with a grain of salt. Leave plenty of time between when you print your CDs and when you need them.