Signing off the Artwork for School CDs

Graphic Design

Lots of people will be familiar with the concept of design by committee.  This is usually a term which refers to many people all sharing their opinion on a particular matter.   Another word for this is democracy.   And as we have all seen over the last couple of years, the democratically elected government are struggling to respond to a recent issue, over which there was a referendum.  I won’t say any more on that particular one for fear of spilling many worms out of cans.

School CD Artwork

The majority of our school CDs are designed to a formula, particularly in Primary Schools.  Usually a pupil will create a design for the front cover. We then add the school name and Album title on banners which are in the school colour.  On the reverse of the booklet there is usually a letter or welcome from the Headteacher often alongside one or two further pupil designs.  Inside the booklet might be yet more pupil pictures, photos of the recording session or a list of names of those who took part.

The CD Surface is perhaps the most simple element as it will just have the title of the Album and the School name.   On the back of the packaging (the Tray Inlay) will be found the standard copyright notes, our corporate information and, most importantly, the track list.

Signing off the Artwork and Design

Before we can put an album into production (the point at which we start printing the CD paper parts and replicating the discs) our customers need to sign off the digital artwork proof files to confirm they are correct.

This covers two key points.

Checking the Text

Most of the time people will supply us text in a digital format so our graphic design team generally cut and paste – this is particularly useful with long lists of names!  This will help to minimise any typos. As well as blocks of text, it’s equally important to make sure we have attributed the correct artwork to the correct pupil, and spelt their name correctly.

Checking the Track List

Equally as important as the designs and the text in the booklet and on the CD is the track list on the back of the Artwork / Jewel Case.   Firstly this also needs to be spellchecked.  Secondly, it’s worth noting that when we build the Digital CD Master, we use the signed off artwork to order the tracks.

In a lot of cases we often record more songs than actually make it onto the final CD.  This may be because the Musical Director wasn’t happy with a particular song or simply a change of plan for the final album.  It makes no odds to us.  We will simply include the tracks as detailed on your artwork once it is signed off.  It is therefore imperative that you also check all songs are included that you want on the album and you have put them in the correct order.

Always check the detail thoroughly

Recently we had a client (we will not name them as it would be most unfair) who signed off some CD artwork and placed an order for a large quantity of CDs.

In response we used the signed off artwork, created the Audio master and delivered the CDs to our client. A few moments after delivery the client rang to say there was a problem.  As it turned out, there was a track missing off the CD, and one of the tracks had been labelled as being sung by a different group to the one who in fact were performing on the recording.

In a brief moment of panic we quickly compared the confirmed artwork with the audio master and the final product.   Everything was as it should be, unfortunately the client had just left one song off the list when advising us of the track list.   There was also a misprint on the CD booklet as a name had been incorrectly advised to us.

At the end of the day, sometimes people make mistakes and we felt for the poor client who was very distressed at their mistake.   But that aside, as we explained we have to follow a procedure and we still feel it is the best way to ensure CDs are produced error free and exactly as the client intends.

In order to try and help our client as much as possible, we re did the artwork and master CD free of charge and then produced another batch of CDs at cost to minimise the expense they incurred.

We are only a small company and are certainly not infallible.  I’m quite prepared to admit that we have made mistakes in the past and no doubt will make more in the future.    The goal of this post is to try and help our clients ensure they avoid the pitfalls and potential expense of not thoroughly checking the artwork.    We do also cast an eye over artwork and if there is an obvious mistake we will always highlight it to a client so they have the chance to review it and change if necessary.  However, in busy periods, sometimes we just have to go with the proofs which have been signed off.


4 Part Music pride themselves on an attention to detail which is not often found nowadays.  We aim to help our clients as much as we can to ensure they are delighted with the final product.  If you would like to talk to us about your next CD Recording then please call 01225 302143 or click here to send us an email.

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