distribution has been getting as much or more attention than CD's for a
while now. Plus the MFiT
(Mastered For iTunes) format is starting to
take hold because... it sounds better!
CD Baby is one of the popular companies who can handle a variety of
ways to make your music available. Replication (for actual pressed CDs)
is coming up, but first a quick Q&A about how CD Baby handles MFiT
Q) How do I
submit Mastered For iTunes files to CD Baby?
CD Baby can deliver content to iTunes
that meets their Mastered for iTunes requirements. If you go ahead and
start the normal sign up process with CD Baby, that would be a great
Essentially what you will do is
sign up two versions of the album with CD Baby, one that will use 16
bit 44.1 kHz files and be used for CD Baby and all of our partners
except for iTunes, and another version that will then use the 24 bit
audio files for iTunes.
The two CD Baby submissions will both
require their own submission fee and barcode fee. If you already have a
barcode for the standard version, you will only need to purchase the
one additional barcode for the Mastered for iTunes version (along with
the album submission fees).
For the first submission, you will need
to be sure to exclude iTunes when you are setting the digital
For the second submission, you will
exclude ALL other companies aside from iTunes. You will upload art and
audio for the first submission and only art for the second. Once
the second submission is in place you will send me a link to the 24 bit
files (we recommend sites like DropBox, SendThisFile or YouSendIt for
hosting your files) and we will manually make the delivery to iTunes.
Contact CD Baby for a representative to take you through the process.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for a title to
be labeled in the iTunes store as "Mastered for iTunes", the content
must be mastered by an iTunes approved mastering house such as Vestman
Mastering. Also include the following information:
Q) I have
heard of [a duplication
company] offering "single glass masters" as a production based sonic
improvement - with an extra $200 charge. Is it worth it? -Big Al
- Artist Name
Please note that though we will pass this
information on to iTunes for the release, we cannot guarantee that they
will add the Mastered for iTunes badge to this release in their store,
or that they will include it in that specific section of the store.
Though in most cases they should, it is ultimately up to their
discretion. If accepted, they should have it flagged as Mastered for
iTunes within about 4-6 weeks after their review.
- Album or Single title
- Mastering House (like Vestman
Mastering, where your album was mastered for iTunes)
- Mastering Engineer (Name of your
Mastered for iTunes mastering engineer)
- Engineer's Email address (The email
address of your mastering engineer)
A) If they're
single-speed (1X) glass masters, any
duplication plant around offers that, and you should request it
when you send in your mastered product. The problem is that many CD
plante today use a network system, and so the whole transfer process is
evolving. Ask them to be sure if they offer 1X, because it does
(at the plant) saves them money and allows
them to lower the cost to the consumer. DDP masters (Disc
Description Protocol) is a yellow book data CDR, and that's what we
prefer to send to the plant. That takes the issue of errors
associated with audio CDRs out of the picture to a degree, and many
record companies prefer this as standard. We recommend this
format, and we can include all of your ISRC codes, UPC codes, CD text
Q) I was considering using the company
[another big replication company]. They have a mastering service in the
California Bay Area. Would you recommend them as mastering
A) Without hearing
their mastering to compare it with the
outstanding results of Bob Ludwig, Stephen Marcussen, Doug Sax, Ted
and others, I can't fully give you an answer. My opinion is that cd
brokers are primarily in the business of duplication, graphics and
printing. If you ask them to do your mastering, they structure their
rates so you have options as to how much enhancement they'll do.
question is who,
in fact, will do your mastering? What kind of
music do they do best? What kind of tone and levels do they think is
appropriate? How many years of experience, and what name artists have
they already done? Will they speak with you personally and provide you
with a reference disc so that you can approve their work?
A few of my
their lesson when they sent their master
straight to a cd broker without mastering. In the old days of vinyl,
there wasn't a choice. You had to master that record or you didn't get
any records! Now with the option to just send your mixes on dat
or cdr, you must be sure to ask your broker "Will the sound of my cd
compete with the majors?"
mix from DAT will straight-transfer to CD at
about 3 to 6dB softer than current commercial cds. This
be a surprise to you if you've already made cd copies straight from
your mixes. The truth is that this is a better level for the purposes
of ending up with a terrific mastered end product. Cd levels that are too hot aren't an advantage.
Trap: Most cd brokers know
you are on a budget. If they told you that you should have your music
mastered first, they know that you could be spending anywhere from $500
- $3,500 for this process. While good cd brokers want you to be happy
with your product, they also don't want you to be discouraged by
additional costs... so you must determine if they are fully explaining
all possible steps to get your cd to sound it's best.
It's worth the
money to have an expert do the final refinement
process to your cd master. Yes, it's more money. So is going back and
doing it over after getting all those manufactured cds that just don't
sound like the majors.... Below are two brokers that I feel give
excellent service - when in doubt, get a second opinion