Digital Distribution and Downloads
I f you’re purely going to distribute your mastered tracks online, then the chances are that all you will need from us is mastered WAV files which your distributor or online portal will encode for you (to MP3, AAC or similar). We can give you wavs with the additional security of an MD5 Checksum, which allows you to confirm the data integrity of the files at any time.
CD Masters: DDPi and PMCD
However if you plan to sell CDs then we will provide you with a production master, one of which is included in the price of your session. There are two formats for this, DDPi (often just called DDP) and PMCD (otherwise known as Pre-Master CD, or Red-Book CD Master).
We recommend DDPi as the superior option for replication of CDs. Replication is the manufacturing process by which CDs containing your audio are stamped and coated on a production line, and provides the best quality and best value for quantities of 500 and up (sometimes fewer). The DDP itself is a set of files which define the CD content but cannot be played back on conventional domestic equipment. It is a very robust format, and has an MD5 Checksum built in to allow a 100% guarantee of data integrity – which means that provided the master passes its own checksum verification, you know that not a single bit has been altered. DDP can be transferred electronically, i.e. uploaded to your manufacturer’s ftp site, downloaded onto your own hard drive for archive, and copied without any degradation just like any computer file.
For the purposes of duplication, which is the process whereby the audio is copied at high speed onto a bank of CDR drives, the PMCD format is usually required. A PMCD is an audio disc in CDR form, recorded at low speed and verified to ensure that the error rate is within acceptable limits for a master. You can listen to it at home, although we recommend that you leave it in its case until needed, because it is vulnerable to dirt and scratches just like any CD, and errors from the disc can get passed on to the duplicates and potentially affect sound quality.
The CD+Text format allows for the addition of certain limited meta-data to the master, specifically the artist and title of each track. This text can then be read by a limited number of CD players, usually in-car systems. If you want your master to contain text, please let us know, and also please make sure that you provide a proof-read track list with approved track titles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: CD+Text is not used by computer based playback applications such as iTunes and Windows Media Player to display titles etc. These applications require an internet connection and get the relevant data from online databases such as Gracenote in the case of iTunes. The artist and / or record company are responsible for providing the metadata to Gracenote, which can be done simply from your own iTunes application.
The ISRC or International Standard Recording Code is a way of identifying your recordings. One key application is in broadcast, where the ISRC allows for automated logging of each time your track gets played on the radio, which in turn assists with the allocation and collection of royalties. ISRCs are usually embedded into the metadata of your CD Master and there is no extra charge involved us doing this for you.
An ISRC consists of 12 characters, and looks like this:
Where GB denotes the country of origin, ABC denotes the owner of the recorded work – 14 would be the initial year or release, and 00001 would be a number that you as the owner allocates to a given song, in this case probably the first song on the first album or single that you release that year.
To find out more, visit the IFPI website, where you can find out contact details for your local agency wherever you are in the world.