It’s the time of year when I make a lot of post office trips in order to mail packages and cards, invest in copious numbers of stamps, etc. Although as a composer I visit the post office regularly to mail packages of scores and recordings, USPS exerts a stronger grip on my consciousness right now, mostly because of the imminent deadline involved.
At NewMusicBox, we receive lots (and I do mean LOTS) of recordings via snail mail throughout the year. Many of these recordings are commercial releases, but we are also very happy to receive one-off, non-commercial CDs from composers who want us to hear their music. (We also listen online plenty.) Because there are a multitude of ways to prepare a home-baked CD, I wanted to run through some important things to keep in mind before you drop them in the mail, ensuring that they are easy to handle once they have reached their final destination—and I’m not just talking about NewMusicBox. This list applies to CDs sent with grant applications, submitted to competitions, and even to those that might be stocking stuffers for friends and family. You never know if Aunt Louise might just pass your CD along to that conductor she met at a holiday gathering. Stranger things have happened!
Send high-quality audio
Always burn a CD using .wav or .aif files of your work. Never, ever burn mp3s unless they are specifically requested. If mp3s are needed, they can easily be converted from the high-quality files.
Metadata is important
What is metadata? It’s all that stuff you see when you fire up iTunes detailing who the artist is, the title of the track, the album name, etc. It’s easy to enter this information on your own tracks using iTunes or various audio-editing programs. If someone at a radio station wants to add your tracks to, for instance, a streaming radio playlist, the process goes far more smoothly if you have provided all the correct metadata. There is no guarantee that someone else will enter it for you; in fact, as with incomplete grant applications, the disc could very well be tossed.
Information is crucial
Always, always include a printed insert that lists:
Titles of tracks in order
Timing of each track
Instrumentation of each track
Name of performer(s) or ensemble
In the case of live recordings, where and when the recording took place.
No one should have to track you down to find out this information, and again, chances that will even happen are slim. Make sure the details are there in the first place!
Redundancy can be good
On the physical CD itself, be sure to include:
Basic contact info
Basic info about the music (something like “Music of Joe Composer” is okay if the track information won’t fit)
If the CD gets separated from its case, you want to make sure it’s easy to see what it is and where it goes. If you can print sticky labels for your CD that’s great, but it is also okay to neatly print the information by hand if you don’t have access to the appropriate technology. Just make sure it’s legible!
Happy Holidays, and may your music travel far and wide in 2012!