Are you an aspiring musician or singer? Have you ever wanted to make your own CD? If so this Instructable is for you. Now you can create you'r very own CD easily and economically. Give it as a gift to friends and family or sell them to make profit. I will go over a few different methods to make you'r own professional grade CD!
Step 1: Recording
I won't go into huge detail about recording because that could be an Instructable in itself. If you already have a recorded version of the song skip on to the next step.
The first step is to find some recording software. There are many many good audio recording programs on the market, some free, some paid. If you are using a Mac (like all good artists) I would suggest Garage Band or Logic. If you are a beginner at recording I would stick with Garage Band Because it is very simple and user friendly with all the features that you need to record your own songs and is already installed on most Macs. If you have prior experience with recording and have some money to spend I would use Logic, It is the top of the line recording software that the pros use. It is a lot more complicated but with it you have more editing and recording power. If you are a windows user there are countless programs at you'r dispense. If you are looking for free software I would suggest Audacity, which is a free open source basic audio recording program. If you are looking to spend some money I would go with Pro Tools, which is a high end audio recording and editing program.
If you want good quality music you need a good quality mic. you can always use you'r computer's built in mic if it has one but that will drop your sound quality right away. I would suggest picking up a Blue snowball or Yeti microphone.
This will take the most amount of time in the whole process. You want to get all the different audio tracks in your song trimmed and sounding just how you want them to. It will take quite a bit of time, any wheres from a couple hours to days. With each program it is going to be a little bit different on how you edit the song but they all work in a similar manner. Once you have all the tracks lined up its time to master the audio. Mastering the audio changes the song from a flat recording to a dynamic master piece. Again a whole Instructable can be made on mastering a song. Basically you want the tracks EQ to be perfect, getting the treble mids and bass of the song in the right levels, I find the easiest way is to just mess around changing it only little bits at a time and listening to it until you are happy with the way it sounds.The next step is to split up the tracks on left and right side, This is called panning and it help the song to sound less flat.
Once you are happy with your recording its time to export it. When doing so you want to export it at its highest quality because you don't want to waste any of your hard work. mp3 is the most popular format but AAC is a higher quality format so you have the option I would go with that one.
If you have gotten this far it is finally time to make you'r CD!
Step 2: Burning
If you have you'r music file and a blank CD its time to put you'r music onto it. There are many programs that can do this, I find the easiest way it just use iTunes. Put you'r song(s) into a playlist, insert blank CD into the computer and click burn to CD, its that simple. Again you want to go with the highest quality option so you don't lose any sound quality. If you are mass producing CDs I suggest you invest in a CD reproducer Because you will save a lot of time, but it is still possible using just one computer.
Step 3: Artwork
This is the best part to making a CD. There are many ways you can go about making the album artwork, find some pictures on the web, use some clip art, make your own graphic design, or even draw it out on paper and scan it into your computer. You may want to create multiple versions of the artwork for the different parts of the CD case and disk itself. If you are using a computer for this use what ever photo editing software you want, I myself prefer Photoshop but even MS Paint will work.
Step 4: Parts of the Case
Once you have your artwork created its time to make the case inserts. How you do this is completely up to you, there are many programs you can get to do this but I prefer to use Microsoft Publisher. With Publisher all you have to do is search for a CD template and then choose the one to match your CD case. I like to use the jewel cases but the slim cases work too. Once you have everything Laid out how you want its time to print. You have two more things to decide, what type of printer and what type of paper. It doesn't matter what printer you use but then you have to use the corresponding paper. I am using an inkjet Printer with matte photo paper. If you choose to use a laser printer you cannot use photo paper because the toner will not adhere very well. Once it is printed you can cut it out and fit it into the case.
Step 5: CD Label
The final step it to make a label for the CD itself. There are three ways of doing this at home, stick on labels, printable CDs, and Lightscribe CDs. Again use the software of your chose (I will stick With publisher) to make the label for the CD.
Pick up some stick on CD labels at your local craft or office supplies store out them in your printer and print away. this is the easiest way of making labels because you just need any old printer and the labels.
These CDs often cost a little bit more but not a whole lot and you do get a more professional look in the end result. This method will only work with printers that have a tray for CDs, Epson and Canon both make this kind of printer. If your printer has this capability it will also come with the correct software to print the labels on the CDs.
Lightscribe CDs are made by Memorex and you need to have a Lightscribe enabled CD/DVD drive. The CDs have a film on the top that gets etched away creating your label. The same laser that puts data on the disk also engraves whatever images you want onto the disk. I think this is the coolest unfortunately I do no have a Lightscribe drive.
Whatever method you choose will work, some just give better quality results. If you have gotten this far, Congratulations you just made your own CD!
Step 6: Your CD
You now have your very own CD! Do whatever you want with it, repeat this process and make many more to sell, give as a gift, or send a few to recording companies and try to snag yourself a record deal. I hope you found this Instructable to be useful and had a good time making your own CD!