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Hip Hop Slam's Guide to How to Manufacture Your Own CD, Record, or VHS



DJ D-Styles

Style Wars:
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Grand Wizard Theodore

DJ Qbert

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Space Traveling (part 1):
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Waxing That Wax: The Porn / Turntablism Connection — Part 2 — D-Styles Interview

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QBert Receives "Hip Hop Slam Hall of Fame Award"

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Dirt Hustlin':
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Filipino American DJs of the Bay Area

Party Blocking at the DMC American Battleground



After you've first recorded your music you then have it mastered by someone like Mr. Toad's or Ken Lee (Bay Area favorites) who will give you a final CDR master which you will in turn send with your film output artwork to a CD pressing plant.


Anyone who can run a desktop computer can create the CD cover, CD label, and insert. Whoever does the artwork needs to follow certain specifics which can be supplied by email from the CD pressing plant. Once the artwork is done, it can either be delivered on a zip-disk to a film output company or emailed to them. The turn around time for film usually takes about a day for output. Here is where prices in cover work can remain modest, or pricey. Film output for a black and white CD cover might cost $80.00, compared to a 4-color CD cover that'll cost around $400.00. The CD booklet could either be one page, or a 20-page booklet depending on what you have in mind. Recommended locally for film output is the Mission District's H & H (415-431-4731).


With your film output and mastered CDR all done you are now ready for the final stage: Fed Ex'ing both along with your order form for (say) a 1000 CDs to a CD pressing plant. Most CD plants seem to be in LA. We recommend Crest National (Contact Sales Rep. Ed Mears at After the CD plant receives your order they will press up your CDs, print booklets, shrink-wrap, and put on any special ordered stickers and UPS you back your 1000 CDs. The turn around time for CD manufacturing is about 2-3 weeks compared with vinyl which is about 2-3 months.


Generally you will have to pay 50% up front and 50% upon completion of job. Most pressing plants will only do minimum orders of 1000 CDs (500 unit orders are not cost-effective). The average manufacturing cost of 1000 CDs is about $1300 or $1.30 per CD. Black & White covers cost a little less in printing than color but the main cost difference in color vs. B&W is in the earlier film-output stage. In contrast a 12" record album been manufactured will average about $2.20 per record. Note that not only does vinyl cost much more to manufacture but it also sells for a lot less to stores and distributors. Hence the major label-controlled music industry's efforts to kill vinyl and get everyone hooked on CDs.



Like with a CD, after you've first recorded your music you then have it mastered by someone like Mr. Toad's or Ken Lee who will give you a final CDR master which you will in turn send for vinyl mastering. This mastering is the process of having all the music tracks prepared for pressing onto the vinyl format. Cost is about $250 and up. On vinyl, there are two sides, ‚”A” and “B”, or sides I and II and these must be clearly marked (designating a "matrix number"). There are many vinyl mastering houses in the Bay and LA. These include DJ Ngobility ( and Better Quality Sound (818-894-8669). Now it's ready for the record pressing plant. We use Bill Smith Custom Record Inc. (310.323.6386-PH, 310.322.1813-FAX). After they get the vinyl mastered copy they do a two-step processing, followed by test pressings (cost: $45 for six copies) for you to check out and make sure all sounds okay before they press up your full order. They will also do the label printing for both sides of your record and shrink wrap and put on stickers if ordered. Orders for vinyl can be from 100 to 1000 units. You can also make 7" singles for approx 70% of the 12" cost.


You can always get plain blank covers but let's assume you want a design. This is similar to CD artwork only - you guessed it - bigger so it will cost a bit more to get film output done (esp. color vs. B&W) and also for the printing of the album jacket covers. Another difference is that (usually) you have to independently get the covers done and then sent over to the vinyl pressing plant. We use Stoughton Printing Company, who will supply you with detailed measurements for your design, and will send completed jackets to Bill Smith Custom Record Inc. or whoever manufactures your vinyl. The pressing plant will then shrink wrap, do special request inserts or stickering. Money: It works out at approx $2.25 per single-disc 12" album by the time you factor in all costs.


If you don't have time to dub off your own VHS copies one at a time then you may want to get them mass-duplicated at a plant such as Allied Vaughn in Brisbane, CA (Contact Sales Rep. Steven Breslin: 415.656.2200). After you have given them your master video (preferably on Beta tape) they will promptly run off your copies (usually about a week but they can rush orders at an extra fee). For a typical one-hour music format video, with orders starting at 50 units and up, prices can vary from about $1.75 to $3.00. Variants include not just the size of the order but also the type of VHS cover case used. These can be the more expensive hard cover case with which they will slip in your Xeroxed one page covers you supply or the less expensive (and flimsy) cardboard covers that are usually used. Note that the drawback to these is that they require a minimum order of 2500 covers.


Now you have your finished record, CD, and video. The only step left for you to do is push sales of your product. There are a couple of options for you to try. You can either try a door-to-door approach, or take your goods to record shops such as Bay Area faves as Amoeba and Aquarius Records for consignment, or shop the many distributors available. Good luck and if you have any specific questions or information up-dates, e-mail (Yve-One, Hip Hop Slam)


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