Nuts, Bolts and Costs of Home CDs on the web, start to finish

Put very simply, you do the following:

(1) prepare your music,
(2) record your music,
(3) obtain any necessary copyright licenses,
(4) create the CDs,
(5) create your compressed music samples,
(6) build your web pages, to include those samples
(7) obtain space and a domain name on the web, and
(8) upload your web site.

Preparing the music.

Here we do not cover preparing the music.  There are as many ways to do that as there are musicians.

Recording the music 

Out of necessity, we use multi-channel recording techniques because we have more musical parts than we have people to play them.  In that event, you need a PC whose CPU speed is at least 450 MHz and around 20 gig of hard drive space, one good microphone and mic amplifier that feeds into your PC sound card, and some  multi-channel audio recording software, like Cakewalk pro audio 9.  For single-pass recording where everyone plays together, you need enough microphones, a good quality sound mixer with someone to run it, and a similar PC as already mentioned, but less hard drive space, say 5 gigabytes.  You don't need the multi-channel recording software.  Just something like Adaptec Easy Creator version 4 Delux with with Spin Doctor will work fine.  Anything that will put onto your hard drive the WAV files that are CD standard audio.

Most everyone these days has a PC as described above.  A fairly good used microphone will cost around $50.  A good used microphone mixer runs around $100.  Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 used runs around $80, and Easy CD Creator 4 delux runs around $40.  But beware: Easy CD Creator deluxe 4 will not work with most modern CD burners.  You'll need other software for that.

Obtain copyright licenses

Be sure to buy copyright licenses for any coyrighted songs.  The cost for small mechanical licenses is currently around 8.5 cents per song per CD.  Stay legal. Check with and for guidance. Normally there is a 500 CD minimum, so at minimum you pay $42.50 per song.

Making the CDs

For home-burned and printed CDs, once all your songs are in WAV files on the hard drive, you burn them onto CD blanks.  You will need a CD burner in your PC. That costs around $40.  It may come with software, but if it does not, you can buy the basic Nero 6 software for around $10 off the internet.  If you use blank CDs that are printable, then you can use for example an Epson R-200 printer that can print on white surface CDs.  It costs around $100 these days.  Or if you want to print with thermal transfer onto silver surface CDs you can use a Casio label printer, around $80, but the ink ribbons are expensive. The blank CDs cost around 35 cents each, and the cases run around 45 cents each.  Bear in mind that these CDs will not play in everyone's player, and you need to caution them about that before the sale.

It is possible to put four burners in one PC.  If you have a fast enough PC (say 1.2 gig) with a big enough case, you can buy a PCI card that adds two extra disk controlers to your PC, for around $20 on ebay.  Then you obtain enough CD burners at anywhere from $15 to $40 each, install those, and buy Nero 6 Ultra.  It will work with more than two burners at a time.  I don't know its upper limit.  I've had good success with four burners, but they must all  share a (slow) burning speed in common, say 4x or 8x, for this to work.  Taking this route allows you to burn many more CDs with just one PC and in a short time.

If you are very confident that you can sell your CDs in a reasonable time, you can have them professionally made, including front and back covers.  I have heard prices quoted around $1,700 for 1000 CDs.  If I thought I could sell 1000 I would go that route, but with little money and much doubt I  make the burned CDs at home.  And that is a lot of work.

Create Compressed Music Samples

We want people viewing the web site to be able to click a button and play samples of the music on the CDs.  But we don't want to put huge files on the web, and people tell us not to put entire songs on the web, otherwise no one will buy the CDs.  So, we use sound blaster's Wave Studio software that comes with their sound cards to make short WAV files of part of each song.  Then we found a package called  AudiostreamPlus., for $80.  It will compress a WAV file down to 1/60 of its original size, and makes little pieces of HTML code that can put Play and Stop buttons on your web pages for each song.

Make the web pages locally and include the song samples

We used Netscape Composer 7 to create the web pages at home, and included the little slices of HTML code produced by audiostreamplus into these web pages so they show the little Play and Stop buttons for each song.  Fortunately Netscape is free.

Obtain space on a web hosting service and buy a domain name

We are buying space on a web hosting service, around $14 per month, including a registered domain name (songspinnerrecords) so that  web crawlers like google will find our web pages.  That way, if someone looks for a song name that we recorded, he might find it on these web pages.

Upload your web pages

You can use the web hosting service's shell software to upload your web pages and song samples onto the web, or you can use freeware FTP of some  type, which should be more efficient to do the same thing.  There is no extra cost here, unless you buy a nicer FTP program like WS FTP Home or WS FTP Professional.

Cost summary

So, for multi-channel recording onto the web, starting from scratch, a rough estimate of cost would be as follows:


Musical Instruments       ???
Mic                                $ 50
Mixer used as pre-amp  $100
Middle of the road PC   $400
Cakewalk pro audio 9     $80
Epson R-200 printer         $100
audiostreamplus software   $ 80
Netscape Composer             free
Nero 6 basic                       $10


Cd blank and case           $0.80 per CD and case
 Mechanical License          $42.50 per song


web hosting                        $ 17 per month

Nero 6  /ultra                    $80
Extra CD burners             $15-$40 per burner, optional
SIIG Ultra SCSI 133 card $ 20 on ebay

 TOTAL   EXTRA FOR 4-BURNERS  around $160

Song Spinner Records