Despite competition from the likes of higher capacity DVD’s; thumb drives, mp3 players and even smart phones; the CD is still the largest selling media for the music industry. Most of us still have at least a small CD collection in our homes.
An Attractively Printed Package
I’m not sure when it started but, at least from the time that Columbia Records introduced the long playing 33 1⁄3 rpm microgroove vinyl record in 1948; the record companies have been ever more imaginative with the designs that they have printed on the LP sleeves (many of which are now considered works of art in their own right). This design tradition was naturally passed over to CD’s when they started to replace vinyl in the mid eighties.
The LP was 12 inches in diameter and its sleeve had to be at last 12 inches square; giving the graphic designers a reasonably large “canvas” on which to work. A standard CD on the other hand is only 4.7 inches in diameter providing much less space for the artwork. When you consider this; it is quite surprising how well the designers have succeeded in miniaturizing the art work for CD’s.
The CD has one design advantage over the LP with regard to printing on the disc itself. With a vinyl disk; the centre label portion was basically restricted to the maker’s logo, the performer’s name and the album’s title. The record’s grooves were not available for printing on. But; with the CD printing; the whole 4.7 inches can be used on the non-reflective side of the disc – something that the designers at the music companies were quick to capitalize on.
What About Printing On Limited Distribution Discs?
It might seem odd to call a major producer of a CD’s a “record label” but the name seems to have stuck and, one thing for certain, is that they usually have substantial budgets for the promotion of their new releases. However, they are not the only ones distributing CD’s.
For example, many companies like to pass out free copies of their catalog on a CD. Maybe, they will only need a couple of thousand CD’s? Others who wish to present souvenirs of an event on a CD may only want a dozen or so copies. In such cases, the total production budget will only be a mere fraction of what the record companies can afford. But, for full effectiveness, the packaging and CD printing still need to be impressive.