How To Handcraft Your Next Album

Attention: the following post presents graphic contents. Please, keep your kids away.

No seriously, this post may be understood as a massive load of crap. Maybe it’s pointless too. But it really is about something that really happened…to me. And I guess this experience may be of use to other wannabe musicians who try and manage their “career” themselves.

Why did I put career in quotes? Because we’re not talking of actual careers, aren’t we?
Otherwise, if your only goal is to make a living out of your music this may not be your cup of tea. Still, try and give it a read anyway, I bet it won’t do you any harm.

So what’s the topic

The term “DIY” has surely been overused in the last years to describe a certain trend inside the music biz. We may assert that indie bands do have a natural inclination for DIY, being it music production-wise, merch printing or whatever else they do around their own brand. Then if we get to the underground of Punk, Hardcore and Crust -where the sun of mainstream doesn’t ever shine- you can really smell the power of DIY. Actually, fans belonging to those niches deeply love things made by bands themselves. Most likely they’d also reject everything that is too “professionally-looking”. Don’t even think about mainstream-ish things here, they’re gonna kill you, if you’re lucky.

The point of DIY (Do It Yourself or Fai da te -in Italian-) is getting your hands dirty. Take part of something you should care about, but most of the time you don’t. Without getting extremely enigmatic, in this very article I will discuss about Crafting Your Own CDs By Yourself. With Your Tiny Lovely Hands.


Cardboard, scissors, glue and…Black Metal

CD sleeve cutting mask

I’m doing this simply because I dug this thing. Few weeks ago I even tried to make my own album on CDs, all printed, cropped and packaged with my own two hands! They weren’t professionally printed nor packaged, but who cares since we’re talking about an utterly underground act. ||| is its name, and you can’t even spell it, can you?
Three Parallel Lines -this is the correct spelling- is a side project of mine where I bother people with a stupidly noisy kind of black metal and ambient. As you see, it’s not the music you can see on MTV -still, MTV stopped playing music videos!- It’s also quite unknown, being it just freshly started and not promoted at all, so far. The only reason I gave birth to ||| is because I wanted an alternative output for my black metal madness. Though I’m not here to tell why I created the project -you wouldn’t mind that either- but how and why I made the DIY CDs! (The “no-label-wanted-you-in” option is not available here!)

I didn’t have much money to invest in getting hard copies printed, I didn’t want to make large runs either. So after a long -1 day and a half- thinking I opted for a DIY decision. The cheapest one but also the one which required the largest amount of time. Basically the album was designed this way.
1. The cover artwork lovely printed on the face of the CD.
2. A neat colour insert, including footnotes, track-listing and greetings, squeezed in a plastic CD sleeve.
3. Everything housed in very laboriously-cropped-and-designed black cardboard sleeve, which smartly shown the band logo (En. 3 parallel lines) carved in it.
4.  About 16/20 hours to get everything done.

The sexy result is nothing less than this very picture.

What my hand-crafted album looks like

It’s not looking so bad after all, isn’t it? And surely is “personal”. I mean, I really worked with my own hands on every single copy of this demo. And I think this has been perceived by the (small) audience.
I decided to craft only 10 hard copies. I told myself no-one would have ever bought it. Maybe I’d have sell 2 or 3 CDs to the aficionados of my music, but nothing more than that.
Well guys, surprisingly, I sold all the 10 copies in one fucking day! It never happened before, I didn’t even get close to that (Ndr. I wrote this before I released my main project’s new album. But that’s another story). And yes, I believe that a big part of it was because of the “handcrafted” release -with a small help by Bandcamp’s notifications as well.

After that huge (for my own standards) sale I stopped, ‘cause hell, it took a big amount of time doing all those copies by myself, but I eventually decided to work over a tape edition or whatever. Anyway, what I meant to point out was the unbelievably good “hype” the handcrafted album generated.
I’m not saying you should make the next 300 copies of your band’s album with your own hands, but possibly, implementing your “pressing plans” with a little bit of DIY-orientation may bring surprising results.
Also, for the total unknown acts (like mine) making this as your fundamental physical version -maybe the only one- could be a cool idea. It worked for me, I don’t see why it shouldn’t for you.

Final Recommendations

Try and be creative, always. Don’t get obsessive just over my example. Probably the best-working thing out of this shit is making you ponder how to craft something original, all by yourself. I know, this means you must use your brain. It ain’t easy, but you’ll make it. Find your own DIY way and conquest tons of new fans!*

*results may vary from case to case. 😉

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About Matteo "Teo" Gruppi 120 Articles
TSL co-founder, co-owner, editor, CEO, reviewer, interviewer and writer. Basically I do a lot of stuff and I can’t get anything done well. I was born in 1991 and started loving music since 1981. Got my very first band in high school and now I play as a lonely dumbass in 3 projects: Chiral, Il Vuoto and |||. I listen to every kind of music as long as it is good and intense. Favourite genres include: everything as long as it’s good! (but also folk, black metal, 70-80’s rock and post-rock).

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