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Creating my Second Album: Part 3: The Final Product

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

In addition to the practicing and recording processes, there were a few extra elements that went into making this album as well. I needed to have:

  • photographs of me for the album cover, to be used for the physical CD and online distribution.

  • a graphic designer to design the album cover and the artwork for the physical CD components.

  • mechanical licenses (copyright permissions) for the pieces that are not in public domain.

Here is a bit more information about these stages: Photographs The photographs used in this album were from a photoshoot I did in 2018 with Alan Dean from Alan Dean Photography, a local Ottawa photographer. To prepare for the photoshoot, I booked appointments to get my hair and makeup done the morning of the shoot, and I had to pick out my outfits. I wanted photographs taken in two outfits: a black dress which signified a fancier appearance (which I used for my 2018 album) and a purple cardigan and white shirt which emotes a semi-casual appearance (which I used for this album).

The morning before the photoshoot, I had my hair styled at Salon Rouge and my makeup completed by Susan Kealey, an artist that Alan has worked with for years. Alan led the photo session with his assistant Anne-Marie Legault. He began with simple portrait shots from different angles with me sitting on a stool; Anne-Marie also adjusted the lighting to vary the shots. Brief verbal prompts were needed to get different facial expressions from me. From there we moved to an adjacent room which had a grand piano; that’s where Alan really got creative! He took photos of me both facing him and sitting with my back to him in different poses on the piano bench with my arms at various positions. Then he asked if I would sit inside the piano for additional shots. I was very timid about this idea, but with his permission I did it. It was these photos that became my absolute favourites. The day after the photo session, Alan sent me more than a hundred photos, and I had to choose the best ones for Alan to make into higher definition files. I was impressed by Alan’s skill to create such beautiful photos and was extremely pleased with the end result. Artwork I hired Richard Talbot to do the graphic design for my second album as he did fabulous work on my first album. He really liked that I had a predetermined theme allowing him to create artwork to correspond to it.

Diagram showing the four parts of a CD

Cover I asked him to start with the cover as that is used for both the physical CD and the online streaming platforms. He initially provided me with five different cover possibilities for the album, each quite contrasting from the other. I contemplated for almost a whole day between the fourth and fifth options as I liked them both so much. My final selection was option four. The remaining items of artwork below are solely for the physical CD as the cover is all that is needed for online distribution. Insert The insert is the part of the CD with all the information about each track and also lists the credits to show who contributed to the album. I researched information about each piece and created a small summary about them respectively. My sister, Caroleen Molenaar, an upcoming professional editor, edited my summaries ensuring that the grammar, punctuation, and flow were correct. Once what was completed, I provided Richard with the list of credits which included John Rosefield (my recording technician), Rob Cosh (mixing and mastering engineer), Richard himself, Ottawa Pianos (the location of the recording), and Alan Dean (my photographer). Disc Art The plan for the disc art was quite straightforward. Richard copied the title and its design from the front cover onto the top half of the disc with the list of tracks on the bottom part of the disc. For the track list he used the same font as my first album so that there is some continuity between the two. Traycard For the back of the traycard, appearing as the back cover, Richard used the title design again and listed all the tracks with their respective composers and track times. For the front of the tray card, behind the physical CD, Richard used the same water ripple image as the inside of the title design. Licenses For the physical CD I needed to obtain mechanical licenses (copyright permissions) for the pieces that were composed within the last 70 years. This was a new element for this album as my first album contained pieces that were all in the public domain. To procure these licences I contacted the publishers for each work (as they are the rights holders), paid a fee between $20-70 CAD, and received a letter from them to give to my CD production company as proof that these permissions were granted to me. For Ho’s Reflections I was in touch with Prometheus Editions in Wellington, New Zealand; for Takemitsu’s Rain Tree Sketch I contacted Schott Edition in New York, USA; and for Southam’s Rivers I reached out to the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto, Canada. Final Product Physical CD To oversee the manufacturing process of the physical CDs I hired Standard Media Services, a local company in Ottawa. This is the same company that produced my first album as I had found them four years ago from a simple Google search. It was so nice to have the same staff member, Chris Saracino, oversee my project. When Chris received the artwork, music files, and license letters, he processed my order. The physical CDs were in my hands promptly after that.

Photo of the album cover

Online Distribution The online distribution process is quite easy as I use and pay for the services from Distrokid. It involves a three step process:

  1. Submitting the information for my second album: cover art, track titles, and composers to initiate the online distribution process.

  2. Waiting for the Harry Fox Agency, the agency that Distrokid uses for licensing, to secure the mechanical licensing (copyright permissions) on my behalf.

  3. Receiving the approval that the licenses have been secured and getting the notification that the music is distributed to the various online platforms like Spotify and YouTube Music.

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