If you care about ecology and the careful and efficient use of our worlds resources you will be interested in reading read this article.
We have always viewed our general efficiency, in all aspects of our work as part of being an eco-friendly and responsible British Company. This includes the responsible choice and use of our own suppliers and supplies, careful budgeting and careful use of power (mainly electricity) and associated machinery. In addition to this we have internal policy regarding the recycling of any waste material.
This article is an informal piece about our most recent thoughts and practices.
From the start we use high quality casing for our Cds,Dvds and Blu-rays with the philosophy that in the long term these will provide the best protection for your discs and although some are plastic, will last a life-time so do not need to be replaced. This is slightly counter culture in what has become a throw away society in many walks of life, but there is common sense in choosing quality which will last; and despite this we still remain one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest for all of our products. There is a great deal of inferior quality, cheap packaging out there that is never use for any of our customers.
Over the 12 years that we have been in the duplication business we have noticed a large shift in the casing that our customers choose for their orders. From the days where nearly all CD’s were packed in a plastic standard jewel case and all DVDs packed in a Amaray plastic DVD cases, we now find that a much larger percentage of customers choose the more eco-friendly options of card wallets/digi-paks.
The card/paper we stock for all our printed parts is FSC Certified and sustainable. We feel this is a better option than recycled paper as research shows that due to the high volumes of bleach used to whiten the paper this is not as environmentally friendly…..which is not good. Responsible sourced and properly managed paper is a green industry, encouraging the growth of trees in the worlds forests. www.fsc-uk.org
In addition our, experience and the feedback our customers give us tells us that paper based products are less susceptible to damage in transit and less costly to courier, deliver and store compared to plastic cases.
Customer choice is highly important to us however and whilst there is a demand for the plastic standard jewell and standard DVD case and we continue to provide these on our web-site.
A large part of our recycling programme is to reuse all the incoming boxes and packaging to supply our out-going parcels.
Protecting orders is our top priority so this comes first however where possible we re-cycle all cardboard, jiffy/mailite bags and packaging, always removing any personal information on them first.
Good House-keeping in the production room means less waste, however on every order we do produce 1 or 2 over-runs of discs. This enables us to keep a control copy here of every order. We have researched widely the re-cycling of CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-Rays and have yet to find a highly sustainable channel for these.
We do however supply unburned discs to artists and students of design free of charge for sculpture or artistc projects.
There are also an increasing number of designers who use discs as the raw materials for projects like garden mosaics, lamps, dishes, picture frames, flower pots, mirrors, coasters and even a disco ball!! See www.zerowasteweek.co.uk for DIY ideas on how to recycle discs.
Another great use for discs is as bird scarers on allotments, they catch the sun if hung and will deter without harming birds who would eat delicate crops.
We minimise the use of paper by having an efficient invoice emailing and chasing system; although we will always send hard copy invoices if requested. We shred all paper that we can and this is re-used for animal bedding and then composted.
In short we view ourselves as a very eco-friendly company and we constantly update and re-visit our processes to see where we can improve and evolve in a productive and conscientious way.
Gained knowledge and know-how is the key here to keeping an efficient and eco-friendly approach in balance for our industry.
Getting started releasing my own music was a learning curve. Not only did I have to write all the music (which was fun!), but I had to look at everything that a record label traditionally does, and take figure out how to implement it myself. One aspect was figuring out how to ship a CD. I looked over the different options and figured out a solution that works for me.
I’ll give you a quick overview of those options and why I chose the method that I did.
Options for shipping a CD
There are three options available to you:
Third party fulfilment
I’ll quickly outline what these different options are:
Drop shipping is when a third party company creates and ships a product on a per order basis. For example, let’s say Fred buys your record. Your drop shipping company will print a record just for Fred, and ship it to him.
Drop Shipping Pros
You have to do almost nothing
Everything is automated
Low upfront costs
Drop Shipping Cons
Per unit cost is expensive, so you make less profit per sale
This is when you take care of every aspect of order fulfilment yourself. Your turn your office / bedroom / house into a warehouse to store and ship your records / merchandise. If you choose to do self-fulfilment, then you need to consider:
Online purchasing system / storefront
So as you can see, there is already a lot for you to consider.
Online purchasing system
How are your users going to buy your CD online? You could use third party solutions such as Bandcamp or Shopify; or you could use a solution which integrates with your own website, such as Woo Commerce. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation and what you want to achieve. I’ll write an article in the future about these options. I’ve tried Woo Commerce and Shopify myself, and personally, I prefer Shopify.
You need to find a company that will physically create a CD for you. When it comes to CDs, you have two options:
Duplication is for small jobs (usually up to 1000 copies). This is the same process as you would use to ‘burn’ a CD on your home computer, on a more industrial scale. Duplication also has a fast turn around time.
Replication is for bigger jobs (500 units upwards) and while it has a higher setup cost than duplication, at higher volume it is cheaper. Replication involves creating a glass ‘master’ disc and then physically stamping blank CD. It takes longer than duplication.Please see our sister company www.replicationcentre.co.uk for more information on this.
The best company I have found in the UK for duplication is The Duplication Centre. They usually ship my order within a couple of days and they give things a once over to make sure the order is ok. They also keep your order on file, making it really fast and easy to get a second printing done. If you sign up to their mailing list, they usually send out some special offers for free extra units every few months.
If you are in the UK, they are highly recommended and you can check them out here. Check them for yourselves – their policy or approach may have changed since writing this article.
How are you going to post your CD? You need some sort of packaging. You want to balance having something low cost, with having something that can protect your product – if your CD turns up smashed, scratched or damaged; even if it isn’t your fault, your fans will be pissed off.
The best packaging solution I found are card wallets from lil packaging. They are durable, protect from light impact, scratches and drops. They also ‘expand’, so you can put a thin card wallet promo CD in, and have a slim package; or you can put a full size jewel case in there and the card wallet will ‘expand’ a bit. Check out the photos.
Here are some photos of what the CD mailers look like (got a big box of 150 I think it was, to hit the price break and get a cheaper per unit price):
There are a few options for this. For most people getting started, taking a bag of packaged CDs down to the local post office is probably the best solution. Get yourself a sharpie and write the addresses on the front of your card wallets by hand. You will want to check postage rates so you don’t get any nasty surprises and set up your shipping on your website / online store appropriately.
A great way to check the weight of your item is to grab a cheap set of digital weight scales that are accurate to roughly 2g (and if you use imperial will switch to ounces). Then you can accurately measure the weight of your CD / merch and make sure you don’t get any surprises at the Post Office.
As you might have noticed, one aspect of self fulfilment is that, when compared to drop shipping, there are upfront costs to handle. Rather than having a CD made per order, you now have to buy 20-100 units at a time and the packaging to go with them… and your sharpie. So you start to need a bit of capital. However, you will find that your profit margin is much, much higher per unit, than drop shopping.
You should be able to get the CDs created and packaging for less than £3 per unit, so if you are selling your CD for £10-£15, that is a profit per unit of £7-£12.
Self fulfilment pros
More profit per unit – this is a LOT cheaper than drop shipping, so for a given product price, you will make much more money
You can customise the user experience more
Better control over data
Self fulfilment cons
Your house turns into a warehouse
You have to do more planning, to source your products and packaging.
You have to pay a lot more upfront
Self fulfilment conclusion
While it is a bit more work, this is probably the best way for most musicians getting started to go. The work involved is not really that much at all, and you make more money per sale.
Third party fulfilment
Third party fulfilment involves setting up your own supply chain. This is similar to taking self fulfilment, and taking it to the next level, turning it into a miniature business. You take your manufacturer and you connect them to a shipping company, or, you take self fulfilment and you pay someone to run it for you. Paying someone to run your self sfulfilment is pretty simple so I’ll give you a quick overview of third party fulfilment using an external company.
Orders come through from your website and are automatically sent to your shipping company. The manufacture(s) ship directly to your shipping company, who put your items into warehousing. Shipping company takes incoming website orders, takes the appropriate items from the warehouse and boxes them up (this is referred to as “pick and pack”) and ships to the consumer. They sometimes have in house packaging solutions, so you don’t have to worry about that either.
A third party fulfilment will typically charge you a warehousing fee and a ‘pick and pack’ fee.
Third party fulfilment pros
If you have the order volume, you can scale to huge levels
You still keep a high profit margin per item
Automated, so you have very little to do. Shipping 10,000 units per month with this method will be less work than shipping 100 units a month with self fulfilment.
Postage is cheaper. The shipping company gets preferential shipping rates that are much cheaper than you can get at a Post Office, due to the volume they do.
Third party fulfilment cons
You have to be highly organised with stock management
You have a lot of costs to organise and figure out
You have to organise two companies to work together
You have to integrate your order platform with the shipping company
You need to be shipping a high volume of products to make this worthwhile
I would have thought for most independent musicians (if you have a record label, all this is taken care of for you), starting with a self fulfilment model and then ‘graduating’ to a third party fulfilment model will work best for you. I’m still in the self fulfilment phase.
This is a quick round up of the companies I’ve used that offer a great service with a great price (that are UK based):
These guys offer solutions for all your packaging problems, not just CDs! They do boxes for shipping your merch, boxes for books, boxes for this and that. They got you covered. A vital company for any band (or individual, small business) shipping their own products. Check them out
Whether you want card wallet CDs, digipaks, jewel case CDs, these guys have you covered. Their website looks a little bit old school… but it works. You can get a fully customised quote in minutes. Price per unit decreases with order volume which is nice. Check them out
The Blu-ray Disc founder group was started in 2002 by MIT and nine leading Electronics Companies: Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Phillips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung Electronics.
The name is taken from the blue laser that is used to read from and record to a Blu ray disc, the blue laser allows for a much higher density and hence a larger storage capacity and so the Blu-Ray disc is a digital optical disc data storage format.
It was designed to supersede the DVD format, and is capable of storing several hours of video in high definition (HDTV 720p & 1080p) and Ultra High Definition Resolution (2160p).
Although the Blu-Ray disc looks exactly the same as a DVD in size and shape there are many differences between media including storage capacity,laser technologyand discconstruction,image resolution and player compatibility.
The Blu-Rays storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB), like computers and ipods.
DVD Single Layer: Can store about 4.7GB data which is about two hours worth of movie at Standard Definition…these are commonly referred to as DVD 5’s.
DVD Dual Layer: Can store twice the amount of data at 8.7 GB which equals about four hours of movie at Standard Definition ….these are commonly referred to as DVD 9 ‘s.
Blu-Ray Single layer: Can store approximately 25Gb data, this equals about 2 hours of High Definition Information or 13 hours of Standard Definition Information.
Dual Layer Blu-Ray :can store about 50GB data which is about 4 hours of High Definition Information or 26 hours of Standard Definition.
Lasers are used in both DVD and Blu-ray technology .As the disc spins the laser reads the information stored on the discs and transfers both the picture and the sound to the television.
DVD: DVD players use a red laser at 650nm wave length to read DVD discs
Blu-Ray : Blu-Ray players use a Blue laser to read the stored information; the wave lenghts are shorter than the red at 405nm and are smaller in diameter, this allows for a closer and more precise reading of the information on the disc.
Physically DVD and Blu-Ray discs are the same in appearance:both have circular tracks on their bottom layer that enables the laser to read information stored on the spinning disc.
The tracks on a DVD are much further apart than on the Blu-Ray; you will see that it follows from this that the amount of information that can be stored on each type of disc is different; the Blu-Ray having the far greater storage capacity.In short a Blu-ray can squeeze about 5 times as many tracks onto the same size disc as a DVD.
Both DVD and Blu-Ray have a protective layer designed to resist scratching; the Blu-Ray in addition has a hard coating that makes it more scratch resistant.
This is measured by the number of vertical lines times the number of horizontal lines of light in a picture.It is represented by the number of horizontal lines going across the screen like 480, 720 or 1080.The higher the number, the higher the resolution the more detailed the picture you see.
DVD: Almost all DVD’s have standard definition of 480 or enhanced definition of 520.This look ok on a standard television,utilising all the available pixels on the screen. If however this is blown up to a large HDTV the picture may look grainy.
Blu-Ray: The Blu-Ray was designed for the high definition 1080 display….since they can store 25 GB data you can fit a whole High Definition movie on a single layer. Blu-Ray currently has the best image resolution on the market and looks amazing on HDTV, they are one of the only sources that display in 1080.
Happily Blu-ray Players support DVD’s and the image will be decent but obviously not the high definition quality of a Blu-ray.
Due to the larger lasers used in DVD players they it cannot read the tiny grooves on a Blu-ray disc.
In short you can play a DVD in a Blu-ray player but you cannot play a Blu-ray in a DVD player.
Lastly and very importantly Blu-Ray can handle 4K (Ultra HD)...we don’t need an new type of disc for our new TV’s; you can have it all with the Blu-Ray !
Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is a set of user access control technologies used to protect
the intellectual property contained in copyrighted materials from unauthorized use or theft.
Although DRM is widely used today, its history has been fraught with controversy. Although
record companies, publishers and other content providers claim it is necessary to protect
themselves against bankruptcy due to online piracy, its critics contend that it stifles innovation
and inconveniences users, while failing to actually protect against piracy.
In essence, DRM attempts to limit how a consumer can use a product after purchasing it. This
limitation can take the form of controlling access or preventing the user from copying the
material. This is typically achieved by encryption or tag embedding within the copyrighted
material to prevent it from being freely reproduced. Although this keeps users from copying
material and uploading it to file sharing services, it also prevents them from making personal
backup copies for their own archives, an activity which does not explicitly violate the law.
DRM can encompass many different technologies, from CableCard access limitation on cable
television to copy protection on music CDs. One of the earliest widespread uses of DRM
technology was the content scrambling system used in early DVD movies. It essentially rendered
all DVDs unplayable, except on players made by companies that had licensed the content
scrambling technology on their machines.
Within a few years, hackers had found their way to compromise the process and it was no
longer feasible. Although new DRM technologies have also come along, hackers are continually
working to crack them. Part of the limitation on media encryption is also due to legal limitations:
materials exported from the United States cannot contain advanced cryptography at the
level used by the government, because it would present a national security risk were it to be
compromised and fall into the wrong hands.
The main problem with DRM in its application is that it is not immune to hacking. Although
DRM prevents users from copying files to spread, hackers have sidestepped DRM technologies
time and time again. For example, the copy protection technology that was once commonplace
on music CDs not only prevented users from burning the discs to their own personal hard drives,
but even from playing the discs on their computers or in their cars in many cases.
Many consumers were understandably angry over not being able to legitimately use materials
they had paid for without any prior warning of its limitations, and hackers quickly found their
way around the technologies – which in some cases was as simple as marking the “protected”
discs with a black Sharpie. In the end, only the law-abiding users were inconvenienced, and the
law-breakers still found a way to pirate material. And in the world of peer-to-peer file sharing,
all it takes is one single user cracking a DRM technology to spread the material to millions of
Although DRM shows no sign of disappearing since its introduction in the late 90s, it will never
be perfect or beyond controversy. In essence, it bears the same limitations of measures designed
to control the smuggling of guns, drugs or any other restricted material – only those who abide
by the law will be restricted, and outlaws will continue to defy it. As long as there is money to
be made in pirated intellectual property, tech companies and publishers will always be racing to
keep up with the pirates.
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If you have a collection of discs it is almost invariable that some of them will become damaged over time. If your discs do suffer from defects such as scratches, chips, cracks, spotting, or degradation, it may be possible to rescue the data contained on them.
Your first attempts to recover your data should involve a personal attempt to solve the problem. You may spend a little time, but it’s much more affordable to give recovery a shot yourself before paying someone else to do it.
A number of programs have been created over the years which help users of different operating systems to attempt to restore data lost on optical discs. These each work in different ways, but it is very common for very slow low level passes over difficult to read sections of a disc to be used to piece together the data puzzle. When using discs with physical damage (such as cracks or chips), make sure to pay close attention to the recovery process at all times as damage to your drive may result if a disc shatters under the rotational force of the process.
A couple of commonly used Windows programs are CD Recovery Toolbox and Roadkil’s Unstoppable Copier. For linux operating systems ddrescue is a solid option that uses a command line interface. For a variety of Oses (including MacOS) dvdisaster is available, and the bonus for this program is that it can be used as an advanced recovery method, generating data profiles on your media to allow you to have an easier time recovering if anything does happen to a disc after it has been profiled.
Many other options can be found at Wikipedia (some of the programs on this page only deal with non-optical media, so read carefully) or by searching the internet. When using any program, be sure to read the manual carefully in order to give yourself the best possible chance of recovering lost data, and to ensure that you are not attempting to do something the program is not designed to handle.
Professional services can restore from damage of a much more severe nature. Discs that have literally been snapped in half or otherwise shattered can be read by specialized labs. These companies are also your go-to solution when personal computer based solutions fail. Many major cities have businesses that specialize in data recovery. Your search for further assistance should start close to home to save on shipping fees and to minimize potential further damage which can be incurred when mailing discs. If you do not have a good local business, check online for options.
Actual data recovery fees vary widely by the amount of damage, the volume of discs you need restored, and the business you choose. Reputable businesses will offer you a consultation before you pay them. If the company you get in touch with does not, look further.
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There’s a growing number of people who are unable to access their library of VHS video
footage. Players for the old tapes have become increasingly scarce, and loss of quality based on wear
and tear is a real issue with the old medium.
Converting from VHS to a digital video format and saving all of those precious memories on
DVD disc is something that isn’t that difficult to do. It is often possible to handle the conversion at
home with a fairly minor outlay of capital. There are also numerous professional conversion companies
whose facilities have all the tools in them to handle updating a collection to a digital format.
There are four components to converting VHS to DVD in a home environment. The first is the
computer with a DVD burner, which costs from $300 on up without a monitor. The second is a player
for the tapes; something that runs $40 plus excluding a TV. The third is a cable to make a connection
from the VCR to the computer; a piece of hardware which may be bundled with software and costs $25
and up. The final component is a piece of conversion software; something with a starting price of free.
Even including a cheap TV and monitor it would be possible to get a conversion setup for around $600.
For those with most of the equipment already, you might spend just $25 plus the (low) cost of blank
Setting up to do the conversion is fairly simple. You just set the VCR and TV up then use the
cable to connect the VCR to the computer. On the computer you install the software. Put the tape to be
converted in the VCR, the DVD to be burned in the optical drive, and then utilize the program to first
transfer the digital video, then (either using the same program or a DVD authoring program) burn the
DVD. The exact specifics will vary depending on your setup, but that’s the gist of it. Simple, and not
Getting Expert Help
In the event that you want to avoid your own time and materials to handle the task, there are
plenty of professional services available. Most major cities have businesses which can handle the
conversion of VHS to DVD for a flat fee per tape. Some of them offer video cleaning services which
will enhance the quality of the videos before they are put on tape. This is something that is available as
a DIYer, but is a bit more complicated and might be better left to professionals if it’s something you’re
Fees for these services vary by business, and you have to balance the convenience of a local
business with potential price savings available online. If you’re lucky enough to live near a business
with great per-tape prices and a solid offering of video cleanup services, your choice will be easy.
Bear in mind that professional services can offer conversion to DVD from other sources than
VHS. Many will scan photos or negatives, handle 8mm film, and work with MiniDV or Hi8. A good,
professional conversion service is generally very well-rounded, and can help you update your family’s
entire history to an appropriate digital format and store it on DVDs.
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Most commercially manufactured disc drives are sturdy and able to perform well with little maintenance. However, if you have a drive for a long time or use it in a workspace with excessive dust in the air (such as in a factory, on a job site, or in an arid climate), it’s probably a good idea to clean it out occasionally. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that cleaning should be a routine though. In this case too much of a good thing is a real issue, as cleaning a drive can result in damage over time.
When a disc drive gets too dirty, it can suffer from increased loading time, skip, or –in extreme cases– even damage discs. Telltale signs that it’s time to clean your disc drive include an increase in noise as the disc spins and a marked decrease in performance regardless of which disc you attempt to play. If only one disc is loading slowly or skipping then it’s probably the disc that is scratched. If they’re all slowing down then it’s most likely an issue with your drive.
Your first course of action for cleaning out a drive should be to blow air into it. Do not blow with your mouth as doing so will send saliva into the drive. Though a hair dryer with a cool setting can be used, it is too inaccurate for this task. Short, controlled bursts are the best way to clean out a drive and not just move dust around. For best results you should use a can of compressed air or an air bulb.
If you’re feeling brave, you can also take the drive apart and clean the lens yourself. This can damage delicate components and will likely void your warranty if the product is still covered. It’s probably best to take your drive to a repair shop if you do feel the need to do something invasive. A better option is to buy some extra-long cotton swabs, apply rubbing alcohol to one, and insert it directly into the drive to clean the lens. This can be difficult to do correctly and you still have to be somewhat careful, it’s still safer and less involved than taking the drive apart. Determining where the lens in your drive is may be made easier by looking online for the specifications of your unit.
Perhaps the easiest manner to clean a drive is to buy a drive cleaning kit. These are made by many manufacturers and most cost under $20. Each cleaning kit works slightly differently so you’ll need to follow the individual instructions that come with your package.
A comprehensive, professional cleaning at a computer repair shop normally provides the best results. This can be monetarily expensive and will also cost you a day or more of down time as you wait for the cleaning to be carried out. With that in mind, the above methods are good first steps if you find yourself in possession of a poorly functioning disc drive. So before spending the money to have it taken apart and professionally cleaned, you should at least consider trying these simple at-home cleaning methods.
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