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Richard Scotti
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Richard Scotti

1/25/2016 4:34:54 PM ---- Updated 1/25/2016 4:41:30 PM

What is your "CD song-sequencing strategy?"

One thing I have a problem with is song sequencing on a CD. In the old days it was easier when you were dealing with a 2 sided record with only six songs to a side but when you have 12 uninterrupted songs in a row there would have to be a different strategy for sequencing the songs in the optimal order for listening. Let's say there are three kinds of songs: uptempo, medium tempo and slow ballads.The key of a song could also be another consideration. Some people say "never put two songs of the same key in a row". Other suggestions involve similar ideas in terms of tempo and not having too many of the same tempo in a row. Other than those things what is your overall way of lining up your tracks on a CD? I guess some songs could also be considered "A" songs or "B" songs. Give me an example of how you would sequence 12 songs on a CD using these three criteria (tempo, quality, and key) You can also use lyric content as another factor. I suppose everybody wants to start out with the song they feel is the best one on the CD, obviously an "A" song. Where do you go from there and why? How do want to close out the CD with the 12th track? One artist I know says: "Just list the songs from best to worst but end with an "A" song."

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Father Time

1/25/2016 6:18:25 PM

well on the Negative Tendencies EP we had 6 songs.

Put the most accessible in my opinion first. One of the songs was harder rock, we put that one 4th. One of the songs was softer and very different from the rest, we put that last.

It flows pretty well, you can hear here.

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Two Silo Complex

1/25/2016 6:46:36 PM

Well what I do is probably not very scientific but I put the songs in the order I think they belong and then I listen to them on different media in the car, on a cd player on the computer etc and I see how I think they flow. If after a few rounds I think a song would fit better in a different order then I move it and listen to it again. Until I find the order that flows best. Maybe that means two slow songs in a row because of content. To me its pretty easy to tell when you listen back to back what works and what does not.

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Shoe City Sound

1/25/2016 7:13:28 PM

That is quite the question. It seems that it's a good idea to put the best song first, but it's really hard to know if other people will agree with you about which song is the best or worst. So many times I've read from famous artists that they were surprised about which songs became the hits. I have to admit, I never even thought of categorizing the tunes by what key they are in, but now that you mention it - of course it must have at least a subconscious influence on the listener.

I guess we just go for the old:

up tempo for the first few songs
mellow out in the middle
end up with more up tempo songs

And I can't help but wonder after all the deliberation, what about shuffle? So many people use that function and aren't even aware of the carefully thought out order of the cd - the IRONY! haha

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Bryon Tosoff

1/25/2016 7:23:50 PM

The problem is this, artists fall in love with their songs, they have their favorites, ones they have a passion for, embrace and say thats the one, just like Dolores said in her observation, yes, its tough as an artist who has spent so much time in producing, working on and enjoying the process, or not, I have some who bounce around like a red rubber ball. trying to make up their mind. But yes, go with the most catchy melodic grabbing tune, but then again, who cares, if it goes up to cdbaby, itunes, people are going to download the ones they love the most, I can tell from personal experience on cdbaby, radio play and royalties, I got a whole different look then i expected, the ones i thought were cool and the best in my opinion, the musically more challenging ones , and the ones that did have some great chops, were not the ones that have made the most money, the most spins and received the most likes in the various places i have my music, so it is a crap shoot , you just never know.

Now if you are sending off to radio, commercial, well generally these days it is done digitally, either singles, as that is becoming more popular, or as a 3 song thing

with college, they will take the entire album. cd or digitally. many still like the cds still. it is a lot different then 5-10 years ago , so perhaps seek out some advice from fellow musicians, or family a circle of friends and get them to review and give feedback. it is always a challenge

more help

perhaps later when time..

good subject Richard

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Allan Kilgour

1/25/2016 7:56:14 PM

My thoughts are that It is important to make a strong impact with the first couple of songs or you run the risk of losing your listener before you have even begun. So with that in my mind I try and start with my two best uptempo or midtempo songs.

Then for the third song I slow it down with the best of my slower tempo songs. I think this then hints at some diversity within the cd. The other placement that I then make is to find the best song I have left and that become the last song on the CD to leave a good strong impression and the desire to keep listening.

The middle tracks are then placed in the order that they sound best and with a general mix of tempo's and styles.

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Bryon Tosoff

1/25/2016 9:32:28 PM ---- Updated 1/25/2016 9:34:38 PM

True enough Allan,having a set of songs that grab ones attention on ones cd is important,critical, i believe that too, for sure, absolutely, for fans, or people looking for new music,but we do have other options now dont we.

We have the opportunity to get our music on itunes or cdbaby, or tune core, or where ever, but isnt this old school thinking that cds are important and or necessary, are we still stuck in the middle ages of the music scene, have we not progressed further then thinking that the cd is necessary, oh sure , have them pressed in short runs , or for special events, but how many really sell cds much, We have the option of dropcards now, or download cards, and these are used a lot to promote ones music at shows, or give away for free to market ones works, unless you play live, but even then it doesnt matter ,because the people will play the songs they like the most , or rip the songs and put them on their ipod, or whatever system they use, I believe this thinking of having songs on cds isnt as important as it once was, but people still do of course, but it isnt as prevalent as it once was. And i think I have a good grasp on this subject, since i am in the promotion business, work with a lot of musicians, and pitch their music to radio among other places. So saying that,cds, well we all have our own approach and opinion.You may think they are important, but i dont ,unless you are a player, out in the world of live music, but then perhaps you have had great success doing this, if so, then more power to you......i like your music, pretty good work , bring on more, like to see what else you got


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Allan Kilgour

1/25/2016 10:05:23 PM

I couldn't agree with you more Bryan. The time of the cd is all but over. I never press many, just enough for friends and gigs and few extra, however the thread was about "CD song-sequencing strategy" and so that was why I commented the way I did.

All of the download sites, ITunes, Amazon etc all offer both individual song downloads or album downloads for those who want the lot. I stick to my cd strategy for ordering the album tracks as I would a CD. Cant do any harm :)

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Bryon Tosoff

1/25/2016 10:10:09 PM

agreed Alan,you are right, cd sequencing,song order, or odour : ) is critical if one is going to send them out to radio music directors, programmers,or fans, or for festivals, or to clubs, or venues , got to catch them right off before they throw the thing in the waste bucket, I have done that myself. although I like to give every one a full chance in while i listen for the one gem, sometimes there are a few good ones on a cd. sometimes there are a whole load. Great to have you here, we need people like you on the pipeline. thanks for dropping in, keep coming. We need this input and energy, invite your friends. people you know, this is the best indie site in the world!!

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Richard Scotti

1/26/2016 3:15:18 AM

Thank you Allan and Bryon for those keen insights.

Allan ~ Welcome! Please hang out here on a regular basis. Your intelligent comments are sorely needed. I like the way you think. I checked out your song: "It's All About You" and I'm very impressed! Very cool song and great arrangement and production - very polished and sonically pleasing. Getting a warm phat acoustic guitar sound is like the holy grail of recording and you got it, brother! I love the way way sounds are sprinkled throughout the song and not over played. The little synth hook is golden as is the banjo - very tasteful. Your voice is also very good and fits the song perfectly. I look forward to hearing more of your stuff in the future. Your song sounds like it was recorded on 2" tape using a Neuman mic for the guitar and vocals. Everything has a nice analog sound. I intend to record my next CD on tape rather than digitally because I want that warm sound.

Back to the subject at hand: You and Bryon are both right about the CD being obsolete which makes the order of the songs not very important but don't forget that vinyl records are making a comeback! Of course people will still buy separate singles but you still gotta have an logical order for the songs especially when some college stations will want to play the whole thing. But everything you and Bryon said hit the nail right on the head. Thank you both for your thoughtful and informative insights. The order of songs is apparently not as important as it used to be. The times they are a changin' (again)

Hey Delores ~ I loved what you had to say too! You've obviously been around the block a few times and your expertise is always of great value. Thank u for your thoughts on this subject.

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Hop On Pop

1/26/2016 5:04:30 AM

For me, I try to avoid having two songs in a row that sound too much like each other. And, I prefer to place totally contrasting, or even clashing styles next to one another. I also like to avoid having songs in the same key placed side-by-side, which can be tricky, since I tend to write a lot in the keys of G and D.
So, I guess for me, it's a lot about avoiding certain things, which, in the end, make the album flow more seamlessly… like a journey or something.
I think that I was pretty successful with my sequencing on Chicken On a Bicycle, with all these things. And, I've heard from a few people that they really appreciate the way that it was sequenced. So, I guess that my strategies (at least for that one) were successful.
If you wanna stream the album in its entirety, here's a stream of it, the way that I sequenced it:

It's only 30 minutes or so long, but it plays even faster, I think. Proud of it and I think that I will continue to follow those same rules, if I can, for my next records.

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Richard Scotti

1/26/2016 7:33:06 AM

Good advice Todd. I also write a lot of songs in G and D. They are great "guitar keys"
and I play a lot of guitar, especially lead. I listened to your album, although I've heard it before when it first came out, it still sounded fresh and it's true that the way you sequenced it was very effective. Thanks for sharing your music and insights. Your pride in this work is totally justified.

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Two Silo Complex

1/26/2016 7:52:55 AM

Yes I think that Delores hit it on the head I have used that same strategy and Allen also made the same statement about a good opener and good closer. Byron made some very interesting observations I really think the idea of a downloadable card although not new is great. I think that shuffle has its place and many people do listen this way but I also know others who do create a playlist or put in album downloaded or not and just let it play in the back ground in the order that was set. I do think that the use of cd is really limited as a promotional items basically they are give away for live show venues. Something for people to leave the show with. I have given them away or sold them at cost just to put something in peoples hands.
So Byron here is my question do you have a way to print the downloadable card and give that away like business cards or a way to create USB sticks and give those away what is used today as promotional tools? I still think that order does matter you are trying to put out a consumer product right? So why should the consumer be interested in something if you won't even take the time to arrange your own songs?
Those are my latest thoughts.
Good topic Richard thank you its very interesting.

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Bryon Tosoff

1/26/2016 8:16:44 AM

Ken, regarding download cards, I had some cards sent to me from cdbaby. the cards have a code on them that the consumer fan whoever types in, you then download the song, They are sold at shows, or one gives them away or sells them for a fee, mine were singles and I think as well an artists entire catalog can be incorporated. I am not entirely sure if you can print them out would have to research that.

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Two Silo Complex

1/26/2016 8:35:55 AM

I don't want to take this thread too off topic but it would be a great service if I could go to a site and buy a quantity of downloadable cards and then download the lot of them and print them myself. Then I could use my own paperstock with my own logos background etc.

Very interesting about getting the downloadable cards from cd baby last I checked with them you had to buy large lots like 1000 at a time but that was a long time ago and was physical cd not downloadable cards. I have not done any real life promotion in some time this was an interesting part of the conversation. Thanks for your thoughts on this and song order Byron you knowledge is very helpful.

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Bryon Tosoff

1/26/2016 8:39:49 AM

your artwork is uploaded, with your song at cdbaby, who then sends it out to other various music places, itunes, where ever as for the cards, that is an option. the cards look killer. the artwork song description, (name) artist name all that is quite good, sharp looking, you can go to cdbaby and check out their examples, they do it all as well as cds , I think all the major players do, tunecore. and so on..worth evaluating

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Two Silo Complex

1/26/2016 9:35:38 AM

Yeah I checked it out the minimum for download card is 100 cards. They have changed on CD and now you can by limited quantity a long time ago they only used to sell bulk packages.

Anyway this is off topic so back to the song order thread.

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Richard Scotti

1/26/2016 9:37:37 AM ---- Updated 1/26/2016 10:07:48 AM

Frankly, I wouldn't use USB sticks as a promotional tool because they don't always work when you want them too. Any electronic demo is something I'd be wary of. I've never used a download card but it may work well for you guys. it's just not for me, although I think the idea is very cool. There are too many variables that could go wrong with people typing in a code but it's something I will definitely look into. I think a combination of download cards and hard copy CD's are one's best bet because then you've covered all the bases. Links can fail, CD's can fail. There's no perfect way to promote yourself but it has to be done!

Yes, we are getting off topic here but I'm open to any comments about making a CD and all the do's and don'ts that go along with it. I made my last CD with Disc Makers and I'm not sure if I will use them again or not. I think they were a little over priced especially since I did the "do it yourself method" with the artwork the text etc etc. I way too,much time on the phone and computer with them but they did a professional job overall. It was just costly and time consuming. There must be an easier and faster way. But maybe not(?)

And it was a tremendous amount of work technically conveying my ideas to them and making everything fit their templates. The mastering was also very expensive and didn't really enhance the sound as much I thought it would. I bought 1000 copies at the end and it was more expensive than I thought it would be when I chose a certain "budget" package.

I've been debating not even fully mastering the songs. Basically the volumes just need to be equalized and a few need to be louder. I spent so much time mixing them that they sound as good as they sound under the circumstances. A couple of songs might need a little bass boost but overall I don't really want to have a lot of artificial techniques done that will over compress things and in general squeeze the life out of the songs. I could be wrong but as I mentioned, it's just a debate I'm having with myself. The general belief is that songs MUST be professionally mastered to the max.
I'm not sure that is entirely true when the songs are mixed really throughly to begin with.

Hey, I can't afford an assistant to do this stuff for me. It's hard enough just writing, performing, recording and mixing the songs. After all that I'm too tired to worry about the other details of creating the packaging.

Anyway, it is what it is. I'm just venting. I try to make a CD every one or two years and it's always stressful in the home stretch. Thank goodness the music part is behind me and I'm thrilled with what I've done. I worked like a freakin' dog on these songs! Hopefully this CD will have some bite! Better yet I hope it jumps on you and licks your face!

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Two Silo Complex

1/26/2016 10:29:05 AM

Well Cd- baby now offers limited quantity pressing for CD. You can order 1 or 10 or whatever amount you want. You used to have to buy them in bulk. I guess they got smart and updated. I never used them but they are pretty well known for artists. Cd- baby also offers mastering service but its pretty pricey you could get your CD mastered much cheaper at any mastering house.

I don't think it's too likely that you would get a downloadable card that the code would fail but anything is possible. I like the idea of being able to hand a person my card and say here is the music they can get it but I also like the physical properties of a cd.
I was wary about USB stick failures and never saw a service offered that would allow you to purchase such a thing but I suppose you could bulk buy your own cd sticks and print stickers with your logo and put that on the usb stick and give them away or sell it for a buck or two,

The site I used to have my demo produced was https://kunaki.com They have professional print quality and on disc printing and the template was very easy to use. I used nero cd creator to create the images in size for my disc upload it and the wav files and poof they created the cd perfectly. They also sent me a free proof copy when the project was created and ready for sale. A customer buy the cd from the project and they ship directly to them. I never had to deal with them on support so I can't say how good they are but they are very cheap. So if you have a done template with images sized they are an option to consider.

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Two Silo Complex

1/26/2016 10:40:56 AM

I will say that a friend of mine did several albums on https://kunaki.com and he thanked me later for turning him on to them in his words they were a "lifesaver".
In my experience they were easy to deal with and cheap and had a good product.

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Richard Scotti

1/26/2016 1:06:31 PM

Thanks for the info. As far as mastering, I used Masterdisc and I employed the services of the owner (Scott Hull) which made the process very expensive. He mastered for Sting, Dylan, Springsteen and other big names and I guess I was so impressed I didn't balk at the high price. He did a good job but as I mentioned, the end result was not radically different from the unmastered result.
I probably could have gotten the same exact results from a different engineer at the same company. But his services were just not worth the price. Goes to show, ya can't believe the hype. I think it would be safe to say that EVERYTHING is too expensive these days and there aren't many bargains when you're searching for excellence. Also: If I had been present at the mastering process it would have been even more expensive. Not being there is a big disadvantage.

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Two Silo Complex

1/26/2016 8:23:23 PM

Hi Richard,
The band I was in a long time ago used a local mastering house and I think it was 2-300 bucks to get it mastered. I actually liked it better before it was mastered as the mastering normalizes all the levels. I also thought it was a waste of money.
These days you can master it yourself with pro tools and if you know what compression and EQ to use on the mastering bus and how to work the head room on the tracks to the master bus you can get a damn good professional sounding recording. In my book I would eliminate mastering and instead get good quality tracks in a professional studio with all the high end mics and toys then take the master left and right out for each track from the studio and master it myself.
cutting corners is not always wise but as you mentioned sometime you don't always get what you pay for either. I listen to many samples and book an hour discussion with the engineer in any studio before I book any time to record you can tell who is good by talking to them sometimes the gear makes no difference if you have a crappy engineer.

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