Never let it be said that the process of pressing a CD is an easy task. To give you some insight into what is entailed when dealing with professional pressing facilities, here's a little anecdotal tale of how the last couple of days went for me:
Jason received the masters from Jasse toward the end of last week and sent them expressmail to Discmakers on Saturday.
I had previously sent a link to a zip file containing the layout to our contact there, but Jason had found out after we never heard anything back that this person was no longer working there. He re-established communication with someone else, and forwarded their info to me.
I then sent the same link to this new person, along with some questions I had previously asked regarding certain specifications I needed to make sure were going to be possible. Jason later told me they had received the audio master and Discmakers wanted me to upload the artwork to their site. I didn't really get why this extra step was necessary when I'd already sent a link to the artwork, but shrugging my shoulders, I went ahead and tried to upload the artwork.
However, when I attempted to do so late Sunday night, I received error messages stating the account number and quote ID I was entering were incorrect. I sent Jason an email informing him of this, and waited for the next day to come. Jason responded to me early Monday morning saying as far as he knew, the info I was entering was correct. I had already attempted to upload again by this time, and it still wasn't working.
I called Discmakers and asked about this situation, and was told after some waiting that the website had recently been updated, and it was possible that my upload attempt was being made simultaneously to the update, causing some kind of error.
When I attempted to upload again, the website was even more screwed up than it had been the night before, so I called back and told the same person I'd spoken to earlier. He did some checking with the IT department and confirmed that there was something wrong with the site and it would be fixed as the day progressed. He said I could try uploading again later and if it didn't work, they would use the link to my zip file as a last resort.
Why they couldn't simply bypass the whole issue with the site by downloading the file from my server, I can not say, but I guess they just preferred to make life difficult.
The next day, I was contacted by another person at Discmakers, informing me that the artwork had been received and the process would finally begin, and I'd get proofs by Wednesday, and assured that it was very likely we'd be able to get the album out in time for the THEOLOGIAN show in Philadelphia next Friday
Tuesday afternoon, I was again contacted by this someone else at Discmakers and informed that it had been discovered that our audio master exceeded 78 minutes, the industry standard for maximum audio CD length, as recommended by the 'Red Book,' because although Compact Discs are capable of holding 80 minutes of audio, certain consumer players can't handle this much data and may not be able to play discs longer than 78 minutes. Jason later discovered that they had never accounted for the fact that this was a DOUBLE CD, but aside from that it was the second disc that was apparently over 78 minutes, by a mere 52 seconds.
I tallied my copy of the master, which was under 78 minutes, and replied that although I didn't have a copy of the final master (Jason later sent me the files via email), it was doubtful that Jasse had extended any of the tracks so much as to increase the overall length. Once I checked the copy that Jason had sent, I found that some tracks were longer than my original and others were shorter, but it was simply a matter of silences at the begiining and end of certain tracks. Easily edited. I sent screencaps from iTunes, comparing the two masters, but was told there were lead-in and lead-out times that I was not taking into account.
Jason was leaving for vacation on Wednesday morning, so we had to make a decision whether we'd send in a new edited master (which I worked on in the wee hours of Tuesday night), or if we'd simply sign a waiver absolving Discmakers of responsibility for any issues inherent in a disc longer than 78 minutes. The ONLY problem we were told that MIGHT arise was the possibility that certain people would have playback problems with their discs. However, we were told there had never been any reports of problems of this nature from other discs exceeding 78 minutes in length.
We decided to go ahead with the 78:52 master and take our chances. Jason said he'd deal with the problem if there was one later on.
Later that day, I had another call from the new contact at Discmakers, informing me that the artwork I had submitted was in a DVD template. Yes, I know that, it's a two-tray DVDigipak. I was asked, but isn't your master and audio CD? Yes, that is correct, I said.
Okay, let me check with our art department and clarify this, I was told. I later received an email saying because the DVDigipak has to be printed out of house, Discmakers had no control over the turnaround time, and there was no way of knowing whether it could be finished in time for our release date.
It would have been nice to have been told this during the last half year that Jason and I have been in touch with Discmakers on this project, but it's obviously par for the course.
Today, I finally sent in the waiver, after some ridiculous email tag with our new project manager, and there are a lot of details that I'm leaving out (I couldn't make this shit up if i tried).