Although many people now purchase music digitally, there is still something to be said for creating liner notes for a physical CD. It is important for independent bands that are creating merchandise to sell at their shows. Liner notes used to be an important part of the total package of selling an album or CD, and they still can be. Technology now makes it easy for even the most independent musician to create their own liner notes on their home computer.
Creating the Content
Decide what content you want to include in your liner notes. Common inclusions include a track listing, lyrics, an artistic statement, a band member list or special thanks to those who helped with the project. Decide which of these elements you want to include and write them up.
Obtain artwork to use in your liner notes. Because the CD cover is the first page of liner notes, you should select an image for this first. Use a band logo, photo or artwork specially created for the project depending on how serious you are about making your liner notes, and how much time, money and effort you want to invest in the project. After obtaining the cover art, you should decide if you want to use interior art as well. Some famous liner notes include greatly detailed interior art and creative photography, while other are simple text on plain backgrounds. Art is so important to liner notes that some bands are still creating art specifically for use with digital liner notes.
Organize your liner notes. Decide what text and art you want to appear on each page of the booklet.
Creating the Insert
Obtain software capable of making liner notes. There is a vast selection of programs that have been specifically created for doing this. A search on the Internet will yield numerous results that you can choose from. Alternatively, you can download a template for use with an existing program like Word. If you use Adobe professional programs you can use InDesign to create CD liner notes by creating a booklet of the correct proportions.
Set up your project in terms of what is known as a "printer's spread." This is important for making multi-page liner notes. If you are using a simple program or not using a template or dedicated program, you will have to consider the printer spread yourself when setting up your project This means that you must have the pages of the booklet in the correct order so that when folded and stapled the pages appear correctly. In the case of an 8-page booklet, this means that on the front of the first page, page 8 should be on the left, and page 1 on the right. On the reverse of that sheet, page 7 should be directly behind page 8, and page 2 behind page 1.
Lay out your content in your program. Traditional liner notes will usually have the song lyrics in the order they appear on the CD. Include performance credits either at the front or the rear of the booklet, or include specific performance and writing credits with each song.
Print your liner notes. You will need a printer that is set up for double-sided printing to print professional looking liner notes. Use paper that is suggested for printing brochures or other graphic double-sided material.
If you are making a larger release of an independent CD, doing liner notes independently can be costly. Even if you still want to do the design yourself, using a professional printing firm can save you time and money. Professional cutting and binding of the notes will ensure a high quality product.