What Software Should I Use to Create My CD or DVD Artwork?

After recording your album, having it mastered and pressed, you head over to your disc duplication facility’s website to place your order. Reading up on the ordering process you notice that you have the option to have artwork printed on the disc face, and can also have tray card and insert artwork printed. This is a great idea, as it allows you to give your project a more professional look and feel. You can either hire a print designer, who will hopefully already know all of the proceeding information. Or you can have a go at it yourself, utilizing one of the many different graphics creation programs available. If you are choosing to create your own artwork, read on.

There are many different programs out there that can be used to create print artwork. One of the more popular programs is Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is a vector based drawing program, available for both PC and Macintosh computers. You could also use, CorelDRAW, Paint Shop Pro, or even Adobe Photoshop. I will go into a little bit more detail about what the differences are between some of these programs later on in this article, and why some of them are better suited for print design. Here is a list of 3 terms you should be familiar with before starting your artwork project.

1. Raster Graphics

Raster graphics are also known as bitmap graphics. This form of graphics image is a data file or structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or blocks of color, on a computer monitor, or other display device. Think of a raster images as a checkers board, with each square (pixel) on the board displaying a different color. This collection of colored dots (pixels), in turn form the full picture. The quality of a raster image is determined by the total number of pixels (resolution), and the amount of information in each pixel. Raster graphics are practical for photographs and photo-realistic images because of the way that they display images. Pretty much all photos you will find on the internet, and all photos you take with your digital camera will be raster images. You may want to use photographs for your CD or DVD’s artwork, but you must mind a few certain things:

A. DPI –
I will go into this a bit further in the “DPI” section of this article. In a nutshell, any photograph that you would like to use for print must be 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher. DPI refers to the density of pixel information in a photograph.

B. Color Mode –
There are two basic modes of color: RGB and CMYK. All you need to know really is that all print artwork must be created as a CMYK document, as this refers to the colors of ink that a printer uses to recreate your artwork. If you create your artwork as an RGB document, the printed document will most likely shift in color. For more info on this, please refer to my last article. What do you need to start a CD duplication project?

2. Vector Graphics

Also known as geometric modeling, this form of graphic uses geometrical primitives such as points, curves, and lines to represent images. Instead of displaying blocks of color to represent a photo vector images rely on set points to determine the outline of an object, using mathematical formulas to determine the curve of the lines between said set points. Vector graphics are ideal for simple or composite drawings that do not need to achieve photo-realism. I suggest that you used vector objects for all of your artwork’s areas that are not photos.

3. DPI

Dots per inch, (DPI) is the number of individual dots of ink a printer can produce within a one-inch space. This translates as, the higher the DPI, the sharper the image. Although, most commercial printers will tell you that anything over 300DPI would be considered “print-quality”. I recommend that you make sure that your artwork is at least 300DPI, with 600DPI being the optimal setting for your artwork.

After all this technical mumbo-jumbo, you’re probably scratching your head, still unsure of what program to use to create your artwork. The truth is you can use pretty much any graphics program to create your artwork, providing that you correctly set the DPI and color mode of your document. Personally, I usually use a combination of Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator to do all of my print artwork. I edit all bitmap images in Photoshop and create all of my vector content in Illustrator, combining the two in Illustrator. My advice is now that you have the basic background knowledge, experiment to figure out what works best for you!

How Closing Accounts Can Kill Your Credit Score

One of the major factors of how your credit score is calculated is your capacity. This is the ratio of credit used to the amount of credit that is available. This accounts for 30 percent (almost a third!) of your credit score. For example if you have 5 credit cards with a $1000 limit and you have 3 of them maxed out and 2 of them inactive your capacity would be at 60 percent, $3000 of your $5000 total credit limit. This is not good in the eyes of the lenders and your credit score would suffer because its ideal to be at 10 percent of your capacity.

Remember a credit score is a formula measuring your ability to pay back your debts and obligations. If you have a high capacity and little room left for your maximum then your ability to pay back your obligations is viewed as more limited.

So in the example above, lets say you decide to close the 2 inactive cards for whatever reason. Nowadays, the credit card companies will charge a fee to inactive cards so a lot of people are now closing their inactive accounts. Well unfortunately, they are killing their credit score. If you are maxed out on three cards and you close the other 2, guess what, you are now at 100 percent capacity because your total credit limit is now $3000 instead of $5000. I know from personal experience this will cause your credit score to plummet.

My advice? Don’t close your inactive cards. Use them once a month, maybe for gas, or treat yourself to a latte from Starbucks. Then pay them off immediately so you don’t incur any interest. Do what you can to pay off the cards that are maxed out, or at least get them down to where your balance is under 10 percent of the limit. If you can, try to transfer the balance to a lower interest card, so it can save you a few bucks on the interest. This strategy is sure to improve your credit score because capacity is a major factor, and if your capacity improves, your score improves.

Asking your bank for a credit limit increase on some of your cards isn’t suggested nowadays, this is a strategy that old credit repair people recommended but in today’s economy with the credit crunch, it prompts an account review, which for some quirky reason, may cause the banks to LOWER your credit limit. This would damage your capacity as well.

You are already disciplined enough to not spend on two cards. You are unique in today’s credit crunch world, use your discipline to your advantage, don’t close your accounts. You will be doing more harm to your credit score than good.

The American Jobs Act, Unemployment Discrimination and Employment Brand

Online recruiting organizations: Are you ready to stop hiding from candidates? You should be. Your brand depends on it.

With The American Job Act currently before Congress, employers would be subject to EEOC discrimination claims if they fail to hire an unemployed candidate based on the fact that they are not currently employed. The notion was hatched as a backlash against the perception that employers do not want to hire unemployed workers.

That’s a specific law with a specific target, but if you peel the layers back, it’s the first salvo fired out of frustration from a country full of candidates that are tired of being treated badly by the people, systems and processes that have grown up around recruiting in the last 10 years.

I get it. Recruiting organizations are under siege by way too many qualified candidates for the positions they have. More importantly, they’re under siege by way too many completely UNqualified candidates.

While not considering candidates that are unemployed may cut your candidate pool down to a manageable size, it’s not smart from a branding standpoint. Unless your employment brand is cold and cutthroat, you should embrace all candidates. You should treat them with respect and you should engage as many of them as possible.

Everyone wants a fair shot. That’s just part of being human. And when sweeping generalizations like “we don’t consider unemployed candidates” take hold, or faceless applicant tracking systems process bits and bytes and spit out rejection emails (often delayed to appear like the candidate was considered by a human), then the appearance of a fair shot disappears.

Candidates are customers. Candidates are voters. Candidates are individuals capable of expressing their frustration to large numbers of other individuals through social networking.

Here is and actual tweet I came across the day after writing this article: “@jimcramer FYI you herd it here first, Taleo is keeping the unemployed… unemployed.”

Obviously, not everyone is qualified. And every recruiter has tales of resume spammers and unqualified, unprepared candidates sucking their time. But the fact is, if you appear not to care about candidates, then your brand suffers. And now with an entire nation who is totally focused on getting people placed in jobs, delivering bad candidate experiences is asking for more Federal regulations governing how you interact with candidates.

There is a quietly growing awareness in the industry that candidate satisfaction matters. There is a faint notion growing that engaging candidates and trying to ensure that they are communicated with and treated with respect and reverence, will actually result in a more effective recruiting process.

There are tools available that allow organizations to engage candidates and solicit feedback throughout the recruiting process. Companies can now listen to how candidates feel about their recruiting process from beginning to end, track satisfaction and fine tune practices to make them as effective as possible.They sit on top of a company’s career site pages and asks candidates what they think, in real time and with appropriately times follow up surveys.

Without fail, candidates regularly comment “Thank you for asking my opinion.” So when I say treating candidates with respect helps your employment brand, I speak from experience. Your “Best Place to Work” badge is fine, but it just lays there. Asking a candidate what they think about how they’ve been treated? That shifts the earth a little bit and provides evidence that you have a great place to work.

Plus it provides a goldmine of ideas about how to better interact with candidates, tweak your career site and make your online recruiting efforts more effective for passive candidates. The one’s who already have jobs. The one’s you were targeting that got the White House involved in messing with your business in the first place.

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page erected as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who’s possibly just lost his job accompanies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month

    – Forbes.com

  • Men’s monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years

    – Guardian.co.uk

  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs

    – Guardian.co.uk

There’s even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid wouldn’t you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let’s take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it’s deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we’re talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also meant more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious).

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, namely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleagues and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the Prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content such as videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared amongst millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. the Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has decreased the need for Traditional Media because it enabled consumers to join social societies within their neighborhoods, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that’s been said, the demise of Traditional Media can largely be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership means advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can’t compete with instantly updated user-generated content that’s immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio/Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without any advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe, their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, perhaps live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection…