Getting your CD in front of people is the first step to getting noticed, but sometimes you can fall at the very first hurdle if your artwork and packaging aren’t up to scratch.
First impressions count for a lot, so it’s important not just to make sure that you’ve got some awesome artwork, but also that you’ve chosen the right CD case for the project while ensuring that it falls within your budget.
Two of the most popular choices are jewel cases and card wallets, which we’re going to compare today.
Jewel cases are by far the most well-known CD cases (even if you’ve never heard the term before, you’ll have definitely owned them.
They were the first type of packaging to be used for retail CDs and are thus considered to be an industry standard to this day.
For this reason, while there are many more options available these days, they continue to be used.
It’s also a very cost-effective and versatile packaging option, so it’s likely to remain a popular option for many years to come.
Jewel cases can come with an insert, which could be a simple one-page cover to a full multi-page booklet.
The disc sits on the inside right of the case, secured to the case with a hub or spider which ensures that it doesn’t move around inside the case or get damaged.
However, there are a couple of downsides to jewel cases. Firstly, they’re usually made from a very brittle plastic which will easily crack or shatter if the case gets dropped and the hinges which hold the case together are also prone to breaking.
This being said, there are newer jewel cases available which are made from much stronger plastics and are more durable, with rounded corners instead of sharp, 90 degree ones. Of course, these cases will be slightly more expensive though.
The fact that the case is made from plastic also leaves a greater footprint on the environment, which is something to bear in mind if you’re going to be producing a large run.
Ultimately though, if you want a classic, affordable option, then you can’t go far wrong with a jewel case.
Also known as a card sleeve, these card wallets are like scaled-down versions of vinyl sleeves, with an opening to slide the disc out of.
This kind of packaging works well if you’re perhaps releasing a single or an EP, or if the item is going to be some kind of free hand out, like a newspaper or magazine cover mount.
However, there’s nothing actually securing the disc in place except for the tight fit of the wallet itself, but this will be enough to keep it from falling out unless it gets fairly vigorously shaken.
The material means that card wallets are also very lightweight, which makes them ideal for sending out as mail shots.
Card wallets are also the cheapest option for CD packaging, so they’re a good idea if it’s one of the first ones you’ve produced. And unlike the jewel case, they have less of an impact on the environment!
However, if you feel like a simple card wallet isn’t enough for your release, there’s also wallets available with multiple pockets and sleeves, so that you can add leaflets and inserts if you wish, such as track listings or extra artwork (these wallets are often known as gate-fold wallets, DigiFiles or DigiSleeves).
Both jewel cases and card wallets have their own benefits and drawbacks and the right one for you will depend on what it is that you’re putting out.