Producing a Vinyl EP

I created the music soundtrack for an Irish language short film (that won 3 national drama awards) earlier this year, which I worked on with my Dad. The idea for getting involved with this actually came from one of my former school teachers, who originally taught me to play the drums.

Being involved in this project was a lot of fun and, after we finished the music for the film, we wanted to find a way to say thanks to my teacher for their original idea. Because we had just published the songs as an online album, my Dad suggested that we see what it might take to have the same album pressed onto Vinyl as a gift for my teacher. This is the story of how we did this.

The first thing we had to do was find a company that could produce vinyl albums. My Dad did some research online and decided to contact whose website seemed to offer what we needed for a price that seemed affordable for the quantities we wanted. We wanted to make just 3 copies: one for my teacher, one for myself and one for my Dad.

My Dad did most of the dealing with CopySmith and, while (he said) the ordering process was fairly low-tech (in comparison to publishing the album online using CD Baby), the service he got from them was really superb. The main person he dealt with was Adrian and he was really, really helpful all the time, especially with all our questions because this was our first time.

He provided templates for the album cover and record labels, answered emails at weekends and in the evenings and was really accommodating for any changes we needed to make. He also allowed us to send him trial versions of the artwork (to see if they were correct) before placing our order.

Based on what my Dad said, I think we’d definitely recommend CopySmith to others and I think he’s already done that with a few of his friends.

Vinyl EP

We had created four songs for the movie soundtrack and these were less than 5 minutes long in total. We also had other versions of each song (some longer and some without background sound effects) and those were around 4 minutes long too.

According to Adrian at CopySmith, this meant we could fit them onto a 7” record, so that’s what we ordered in the end. A 7” record with more than one song per side is known as an EP in the record industry, which stands for Extended Play.

Artwork Software

We needed to create artwork for the album cover (front and back) as well as for the labels for the two sides of the record. The artwork for each of these had to be a very specific resolution:

  • Album Cover: 2173 x 2173 pixels at 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch), which was around 18.4cm
  • Record Labels: 1122 x 1122 pixels at 300 DPI, which was around 9cm.

We tried lots of different free graphics software programs but very few of them did exactly what we wanted (especially the 300 DPI). In the end, we chose Adobe Spark because, even though it was not free, we felt it was the easiest to use and had lots of flexibility. We could also pay by the month and only needed it for one month, so it only cost €12.95 in the end, and was worth that.

Cover Design

Because the music was written for a movie that was set by the sea (with a storm scene in it), we decided to design the album cover based around an ocean theme. My Dad had a few photos he’d taken at some local beaches earlier in the year and we chose to base the cover on one of those.

I then used Adobe Spark to crop sections of this photo for the front and back part of the cover, using some hue to create a blue, nighttime effect. We created separate Adobe Spark files for the front and back cover (we did the same of the labels later on). My Mam also suggested using the sun in the photo to form part of the album title: Saoirse (the Irish word for Freedom).

Once we had the basic background that we wanted, we added the other details to the front and back. The front just had the album title and my name but the back had lots more details, including the song names for both sides and various credits for the music and film creators etc.

We looked at a few of my Dad’s old singles to see what details we should put on the cover and, in the end, this is what we ended up with (the front is the left and the back is on the right):

Because the movie was in the Irish language (my former school is an Irish language school) and so were the names of the songs we created, we decided to use the Irish language for all of the album cover (and label) details as well.

Label Design

Once we had made the front and back cover, we knew a lot more about Adobe Spark so creating the labels for the record took less time. Adobe Spark had lots of different features and effects that we were able to use but it did take a little bit of trial and error to settle on the right amount of detail to include. Again, we used a few old singles for inspiration and eventually ended up with these:

The lighter, blue ribbon effect around the edge is meant to look like ocean waves when the record is spinning on the player and our fake record company name, Martello Studios, is meant to spin around the hold in the centre of the record. These turned out really well too.

Music Files

We didn’t have to do anything to the music files we had, except give them special names when uploading them to the CopySmith website so the vinyl pressing company would know which song to put where, on each side of the record.


Once we finalised the artwork files, we uploaded them (along with the specially named music files) to the CopySmith website and formally placed our order (paying using Paypal). We were told that it could take 3-5 weeks before the records would be ready so you need to allow for this if you’re thinking of doing a project like this. Here is what the finished records looked like:

From start to finish, the entire effort took around 8 weeks but it was all worth it when we presented a copy to my former teacher who was absolutely blown away by it. We later found out that he is also a former DJ and is a huge fan of vinyl records (doesn’t even have a music streaming account), which made it extra special!

Publishing Music Online

After I finished creating my first movie soundtrack, which was part of an Irish language short film that later won 3 national drama awards, my Dad and I wondered what it might take to put the music we created onto Spotify, which we both use.

CD Baby

We found it a little tricky to understand how to do this at first, even after searching the Internet for quite a while, so my Dad asked an old school friend, Micko Roche, about it (who is also quite a successful music artist). He explained that you need to use an independent distributor to put your music online and he recommended that we try using CD Baby, which he ses and likes.

We checked out CD Baby and discovered that, for the same amount of effort (and cost), you can also publish your music to a bunch of other music platforms as well. These include Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Shazam, YouTube and lots of others.


Publishing an album costs $29 (for a standard album) and there was a one-off cost of $20 to set up a new UPC BarCode for our account, so the total cost was $49 which worked out at just over €40.


There are quite a few steps involved in getting an album published and because of the various stages (below), you should allow up to 2 weeks for everything to get done.

Album Creation

Publishing the album actually took a lot longer than we expected (around 1 hour in total) but the process was actually very easy to follow (there were just a lot of steps).

It starts with naming the album and the artist, along with uploading the artwork (which needs to be a specific size: 1400 x 1400 pixels). You then have to name all the songs, including saying who the composer and producer is for each track, as well as naming the author of the lyrics (if there are any) and saying who might own the copyright for any of the music you’ve used. This might seem like a lot but the CD Baby website is very well designed and it was quite easy to use for this part.

Once you have all of this done, you upload the music files themselves. The CD Baby website is quite clever here too because it spotted that our music was not in stereo (it was in mono because we recorded it using an iPhone). We were able to fix this in Audacity and got the stereo versions uploaded around 20 minutes later.

The final step was to select up to two genres for your album and to list other artists that you might sound like, but this step was optional.

Review Process

Once you submit your album with all the settings above, you need to wait for someone at CD Baby to review it (e.g. to ensure it matches the type of music you said in the genre). This can take up to one week to complete and, if you make any changes (e.g. rename a track), the review process needs to start all over again.


Once your album has been reviewed, it is then sent out to all the digital music platforms to be released on them. Again, this can take a few days and we found that it appeared on Spotify first (after around 2 days) and then Apple Music 1-2 days after that.

While it took a bit longer than we expected and involved a lot of steps, it was actually a very process to follow and I’d definitely feel more confident doing it again in future, and you should too.

Saoirse: My Movie Soundtrack

While I was doing Transition Year at school, many of the things we would normally have done were not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. However, my former school asked me if I’d like to get involved in a STEM project they were doing, by recording the music soundtrack to a short film they were hoping to make.

The film was going to be called Saoirse (the Irish name for Freedom) so I used the same name for the music soundtrack as well. I also asked my Dad to help with the project so he played the electric guitar while I played my acoustic guitar.

A few people have since asked me how we did the soundtrack so I decided to write a little bit about that here.

Studio Setup

The first thing we had to do was sort out how we would record the music. We tried a couple of ways to do this, including using a Loop Pedal (Boss RC-2) and a USB Audio adapter connected to a Mac (with GarageBand). However, these proved to be a little too complicated for our needs and, in the end, we decided to just record the music using the Audio Recorder app on my iPhone, placed close to the amplifier.

Some of the first recording we did had a little bit of echo and background noise from the acoustic guitar strings so I faced the other way from the iPhone when playing and this helped a lot.

Music Equipment

We used the following equipment to play and record the music we created:

  • Acoustic Guitar: Epiphone PR5-E (Florentine Cutaway Electro Acoustic Guitar)
  • Electric Guitar: Epiphone SG-400 Vintage
  • Amplifier: Roland Cube Street
  • Smartphone: iPhone Xs

The guitars were both connected to the amplifier, which was placed in front of the iPhone to record.


After we took the music off the Audio Recorder app (by uploading it to Dropbox) we trimmed some of it using the Audacity app on my Mac, which is free (and open source). Because the iPhone app only records in Mono we also had to convert the tracks to stereo using Audacity. This was a simple matter of duplicating the mono track and saving both tracks as a MP3 file.

We were also able to enter some song/track details into the MP3 file when exporting from Audacity, which made sure these appeared in iTunes/Music apps later on, which was handy.

Sound Effects

Some of the scenes in the movie were shot near a beach (and during a storm) so we also recorded some waves at our local beach (placing some socks over the phone to cut out the noise of the wind) and mixed this with the music we recorded. We did this mixing in Audacity too.

Song Names

Once the filming of the movie was underway, the teacher was able to tell us more about each of the scenes that would need some music. This helped us to name the songs, as follows:

  1. Banú (meaning Dawning) became the song for the opening scene, which shows a young girl walking on a beach. This track has some wave sound effects too.
  2. Réadú (meaning Realisation), which has some thunder sounds mixed in, was used during a storm scene.
  3. Amhras (meaning Doubt) was a short filler track between two scenes.
  4. Machanmh (meaning Reflection) was used during the closing credits.

Once the filming was finished and the editing process started, the teacher was also able to tell us how the music tracks needed to be. We made some adjustments to the chord (and sound effects) here to get the track lengths correct, once again using Audacity.


The finished movie was recently launched and actually won some awards in a national school drama competition

While it took a while to compose and record all the music, and we had to do a lot of takes to get versions of each song that we liked (and that were the right length for the film), we were really happy with the results, especially when we finally got to see them in the finished movie.

I learned a lot about music production and editing too, which was quite interesting and I’d definitely recommend using Audacity for this as it’s very flexible and easy to use.

A Transitional Year

In Ireland, there are two main state exams that you take during your secondary school years. The Junior Certificate comes first and is a 3-year cycle that you complete at around 14-15 years of age. You then complete the Leaving Certificate, which takes 2 years. Students also have an option to spend one additional year in between these two cycles, exploring a range of different social and personal development activities and experiences. This is called Transition Year, or just TY.

Some of the highlights of a normal TY would include going on work experience, doing some community service, taking a trip abroad and generally spending a lot of time outside the classroom. However, our year was very different due to Covid-19 and we were unable to do any of these.

That is not to say we did nothing (far from it) and as we are about to finish TY soon, I decided to take a look back at what I achieved over this very different year. I’ve separated the various items into categories to make them easier to read.

Technology Projects

I did a number of projects that involved using various kinds of technology, which were:

  1. I produced Digital Mosaic Posters for my current and former schools, which involved taking headshots of all pupils and teachers and using a computer program to create a mosaic image of the school crest, then mounting this in a frame.
  2. I started my own blog in 2020 (using the popular WordPress blogging software) and decided to write one new article each month during Transition Year. In fact, the one you’re reading now is the final one in this series!
  3. My friends and I submitted an idea to the BT Young Scientist Award, which was a project that would explore the effects of wearing face masks in school.
  4. I recorded a Podcast, which was a fake interview with a celebrity. I chose to interview Tom Holland and asked him different questions on a range of topics.
  5. I created an online computer game using Scratch, based on the Apex Legends video game.
  6. We learned how to use Solidworks, a popular Computer Aided Design (CAD) software package, and created a basic LEGO Car and small Park Bench.

Music & Art

I also did some projects (personal and school-based) with a musical and artist theme, including:

  1. I was invited (by a former primary school teacher) to compose the soundtrack for an Irish language short film they were producing, which I did with my Dad. In total, we wrote, arranged and recorded 7 tracks, including adding sound effects using Audacity.
  2. I completed a week-long, creative song writing course with Music Generation, Waterford.
  3. I restored an old skateboard, replacing many of its parts and designing my own artwork for it. I also wrote a blog about how I did this.
  4. I created and delivered a presentation about an entrepreneur that I admire, and chose to base it on Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel comics and movies.


I took the opportunity to do some activities related to the environment as well, which were:

  1. I joined Tramore Tidy Towns to help clean our local beach every Sunday morning.
  2. I was selected to join the Green Schools Committee, helping with various related activities during the school year (including several Covid safety initiatives).

Practical Skills

I decided to try learning some new skills during the year, including:

  1. I prepared myself to sit the Driver Theory Test, which involved practising lots of sample questions using a computer program at home. I applied to sit the real test too but my test date was postponed due to Covid-19, so I am still waiting to finish this.
  2. I took a number of cookery & baking classes at school and made several meals and dishes at home throughout the year. I plan to continue with these as my younger brother and Dad have fallen in love with my brownies!

Sport & Recreation

The school arranged lots of different sporting and recreational activities during the year. These included surfing, cycling (on the Waterford Greenway), walking (on the Suir Blueway and Dunmore East cliffs), as well as Archery & Climbing (at the Dunmore East Adventure Centre).

Online Learning

I also completed a range of different courses online, which included Road Safety (e.g. drink and drug driving, fatigue, cyclists and distractions), Concussion & Covid Safety, creating an education course on skateboard design and skills, presentations skills and using Microsoft Teams.

We attended a number of University Open Days too, which were very informative and helpful.


While the year was very different to what I expected and I definitely would have loved to do some work experience and take a trip abroad with my friends, I still feel that I have learned a lot. I would definitely recommend that everyone should do Transition Year if they get the chance to.

My First Vinyl Albums

I spent quite a lot of time at home during 2020, during the various Covid-19 lockdowns in Ireland and found that listening to music was a great way to relax. As my Dad was also working from home at the same time, I began to get interested in his music collection (from when he was around my age) which was mostly on vinyl records.

I thought that vinyl records were kind of cool as a music format and even though you have fewer options when listening to them (e.g. no pausing or skipping to the next track), the technology involved was pretty impressive for its time, so I got interested in owning some of my own.

It seems that, from talking to my Dad, your first vinyl records may become a topic of discussion later in life, where you might yourself being either very proud of or rather embarrassed by them. It was with this in mind that he bought me my first vinyl album for Christmas in 2020 (below).

Iron Man 2 (AC/DC)

This is a double album that was released in 2010 and was the soundtrack to the Iron Man 2 movie. I like AC/DC anyway and thought their music really suited the movie, and Tony Stark, and think the collection of songs on this album is really good.

Given that AC/DC have been around for so long and have stood the test of time, I think I should be OK declaring this as one of my first vinyl albums in years to come. If it turns out not to be so cool, I can always blame my Dad for it!

Fine Line (Harry Styles)

This is a double album that was released in 2019 by the former member of One Direction, who I  was a fan of when I was younger. It was a very different album to much of his earlier music as a solo artist and I really like it.

This is technically the first album I bought with my own money so it’ll probably be this one that I refer to when I’m asked about my “first ever vinyl album” in years to come.