Making Beautiful Music
Sony Music Entertainment, which traces its roots back more than a century to the Columbia Graphophone Company, has always tapped the best technology of the time to record and deliver the sound of music. Wax-coated cardboard cylinders played on a graphophone paved the way for the gram-o-phone's flat discs, which evolved into double-sized 78rpm records and 331⁄3-rpm LPs. Vinyl was succeeded (but never fully replaced) by eight-track and cassette tapes, as well as today's CD-ROMs, DVDs and MiniDiscs.
Adding style to substance, Sony also seeks out high-tech tools and vendors to cover its playlist—literally. An in-house production group, located in Sony Music's New York City offices, oversees the creation of eye-catching innovative packaging for the company's audio offerings and related promotional materials. The group is responsible for hundreds of releases a year for major artists, and produces thousands of components, including CDs, cassettes, MiniDiscs and LPs, according to Arthur Yeranian, senior director of graphic arts production for Sony Music Entertainment. "We pump out a lot of work," he confirms.
Yeranian and his staff work with several external vendors, including four separators and various printers. Its primary print provider is Shorewood Packaging. Sony had outsourced all of its prepress work to select vendors, but decided to set up an internal prepress department last year. The new department was functional in January and fully operational by March.
The production group has been taking on prepress jobs gradually, initially handling some CD booklets and products. At press time, Yeranian was targeting Sony's Legacy Recordings label, which features "all time classic" releases.
"It made sense to take on Legacy projects in house since this label requires a lot of repackaging, along with original packaging material," he explains.
The new department features a complete Mac-based creative team and an imaging room for scanning and retouching. "We're scanning on a [Heidelberg] Tango [drum scanner] here, but we still outsource some scans," Yeranian remarks.