We thought it might be useful to document the process of starting an online business from scratch. Jim Coudal and Steve Delahoyde will periodically post here about issues involving our product and business plan. Hopefully things will go well but even if the whole thing goes down in flames, it’ll probably be interesting to watch.

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Music

Breaking the Chains of Unreleased Soundtracks

Used to be that you were at the mercy of studios, distributors, and big retailers. But now with things like iTunes, inexpensive media, and ahem, Jewelboxing, if you want something that isn't available or doesn't exist, there's no reason not to just make it yourself. We saw that back in June of last year when Raymond Forbes decided he wanted to make his perfect David Cronenberg box set. Now we see it again with Phillip Chee, who wanted the soundtrack for the film One Week, but it had never come out. So he just wrote down the tracks listed in the credits, download the songs (and "added a second set of tracks from the artists on the play list to fill up the disc") and there you go, instant album. And definitely much more attractive than something you would have bought at the store.

Thanks to Phillip for sharing the photos of his great creation on Flickr (if his name sounds familiar, we've also featured him on our blog before) and here's to all those taking charge of their soundtrack and box set needs in San Francisco, Palm Harbor, Perth, Venice, Villenuve D'Ascq, Biscarrosse, Bilbao, Preston, Southampton, Ashford, Raleigh, Washington D.C., Vail, New York, Singapore, Ben Lomond, Ozone Park, Brooklyn, Santa Monica, and Lewisville.

The Sweet Smell of Success

Although used to some success in the theater world, 1960's Scent of Mystery was the first (and what would turn out to be the only) film to use Hans Laube and Mike Todd's Smell-O-Vision technique. It utilized a series of different containers attached to the movie house's seats that were filled with a variety of odors which were released at certain points throughout the film. Since then, variations on the Smell-O-Vision have popped up here and there, from John Waters' Polyester to a Japanese company's system for, strangely, Terrance Malick's The New World of all films. But there have been years of gaps in between and Smell-O-Vision is but a relic of the past. However, while odor-bearing films have never really taken off, the band A Social Path is clearly trying to be the first to bring the idea to music, as they've put to use the Jewelboxing spine to include chopped up incense sticks with each copy of their album, Test #241. Although the band admits that they "can't smell it, but some people claim they can and that is all that matters," we think they're on to something. If anything, it's a sure fire sell to Spinal Tap for a Smell the Glove reissue.

For more idea of what you can insert into the Jewelboxing spines with both the Standards and Kings, we recommend reading this post from a little while back.

Thanks to A Social Path for being so clever and here's to hoping that everyone is smelling sweetly in Pleasanton, Colwick, Stirling, Warwick, Kensington, Madison, Poughkeepsie, Santa Rosa, Vancouver, Pearland, Pittsburgh, Bloomington, Norman, Yellowknife, Arlington, Seattle, Key West, Libertyville, Upland, New York City, Brookfield, and Penn Valley.

Fight Nights

A quick post to show off some new Jewelboxing work by Stephen Coles. You likely know him from his work as the editor of Typographica and The Mid-Century Modernist, and you might remember when we we had the good fortune to sit down and talk with him about his work as Type Director at FontShop in Case Study #10. This time around, he put together a personal project in order to help him cope with Sweden. We know that sentence doesn't make a whole ton of sense as we put it, so we'll let Stephen fill in the context:

"My last few months in Stockholm were filled with bitterness and angst, fueled by self-imposed isolation and 4 hours of sunlight per day. The only cure was a cathartic mix CD full of aggressive music."

"The art is a page ripped from a book I found at a Stockholm bar called The Library. Just discovered tonight that the dude is a Swedish boxer named Ingemar Johansson who won the World Heavyweight Championship in 1955. Fitting that the guy shares my middle name. He looks like I felt at the time."

Thanks much to Stephen for once again impressing us with his work and here's to hoping there's plenty of sunlight in Weehawken, Shanghai, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Barrie, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Swindon, Grand Rapids, New York, Lower Langford, Sonoma, London, and Omaha.

The Hordes Demand Quality

It's our feeling that it can only be a positive thing when an up-and-coming band is smart enough to invest in good design, instead of just having their friend take photos of them in an alley and ultimately ending up included on Rock and Roll Confidential's less-than-prestigious list. And such good thinking certainly exists with the members of Genghis Tron who chose to work with designer Dominic Wilson in creating packaging for a documentary about the group's recent tour. He chose to put the whole thing together using our Jewelboxing King cases, not only making the project look terrific, but rekindling his love of packaging design, which he recently shared with us, here:

"I shot the band Genghis Tron while on their Summer 2007 tour (Charlotte Harbor, FL. & Tampa, FL). Genghis Tron is a trio from Philadelphia, formed in 2004. The design uses photography that I shot during the performance. I had used the standard single DVD case for past DVDs and felt that it consistently lacked in quality and had recently begun researching for higher quality materials. The Jewelboxing system rejuvenated my interest in DVD package design and I was very impressed with its simplicity to assemble. I will certainly use your product for future DVD design."

Thanks much to Dominic for dropping us a line and here's to hoping there's plenty of rejuvenation to be had in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago, Woodstock, Rockford, Washington DC, Silver Spring, St. Paul, Jersey Shore, Southlake, Naperville, Melrose, Cuahy, Lisle, Oxford, Gainsville, Los Angeles, Suwanee, Ottawa, New York, Des Moines, San Anselmo and Boca Raton.

Love is...Receiving an Attractive Mix Disc

Perhaps the middle of August isn't the most ideal time to be talking about Valentine's Day, but let's not get bogged down by semantics. It's always a good time to talk about clever ideas and well-thought design, both of which are perfect descriptors for Dan LaMee's "Red Roses Mix" project. We caught up with Dan after finding photos of the project he'd posted on Flickr and asked if he wouldn't mind telling us about it. He didn't mind at all and thus, we have the full report:

"As it was approaching Valentine's Day five or six years ago, I was unsure of what to do for all my single girl friends. I wanted to do something special, memorable, and more lasting than a cut flower, so after thinking about it for awhile I decided to make a music mix of 12 songs and thus the first "Red Roses Mix" was born. The first discs were "packaged" in simple slim cases with no special artwork, but for the last few years I've used Jewelboxing cases to help make the mixes even that much more memorable. For this year's artwork, I had what I consider a brilliant and funny idea to use some Valentine's Day print boxers as the main subject. I knew they would generate a laugh and would also fit the theme of the holiday. It took me several iterations to get right, as well as some discussion with a friend, but in the end I think I achieved my goals of a semi-professional looking packaging design using mostly photos I've taken! And the finished product, well, it had the effect I wanted it to!"

"I went with Jewelboxing cases after seeing what other people were doing with them on your blog and the examples page. Those examples were the inspiration for me to think that despite having no official "graphic design" training and only a few art classes, I could create interesting and cool cases for people! So I did! In fact, I should probably send a copy of the latest one to the Swap Meat, if it's swap worthy."

Here's to hoping that, after Dan's lead, there's lots more love and laughter-inducing material being created in New York, Santa Monica, Tucson, Philadelphia, Bangor, Uniontown, La Palma, Essex, Northampton, Dublin, San Jose, Bradford, Santa Clarita, Falls Village, Bournemouth, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, Alexandria, Brooklyn, Miami, Glendora, Harrisburg, Maple Ridge, Winnipeg, Chicago, Fresno, Allentown and Toronto.

Clean Hard Drives and Charitable Friends

Around this time last year, we heard from musician Danny Adler, who had packaged his last album using Jewelboxing. This week we heard from him again as he let us know that he'd been keeping as prolific as ever and has just recently released two brand new albums with a whole slew of music, packaged just as beautifully as before. Here's from Danny about each:

"The first, is Outmoded - Vintage SGX. I've been doing music for about 7 years now and I've got a backlog of old, old stuff that's just been sitting on my hard drive. It is good stuff, but too different from my current style, and production quality isn't quite there, as I was learning while making it. The way that the Jewelboxing cases can hold 2 discs was magnificent for my this collection of about 3 years' worth of my music."

Sample tracks: Realize and The Way Up.

"The second album is SGXRMX2 - SGX Remix Project 2.0. This is the second time I've opened up a bunch of my tracks for remixing to friends and fans and put together an album from the result. I didn't want to deal with selling the album for profit and then attempt to pay those who participated their $10 cut of my AMAZING income on it (sarcasm), so I had planned to release the album solely as a free download. Then it occurred to me that since there was SOME money to be made, I could donate any of the profits to charity. So, along with posting them soon on iTunes, with some leftover Jewelboxing cases I had, I printed up a few and sold them for $25 with all profits going to PMFFC, my friend's record-label-for-charity. I'm sold out now, but the few I made went fast, so I am planning a small reprint."

Sample tracks: Coactive - HyBound's Retroactive Breaks Mix and Me Semper Maneas - Nicole Adams Mix.

Let's hope there's as much impressive work getting done as there is at Danny's studio in Gladwyne, Williamsburg, Santa Barbara, New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Quebec, Niceville, New Orleans, Savannah, London, Naples, Boston, Seattle, Fort Washington, Columbus, Montreal, Nashville and San Jose.

Covering the Classics (Sometimes With Talent Even!)

It's always a great day here at Jewelboxing HQ when someone sends us a copy of an album. There's enough music geeks here in the office, so the reason why is obvious. Who doesn't like getting new music out of the blue? It's all the better when there's a hook to the whole thing, like when we got in Henry Cline's latest disc for his Hippopotty Records Music Club, "The Best and Worst Covers." It's filled with just that: an eclectic mix of good cover versions of songs (The Brazilian Girls doing the Talking Heads' Crosseyed and Painless) , horrible ones (the infamous Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by William Shatner), and miscellaneous, unusual finds (like a lo-fi, live recording of Bjork doing Petula Clark's Downtown with the Brodsky Quartet). And to make things all the better, the whole deal is beautifully packaged in one of our Standard cases, with a 15 page booklet filled with liner notes and images of truly horrible album covers. Here's from Henry about the whole project:

"I'm a 46 year old camera operator living in Los Angeles who spends all his free time working on projects like Hippopotty Records Music Club (HRMC), or photography, my website, my blogs, my friends blogs, my next HRMC (even though it is a year away), oh and much much more. Too bad I do not have much free time.

"So, a few years ago I came across an article in Wired magazine about music sharing groups that were sprouting up all over in business settings. Co-workers making compilations for other co-workers and experiencing great bliss in this form of music sharing. I thought, "That is a cool idea, I want that as well". And thus, Hippopotty Records Music Club was born.

"A cast of thirteen folks from around North America each have a calendar month where they need to make and distribute a compilation of there choice. That is pretty much it.

"At issue number 38, or so, and many gigs of solid music, HRMC rocks on! After a couple of years of circulation it has proved to be very successful and now there seems to be a waiting list to get involved. In a perfect world I would like to see satellite Potty groups gush forth and start a mini-ring of over-lapping music-loving fools all getting great ideas on new music to listen to from veritable strangers."

Let's hope there are bands out there working on clever covers about songs already written concerning the lives of those in Brooklyn, Baton Rouge, Bothell, Malibu, Santa Monica, Boulogne Billancourt, Los Altos, Straffan, New York, Derby, Phoenix, Carlsbad, Los Angeles, Venice, Evanston, Novi, Bellingham, Avon, Chicago, Charlotte, Stevenson Ranch, Wickliffe, Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Nashua, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Detroit.

Looking 'Pro' Even in the Off-Hours

Over the years, we've heard from a few Jewelboxing customers who have put out cases to use after joining a mix disc group. It's a club, of sorts, where once a month a member puts together not only a compelling collection of music they think the others will enjoy, but they also assemble packaging that helps to compliment the disc itself. It's great hearing from people who are doing this because the whole project, from start to finish, is simply done out of a love of both music and design. And those are exactly the things Alison Garnett brought to the table when she put together her recent mix:

"I took part in my very first music exchange, organized by the artist/designer Lisa Solomon. Looking for an excuse to design a project that involved only myself and an unknowing music exchange partner, as a client, I went with a personal favourite colour combination, as well as a collection of icons that I felt represented both myself and my Canadian home. The jewel boxes were the finishing touch, turning a home made project into a professional looking package design. The title of the CD 'Run Lala Run' was both a play on the title of one of the best movie's to ever come out of Europe, and my nickname 'Lala'."

Here's to hoping the music exchanges are coming along as beautifully in Houston, Vallejo, Atlantic Beach, Plano, Sicklerville, Edmond, Grove City, Valencia, Saint Peter, Providence, Chilmark, Santa Barbara, Paderborn, Southfield, Duarte, Lansdowne, Toronto, Red Bank, Helsinki, Sao Paulo, Vancouver, Nashville, Decatur, Vestal, and Salt Lake City.

The Shiny Sheen of Chroma

Here at the studio, we're all a bunch of audiophiles. Rabid record collectors, the lot of us, we also revel in anything new we find in used shops or in travels on the web, from strange sound collages to found audio to outtakes from classic albums. So when we got an e-mail from Danny Adler telling us about his latest project, an inventive album-slash-interactive-project called Chroma, we were all over it. And all the more exciting that he decided to package the whole thing using Jewelboxing. Here's the story from Danny:

"Chroma, the album, was my thesis project for my Digital Media Design undergraduate degree. In addition to the music and packaging design, the disc contains an interactive Flash application called "Coactive" that will launch upon inserting the disc into a CD-ROM drive. In the game, the user is able to arrange and construct pieces from a song of mine as they wish within an animated and appealing interface. The music is various types of electronic music. I go from badass beats to epic melodic trance to ambient soundscapes to orchestral and back throughout the course of the album. After a few tweaks and edits, I've begun selling the album in the Jewelboxing casing, and my listeners love the packaging (and the music too, I think!)"

"My evaluating professors were extremely impressed with all of it, including the super-cool case! It was really great being able to print up 3 great-looking copies at 5 am the day the project was due! I managed to get a panoramic drawing across the front and back covers so when you open it up and look at the outside, you see the whole drawing. You'll see it in the second image I am attaching. I didn't use the included disc labels -- instead I went for printable silver CDRs and used my inkjet to print right on the discs. Inkjet ink isn't terribly permanent on that surface (just a little moisture will rub it right off), so I sprayed each disc with clear adhesive. This came with the bonus effect of making the discs super shiny. They look awesome."

Danny was gracious enough to offer up the following sample tracks from the album:
Haven
Lofi Attitude
Me Semper Maneas (featuring vocals by Aurora)

Here's to hoping the projects are as inventive and as super shiny in Calgary, Santa Monica, Covington, Seattle, Montreal, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Edmonton, Vancouver, Studio City, Phoenix, Watertown, Newark, Market Rasen, Mount Juliet, Bend, Edmond, Atlanta, Grand Rapids, Austin, New York, Attleboro, Cadillac, Bell, Horsham, Greenwood, Hollywood, and Toronto.

In the Desert With Country, Pop, and Robot Cowboys

We've said it before and we'll say it again; one of the joys of Jewelboxing is getting to hear from artists, musicians, and filmmakers, and learning about their projects. This week, we had that experience when we received the debut record by The Qualia and got a chance to talk with band member, Lars Casteen and Max Fenton, who designed the album using our Standard cases. The music is fantastic, an eclectic mix somewhere between electro-pop and an Ennio Morricone score (fans of The Decemberists might also like to know that we think Lars sounds a lot like Colin Meloy). On the design side, the case follows the themes in the album, with terrific, worn illustrations and familiar woodtype. Here's the whole scoop. First from Lars:

"We really wanted to make a record that worked conceptually without being terribly rigid, so we decided a good middle ground would be to give the record a setting; the desert. And to connect the songs' styles, we integrated elements of country and pop. The record flows gradually from over-the-top stories of the old west to the more banal accounts of everyday life. One of our goals was to have each song have a distinctive feel that matched its subject matter, while letting the whole album feel cohesive. For example, 'Nevada's Greatest Man,' is about a tall-tale-style cowboy who also happens to be a robot. It feels fairly big, dramatic, and aggressive. 'Center of the Solar System' is about the immoral, selfish conclusions about suburban living and feels like a radio-friendly, guitar-pop single."

"People might be interested in the record if they like 80's and 90's synth pop, but wanted a greater sense of purpose from the music. The songs are hopefully fun to listen to, and if we've done our job, don't feel fraught with pretension. But we aren't really interested in making overly ironic or emotional dishonest music, either. When we're recording a song about a home-built sports car that the protagonist drives into space to meet with angels, our tongues are certainly a bit in cheek, but hopefully we're getting at something real too."

And from Max:

"Lars and I collaborated to create a plastic, European design to both support the electronic nature of the music and make the most of printing inkjet onto matte paper. Bold colors, vectored drawings, and a narrative created by the movement of the sun from panel to panel. With that in mind, I treated each panel as a painting. Nevada's state flag provided the banner and an abundant source of abstract shapes to color with. I chose Clarendon becuase it's what my buddy Andrew uses for The Believer, a magazine as smart and meticulous as The Qualia's album. All the rest was conversation, experimentation, and an openness to making changes."

"Design work always has the possibility of going sour, but when you're working with your best friend, you make sure that doesn't happen. We live in different states and keeping our conversation open through phone and e-mail let us stay close, realize his vision, and make a demo that will have a serious shot at being heard. The Jewelboxing templates definitely gave me a running start and let me put my effort into design instead of those printing details that always go wrong."

We know it's only a matter of time before Lars gets this terrific album into the hands of a big label, and we're glad to have been a part of their future success. Same applies to all those in Cincinnati, Laguna Niguel, Mayaguez, Pasadena, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Studio City, Oakland, Toronto, Dallas, Wilton, Thornhill, Chatham, Houston, Desert Hot Springs, Muncie, South Charleston, Shawnee, Madison, Castle Rock, New York, San Diego, Sicklerville, Ann Arbor, St. Augustine, Culver City, Bozeman, and Berlin.

To Have and To Hold

It may appear as a bit of cross promotion, but fear not. Over at The Show, we sold out of our Dead Can Dance European Tour Box Sets in record time, almost as soon as it was announced (the band's fans are nothing if not incredibly dedicated). But we thought you might like to see how we're using Jewelboxing in connection with our own products.

For this particular box set, we had to come up with a solution wherein we could collect twelve shows, with two discs per night, into one attractive package. We'd been using Jewelboxing for the individual shows from the start and we wanted to keep to that, but the trick was connecting this large batch together in an approachable way. We looked at various ways to keep them together, but in the end, opted for a band of high quality, heavy stock printed paper that would wrap around the eight discs, leaving them exposed on the top and bottom for easy access, but plenty secure enough to have the cases not slip around all over the place and get scratched up. In the end, we were plenty pleased with the results. It's a simple, cost-effective solution that maybe you can use if you run into some project that will require multiple discs, extra copies, etc.

We're planning to send multiple copies of us doing numerous karaoke versions of "You Light Up My Life" to the people in Waterloo, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Albany, Ventura, Fort Worth, Ottawa, Polk City, Provo, Portland, Norfolk, Lakeside, Canyon Country, Seattle, Goshen, Whitby, Sicklerville, Winston Salem, Eden Prairie, and Shoreview.

How To Be a Hero

It’s pretty simple, really. First, have your wife and daughter sit down at the family iMac with a pile of CDs and select a list of songs for a mix CD. Organize and burn it with iTunes. Put it in the family car and listen to it obsessively for a week. Debate the track selection and order at every opportunity. Have them go back to the iMac, revise the playlist, and email the artists and song titles to you at work.

Marry a woman with a great photographic eye. (OK, maybe that part’s not so simple.) Have her select a portrait-shaped image of your daughter’s beautiful face and a landscape-shaped image from a previous trip to the zoo, and have her email those out of iPhoto to you at the studio.

Sit down with your daughter and discuss the relative merits of various titles for this birthday party CD. This will feel surprisingly like a client meeting. You will have a couple “perfect” titles that describe in a brilliantly concise manner the exact feeling that the list if songs will communicate to her friends and their families. She will insist on calling it “My Life is 7.” You will lose this argument.

Find a free hour at work. Import the portrait-sized photo into the Freehand (or whatever app you prefer) Jewelboxing template for the outside of the insert book. Place it on the right side of the page. Crop the image on its left side along the guide for the horizontal center of the page. Let it bleed off the three other sides. Lay the headline, set in a sensible typeface like Gill Sans, across the image with another small line of copy that says “Isabelle’s Birthday Party at The Zoo, June 6, 2004” stack-centered and set in white to reverse nicely out of the photo.

Import the landscape image into the same template, size and crop it as if it were going to cover the entire insert book template and bleed off all four sides. Send it to the back, behind the portrait image. Set the playlist so it reverses out of the left side photo. Print out a test and then 13 more. Set aside.

Open the template for the tray-liner inside. Copy and paste the landscape image from the previous template into it and align it so the right half of the image covers the entire template area. Print out a test and 13 more. Set aside.

While still in the tray-liner template, bring the “disc shape” layer to the front. Select the landscape image, copy and then paste that inside the disc shape. Copy that. Open the disc label templates and paste. Put the circle filled with the cropped landscape image over each of the two disc shapes on this template. Add text if you'd like. Print a test and then six more of these.

IMPORTANT:
While at the zoo, try not to lose any of the kids.

Open the template for the tray-liner outside and fill it with a solid color. Repeat the headline in white in small letters rotated 90 degrees clockwise. Put that on the part of the template that will be the spine of the final case. Put the already printed tray-liner paper back in the printer with the blank side out, print a test and then 13 more.

Gather all that stuff and bring it home. Assemble the packages at the kitchen table with your daughter. I’d suggest you taking responsibility for applying the disc labels and detaching and folding the tray-liners. She can do pretty much everything else. Head upstairs to the iMac. Burn the 13 labeled CD’s and snap them into the cases. This next part is very important. While at the party at zoo, please try to not lose any kids. Hand out the discs as party favors. Ta-da.

For even more fun, try this in Santa Cruz, Wenonah, Billings, Barrie, Ithica or San Francisco.

Make Sure to Stretch Before Listening

You might remember from a few months back when we highlighted "A Cup of Coffee," a terrific album sent our way by DJ Shagz. A fantastic mix of dub and R&B, packaged in a beautifully designed Jewelboxing Standard case. Because we enjoyed it so much, we were understandably excited when we got this message in today:

"Just thought I'd let you know about my latest DJ mix to use your Jewelboxing system. I was commissioned by a friend of mine to put together a mix for a summer party he was throwing a couple months ago. He just wanted something that he could hand out to people and send them away with, something personal and specialized to remember the (presumably) great time they had. Fortunately everybody *did* have a good time :)

Having seen your system being used for my 'Cup of Coffee' mix, my friend wanted the same high quality cases and printing job for his CD. I put together a mix of funky summertime hip hop and funk, part music I was digging at the time and part tunes that I thought represented my friend's personality. I designed the cover and tray with the help of a photographer friend, Abe Roberto, and now I'm busy printing, folding and snapping the cds together.

So far the CDs have been a hit, in no small way thanks to your product."

There have been hits abound in New York, Lake Oswego, Kings Park, Blue Bell, Mountain View, Portlant, Steinbach, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Aurora, Seattle, Pasadena, Orem, Bothell, Hereford, Kendal, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, Calabasas, Pontefract, London, Lansdowne, Flushing, Bradford, Madison, Yarm, Riverview, and Atlanta.

Very Bright. Heavily Wooded.

The polar opposite of our last post, Luke Morris' debut album, "Paper Street," sounds like an experimental record from another planet. Gorgeous textures built from completely alien sounds line the sample track, "Evil Winds", available on Luke's site. And we're figuring there's a lot more sonic brilliance where that came from, based on his description:

"Paper Street is my debut album, which is under the anonymity of my alias 'the Brilliant Forest'. People have described the music as "Xiu Xiu's little brother," "sounding like the more experimental side of the Microphones," and "not like anything else (no, that wasn't an insult)." I decided to use Jewelboxing because it looked amazing, and the lovely humor of the staff (as apparent on the website; that alone sold me). I haven't been dissapointed. People tell me all the time that my CDs look amazing."

Go pick yourself up a copy. And while you're at it, pick up a few extras for the fine people in New York, Fresno, Foster City, Gilroy, Culver City, Metairie, Edison, Leeds, Coral Gables, Cambridge, Beverly Hills, Arlington Heights, Culver City, Flagstaff, Little Rock, Armadale, Grass Valley, Portland, Chicago, Santa Barbara, and Marietta.

We're Fond of Helicopters

Usually, in a band's biography, you're given a list of what other groups they sound like. The description of Chicago's helicopters reads: "too rock to be The Postal Service, too pop to be Beck, too modern to be 80's, too happy to be Radiohead." And they couldn't be more right. Helicopters have created a sound that's uniquely their own and it's utterly terrific. Since member Jason Caldeira contacted us, we've all become big fans of their work. And it certainly doesn't hurt that they appealed to our design side by packaging their new album, How to Fake Fall Asleep, with Jewelboxing. Here's what Jason had to say:

"In April, we released our debut album. It was two years in the making, so needless to say we were more than thrilled that our hard work had finally paid off. To celebrate, we held a cd listening party at Bella Lounge in Chicago; an atypical venue for a local band's cd release. So of course, we couldn't just release a typical cd. Instead, we used the Jewelboxing system to create 100 limited-edition cases featuring the work of local photographer Mark Battrell. The cds sold out almost immediately. This inspired us to release multiple limited-edition batches of the cd, all featuring the works of Chicago-area artists and photographers... and we have Jewelboxing to thank."

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the album. You won't be sorry. And then, make sure you check out the work of the fine folks in Needham, Los Angeles, Tulsa, Oakland, Chino, Coimbra, Weston, Fairfax, Reno, Baltimore, Silver Spring, Waltham, San Diego, New York, Arlington, Gatineau, Chicago, San Jose, Auckland, Lake Owego, Minneapolis, Manitou Springs, and Mountain Home.

A Favorite of the Chimps

Out of the blue one day, we received an e-mail from composer Benjamin Dauer, who performs under the name, Chimp Logic, wrote, "Hey, I'm just finishing up my promo CD and am using Jewelboxing. I'd love to send you guys a copy!" Never ones to pass up anything free, especially if it's packaging would clearly be beautiful, we told him to send it along. A few days later, we were listening to Benjamin's terrific new album, "{ movement 1 }" and oogling the super cool, ultra sleek layout. We also enjoyed a letter he included:

"In anticipation of creating this solo album, and after having searched for years for the perfect packaging solution, I found your company. Upon reading about your products, I immediately placed my first order and got busy polishing my inserts and labels. I wanted to ensure that when I submitted my album for review at the hands of directors, choreographers, and talent scouts, that mine would stand out from the rest. This is by far the most comprehensive and classy packaging solution in existence."

Reading that while listening to Benjamin's great music made us, well, about the happiest packaging solution company in existence. That and our new pals in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Clovis, Markham, Overath, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Winslow, Boston, Brooklyn, Rex, Orlando, Marshfield, Outremont, Venice, Jersey City, Toronto, and Portland.

Designing "Ecology"

A few months back, we ran across a site called Textilesounds, a cool independent record label/blog in San Francisco run by Matthew Dingee. It popped up on our radar because Matthew was near finishing his new solo album at the time and had begun thinking of packaging and he'd said that he was thinking about using Jewelboxing. Although the mention was brief, his blog was incredible, with him detailing every bit of album making process. We immediately knew we'd be smart to keep up with his progress. And that paid off times ten.

On the 9th, the album now completely finished, Matthew updated the site to talk about the packaging:

"The Jewelboxing folks deserve as much praise as you can heap on them. Their system allows you to produce a polished product on the cheap. Basically, you get the parts of a sharply designed jewel case complete with rounded corners and clasp closure that works. In addition, you receive perforated card stock sheets and downloadable templates for your graphics software. Hand over the templates to your excellent graphic designer friend and then print them out"

From the images we saw of what he'd come up with, we ordered the album that second, hoping the music was as good as the design. And right we were. "Designer Ecology" by Grappa, Matthew's band pseudonym, is an amazing collection of haunting melodies, beautiful and complex compositions, and quiet brilliance. In short, it's a tremendous album, and we're honored that Matthew decided to use Jewelboxing to help present it. Do yourself a favor and order two: one for you, one for a friend.

We're buying copies right now for everyone in Seattle, Burbank, Boise, Marina del Rey, Washington DC, Angwin, Delray Beach, San Francisco, La Crescenta, New York, Fort Saskatchewan, Brooklyn, San Diego, Pasadena, Beaverdam, Columbia, San Pedro, and Dennisport.

Uniformly Unique

How often do you get a gift from someone and say, "Hey, I really liked the packaging"? Unless you're getting pizzas delivered by a company that uses diamond-encrusted boxes, probably not often. That wasn't the case with Holly Allen who wrote in to tell us about a project she recently put together:

"I used the Jewelboxing system to make about 30 copies of a mix CD for friends this holiday season. The title of the disc is 'Admit One,' the theme being 'Music I Heard Live in 2004.' I went with ticket/wristband/setlist images to pull it all together. Some time in Photoshop and some time at Kinko's and a few hours later, I got this. The reaction was uniformly positive, with many people noting the quality of the cases."

We have always felt uniformly positive about the people in New York, Jonesboro, Rochester, Calgary, Rocky Hill, Shrewsbury, Mill Valley, Bletchingley, Dallas, Tuscaloosa, Bedford, Boston, Plattsville, Chicago, Scotch Plains, Bel Air, and Washington.

In the Mix

Sure, things like file sharing and iPods are hogging the spotlight, but who says the art of the mix tape is dead? Okay, maybe the "tape" part isn't around so much anymore, but that beloved practice of sitting around with stacks of albums, trying to make the greatest possible compilation, is alive and well. And it's never been more attractive, thanks to Jewelboxing. Designer Sean Klassen wrote in to tell us how he's using the cases:

"I recently joined a mix cd club with a bunch of friends. There are twelve of us, so one person creates a new 'theme-based' mix cd each month and then mails it to everyone else. It's a really fun way to find out about new music and to let others know what you've been listening to. My month is February and I actually created two mixes. One with the theme of 'leaving/change' and the other is a collection of sweet songs from sweet movies. Thanks for the sweet cases and templates!"

We're currently dubbing "You Light Up My Life" for all those in Belfast, Mexico, Aberdeen, Visalia, Santa Cruz, Milton, New York, Birmingham, Santa Monica, Cleves, Council Bluffs, Delray Beach, Los Angeles, Warren, Minneapolis, Eden, Cliffside Park, Clinton, Portland, Cleveland, Orlando, Washington, Kumla, Olive Hill, Bloomington, Modesto, Stevenage, Puyallup, Brooklyn, and Diemen.

Cuppa Joe

We've added DJ Shagz' Cup of Coffee sampler to our Examples and Inspirations page. We're also getting together our Mom With Design Skills feature and should have that up later today or tomorrow.

Holiday and lots of other best wishes to Cortlandt Manor, Brooklyn, Bellevue, Rockland, Newmarket, London, Oceanside, Silver Spring, Philadelphia, Dallas, McAllen, San Antonio, Dublin, Jackson, Twickenham, Atlanta, South Riding, St. Kilda East, Reading, LA, Truro, Addison, Sherman Oaks, Culver City, Saint George, San Francisco, San Diego, Cork, Arlington, Lakewood, NYC, Orlando, Newtown, San Vito, West Point, Chaska, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Sunnyvale, Novato, Hollywood, Loveland, Minneapolis, Tulsa, Chicago, Mill Valley, Sandy, Montpelier, San Marcos, Kimberton, Troy, Fairfield, Temecula, Winchester and Hillsborough.

You Are What's On Your Playlist

Anyone with the tiniest bit of interest in music has, at one time or another, compiled songs onto blank media. And since the days of reel-to-reel, people have been judged by their mix tapes. The songs you choose, the order of the tracks, the theme, even the design (or lack thereof) of the case, can reveal your inner psyche. By just looking at your tracklist, a music fan will likely comprehend you better than your parents, or your psychiatrist, ever will.

So if you've ever needed further proof that the rich and famous are pretty clueless, take a look at Apple Music Store's Celebrity Playlist feature.

Is it really a surprise that Fred Durst has the same musical taste as a relatively unhip high school kid? Is it kind of creepy/sad that Beyoncé's list includes several of her own recordings? Do we believe that Andrew W.K. listens to nothing but Parliament? Who would have guessed Ruben Stoddard really likes Luther Vandross? Is there a rule that all playlists must include OutKast? Does Ed Norton even own a stereo?

While many are flat-out obvious or weak, others try too hard. John Mayer appears to have stayed up all night toiling to create a list so diverse that it makes us wonder how such a wide range of influences could result in such utter mediocrity in his own work.

Quirks of the Apple Music Store add another level of scrutiny to the playlists, with unavailable songs replaced with subpar live versions or gaping holes. (Interpol's list doesn't include Joy Division? are they worried people might realize how derivative they are, or was Joy Division's catalog not available when they posted?)

Of course there are good lists, too. Burt Bachrach chooses a set of top standards that would probably never see the day if licensing got in the way. Tom Petty compiled ten fantastic soul and blues tracks without being either obvious or obscure. Alice Cooper lists songs by both his influences and influencees. Phantom Planet, Sleater Kinney and the Flaming Lips' mixes are convincing documents of what they're probably actually listening to these days.

The point is, Celebrity Playlists are fascinating in so many ways, and we thought it'd be fun to choose some celebrities Apple hadn't talked to yet, and guess what songs and themes and gimmicks they'd choose if confronted with such a task. Choose any celebrity, and explore their innermost thoughts and feelings, whether comical or sincere, by choosing songs from Apple Music Store. Post your list at slatch.com and with the crew there, we'll choose the winners based on how convincing your picks are.

We're sure to find some good lists being assembled in Syracuse, NYC, Boston, Redding, LA, Santa Clara, Farmingville, Toronto, Mokena, Highland, Menlo Park, Houston, Ottawa, Fairview and Edwardsville.

Revamp This

Only thirty copies of the Akina Nakamori 'Revamp' CD, are being made available and we're glad to say that all of them are being packaged using our system. We'll show you what the crew has done with the disc and it's surroundings as soon as we get ours in the mail.

Short-runs of big ideas. That's just about sums it up.

Oh to be sitting on the front steps in Oceanside, Scottsburg, Port Townsend, NYC, Roslindale, Brooklyn, London, Gainesville, San Diego, Singapore, Villette and Littleton as the summer days fade into a rosy twilgiht and lightning bugs lead laughing children in circles on the lawn.

Chicago to London in Twelve Songs


We're sponsoring a cool new contest at The Big Smoker. It's called In12, and you could win a 60pack or a 30pack of our "New Standards."

"We want you to come up with a tracklisting for a mixtape. That mixtape has to take the listener on an aural journey from Chicago (where Jewelboxing work their magic) to London (where we are). And you have to do all that in twelve songs. Clever huh? How you manage this task is up to you. We just want a dozen tunes which conjour up a transatlantic voyage in an imaginative and original way. You've got until the end of June to get your entries in.

Other places you might go in twelve songs include LA, Milwaukee, Roanoke, Brighton, Southampton and Roswell.



Completely Complete Introducing The new Jewelboxing Studio


Categories:

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Case Studies:

1. Impactist
2. WOXY.com
3. Rafael Macho
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7. 451
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Most Popular Entries:

Making JB Comps in P'Shop
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What a Mom Made
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Previous 12 Entries:

Birds of a Feather Design Together
A Long Hike for a Great Cause
'Tis the Season for Seasons Past
"Something of Substance"
It's All the Talk in Delray Beach
A Walk Through Wedding Season
Important News for the Home Brewer and the Thirsty: Our Disc Labels Find a Valuable New Use
Coming Soon: An Exciting New Pack and Ship Experience
Picture Perfect
Now Available in Belarusian
The Power of a Good Valentine's Mix Disc
Well Taught

The Whole Enchilada:

Listing of all the entries

Thanks For Noticing:

37signals
9 Rules
A List Apart
A Penny For
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Alert But Not Alarmed
Analogue
Angie Mckaig
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