Digital might be the fashion for music distribution these days, but there is something special about holding a finished album in your own hands.

When you get to that stage of being ready to print your album, where do you start?

Well, for London artists, there’s a local solution tucked away in the east end of the Forest City.

Blu Monster Print Media, run by owner Derek Armstrong, began as a CD/DVD replication shop in Markham, Ontario. After eight years in Markham, the shop relocated to London and soon expanded services to include digital and large format printing (which means they are able to print our beloved Short Fuse!).

The Process

Whether you’re printing a few copies for families and friends, or looking to do a large run to distribute at local stores, Blu Monster can handle it. The shop produces smaller disc quantities in-house, and they send mass quantity orders to a partner plant in Toronto for manufacturing.

When figuring out the design of your CD packaging, the sky is pretty much the limit.

“What’s most common is either a jewel case, a digipak, or a cardboard mailer.” Derek explains. “We can go beyond that to a slimline jewel cases, clamshells, depending what the clients want. We can handle everything, including helping with the artwork design if need be.”

Derek Armstrong of Blu Monster Print and Media shows off just a few of the many albums he's printed over the years.
Derek Armstrong of Blu Monster Print and Media shows off just a few of the many albums he’s printed over the years.

“For instance, we did a CD for a band this past week.” Derek adds. “They did a six page insert into a jewel case. We laid out a background picture and then we typed up the songs on the three internal panels, added a couple of pictures on the inside, in the tray liner, and put all that together for the client.”

Once a project is completed, the CDs can be picked up at the shop or shipped to wherever the product is needed. Though most of Derek’s clients are from the southwestern Ontario region, he also retains clients from the GTA and beyond.

What’s Old is New Again

Most recently, Blu Monster has begun offering vinyl production services. With Blu Monster’s partner plant in Toronto investing in vinyl equipment, Derek saw the opportunity for a natural extension of the shop’s services. The shop recently completed their first vinyl project and are currently in the manufacturing process of their second. When asked why he thinks vinyl might be coming back, Derek offered some thoughts.

“I think it’s what’s old is new again. It’s kind of like the cool factor.” He says. “It’s something unique, it’s something that’s new again. And it has a little bit of a different sound.”

Shop Stories

Throughout his time working in CD and DVD replication, Derek has served a wide range of artists with differing needs.

“I did a CD for somebody many years ago, that was virtually homeless,” Derek recalls. “He recorded his music in the back of his van.”

On the opposite end, Derek fondly remembers working with a young band kicking off their summer with a tour around the United States.

“I was helping them get started in their journey that summer. I was almost jealous of them.”

However, Derek has had his own moment in the international spotlight.

“This is my one claim to fame.” he recalls. “I’ve done work over the years for a band called Anvil, which is an ’80s metal band. Many years ago, I delivered CDs to them, and they were  filming a documentary.”

“I was in their documentary for all of about three seconds,” he laughs. “So there you go.”

Fame hasn’t changed him though, and Derek remains passionate about helping artists in the final stage of production.

“We’re a local solution right here in town, London,” he says. “We can also help or work with some of the peripheral things, like posters.”

“We’re out there trying to help the industry too and assist artists if they have questions.”

If you’re a local artist who is looking for a solution for gig posters, CD printing, or even vinyl, give Derek and his team at Blu Monster a call. Despite their name, it doesn’t seem like any task is too monstrous for this London shop.

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