How do you get a killer recording onto a record in the highest quality possible, and then how do you get that record from the press to the customer, still in the highest possible quality? Those were the next two critical questions to answer and became our guiding principles in logistics decision making.
I reached out and contacted a handful of pressers in Canada.
One thing you’ll quickly find out in that process is that there are a host of “Record pressing companies,” out there that are nothing more than a webpage, no actual press, and they are just middle men using other presses. You want to skip those right away. Wasted money. I narrowed it down to two choices, both based out of Toronto who could provide top quality and reasonable turnaround times.
The turnaround times can be a logistical challenge. It reasonably takes 10-11 weeks from me sending in the final master and artwork to the customer getting the album at their door. That gives you two options on the sales side. You can either take a huge risk and have all the records pressed in advanced, putting up all the money to do so and then hope you can sell them out. Or you can hope the customer is OK with having a waiting period for their first record to arrive. Once the first record arrives, the others will continue to arrive each month. It’s just like the “Old days,” of magazine subscriptions. You’d order your magazine and in 6-8 weeks they’d send the first copy out. The option of putting up $25,000 for inventory before a proper market test wasn’t feasible, so I’m hoping our customer and listeners being vinyl fans will understand that it’ll take a bit of time from ordering to receiving the first LP. We think the wait will be worth it though.
With the pressing largely worked out, getting the albums to listeners was the surprisingly biggest challenge. After talked to a host of 3PL – third party fulfilment companies, they all came back with the same, refreshingly honest advice. “Do the first round of shipping yourself. Do it manually. See how it goes, and then come back to us if it’s too much to handle, then you’ll know exactly what you need or don’t.” Great advice…. I say now, before I must label, package and ship out 5,000 records. Lol. Get back to me on that choice when I’m around record number 4,500 😊
Here’s the biggest shock though. Shipping! It is near impossible to successfully ship a 12” LP for under $14. When your records cost $22, that’s a big chunk to bite off. I’ve searched high and low for the best, but still affordable boxes, to ship successfully, and found a few ways to get some discounts here and there on shipping costs. It’ll still be a high cost to shipping, and we’re going to subsidize apportion of it out of our profit margin to knock it down further, but we think the cost of shipping is worth the magic of holding a real record in your hands, sitting back, dropping the needle and letting The VinylCast take you to another place for 44 minutes each month.
During this same stretch I also brought a new equity business partner into the fold. Working on logistics and business development was eating up most of my time. I needed someone in the industry who could book some great bands in for the series. I reached back and ended up hiring the Universal music rep I had first talked to 8 months prior to run my idea by her and get her thoughts. I figured she was in the industry she could rock it. She was great to work with, a super person, but in the end managed to book two bands over a few months, realizing herself the challenge I had faced. Unfortunately, we agreed to amicably part ways which was a challenge as we had high hopes for what we could achieve together.
Ultimately it was for the best thought as I learned an important lesson. As much as I wanted to shift the band booking which was challenging facing lots of unreturned requests and no’s, I realized that, as the founder of the project, no one else will ever have the same full knowledge of the concept and the same passion and excitement for it. While I had achieved about a 50% yes rate on asking bands to be on the show, I reality checked myself to say, that’s actually pretty darn good, and I charged forward that week on a mission and booked the next two bands.
Many thanks to my brief partner in the project though as she booked us our very first band of the series as well as, what will likely become a “Bonus digital material,” show with the throwback alt-country duo Kacy and Clayton.
All that was left now before launch was getting all the bands for the episodes we planned to include in the series to legally sign on to the project, set up the royalty scenario and all will be well…. But wait… I’m no lawyer. As much as I had put together a few drafts based on input from the big record labels and used some online templates, something in the back of my mind said, “Get professional help before you get sued!”
And that’s where we’ll pick it up tomorrow.