Every year during the lead up to Record Store Day I read about a lot of disgruntled record labels using various pressing plants around the world or other broker companies that are experiencing huge delays.
These delays seem unnecessary and much much longer than anything we’ve experienced here. Well Tempered work with three European pressing plants and although one of these suppliers has had up to three of four week delays, we were warned of this in January and advised our customers accordingly. The other two pressing plants have been experiencing delays of one or two weeks.
So when hear reports around the world of delays of up to eight weeks or having to wait sixteen weeks to press a record, people should realise that this simply isn’t the case with good suppliers and it seems unfair to blame Record Store Day.
In January of this year pressing plants all over the world sent out their annual emails to all customers warning everybody of the fast-approaching ‘Record Store Day’, that time of the year when suppliers are likely to be busy and customers should expect to experience delays. So it shouldn’t come as a shock when during the months of March and April each year, pressing a record can take maybe three or four weeks longer than at other times of the year. It’s important to remember that this event is held at the same time each year so we know to prepare for it and schedule our releases accordingly.
While many people are blaming Record Store Day for holdups, if you are experiencing delays of more than three or four weeks then you should really be looking at other supplier options as this could be and probably is the fault of whoever is handling and planning the issue of capacity.
Record Store Day should not be made into an excuse for people’s poor planning and scheduling. And it seems a shame that it has become a scape-goat for a lot of frustration globally.
We spoke with Andreas Kohl of Optimal Media in Germany and he share his views on the subject of expectations and capacity around Record Store Day each year:
‘The huge demand we are facing in terms of vinyl manufacturing and the struggle between available capacity and wanted quantity seems to challenge a whole scene and a whole industry, and we are steering into a situation where general setups and rules might need to be overthought. I’m talking about pre-sale periods, distribution schedules and promotional campaigns. Let’s not forget that in the heydays of vinyl (70s and early 80s) there was no such thing as a professional PR and distribution industry around the world, if any press work was done it was handled by the managers of the bands and there was no requirement by distributors to have results at a certain time to start presales, which final figures would give the label an idea for demand and a number to base manufacturing orders on. Or in other words: the whole distribution setup as we are dealing with nowadays has been designed and perfectioned during the years when the CD ruled the music industry and scenes – a format that can be manufactured and reproduced in large quantities in just a few days. The general setup bearing core basics like a 4 weeks presale period, press campaign working towards the release week and stores expecting 80% of sales within the first 6 weeks after release date has been created around the CD format and has been followed more or less painstaikingly by the majors as well as independent record labels.
These basics have been accepted as rules of a market long ago and are now being challenged by a format that simply cannot fulfill the requirements: vinyl. While there seems a constant victim moan to be establishing itself among the indies, blaming RSD and the majors for something A) indies themselves created and promoted for years and B) have been accepting as general market rules instead of trying to find a 3rd way of distributing their music and, pardon, become independent. This subtle moaning seems to make itself up to the surface more and more the closer RSD approaches and seems to become a widely spread topic even in the mainstream media. It is quite impressing to see for me as rep for a pressing plant that most of the features seem to refurbish facts from public sources instead of talking to the manufacturers themselves and find out what the truth is. I can only presume that the answers they might gonna get from sources like us would be less dramatic and thus not make up for what they consider to be a good strory. Truth is: turnaround times in the majority of all pressing plants worldwide have been relatively stable lately. Increased times have been discussed with customers beforehand and some plants even work with capacity planning systems giving customers a clear picture how many records they can do in what time. Of course I can’t vouch or talk for all plants but we are in close touch with our customers and supervise the market and can’t see or feel a significant downfall of general setups being valid throughought the whole year for the pre-RSD period. There is frustration out there, yes but I would go as far as saying that a correct evaluation and analysis of this frustration would yield other results than pressing plants pushing dates back, majors flooding the market with catalogue titles and RSD becoming a comic of its own self – the majority of frustrational hiccups results from expectations that can’t be met due to technical setups, technological reasons and market organisation. I am sure the majority of the problems could be solved if all parts of the music industry would evaluate their setups and expectations for a more vinyl-friendly environment instead of looking for someone to blame.’
If you have had bad experiences pressing records during and around Record Store Day then please make sure that you speak with us next year. We can help you schedule your releases properly and avoid unnecessary delays by making sure that your product is handled by reputable pressing plants, efficient enough to cope over these busy periods.
The real frustration of Record Store Day surely has to come from the record stores rather than the labels. With so many RSD releases now coming from labels that simply want to cash in on the annual event, the stores that feel obligated to stock these releases are often left having to transfer them to the bargain bin weeks later. We spoke to Anouk from Record Industry and asked for her thoughts on RSD:
‘Personally RSD should be about really collectible records, as in, specially compiled releases and not re-issues of releases that have been released previously (and I don’t mean collectible in the sense the quantities are so little, only 500 people world wide can buy it). A great example is the side by side series that Warner release -the same tracks on one 7inch, one version by the original artist and on the other side is a cover of that same track by another artist. Or I remember last year’s Coldplay release with a comic book – now that’s interesting and something completely different from what they normally release.
So there should be a lot less RSD releases, especially the bigger record companies should not put out that much, which should result in less pressure on the pressing plants.
We did not opt out smaller labels for RSD though, we did our best for everybody and we managed to get everything out in time. But in general, we aren’t taking on new customers anymore. But for existing customers, big or small, we did everything within our power to get the stuff out in time.’