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Record Store Day 2015 | Delays?

Record Store Day 2015 | Delays?

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.

record store day 2015 | long delays possible

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.’

Daphne & Celeste – You & I Alone

Daphne & Celeste – You & I Alone

20150331_122906Daphne & Celeste make a come back with ‘You & I Alone’ produced by Max Tundra. The track marks the first release for the ‘Ooh Stick You’ singers in 15 years.

The 7″ release has been manufactured by Well Tempered and pressed on transparent yellow vinyl along with a 4-lug knock out centre. You can read more about the knock out centre here.

“It would have been easier to pick someone really respected like Charlotte Gainsbourg … but this was more of a challenge, taking a band people were chucking bottles of piss at.” – Max Tundra.

Buy your copy here from Boomkat, and for further reading please head over to the website: http://daphneandceleste.tv

Links:
The Guardian
Pitchfork
Metro

 

What causes pre-echo / groove-echo?

What causes pre-echo / groove-echo?

Pre-echo on a record is somewhat of a phenomenon, it is not commonly known what causes a faint audio signal on a record slightly before the main recording.

It is often the result of excessive groove swing and depth changes on the lacquer from stereo width in the bass frequencies.  This is one of the reasons as to why bass frequencies are mono’d on a vinyl record.

ElectronMicroscopeImageOfDirtyVinylRecordGroove
So what actually is pre-echo or ‘groove-echo’? It is a result of the transmission of sound from one record groove to the next.  It is caused during cutting, but can also be made a lot worse during the processing of the lacquers.  A decent lathe will cut a groove that just touches the previous rotation, whereas some of the later lathes actually nestled part of the groove into the previous one.  The cutting engineer would have to use the ‘add land’ button to create more space between the groove artificially.

The acetate or lacquer is pretty much a living thing, and how it electroplates is a result of how well cured it is.  This is determined by the amount of oils used, how long it was cured, and how long it was given to acclimatise at the cutting room.

Once the lacquers are used on a lathe then the pre-echo starts to build up, the first 24-hours are crucial so it’s important to get the lacquers into the electroplating bath as quickly as possible.

It is often thought that the cutting engineer could only be responsible for groove-echo, though galvanic process does have a big part to play, and it’s often this procedure that causes the biggest problem.  To reduce the possibility of this, the plating process needs to be very slow and cold to reduce any effects that could be evident on the lacquer.  Rushing the plating process during busy periods at a pressing or having the bath too hot can result in greatly exaggerating problems evident on the lacquers.

As a vinyl producer trying to get the best possible product out the door the best thing you can do is have the Cutting Engineer post out your lacquers immediately, and make whichever plant you are using aware that they are on the way and you have your order actually in place.

 

 

Record Store Day 2015 – RSD2015

Record Store Day 2015 – RSD2015

recordstoreday2012Although most of you are still thinking about your Christmas and early 2015 schedule, it is wise to start planning your Record Store Day – RSD2015 release for 2015.  For those of you not planning on releasing a record for RSD2015 you should bare in mind that manufacturing times during this period become  longer.

Record Store Day 2015 will take place on April 18th and finished product will need to be with your distributor ideally last week in March.   To ensure this date is met the pressing plants will need lacquers no later than 23rd January.  With this in mind you should really think about getting the mastering session booked in.

Traditionally the months of February through to May become affected so this needs to be taken into account when planning releases in this period.  To ensure release dates are met during this very busy time please speak to us as soon as possible.

Manufacturing Times for the production of Vinyl Records

Manufacturing Times for the production of Vinyl Records

Here at Well Tempered we work with the three best pressing plants in Europe to ensure that your records are pressed to schedule and cost, and also of optimum quality. The standard turnaround time from all three suppliers is seven weeks from receipt of lacquers – this is industry standard.

We hear that a lot of artists and labels elsewhere are getting frustrated with production times of up to twelve weeks. This should not be the case, there is simply no reason to wait this long for your product.

delayed record productionWe understand the need to make the process as quick and easy as possible, and our commitment to looking after the customer means that we have methods in place and capacity at pressing plants to ensure a very smooth and professional service.

If you’re waiting twelve weeks for your records then you should be asking yourself just how long can your business sustain this inefficient relationship.

Releasing a record should not be headache though sadly for many it’s simply too much of a hinderance to their release schedule. Here at Well Tempered we offer you cheaper prices and swifter production times than if you were to go to the manufacturer directly. Releasing a record should be an exciting physical representation of your creative output, and in no way be a chore.

Christmas Vinyl Manufacturing Times

Christmas Vinyl Manufacturing Times

In the run up to Christmas the pressing plants will get very busy with orders from the major record labels with their Beatles reissues and Metallica box sets.  

It is important to plan your release schedule properly and make sure your December releases don’t end up materialising in 2015.

At Well Tempered we work towards our standard production time of seven weeks from receipt of lacquers, with your test pressings being delivered three weeks into that seven week cycle.  It is advisable to factor in an extra one or two weeks for releases being manufactured in the last quarter.

Christmas Vinyl Manufacturing Times If you still have releases scheduled for 2014 then they should be getting mastered now to avoid disappointment. Well Tempered has reserved capacity at three major European pressing plants and can ensure that your records are pressed to schedule and cost.

Please also make sure that you plan your January releases properly.

Most European pressing plants are closed for two weeks over Christmas and New Year, so this must be considered when scheduling early 2015 releases.

If you would like advise on planning and scheduling releases over December and January then please get in touch.

Self Distribution – A Good Idea?

Self Distribution – A Good Idea?

Those of you not familiar with the traditional music distribution model of the physical format might at some point consider it a good idea to attempt self distribution.

Many labels see growth in their direct-to-consumer sales month on month, hear about store closures, and wonder whether or not distribution could be done themselves. The thought of an extra £1 per unit on every sale is an attractive one, and the idea of being self sufficient in this day and age is certainly something that many people strive towards.

This gives you more money per unit and in turn a more sustainable self-sufficient business model.

Though what are the common problems that record labels face when attempting self distribution?

The first point to understand is just how far and wide your records are distributed.  As well as in UK, major territories for record sales have been for a long time USA, Japan, & Germany. Whilst it may be not logistically impossible to get your new releases into some of the stores in your own continent, many people would find it incredibly tricky if not impossible to get decent coverage in countries on the other side of the world.  For the sake of £1 per copy, many record labels are shrinking their global reach and supplying to a much smaller customer base.

One of the main problems being the freight charges.  Most distributors will ship healthy orders across the world to stores on a weekly basis, selling a range of music and formats to shops.  It would be uneconomical for most stores abroad to buy from a record label directly and have to pay additional shipping charges.  Many stores abroad would have a minimum order quantity of up to one hundred units, just to make the shipping cost economical. Whilst this could be hard with some smaller distribution companies it would seem impossible dealing with record labels directly.

self distribution of vinyl recordsThe export market has always been a lot larger than most independent record labels will realise.  The healthy representation in other countries has always been such a huge factor in growing the profile of a brand and building a decent live event network.  Often record stores are run by a passionate collective of artists and music lovers that are also involved in live events and other areas of the music industry.

Though many believe that the sales lost through the distribution channels will be made up from the same customers buying the releases through their direct-to-consumer platform.  It’s true that some of them might be.  However, many of the stores rely on regular customers, people that come into their store on a weekly basis or trawl through their new releases online.  Whether your release is there or not, they spend their weekly budget on the records in stock, pay one shipping charge and return the next week.  Many record buyers would think twice about buying one single record from an additional outlet, when they can buy 90% of their records from one store.

The idea of gaining an extra 25% profit through self distribution is definitely something that would entice a lot of labels, though would self distribution equate to 75% of distribution sales needed to generate the same profit from a release? No probably not.  Ask yourself are hours spent packing boxes, raising invoices, chasing overdue payments really worth it? I would have to say definitely not.  Not to mention matching the hours spent by the distribution company promoting the product, and scheduling releases, pricing them up, and would you really be able to find out where most of these potential sales are?

From a store’s point of view, they do not want to spend hours dealing with labels directly. They often find self distribution a turn off. The only incentive for them would be a cheaper price, which would surely eliminate the main reason for self distribution.  Shipping charges would be greater from a label without huge freight discounts from courier companies. Stores have to set up additional supplier records for one label and suddenly the work-load increases for both parties on a large scale.

One of the biggest changes for record labels over the past 10 years is collecting monies from many more revenue streams than before; streaming sites, Youtube, Shazam, internet radio. Less people are buying music than ever before, though vinyl is the only format not in decline while CD sales and downloads plummet year on year.   The need for the physical release is now becoming more and more important for promotional purposes and building the brand and profile. So surely this is best managed by someone that can push the product as far and wide as possible.

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) vs Lacquer. Which should you choose?

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) vs Lacquer. Which should you choose?

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) vs LacquerDMM (Direct Metal Mastering) became popular during the 80’s but was soon less favourable as more cutting engineers went back to lacquer.

 

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) was co-developed by Neumann and Teldec, and in stead of engraving the groove into a soft metal lacquer-coated aluminum disc, a DMM lathe engraves the audio signal directly onto a hard metal copper-plated master disc.

The difference between a DMM cut and a lacquer cut is that the DMM is more precise, with sharper transients and better image “edge definition,” while the lacquer cut is smoother, warmer and more pleasing on the ears.

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) cuts always appeared to have a brighter and more defined top-end. Upon early inspection of DMM discs, this appeared to be due to a higher frequency modulation in the groove, caused by an ultra-sonic carrier tone. However there is no carrier tone on DMM cuts and the modulation is simply caused by the vibration of the cutter head.

Many critics often describe a DMM cut as too bright or too ‘edgy’. Often the reason for playing a vinyl record is to have the warm and analogue sound that is often not present in a DMM cut.

DMM did though eliminate the problem of pre-echo sometimes audible on a lacquer. Pre-echo is caused by the cutting stylus unintentionally transferring some of audio signal into the previous groove wall, causing a faint audio signal, a pre-echo.

Another argument for the use of DMM is that it removes the need for one stage of the galvanic process. Since the DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) is cut onto copper the first stage of electroplating is bypassed, resulting in cleaner processing with less surface noise and less chance of error during processing.

Although the warmer sound of lacquer could arguably be put down to the cuts not sounding as bright as DMM, the fuller sound of lacquer could be credited to the depth of the grooves on a lacquer. Lacquers can be cut much much deeper than DMM which is essential for music with a prominent low-end signal. As well as giving the fuller sound, a deeper groove is needed to avoid jumps and skips on a turntable. And even though DMM has much brighter more defined frequency response in the top end, this certainly isn’t the case with the bass frequencies, evident in most of today’s electronic music.

Heavyweight 180g Vinyl

Heavyweight 180g Vinyl

It is often thought by many that a record pressed onto Heavyweight 180g Vinyl produces a better sounding product.  This is certainly not the case.

Some think that a Heavyweight 180g Vinyl 12″ for example would have a lower noise floor than a standard 140g, it doesn’t. Others think that a 180g 12″ has deeper grooves than a standard weight 12″, this is simply not true.

Whether you have your record pressed on standard weight vinyl or heavyweight, the pressing will use the same vinyl compound. It is the quality of the compound that determines the noise level in the pressing.   The depth of the grooves will be determined at mastering stage by the cutting engineer, and the plant have no control over this during the galvanic processing.

So why do people prefer heavier vinyl? Perhaps simply because it feels better, it’s a weightier product and feels more substantial.

Heavyweight 180g VinylHeavyweight 180g Vinyl can reduce the amount of wow and flutter audible on a record, the larger mass enables the platter to move at a more continuous speed. However on low end turntable the added weight can cause extra pressure and friction on the platter.

Heavier weight vinyl records are less prone to warping which has always been my  reason to press to 180g.  More care is needed during the manufacturing process to press onto the heavier weight, the records take longer to cool, and often the pressing plants only have a limited amount of machines setup to cope with this weight, so often pressing times can be a little longer.

There are two requests I often receive when a Heavyweight 180g Vinyl 12″ pressing is always recommend, firstly when no centre labels are required.  Due to the way the record is pressed, the centre labels are responsible for the record keeping it’s shape and not dishing. A heavy weight 12″ pressing would greatly reduce the chances of warping or dishing.  Similarly, a laser etched record which often only require one centre label on the a side. It is always advisable to press onto 180g for the same reasons.

If you have any queries regarding vinyl weight or would like prices for a heavy weight vinyl product please do not hesitate to contact us here: