Saturday, October 20, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: By the Numbers

This is the nitty gritty. While I wait - and wait and wait - for the pressing process for Fister's Violence to get underway, I'm getting the books in order. For the few who may be interested in how it's breaking down (or who may be wondering "why can't I do this myself?"), I offer you a bevy of boring numbers. For the rest, sorry.

  • $479.00 - Mastering for vinyl - lacquer/plating (this is still where we're currently stuck. The mastering/lacquer was supposedly done/shipped off for plating on September 24th, with an estimated 7-10 day turnaround time. That was 26 days ago).
  • $1,430.00 - Pressing the vinyl. This reflects 500 10" records, 100 each of custom variations of mixed colors, five test pressings, one color ink on one color paper center labels, plain inner white sleeves and we do all the insertion ourselves. Note that this doesn't include jackets. That would have added at least $900. The band worked out a barter deal where I'll trade 100 records for all the jackets.
  • $225.00 - Shipping the vinyl from the plant to me. Note I still have to ship 200 back to the band/printer.

Those are basic expenses. It's significant to note, though, that the band already had the album recorded and mastered. That's an expense Fister shouldered alone and, much to their credit, one that isn't being passed onto anyone. When you divide by the 300 records I'll retain, the cost per record comes to about $7.11 per album. I also plan to invest more in shipping samples out for review (at these small quantities, it's amazing how quickly each record given away drives up the per unit cost), placing some advertisements and physically driving to independent retailers to see if we can place a few in shops as well.

Now for the nittier, grittier. I'm starting out maintaining a stock of two different sizes of record mailer as well as two sizes of padded envelopes as we'll offer t-shirts as well as a little of my own promotional swag. I have not purchased any of this in the most cost-efficient quantities yet, only stocking what I need to get through what, optimistically, I hope is only the first of multiple pressings. These expenses should be recouped in shipping/handling charges but I think it's more than fair to the consumer to be open about what this stuff actually costs. I won't go into detail any more painful than necessary, sticking to just what I have for the actual wax.

  • $1.44 ea - 10-5/8" square x 3" deep box - for shipping to those who want multiple copies and/or a t-shirt.
  • $0.64 ea - standard flat 12" record mailer (due to their dimensions, though, these can cost more to mail).
  • $2.47-3.31 - the cost for USPS Media Mail for 1-5 records (a rate we can use if no other items are included).
  • $4.12-7.49 - the cost for USPS First Class Mail for 1-5 records and a t-shirt or record bag.

Note that the shipping costs are to U.S. addresses only. I have also calculated for Europe (and plan to ship to anyone, anywhere who orders) and those shipping costs are nearly triple the U.S. rates. Also not added in anywhere are the costs of packing tape and bubble wrap (both of which cost a hell of a lot more than you would think), credit card processing and toss-in promo swag that makes each delivery a little more special.

Dull shit for the vast majority of readers, to be sure. Add in the costs I wouldn't associate with any given record  - website hosting, monthly fees for sites like Big Cartel and, State vendor's licensing, et cetera - and it's certainly not a big money proposition at this scale. Rather, it's a labor of love. And I am loving every minute of it. I don't think a day has gone by since early August that Violence hasn't garnered at least one play on the iPod. To describe how psyched I am to actually hear the needle touch the vinyl would trouble the average person. I remain thrilled to have the privilege to act as a small link in this band's musical timeline and hope not only that they and I are happy with the results but, most of all, that their listeners are, too. 

humble f*cking beginnings.
the second chair makes me feel less lonely.


  1. I love the details, man! Invaluable info for the small DIY labels out there. Keep these posts comin'!

    1. Thank you, sir! No big revelations but could give someone thinking it over a snapshot. Chomping at the bit to get things moving and am hoping we truly do get test presses underway this coming week.