Sunday, July 21, 2013

Black Sunday: Test Pressings

Once one begins to navigate the world of small labels and limited runs of collectible vinyl, it doesn't take long to run into test pressings. Once just the stuff of collector lore (think the fabled '78 Misfits acetates of "Static Age"/"Teenagers from Mars" that purportedly never made it past five or six copies that went to Glenn, Jerry and jukeboxes in Max's Kansas City and CBGB's with those last two always reportedly popping up in used record stores for a buck, forever taunting treasure-hunting collectors), nowadays test pressings are not at all uncommon on electronic storefronts, nearly always priced at a premium well above the mass-produced counterparts.

It's not exactly a secret but may surprise some record-buyers that, while every vinyl pressing results in a handful of true test pressings to assess the record prior to production (usually around a half-dozen), some plants will produce many more (up to fifty at United Record Pressing) at a relatively low cost. These are nice to share with friends of the bands and label but concern me a bit as one who collects, too, as anyone even a little unscrupulous can post what appears to be a real rarity for sale when, in fact, it ain't that special.

That said, I am about to part with a few test pressings of my own label, Gogmagogical Records. Each record we have pressed had five tests delivered by the plant. Fister got three of theirs, one went to Encapsulated Records (who made the jackets) and I got the fifth. Cold Blue Mountain and Kingsblood each have five members and the bands each got all five original tests. I ordered four extras only with the Kingsblood 7" as we had just partnered with The Black Birch to promote the EP and hoped to use some for contests. As I began working with Bariann and her team I also received my pressing plates and excess labels from the plant for the Fister and Cold Blue Mountain records and, to my surprise, each package contained two additional tests. While I am not exactly sure what I will do with each of these in the future I can pretty much guarantee you will not see them for sale on the site marked up to snag extra dollars. It doesn't feel fair to the bands and it doesn't feel fair to the fans. My guess is that we'll eventually use them for promotional contests or as parts of prize packages associated with charitable events.
So, I have included a few photos throughout just to share a little more of our DIY ethic here. While we have some fantastic creative partners here, there really wasn't anyone I could ask to create jackets in such small quantities across three sizes. As these tests come in plain white sleeves I wanted to gussy them up so took a trip to Hobby Lobby and bought some heavy, heavy paper, printed up a standard label template and cut, folded and assembled these by hand. I tried to coordinate the colors with at least one aspect of the vinyl and attempted to carry that over even into the Sharpie used to hand-label. While the Fister and Kingsblood tests are very close to an actual color produced, the Cold Blue Mountain is entirely unique as it appears the plant took the split colors and instead combined them in a blend. In each case, though, these are all that exist aside from what the bands hold. I suspect there may be two more Kingsblood tests coming back with their plates eventually but am not certain.

Keep an eye on the label site for any opportunities to grab any of these. Likewise, if you have a brainstorm or a worthy cause to which we may want to use one or more, get in touch. Just because I want these to be free to collectors doesn't mean I want them to be any less special.

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