Thursday, April 29, 2004

wow, wrecked is selling my true data 12" for only $6.50. i feel kinda bad for charging $9 here. i mean, i know $9 is pretty high for a domestic record (drbmd even called me out for it)... i just want to recoup my investment & these things are not exactly selling like hotcakes. that's why i started the combo offer (& why i pimp it so hard): $9 for a record is high, but $15 for a record + a t-shirt is pretty cheap. that's because markup on t-shirts tends a lot higher. at hot topic, t-shirts are like $18.99! that's outrageous. even for a ringer shirt with 4-color process printing, their markup on that has to be at least 300%-400%. so i can sell solid-color t-shirts for $8 (with a healthy markup) and it's ridiculously cheap: even other bands don't tend to sell shirts for less than $10.

but because i'm paranoid about even being able to sell these records, i went with a small pressing of 200. i figure that eventually i should be able to unload most of those. i didn't even think about what a typical domestic 12" should cost; if i had, i probably would've pressed 300 or more.

the big difference between pressing shirts & pressing records (other than the difference in markup) is the investment required. setup costs for printing shirts are pretty low, and you don't need to order in nearly the same quantity. you can spend a couple hundred dollars & get a few dozen t-shirts. not an option for records.

setup costs for pressing records are much higher. because in addition to the actual plant setup fees (which are themselves higher than for shirts), you have to pay for vinyl mastering and plating. vinyl mastering (not to be confused with general audio mastering) is cutting the actual grooves onto lacquer, and involves some pretty tricky acoustics because of the unique nature of the format. then the lacquer with your grooves in it are plated with metal so that they're durable enough to use for the actual pressing process. (aardvark has tons of cool information about these processes, and united has a great essay about vinyl dynamics.)

aardvark mastering (where i went) charges $310 for both mastering & plating. if you let the plant do that shit for you, not only will they probably do an inferior job, they'll try to charge you $300 for the mastering alone.

so in addition to all those costs, you have to deal with other scams like how labels only come in lots of 1000. or the huge shipping costs, because records are heavy (200 12"s = 100 lbs!) these costs really add up, so you have to order a lot to keep down your unit costs. my investment was something like $850 for 200 records. my unit cost works out to about $4.30, which is apparently very high. if i'd ordered 300 (for an investment of maybe $988), my unit cost goes down to like $3.30. if i'd ordered 500 (for ~$1250), my unit cost goes down to $2.50! & that's without skimping on the frills, like heavier vinyl or lots of greys in my label art (united charged me for extra film because of that). for some foolish reason i didn't do these calculations until after ordering the records, so i picked a dumb amount & the result is that my record is relatively expensive.

here's where we get back to markup. 100% markup sounds like a lot, doesn't it? maybe that's just the anticapitalist in me trying to make me feel bad for wanting to make at least a little money off this merchandise that i'm spending so much for. but i charge close to 100% markup on my t-shirts & they still seem cheap, because everyone else is ripping you off on shirts.

$9 for a domestic 12" is a lot. that's a little over 100% markup. if i'd ordered 300 records, then 100% markup would be like $7. that's reasonable... although my wholesale price still might've been a little high.

now at wrecked, cutups is only marking up my record about 15%. hell, he's charging less for my 12" than for any other 12" listed on his front page. (& i know he probably got all those other domestics for less.) his markup is so low it makes one wonder if it's a mistake. but if it's not a mistake, that tells me a few things. it tells me that he doesn't want to screw over his customers by charging too much for a domestic record, or for an unknown artist. so he won't make much money at all off my record.

of course, he already runs a shop, so he doesn't need to make much off any one specific record. i basically had to start a shop from scratch, & i have very few items in my inventory (new! buttons coming soon), so making my money back from the record is my top priority. the result: his price is too low, while mine is too high.

i don't know; maybe i should lower the price to $8.50 or even $8. of course, that might not be fair to the (very few) people who've already bought records... maybe i should just pimp the combo offer really hard until i sell out of t-shirts (or the common sizes, anyway), & come up with a new deal or just lower the record price then.

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