it for yourselves:
the asking for trouble diary of a record
always been disposable but now it's so throwaway that even the traditional
delivery medium has been dispensed with. No more plastic packaged in plastic,
the only option soon will be to suck singles off the superhighway and
store them in the house hard drive. The step after that's already started
as well, disposing with everything except the hook and the chorus, you
can pay twice the money to download half the tune to your mobile and then
chuck it in favour of next week's tinny sample before you've even had
time to tire of its inane repetivity. Like a sonic emetic, songs are into,
through and out of the system before you've had time to savour or extract
anything from them. Junk music served and consumed at the speed of the
fast food generation.
a sad future. Which is where you come in. I am your Kitchener. Your country
needs you. Set up a record label and put out some music you believe in
on a format that listeners can hold, fondle, obsess over and form an attachment
to. Don't let the man commoditise the tunes any more than he's already
done. But you don't know how? You're in luck. Marceline at Asking For
didn't know how either, but it didn't stop her. And it didn't stop her
writing a diary which she's kindly edited and extended for us here. Her
record is a 4-way split box set featuring Uter, Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element,
A Roman Scandal and Denim and Diamonds. We said this about it:
bands on four sides of this debut release from Asking For Trouble. Denim
and Diamonds work the hyper Devo angle with the attention span of with
the attention span of Devo angle with the attention span of where was
I? Tinny and rapid and squeaky and helium and robotic and great. They
split a disc with Uter whose Where Is The Lid? kicks off like the intro
to pretty much anything from the Jesus and Mary Chain's Automatic album
(drum machine and bass atmosphere) before developing into, well, more
or less the same. Across the way, A Roman Scandal's Mock The Gods sounds
like something The Mission would've enjoyed fed through an aquarium
filter, a shortwave transmission in a storm and a bicycle wheel in need
of grease. It's no surprise to find they share members with Denim and
Diamonds. Finally, Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element suffer an involuntary
priapism amongst the fractured and angular shreds of guitar treble cut
with film samples.
discs come in a box with inserts from each band, a mini zine (which
explains why there'll probably never be another release on the label)
and a mystery gift. (Mine's a street map of Osaka.)
need records like this or our ears will shrivel up - a scientific fact
- as we evolve to listen to trivial snatches of nothing that come out
of nowhere with no meaning that are worthy of no attention. So, choose
your bands, read Marceline's messages and release the records!
making a record
never had any intention of starting a record label as I've always
had plenty other ways to throw my money away but there comes a point
when you find some bands and you can't believe no-one else is releasing
their music and that's where it all starts. Once I had my ideas
I set about making it happen. So here's how I made a record.
was obviously the main sticking point. Without money you can't release
a record and without lots of money you can't afford to release the
kind of extra-special record I was planning on releasing. The obvious
solution was a loan, since I was now in full time employment and,
as long as I worked everything out sensibly, I'd be able to pay
most of it back after release. I got my loan from Cahoot and ended
up with around £1000. Sadly the record ended up costing nearer
£1350 which meant abusing my overdraft and credit card a "little".
really told me anything about MCPS beforehand - they collect royalties
on the manufacture of every record containing a track registered
with them -but when I was filling out the pressing plant forms they
asked for the proof of licensing which you can only get from the
MCPS. If any of your bands are registered with the MCPS then you
have to pay them for the privilege of releasing their music. Otherwise
it's just a bit of paper to prove you aren't releasing copyrighted
material, really. You can download the forms from www.mcps.co.uk
and they're fairly easy to fill in once you get all the details
of the song titles, length etc. from the bands and after you've
paid any monies owed the MCPS send you a license to print money,
er I mean manufacture records.
still not quite understanding mastering but it seems to be generally
making sure all the sound levels are correct so that none of the
songs break your stereo or jump around too much between tracks.
I got mine done by Kenny from Eska for £75 and he really did
make the tracks sound amazing! I can really hear the difference.
knew I wanted exciting packaging since I will likely only ever make
this one record and thus it has to be the greatest record ever released.
Initially I was thinking along the lines of some kind of plastic
sleeve with interchangeable covers but someone suggested reel tape
boxes. This immediately appealed as it gave us the opportunity to
fill the box with extra bits and pieces and Sunnyvale soon came
up with their plan to collect found objects to go in the boxes.
I eventually placed an order with Sound & Video Services [www.svsmedia.com]
which duly arrived the next day packed into two ENORMOUS boxes giving
me some idea of exactly how much space 330 records will take up
in my house if I don't sell them.
decided to get the records pressed at GZ in the Czech Republic since
they came highly recommended and seem to be the cheapest, friendliest
and most informational, in that their website is actually really
helpful. I had a look at a few UK companies but their websites were
all appalling and gave me no idea about what to do. GZ's website
[www.gzcd.cz], on the other hand,
has stacks of PDFs with all the technical details and forms and
even a price quote generator to give you a vague idea of how much
things will cost.
forms I found generally easy enough to fill out although it's not
really worth doing them until you're pretty much ready to send everything
off since you need so much of the detail from the masters.
I had all the masters, artwork and forms I posted everything off
to GZ. Because of my two 7"s with the same catalogue number
concept I had to carefully label everything to make sure it was
absolutely clear what I wanted.
emailed me immediately on receipt and then a week later with my
final invoice although they had upped my order to 350 due to their
+/- 10% thing. (They only guarantee the number of records will be
within 10% of the number you ask for.) So I now had a significantly
more expensive bill than expected. Or budgeted for. Be warned about
this - records seem to follow the fanzine rule of taking three times
as long and costing twice as much as initially expected.
week after the money cleared they sent me my test pressings which
was possibly the most exciting part of the whole process as I was
finally able to play some actual vinyl records I had caused to be
manufactured. Once I okayed them it was another 2 or 3 weeks before
5 boxes of vinyl records turned up all with their lovely labels
looking very professional and very real. By this point our spare
room was overflowing with boxes of boxes, records, inserts and Sunnyvale
part was exceptionally easy thanks to having about twelve designers
and artists associated with the record including myself! Generally
I would jot down some basic ideas and then Simon Minter would do
them properly for me. Initially I was going to stamp all the record
labels but then I decided this would be way too much work and just
got them done at GZ. They provide full technical details on how
to put your artwork together so this was very little trouble at
all. For the inserts we put together a design brief and each band
organised the design of their insert with fantastic results.
I asked in Glasgow recommended Clydeside Press to me as being cheap
and reliable so I ended up not bothering to send out quotes to a
number of companies as intended. Simon did me a proper print specification
which got me an exceptionally cheap quote so it was then just a
matter of kicking the bands to get the artwork completed and in
the right format. Clydeside Press did a wonderful job but their
slightly carefree business methods and 9-5 opening times caused
me a bunch of problems with running out of work early to pick stuff
up. However, I forgave them and got them to photocopy up the free
Troublezine as well since they really are very cheap.
retrospect this wasn't organized too well. It's very difficult to
work out a release date as things always take longer than you expect
and so many unexpected things happen. It was good to have a deadline
as otherwise I would probably still not have the record out. However,
it did mean that things got a bit rushed during the last couple
of weeks with me having to organize the promotion of a gig while
also rushing about finishing the packaging, zine and photocopying
and putting piles of records together ready for sale, resulting
in a few short cuts and some scaling down of ideas. The end result
was that the record was not perfect in every way and the gig was
underpromoted and a little empty but that's what first records are
for, to learn.
never had any intention of doing any serious promotion or distribution
mainly because I figured the short run, exciting packaging concept
and a Trail of Dead connection would sell them all without much
trouble. A trip to the post office to send the US bands their 10
copies soon raised another issue, that they postage for a box set
is astronomical and thus made most non-local shop deals unworkable.
I did send 10 copies to Rough Trade in London since they asked but
I probably lost about £4 on each £6 box sold due to
postage costs and the shop cut. Things worked out better with the
local shops - I let them put the price up to £6 and in return
I get back around £5 on each box. We sell a few copies here
and there at Uter and Sunnyvale gigs where we can have a stall but
the majority of our sales have been through the internet. A few
simple Paypal buttons means anyone anywhere can buy the record easily
and you even get the added bonus of knowing who all your customers
are and being able to email them.
also sent out copies to various magazines, fanzines, websites and
radio stations and learned that knowing who to address a package
to really makes a difference. It doesn't matter how exciting your
record is - if it's not addressed to a specific person who you know
will be interested then it stands a good chance of not being noticed.
I rationed the full boxed copies to people I definitely knew would
be excited about the record (whether or not they liked it) and sent
the unboxed records or promo CDs on vinyl look CDRs to the others.
I also wrote up a press sheet with information on all the band and
what we were trying to do which helped in some situations. I may
have been too clever though as one magazine completely misunderstood
the concept and reviewed it as a fanzine only mentioning the records
in passing without any description of the music!
I'm very happy with my first release and there's not much I would
have done differently. The most important thing I learned was that
if you love the songs and the bands and try and do something exciting
then you soon forget the traumas and the financial ruin and start
thinking about maybe, just maybe, doing another one
article is based on entries I made to a weblog throughout the process.