So last week was the release date for the debut by a band called Burikusu!!! on my little 23db Records label. Or at least it was supposed to be. Let me backtrack a bit.
Last year, my band toured the US, and as a merch item, I put out a collection of rarities and tracks from before my project got signed. (I'm working on a second one as we speak, but you can check out the first one on ) They sold great, but about halfway into the tour, we started getting emails from some people indicating that their copy was fraught with disc errors. There ended up being about 150 bad copies out of 1000 (it was a limited edition). The company graciously agreed to print up some replacements plus some extras, but about a quarter of these replacements were also full of errors. Needless to say, I was in the market for a new CD manufacturer. Another label owner I know suggested a company and I decided to give them a try with the Burikusu!!! album.
Things started off great. They were attentive every step along the way, and my CDs even arrived a week before they were scheduled to. I was starting to fill pre-orders when I decided I should probably put a disc in to just make sure everything had come out alright. It was a good thing I did, as even though the discs were marked correctly as Burikusu!!!, the disc actually contained a promotional CD-ROM for a company aimed at helping people incorporate their small businesses. So now the NEW company had screwed up my order. I contacted them and was made promises that were broken within days without apology. The end result was, we weren't going to make our release date and the band wouldn't have copies on hand for their own release party.
Now, I know this seems like extraordinarily bad luck, and it is. But anyone who has been in the music industry for any length of time will tell you there are a million and one ways a release can get screwed up right before the release date. Most of the time, it is due to something you have no control over, so what can you do?
Have a back-up plan. I have recently started mailing promotional postcards out with all of my mail order business. The front contains info on new releases and the back contains a coupon code anyone who has one of the postcards can use to get free stuff when they place an order for whatever release the postcard is promoting. This is a good way to promote to your existing audience, but it also comes in handy in situations when you're going to miss a release date for whatever reason. If a band has shows or release parties where they had hoped to sell the delayed CD, having these on hand can be a good way to quell disappointment among the fans. Sure, they can't get the CD right then and there, but now they have a way to get it online AND get free stuff to boot. Kind of takes the sting out of it, eh?
Obviously, this isn't the only solution to a problem like this, use your imagination. Just put yourself in the shoes of the fans and potential fans of the band and figure out what would put a silver lining in a delayed release to you.
And yes, before you ask... I have found a new CD manufacturer to handle my next release for the label. Third time's a charm?
Check out a "Best of 23db Records" iMix on iTunes!