stAllio!'s way
Saturday, May 01, 2004 
a couple days ago the supreme court heard testimony on a case involving guantanamo bay, and whether the govt has the right to detain prisoners there indefinitely without access to lawyers or the court system. that day on npr, i heard someone arguing that the govt needs to keep lawyers out because "the united states does not torture". the implication being that since we couldn't use torture in our interrogations, we needed other tactics (like infinite detainment, i guess).

then the pictures came out. 60 minutes ii published photos of iraqi prisoners being humiliated and sexually abused in abu ghraib, an iraqi prison. other publications followed and more pictures came out. bush denounced the torture and blamed it on individual soldiers. but according to an army report acquired by the new yorker, military intelligence knew of and approved it all... because it aided interrogation. lots of gruesome details in the new yorker article.

it's hard to believe that if military intelligence encourages this type of behavior in abu ghraid, they wouldn't do the same in guantanimo bay.

Friday, April 30, 2004 
today must've been package day, because i got two packages today, both of which i knew would come eventually but neither of which i thought had actually shipped yet.

first i got a package from my lovely girlfriend, which included a copy of v/vm's relax cd, which apparently got v/vm into a lot of trouble (to the point that they won't even mention it by name anymore). also inside was some bizarre xtian junk mail, which includes a "prayer rug" and other strangeness. i haven't really gotten to check it out yet, but i suspect she was correct to think it could be used for collage work.

perhaps a bigger surprise was that my plates & labels arrived! yes, my metal plates from the record (as previously mentioned, these are made from the original lacquers cut by the mastering engineer, and they're used to create the mothers, which are then used to create the stampers that pound my music onto blank vinyl) arrived; and as a bonus, there were 3 extra test pressings in between the plates (for protection i guess, but what a bonus!) i think i should get some of those "LP frames" so i can hang them on my wall... i should also hang some of my lovely hand-painted bobby vomit records.

since you have to order 1000 labels no matter how few records you're pressing, there were 800 labels from each side left over, & now i have those. oddly, they already had the holes punched & some twine was threaded through the holes, then tied. sort of like a huge bracelet. i was expecting the labels to be in a folder or something, not on a ring.

unfortunately the labels are not adhesive as you might suspect; they're a special kind of paper & they are actually pressed into the vinyl while it's still a hot of goo. if they were self-adhesive i'd give them out as stickers. instead i'll have to come up with some creative use for them, probably in a collage of some sort.

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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 
i've gotten very few responses so far about the girly shirts... but those who do want them are passionate about it! right now i'm leaning toward #4 & getting a dozen girly shirts (6 black, 6 purple), but only in the medium/one-size-fits-all size. if that size wouldn't work for you, i really need to know.

the sizing chart at the manufacturer's site for the shirts says "When Classic Girl T-shirts are to be used to promote an event, our Medium/One Size (indicated by M/OS) is suggested, as it fits approximately 80% of women."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 
okay, i have a dilemma regarding the girly shirts. i'm not sure whether i should really have any made at all, & if i do, i will probably have to charge more for them.

the place i'll be dealing with is prngraphics. they're a local punk/diy outfit with lots of cred locally and regionally. (they press most of the rock shirts in town & they guarantee their prices)

if you look at their price lists, you'll note that the girly shirts are much more expensive than the normal t-shirts. this is not their fault; ladies' cut shirts are just generally much more expensive industrywide, for whatever reasons (price gouging by the suppliers?). i did find one line of ladies' shirts that was in the price range as men's shirts, but the guy at prng assures me that "it is not a high of quality as American apparel (as far as women's garments are concerned) and the cut of the garment is not as flattering as American apparel which we have found to be a major issue for women as to what they like. If you were wanting to go with it anyway I would recommend getting extra shirts in small or youth L or XL for basically the same thing and cheaper."

i'm inclined to agree that i don't want to spend extra $$ on getting ladies' shirts pressed if they're going to be inferior quality.

so here are my options as i see them:

1. forget about girly shirts, & just go with the run of M-XXL

2. forget about girly shirts but also get some S or even youth sizes for our more petite female fans.

3. get a very small run of the american apparel shirts in assorted sizes (go here for more info about the shirts, and click "garment specs" for sizing info), and sell them for $12 (instead of the $8 i charge for the other shirts, not including shipping)

4. get a small run (like 12 or so) of the american apparel shirts but only in medium/one-size-fits-all & sell them for $10.

would the ladies be willing to pay an extra $2-4 for quality girly shirts? to date only two people have expressed any interest in girly shirts to me... so i'm not sure they're worth getting at all (at least not if there's no demand). but i'm male & i wear baggy shirts anyway, so what do i know?

i would appreciate any feedback from the ladies out there ASAP, as i intend to place my order for the shirts by the end of the week.

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