Dealing with customers who cannot deal with pressing plants

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Dealing with customers who cannot deal with pressing plants

Unread postby jesusfwrl » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:41 am

This is a question directed towards mastering studios, without their own plating and pressing facilities.

Do you offer to make plating and pressing arrangements on behalf of your customers? Or do you limit the scope of your business to mastering exclusively, and let the customer figure out where to plate and press?

How do you deal with customers who do not appear able to figure out plating and pressing on their own?

Alternatively, from the perspective of a plating/pressing facility, how much of your work is dealing directly with the customer, how much do you deal with recording and mastering studios, and how much do you deal with dedicated brokers? What do you prefer?

Personally, I would prefer only doing the mastering and shipping the lacquer out to where ever the customer instructs me to, but I certainly see that there are always customers who would find it very difficult, if not impossible to arrange the rest of the process successfully without too much confusion.

At the end of the day, our aim is that the customer is really satisfied with the final product, even though only the first step of the process is under our control as mastering engineers.
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Re: Dealing with customers who cannot deal with pressing pla

Unread postby Greg Reierson » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:42 am

Send them to a trusted broker if they need that much hand-holding.
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Re: Dealing with customers who cannot deal with pressing pla

Unread postby diamone » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:58 pm

Everybody I know or know about has contracts with all the major plating and pressing plants - so it's usually a staffer's job to ask the customer what price range he has in mind and what quality he's looking for and then try to strike a balance inbetween.

Obviously you are not going to get a 200G vinyl LPs plated and pressed at e.g. RTI for nine cents a disc like you can get 45s at United in Nashville or the reverse - so generally the staffer in question at the mastering lab will either A) already know the various combinations of plating and or pressing plants around or B) if they are new will certainly find out as part of their learning curve.

These same staffers that quote the prices for the mastering lab in question will generally also have the rate cards for all the same major plating and pressing plants - and will therefore find out what price range and product quality the customer wants while they are in the middle of setting up their cutting contract.

After that's done, they'll ``try'' to go over the various plating and pressing options with the customer - but if they're clueless - then the lab staffer just picks one of several middle of the road options on the customer's behalf - adds in their cost to his own and prepares the accounting dept for the incoming receivable.

Then that same lab staffer (or another one) does all the logistics and coordination himself just like they do for the major labels - pack and ship the lacquers (or DMM plates) out to the plant and monitor the project through their own contacts - gets the test pressings back - calls the customer to come in for a listening test - makes changes if any and then OKs the run - gets the finished product back, customer picks it up and goes on about their business.

Some of the bigger mastering labs even have marketing depts as well and a couple of those have relationships with local indie record stores that are looking to pick up anything that's out there to see if it will sell to their offbeat crowd that patronizes them (in the case of L.A. N.Y. and Nashville anyway).

Meaning - the less the customer has to worry about the better.
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Re: Dealing with customers who cannot deal with pressing pla

Unread postby jesusfwrl » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:27 am

Thanks for your replies Greg and Diamone.

These two replies pretty much cover the two opposite ends of the spectrum. In the beginning we tried to offer to communicate with the plating/pressing facility on behalf of the customer but quickly discovered that this requires dedicated staff as it is very time consuming. It also seemed to invite constant extra wishes and last minute changes ("How much for black sleeves? What if they also have pink dots? Can't we just stick the labels on afterwards?"), as well as occasional weirdness from the factory side which is difficult if not impossible to explain to the customer without them getting pissed off, so we have decided to leave this task up to whoever is interested in dealing with it.

So, we are currently offering to cut the masters and ship them to any facility the customer wants to work with. If the customer comes over in person, we can show them some test pressings and records from different plating and pressing facilities to help them make up their mind, but that's about it. We also offer to receive and evaluate test pressings and let them have a listen to them on our full range monitoring system for approval.

This approach lets us focus on what we know how to do best, while leaving unrelated tasks to those who know how to do these best. Most customers seem to already have a rough idea of where they want their records pressed, so we do not need to interfere with that. For the few exceptions that need more guidance, they are probably better off receiving it from dedicated professionals with more time on their hands for this particular task.
~~~ Analog Mastering, Disk Cutting, Tape Duplication ~~~
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Also offering custom high quality audio electronics and repair/restoration of audio-related antiquities.
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Re: Dealing with customers who cannot deal with pressing pla

Unread postby diamone » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:16 pm

As far as I been able to tell NOBODY wants to deal directly with customers no matter if they are a recording studio a mastering lab or a plating/pressing facility. Everybody wants previously-knowledgeable people who know what they want how they want it and how they want to proceed.

Plating and pressing guys have enough trouble talking to EACH OTHER and/or their mastering lab or recording studio equivalents nevermind CUSTOMERS - recording engineers hate dealing with bands because the bands are clueless about the technology and process. producers hate dealing with engineers because producers are commercially oriented and engineers are perfection oriented regardless of cost. Both of those hate dealing with mastering lab people for different versions of the same thing and both of THOSE hate dealing with plating and pressing people for still DIFFERENT versions of the same thing - and they ALL hate dealing with the customer because they are all clueless.

Which is why EVERYBODY pays all these back-office staff whose only job is to run interference with everybody else. The only difference between them and a normal ordinary back office support staff is:
Andie Bergstrom wrote:Just because you are never going to get to do it, at least you'll know it's not because you don't know how
These people will be able to describe a process to a customer and insert or subtract numerous variables and come up with conclusions nobody else has time for - increasing your customer satisfaction level.

But then everybody has to jack up all their prices for everything to pay for all these liaison staff because of how easily a customer will become offended/litigious.

Which is why I always tell my e.g. students that if you want the best made product for the cheapest money - learn producer-ese, engineering-ese, plating-ese pressing-ese and distribution-ese - and then develop a thick skin i.e. hang around a factory floor or foundry awhile.
2 Kinds of Men/Records: Low Noise & Wide Range. LN is mod. fidelity, cheap, & easy. WR is High Fidelity & Abrasive to its' Environment. Remember that when you encounter a Grumpy Engineer. (:-D)
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