the way to go saga.

On September 30 I received a fax at my house that read like this:

To: Way To Go! Music Client Dromedary (201) 334-3415

Re: Order # 1640 “Nurture”


Due to circumstances beyond our control, your order is undeliverable.  We are sorry for anyinconvenience this causes.  Way To Go! Music will reroute this project through another factory as a rush.

 Please provide us with:

          X Master

          X Label Film

          X Booklets and Traycards


We are using a new factory which is local and will allow us to give you shorter turnaround without the delivery problems we have encountered in the past few months.  On some reorders, we may need a new master, label film or artwork.

Way To Go! Music will absorb shipping costs and charges to create new label film.  We will not absorb the cost of re-recording so we suggest that you send us your back-up master.

Please forward all present and future components to Way to Go! Music (incl. 1639 “Mommyheads”).

I was enraged.  This was the second issue with these very same titles, and this time it was way too late to do anything about it.  After having spent hours and hours with the silkscreening of the booklets, we sent 500 of them off to Way To Go! with the understanding that they’d navigated their way through the problems and found another replicator for us to use.  So we sent them 500 hand-screened CD booklets, to be inserted into our CDs.

I called our rep.

“I’m sorry, I’m going out of my mind,” I said.  “This is insane.  I can’t send you new printed materials.  The ones I sent you were all hand-made!

She was quiet on the other end of the phone.

“What do I do?!” I asked.  “How do I fix this?”

“Listen,” she said.  “I shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to give you a number to call.”  She then proceeded to give me the number of the CD replicator that, according to her, was holding my masters and printed material hostage.

I immediately called the number and asked for someone who could help me.

“Are you calling about Way To Go!?” the voice asked me.

“Well, yes,” I said. 

“Oh, boy,” she said. “I’ve been getting these calls all day.  Hold on.”

Eventually a woman got on the phone.

“My name is Al.  I’ve got two titles with Way To Go! and they’re asking me to ship them new printed material.  They’re saying my order is undeliverable.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “That’s an issue between you and them.  We cannot get involved.”

“You don’t understand,” I explained.  “You are involved.  My wife and I spent days hand-screening the CD booklets that you have in your possession.  Way To Go! is asking me to send them 500 new booklets so that they can ship them to a new company.  I can’t do that.  I can’t possibly make 500 more of these.  You have no idea what it’s like to hand-screen a CD booklet.”

“I’m not sure what I can do to help you,” she said.

“Please, just ship me back my CD booklets.  I understand you’re having financial trouble-”

We’re having financial trouble?!” she yelped.

“Well, yes.  That’s the impression I’m under,” I responded.

“Umm, no.  Here’s what’s happened.  We’ve cut Way To Go! off due to nonpayment.”

I was quiet.  “What do you mean?” I eventually sputtered.

“I mean Way To Go! owes us a ton of money, and they’re not paying us.  We’re not the only replicator they’ve done this to.  We’ve been more than patient with them, but they’re not paying their bills.  We can’t do any more work for them on credit, so we told them if they didn’t pay us, we’d hold their orders.  They didn’t pay us.  Until they pay us, we can’t process any more of their orders.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  “But that’s not what they told me!” I yelped.

“Of course it’s not,” she said.  “But it’s the truth.”

“But what do I do?” I asked.

“I suggest that you get together with the other labels who are having this problem.  There are about 50 different bands or labels that are having their orders held right now.  Individually, it’s probably not worth it to sue.  Together, you could probably put together a big lawsuit.”

“I don’t have time for that!” I yelled.  “I have a release schedule!  I’m not some shitty band from North Dakota, looking to make a CD to hand out to their friends.  This is a growing indie record label, with touring bands that need CDs to support!”

“I understand,” she said.  “I wish I could do more to help.”

“Why can’t you just send me back my stuff?” I asked.  “What difference does it make, whether or not you have my master tapes and booklets?”

“Because if we don’t have collateral, we’ll never get paid.”

That’s not collateral!” I yelled.  “Those are my records!  There’s got to be something you can do to help me.”

She was quiet for a minute, and then she said “Well, you could just use us to produce your CDs.”

“How can I do that?” I asked. “Way To Go! was probably doing huge volumes with you.  I’m just a little record label.  Four titles a year.  I can’t come close to their volumes.”

“If you don’t tell anyone, I’ll make your CDs for whatever you were paying Way To Go!.  Do not tell anyone.”

That sounded good to me.  Except for one thing:  Way To Go! had already cashed my checks.

“There’s nothing I can do about that,” she said.  “You’ll have to take that up with them.  But at least I can get you your CDs.”

“It doesn’t matter if you can get me my CDs,” I said, dejectedly.  “I can’t afford to pay you for them.  It’s not like I’ve got this huge bank account where I can pay for CDs twice.  Even if I could afford to pay for them, I’m never going to see a dime from Way To Go!, and I’m never going to be able to make my money back.  This is a disaster.”

“Well, what are you going to do?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “I think I might have to go out of business.  Just shut the doors.”  I was using my boss’ expression, for when I rejected something for not meeting our QC specs.

She was quiet.  I was quiet.  “I’m sorry to hear that,” she said.

“I’m sorry to say it,” I said.

I never thought that shit like this would put me in this position.  I figured if I had to shut my doors, it would be because I went into debt, or because I couldn’t sell enough records.  I didn’t think it would be because some middleman ran away with my money.

I explained the whole thing to Sandy.  “Don’t panic,” she said.  “Let’s sleep on it, we’ll figure something out.”

Turned out we didn’t even need to sleep on it.  A few hours later, the phone rang.  There was a man from the replicator on the other end (I’m leaving out names, if you haven’t figured it out yet).  “I understand your problem, and I feel really bad,” he said.

“It sucks,” I said.

“Well, the thing is, our company can’t possibly grow if the indie labels are all going out of business,” he explained.  “I’m willing to work with you on this.  We can fix it.  Tell me what you’ve paid so far.”

“I paid a deposit of 100% of the costs for nurture, and 50% of the costs for Flying Suit,” I explained.  “I sent them 500 hand-screened CD booklets and 500 printed insert trays for Nurture, and I sent them all the films for printing the inserts for Flying Suit.”

“Okay,” he said.  “I’ll eat what you paid for nurture.  We’ll get it back from them.  I’ll produce those CDs for you for free.  Then, if you pay me the remaining 50% that you would have owed Way To Go! for Flying Suit, I’ll make those, too.  But I don’t have the films for printing.  You’ll need to produce those for me again.  I’m sorry, but I don’t have any of the artwork – just the masters.”

I jumped at it.  Aside from re-doing the films, which Rich could do for free, I didn’t have to do anything, or pay any more money.  “What about future CDs?” I asked.

“What was your pricing with Way To Go!?” he asked.

I told him.  “We can do better than that,” he said.  “I’ll make your CDs for a flat $1.23 each.  That includes the CD, four-panel booklet, tray card, jewel box, insert tray, and shrink wrap.”

That was $615 for 500 pieces.  Way better than what Way To Go! had offered me.  “What about a commitment to volume?  I was obligated to a certain number of releases each year.”

“I don’t care about that,” he said.  “Your 500 CDs isn’t going to make me or break me.  We’re one of the largest CD replicators in the business.  We deal with every indie label you can think of.  We want to help you grow.  The best way we can do that is by giving you great service.”  

I agreed.  Instantly.  They agreed to push forward and finish up with nurture, which had actually already been pressed and was ready to be packaged.  I had never heard a test cassette, but decided not to be a stickler – these guys were bailing me out, big-time, and I was going to just have to live with whatever it sounded like.  I was sure doug wouldn’t mind.

I called Rich and explained the situation to him.

“Those bastards,” he said.

“Can you make new Mommyheads films for me?” I asked.

“Sure.  It’s going to be a little tough, though.  I don’t have the originals – we sent them to Way To Go! as proofs.”

“Do you remember the colors?” I asked.  It was just a two-color job, since the original art that was produced was meant to be a two-color silkscreen.  After we finished silkscreening nurture, we had said we’d never do that again.

“Sure,” he said.  “You’re right – it’s just a two-color job, we should be able to do it easily.  It’s just two sets of films – one turquoise, and one pink.  No problem.”

Problem solved.

~ by Al on May 8, 2009.

One Response to “the way to go saga.”

  1. […] we had the debacle with them.  It was like a […]

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