Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sad State of Cd distribution

Hi Ralph pals -
For a while RalphAmerica will not be carrying the Mute titles (the nice ones in the hardbound book) as the world of CD distribution and one stops (an excuse of a business that collects a bunch of releases from the major distributors, marks up the items, and sells them to smaller accounts), is a seedy, dirty little troll world (I just saw Hellboy 2 last night, it's kinda like that.)

We were dealing with a one stop (I'll leave them nameless right now, but unlike their namesake, they aren't very super), that gave us tons of trouble. We would order thru their ordering system, sometimes we'd get what we ordered, sometimes not. Then we'd order something else, and might get something we'd ordered the previous month with no warning. We never got invoices with our orders, the invoices we did get never made any sense. When we dealt with EMI directly, huge company, they were easier to deal with and a LOT more friendly than this MickeyMouse outfit. (When EMI got bought they changed their policies about selling to small accounts like us, even though we'd sell more Mute Residents titles than anyone in N. America.) Gripe gripe gripe.

When we started getting shipped double the stock we ordered, and then couldn't return it for various Cheney-like reasons, we decided we had better end the relationship. If you are at all like us, you are careful about which businesses you support, and we just didn't feel good about supporting this particular business anymore. The music business is too competitive for this sort of crap, and life is too short to deal with it. So hopefully we'll get something worked out soon, as MuteUK is being helpful in helping us find a solution.

We thought that you, our thoughtful customer, might want to know what was up. In the long run (and as you probably already know), these distributors won't be around much longer anyhow. In fact I find it hard to understand how they're even keeping the lights on these days, but it has something to do with the parasitic relationship they have with major labels and major label distribution. Pretty soon WalMart and Target will stop carrying CDs and DVDs and they'll all come crumbling down. I'll take some solace in that.

Do you have any ideas/predictions about how this industry will change in the next few years?


lastangelman said...

I'll provide a link to a thoughtful article in Wired by David Byrne (Talking Heads) commenting on the future of recording artists and music distribution, here, I would advise anyone to either bookmark the page or save the webpage to their hard drive. Listen to the conversations on the audio portions of the web page, too.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the update! It's nice to know exactly what Ralph America has been coping with recently, and I'm glad that you finally decided to give Super D the finger. I wish you would have explained to us your intentions behind Santa Dog Records, and how that will change things. It seems like you have a lot of exciting, new possibilities ahead.

As for how the industry will change, I appreciate how Radiohead's self-distribution model has the money go directly to the artist, and perhaps this trumps all opposing concerns, but from a consumer's perspective, I really appreciate the album cohesion that most traditional albums (especially Residents' albums) have. I would miss the album structure, the elaborate booklets, and the overall concept if it was released only as a download.

I guess, ideally, all artists should not just self-distribute their material online, but come together and form some sort of distribution/marketing network that is run only by the artists themselves. They might not have quite as much time to produce music if they have a business to run, but everyone might benefit in the long run.

I've probably just revealed my complete ignorance of what is required to distribute music, so I'll leave it at that. Good luck with MVD!

RalphAmerica said...

Thanks for the comments so far. In regards to Santa Dog Records, I'm not sure what Cryptic's intentions are with that, except to gain more control over what they do with releases. That's my guess, but I don't have all the reasons for everything all the time regarding Cryptic Corp and the decisions they make for The Residents.

Chris said...

I am planning on doing some digital busking on my site. MP3 downloads will be free, but there will be a PayPal link for any change people might want to toss my way.

I plan on making at least two dollars in the next decade. But that's how much money I've made since 2001 doing music, so it's all working out.