Dates, dates, dates – what’s in a date? It’s just a projection. A kind of notional anchoring...
I’ve been busy with lots of dates so far this month.
Obviously there was the release date of 31st January. That was just a made-up kind of idea so that people could coordinate writing nice things about The Octopus in some vague attempt to follow a release schedule .
Now there’s been added to that the retail release date. This is a different date - 21/2/2011. That’s because of the fact that we only reached an agreement a couple of weeks ago to put The Octopus in shops and had to manufacture the stock to fulfil the retail orders. Normally this gets done months in advance – not a few days in advance. Unfortunately this is a kind of tricky balancing act. You have to not over-produce, but also keep up with orders at the same time. It’s not like paypal – you don’t get paid at the point of sale – you get paid 3 months down the line, so as far as I can see, it’s easy peasy to go bust between manufacturing and getting paid if you’re not really careful.
The path to the decision to do a retail version was quite interesting. It had its genesis in a meeting I had a couple of months back with a label that wanted to offer us the facility of distribution, but it was actually just a record deal in disguise. Anyway, after skirting around that, I quickly recognised that A LOT more people would at least see The Octopus – if not buy it - on the racks at their local record store or on-line at Amazon or on one of the other on-line stores. Essentially – this is free advertising. And coupled with the fact that we had a pretty much redundant promo format in the gatefold wallet version – it seemed too smart an opportunity to pass up. Obviously we weren’t going to be interested in doing this through a record company, but by the time the press had really started to get going it didn’t take long to find someone with the distribution and logistics who was up for coming on board.
So – it works like this – A distribution deal is a 3 way split between a label/a distributor/and retailer. If the retailer wants to sell it at a loss or very cheap – then that’s their call – we still get paid the same. It’s obviously nowhere near as good as selling it yourself – we only get a fraction of what we would get from our store, but considering that when you have a record deal essentially you get your 20% from your share of this cut, instead of getting the full share of this cut. Essentially it becomes about numbers. Now with many stores promoting your record you’ll sell many times more than one at a time from our shop.
Why is that important? Well even though you make less money, numbers are crucial for several reasons. Most obviously – Profile. Also – touring and ticket sales are likely to go up. Festival opportunities and fees also increase. People pay less for The Octopus but are more likely to buy a shirt perhaps or some of our back catalogue. There’s lots of reasons.... It’s kind of a loss leader for us but without actually making a loss.
There was one concession we had to make which we fretted about for a while, and that was that we would have to put a barcode on the sacred Octopus to do retail. That’s just the fact – if you’re going to do anything that needs warehousing or needs to be accounted for with payments and inventory it needs to have a barcode. If you don’t accept that then you can’t get involved. We were unhappy about this, so we thought it best to consult the book to find out the correct course of action. The book always contains the correct answer.
#464: “A virus hijacks the machinery of its host”
The only way we could get around the aesthetic objection was to make sure that the barcode is an easy peel sticker that you can remove immediately that you take the wrapper off . The one good thing about this is that above the barcode is the catalogue number AMPCORP02. Everyone who said that Ampcorp wasn’t a real record company can now go and stand in the corner facing the wall...
Anyway, I digress
Going back to the dates thing – the undertaking that is the juggling around of tour dates has begun.
I am pleased to announce that the first German tour dates will be announced very soon – with other dates to follow. There are festivals to coming too, and hopefully later in the year ventures to lands further afield than we have been to before. Before I go I want to tell you a little story, which I think illustrates the difference between the old way and the new way.
We recently hooked up with a new agent in Germany – a guy that was once in a band that toured with us many years ago. He is grassroots. Young, consciencious, ambitious and hard working, and straight as they come – he has a thing called “idealism”. We respect that. Our big shot UK agent refused to work with him because “working with grass roots lowers the potential immensely”. You see, this is a bad attitude. Everyone starts somewhere. These new guys are the future. The old guys are the past. We would rather hook up with the future than some vestige of some bullshit olden time that is long over. Looking back at it - it’s like coming out of the casino at 4am with empty pockets thinking “what was all that about?”. A hungry young man will go out and hunt for his family. A fat old man will just sit back in his chair and talk shit.
That’s my opinion.