Updated: Jun 23, 2018
Hey folks! It’s Kai here, ready to tell you some horror stories I’ve come across these last 5 years, why they happen, and how to avoid them.
Every once in awhile, someone will send us an email along the lines of “I want to print CDs through you, but “abc” company charges “xyz” amount less!” True they do friends, true they do. I’m here today to tell you how big business and online based companies are able to offer those prices, and why it’s not worth it for anyone that wants to present a professional product to their fans.
1.) Most of these companies outsource over seas.
Outsourcing is big part of why they're able to offer those drop dead prices. But more often than not, outsourced CDs are cheap and come back into the states in poor condition. Additionally, this method doesn’t contribute as much to our local economy. The discs are usually printed either via silk screening or ink jet printing, which is not as high quality as our thermal printing process. Inkjet can rub off over time, and silk screening can have odd bumpy textures. Thermal printing is smooth and sleek forever, because the image is permanently melted onto the CD face.
Plus, you’ll often find outsourced discs are handled poorly, which results in scratches, fingerprints, or just plain crooked off set surfaces. The photo below is a disc from a recent project a client just brought for me to finish, because the previous company they worked with went out of business. It wasn’t hard to see why- badly printed CDs, scratches everywhere, finger prints all over- some of them didn’t even have any data on them. Can you imagine not knowing you were selling blank CDs to your fan base?
2.) There is far less quality control for bigger/online companies.
Here at Astro Audio PDX, we do quality control on every single disc we create. Every single one, no exceptions. Bigger companies have a higher volume of orders due to their cheaper pricing and simply don’t have the time. This can lead to catastrophe. A couple of months ago, I got a frantic phone call from a desperate client, who ordered from an online company and received a box of CDs that were nothing but white noise, one week before their tour! Yikes! The company refused to replace their discs in time for their tour, and wouldn’t have them ready until they got back. It happens more often than you think. Don’t let this happen to you! You shouldn’t have to go on tour without product, or reschedule your CD release parties, ever.
3.) Extra frees vs complimentary services
Some companies charge up to $50 an hour for graphic set up fees- meaning if you can’t figure out how their art templates work, they charge you for it. We on the other hand understand that not everyone has access to high end art programs, or even owns a computer to begin with. We would never charge you to get your project print ready. Other companies will also charge you for other little services along the way. Not us. We offer many free courtesies, such as creating master discs, proofing your art files for typos or formatting errors, adding your music to the iTunes Grace Note data base, testing your pre made master CDs, and more. We love and admire our community and all the musicians in it. It takes a bit of extra time, but we think it’s worth it at the end of the day to see musicians happier and stress free. Go focus on your practicing, and we’ll take it from here!
4.) Lack of personal connection
Sometimes when my clients submit their work, they will realize they made a mistake on the track list or the art files. If I’m contacted within 24-48 hours, I can often fix it- sometimes I can even fix it after that mark, depending on the nature of the problem. Big business and online business either can’t, or won’t. Once files are submitted, they are concrete and set in stone. Not only would you be hard pressed to make a last minute change without a fee, its so hard to contact anyone over the phone either. Prepare for long hold times and impersonal customer service. And no, we here don’t record all our calls for “quality assurance purposes.” :)
We started this business because we want to make a living, not a killing, and we want to contribute to the Portland music scene in a meaningful and productive way. We’re always willing to help you every step of the way, and will go out of our way to make sure your final product is absolutely perfect. Why risk getting stuck with discs that are crooked, smudged, scratched, late, inferior quality, or sometimes even just white noise? Not to mention we’re local, so you can come walk into our shop anytime! Get a tour, hold samples in your hand, get a clear explanation of the full process, and we’ll give you a free sticker if you want one too. :) And as always, you can call us anytime at 503 774 2481.