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Thread: Physical media distribution problems getting worse

  1. #26
    My Alliance rep told me yesterday they've brought in an additional 800 workers. That's good but the learning curve is hindering Alliance. I'm getting mis-picked items from them and they are also frustrated with Direct Shot. Birdy may be right in his assessment that in 3 to 5 years record stores will be a thing of the past. I'm sure a few stores will remain that deal with used albums only but they may be hard pressed to make a go of it too.

    Bill
    She'll be standing on the bar soon
    With a fish head and a harpoon
    and a fake beard plastered on her brow.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Yes, but I also cited issues with the digital version of the Dead box, and that does, I think, fit, even if not hard media.

    What Iíll say is that distribution is becoming increasingly complex. Look. Iím not justifying when things go totally SNAFU; only that, even after manufacture, distribution is not always simple as it seems. That said, some labels either need to get their act together or hire more customer support people. My feeling is that if they communicated better with their customers, thereíd be less grief. I know, speaking for myself, the hours I spent on the phone dealing with the Dead issue is what bothered me the most, nit that there were problems. Sadly, dead.net is two-tiered, itís customer service only handling making or changing orders, with all else going to Rhino. Despite their all being responsive, the waits on hold and for emails were excessive.

    So when there are major releases, I think,part of the problem is not enough customer service agents...and those they have often donít have enough info to be helpful, so that needs to change. If someone can give me good information and a reasonable estimate as to when a problem will be resolved, Iím cool with that.

    Unfortunately, that doesnít always happen.

    Is that better?
    No not really. You are talking about a separate issue on the label level. I donít know anything about the Grateful Dead product - either physical or digital. Its not related to what we are discussing.

    Distribution is not getting more complex. Its actually getting simpler. There are less players. Labels are folding and the ones that remain are manufacturing smaller quantities. The majors are merging their distribution avenues, closing their warehouses and having Direct Shot do fulfillment.

    There are always bumps in the road when it comes to physical manufacturing. Release dates get pushed. Its not a new story.

    What is being discussed is the bottleneck in distribution that is hurting the retailers, labels and, of course, the artists.

    IĎm talking about retail not having a new release on street date because the fulfillment center canít locate the inventory in their warehouse. A retailer sells through a new title and has to wait 3-4 weeks for a restock.

    If Direct Shot could get its act together you wouldnít be reading this thread.

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    I'm talking about it being available on release date (December 20), which has been the major problem the last several months - almost everything I've pre-ordered recently (regardless of the vendor) has been pushed back because nobody ends up having in stock when they are supposed to.

    It's not a production issue from where I'm standing - Lately I've had some review copies in hand weeks or even months before release date (I've had Stormwatch since September 6 I think, and some people still won't have it for over two weeks), because those are mailed directly from the labels, there is no middle-man distributor grinding the proceedings to a halt.
    Actually it still can be a production issue, as I’ve already posted. Here are a few reasons why reviews are out well in advance. And I apologize...I forgot who you be, so much of what I’ve written you already know, so for others, then:

    1. In a great many cases, labels no longer send out hard media promos (or try to minimize as best as they can). Instead, they send digital promos that, if they’re being responsible, are CD quality (or better) - ie no lossy compression, though FLAC/ALAC is fine - along with PDFs of the booklet, if there is one, or the digipak, so you have detailed track, personnel and production info. When I review big box sets, oftentimes I often get much of the material in advance as downloadable files, and only get the box close to street, when I can tighten up and wrap the piece. But, as an example, I got digital versions of the three CDs in the ITCOTCK 50th reissue some weeks back (along with PDF of the covers and notes), so I was waiting for the Blu Ray to be able to check out the high res stereo (since I don’t have a surround system). I’m still waiting, but Panegyric was kind enough to send me 24/96 versions of the album and full-length duo version of ITTTW last week. That was enough for me to be able finish the review and run it last weekend. So, a lot of reviewers are getting their material digitally...and with the big boxes, the numbers or available hard review copies are very small (which is why I am so chuffed at getting both the Giant and Floyd box sets...have the Giant, but not the Floyd);

    2. In the case of the Giant, I was lucky. I’d reached out to the label but to see where things were, and as usually happens, they’d received a few copies of the box to go through and make sure everything was correct. He asked if I could wait ‘til end of November, when they’d have full stock. I replied that I would if I had to, but would prefer a copy now as, knowing how lengthy a piece I’m going to be writing, I need the music well in advance to be able to listen to it my usual 8-10 times before starting to write. So, I managed to snag one of the handful of copies they had; right place, right time (!). But while they expect to have stock at the end of November to meet street date of 12/6 (I think), if something were to happen at the manufacturer between now and then (i.e.: a bigger order comes in, as one example), they could find themselves bumped and Street date slipping (I’ve not heard of any such thing, to be clear; just saying these things happen). But while you may get an advance of the hard media version, that may be part of a smaller batch that the labels get up front...and not the main shipments that happen after the entire order is filled. Yes, yours come direct from the label (or publicist)...but still, that you got your copy doesn’t mean that the full order has been fulfilled and is in the hands of the distributors.

    3. One other consideration is that these big boxes and deluxe editions are often complex affairs. In the case of Giant, we”re talking about two books - one, 138 page hardcover; the other, a 96 page softbound. Posters. Signed photo. Reproduction of the Playing the Fool Booklet included in the first 10,000 original vinyl copies; and then 29 CDs and one Blu Ray. All this to be packaged in the large, nicely thick and stiff main box. Most labels submit material on time as they are asked; but if any one thing goes wrong, it can push the whole release back.

    I’m not trying to justify it, but with the number of box sets and deluxe editions on the rise, there are so many more possibilities for things to go wrong and, therefore, see release dates pushed back. It’s not good, but it’s reality. And, more often than not, the labels have done all they can to ensure things are on time at their end....but there are things beyond their control, especially with these big boxes and deluxe editions.

    But with the Zappa box set for such an unusually late in the year release, I suspect it’ll get manufactured and delivered on time (but don’t hold me to it!!). After that, whether it’s Canada Post, USPS or some other service you use for delivery, it’ll be up to them to get it to you before the 25th.

    Fingers crossed, though; I’ve got a copy on order too!

    And sorry for talking to you like you didn’t know a lot about what’s going on (clearly). Sick as I am, I sometimes come into threads that look interesting after being absent for days or weeks, and rather than read the who,e thread as I should, I jump in...with what I think is relevant. Usually I’m ok...clearly not in this case!!
    Last edited by jkelman; 2 Weeks Ago at 06:40 PM.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    Distribution is not getting more complex. Its actually getting simpler. There are less players. Labels are folding and the ones that remain are manufacturing smaller quantities. The majors are merging their distribution avenues, closing their warehouses and having Direct Shot do fulfillment.
    Indeed. But manufacturing of all these box sets and deluxe editions, many of which donít follow a consistent format, are accidents waiting to happen. But yes, distribution is getting easier...but they still need product to get to the distributors, even if there are fewer of them (and youíd know more about this than I). So production does play a part, no matter how you slice it.

    There are always bumps in the road when it comes to physical manufacturing. Release dates get pushed. Its not a new story.

    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    What is being discussed is the bottleneck in distribution that is hurting the retailers, labels and, of course, the artists.
    If distribution is getting easier, then what is the bottleneck? I donít know much about distribution, so hope you can enlighten me.

    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    IĎm talking about retail not having a new release on street date because the fulfillment center canít locate the inventory in their warehouse. A retailer sells through a new title and has to wait 3-4 weeks for a restock.
    I agree with you that thereís no excuse for that. Canít locate inventory in their warehouse? Really? I canít see any excuse for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    If Direct Shot could get its act together you wouldnít be reading this thread.
    I need to go back to the start of this thread to read where youíre coming from. Sorry, too; didnít mean to derail the thread, but I didnít start at the beginning so, based on what I was reading, figured Iíd weigh in on some of the reasons why Street dates slip. Sorry, man!
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Indeed. But manufacturing of all these box sets and deluxe editions, many of which don’t follow a consistent format, are accidents waiting to happen. But yes, distribution is getting easier...but they still need product to get to the distributors, even if there are fewer of them (and you’d know more about this than I). So production does play a part, no matter how you slice it.

    There are always bumps in the road when it comes to physical manufacturing. Release dates get pushed. Its not a new story.


    If distribution is getting easier, then what is the bottleneck? I don’t know much about distribution, so hope you can enlighten me.


    I agree with you that there’s no excuse for that. Can’t locate inventory in their warehouse? Really? I can’t see any excuse for that.



    I need to go back to the start of this thread to read where you’re coming from. Sorry, too; didn’t mean to derail the thread, but I didn’t start at the beginning so, based on what I was reading, figured I’d weigh in on some of the reasons why Street dates slip. Sorry, man!
    All good. Start at the beginning of the thread.

    Quick summary:

    The major labels handed over all their product to a fulfillment house in Franklin, Indiana called Direct Shot Distribution. They were fine when they were handling Sony owned/distributed labels. I assume Universal labels as well. WEA closed down their warehouses and handed everything over to Direct Shot. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. They can't handle the load and its turned to chaos. WEA and Sony are working with Direct Shot to smooth things out but so far nothing has worked.

    The End.

  6. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    I haven't seen this posted/discussed here (or I missed it if it was).

    This letter is from July of this year, but from what I can tell, things have only gotten worse. I've only recently become aware of this problem myself, and it certainly does explain some of the missed street dates I've encountered personally. I wonder, does this even affect Amazon? There's been a sharp increase in the number of pre-orders that are getting pushed back on Amazon (Canada), including the new Zappa Halloween box which I'm now told I am not receiving until at least November 1st (of all the idiotic things, the day AFTER Halloween).

    Thoughts?
    Finally went back to the start (sorry) and read the letter. Jesus H. Iíve no idea how shops - real or virtual - can manage with this going on. Customers call the vendor, and many just donít care that the problem is beyond the shopís control. They just want their shit.

    If this is major labels pushing folks towards streaming, then Iím in big trouble as a consumer, as I refuse to use streaming services (for many reasons).im fine with digital, but must be downloadable, as with Bandcamp and shops like HDTracks and ProStudioMasters.

    As a writer, my life is generally far easier; but restricted as to how much I can write because of my CFS, I find myself buying much more than I used to, as I donít want to overcommit.

    Anyway, sorry, man. This well and truly sucks. It seems to me that unless this can turn into a problem for the labels rather than Direct Shot, then thereís little incentive for anyone but Direct Shot to fix this....so until it starts to hurt them...
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  7. #32
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    So I take it, that if I order online something that is in stock, there's no issue. But if it is a new release or something a vendor is out of, then we're in the danger zone.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  8. #33
    On the upside, Eddie Jobson just got an instant "get out of jail free" card for his next endlessly-delayed boxset: IT'S THE DISTRO I TELL YOU
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    So I take it, that if I order online something that is in stock, there's no issue. But if it is a new release or something a vendor is out of, then we're in the danger zone.
    Depends on the label.

  10. #35
    Conspiracy theories say the lables are using Direct Shot as a way to finally walk away from physical product. I don't know it that's true but I know there are a lot of releases that no longer have a physical version. Kanye West's new release, Jeezy, Future and other rappers are only doing digital. Many gospel and southern soul releases are also digital only. I realize that some of these are niche genres but still, it's troubling.

    Bill
    She'll be standing on the bar soon
    With a fish head and a harpoon
    and a fake beard plastered on her brow.

  11. #36
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adm.Kirk View Post
    Conspiracy theories say the lables are using Direct Shot as a way to finally walk away from physical product. I don't know it that's true but I know there are a lot of releases that no longer have a physical version. Kanye West's new release, Jeezy, Future and other rappers are only doing digital. Many gospel and southern soul releases are also digital only. I realize that some of these are niche genres but still, it's troubling.

    Bill
    TBH, that was an almost immediate thought of mine when reading the first few posts of this thread.

    Roughly 1/3 of the albums I would like to buy are Digital-only and another 1/6 are digital & vinyl only, so I end up passing on buying it.
    It may sound petty, but I'll listen to it as long as it's on bandcamp, and coud be persuated to help their cause by attending a concert, but there is no way I'm buying digital files.

    And TBH, the artistes are getting petty themselves; as when they do release physical products, I find that they're putting more care in the vynils than on the CDs (sometimes, it seems, almost botched on purpose)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adm.Kirk View Post
    Conspiracy theories say the lables are using Direct Shot as a way to finally walk away from physical product. I don't know it that's true but I know there are a lot of releases that no longer have a physical version. Kanye West's new release, Jeezy, Future and other rappers are only doing digital. Many gospel and southern soul releases are also digital only. I realize that some of these are niche genres but still, it's troubling.

    Bill
    The theory makes no sense. Product was flowing out of Direct Shot with no issues until WMG handed inventory to them and overloaded the system.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    The theory makes no sense. Product was flowing out of Direct Shot with no issues until WMG handed inventory to them and overloaded the system.
    Conspiracy theories don't always make sense. But, given the recording industry's record of bullshit they earn this kind of talk. And it is true that "kids these days" don't much care about anything but streaming or digital. I could see where people would think the industry prefers digital. They get their pound of flesh from the streaming services (unlike the artists).

    I gotta hand it to those youngsters with their headphones and vinyls. They are definitely a shot in the arm to keeping physical formats going.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    The theory makes no sense. Product was flowing out of Direct Shot with no issues until WMG handed inventory to them and overloaded the system.
    It's something my rep at AEC passed on to me. Not that he started it, but it's something he heard. I think it's obvious labels are looking to get out of producing physical copies. Most CDs are now pressed in Mexico. I think CDs are what the labels really want to dump because they can make more money on LPs. For me, I've been buying a few more CDs because vinyl is just to expensive. Neil Young's new album has a MSRP of $44. The CD is a third of that. I'll get vinyl for certain things like the new Yes, Akkerman or Dylan but for others I've gone back to CD.

    Bill
    She'll be standing on the bar soon
    With a fish head and a harpoon
    and a fake beard plastered on her brow.

  15. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Adm.Kirk View Post
    It's something my rep at AEC passed on to me. Not that he started it, but it's something he heard. I think it's obvious labels are looking to get out of producing physical copies. Most CDs are now pressed in Mexico. I think CDs are what the labels really want to dump because they can make more money on LPs. For me, I've been buying a few more CDs because vinyl is just to expensive. Neil Young's new album has a MSRP of $44. The CD is a third of that. I'll get vinyl for certain things like the new Yes, Akkerman or Dylan but for others I've gone back to CD.

    Bill
    Well, depending upon your view of high res digital (I know Young is a big supporter), I bought Colorado in 24/192 for $18 (CAD), and it sounds fabulous!

    I know some folks (like Trane) are completely anti-digital, but am not sure why? If you can get studio master quality rather than down-sampled music on CD or vinyl, just because it’s soft media, what’s the problem?

    I still enjoy hard media, to be sure, though largely in the various box sets that are coming at us increasingly these days. If a new album is available in high res, especially if a PDF of the CD booklet/digipak is included, I’m more likely to go that route, because if done right, neither CD nor vinyl can match the sound quality. That said, I still buy a lot of back catalog on CD and new releases from smaller labels/artists that are not available in high res. And if the choice is CD or CD quality download? I choose CD every time. I only buy digital if it’s high res.

    And I buy my digital product from artists (Bandcamp, largely) if at all possible, but if not, ProStudioMasters or HDTracks, which I am pretty sure compensate the artists/labels better than streaming services (and, also likely, Amazon), because these are properly priced releases, just like vinyl and CD. Perhaps the OP can weigh in on this front....
    John Kelman
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  16. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post
    Its a screwed up situation and I'm not sure how much the majors care since it seems they really would rather you just stream digital.
    My guess is that's the end game here, sadly.

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    Awesome. Seems fair:

    Hello from Amazon.ca.

    We now have delivery date(s) for the order you placed on September 12, 2019 (Order# ...). We've listed the item(s) listed below with the expected delivery date(s):

    Frank Zappa "Halloween '73 (Boxed Set) (4CD)"
    Estimated arrival date: November 27, 2019 - January 30, 2020


    This has been happening all year with me. I ditched Amazon after the Dream Theater release. From then on it's been direct from the artist or independent if I really care about when it hits my mailbox.

  18. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by LASERCD View Post

    I‘m talking about retail not having a new release on street date because the fulfillment center can’t locate the inventory in their warehouse. A retailer sells through a new title and has to wait 3-4 weeks for a restock.

    If Direct Shot could get its act together you wouldn’t be reading this thread.
    Is part of the issue not pressing product in the same quantities as in the past because of the limited interest and they don't want product sitting on the shelf?

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by ytserush View Post
    Is part of the issue not pressing product in the same quantities as in the past because of the limited interest and they don't want product sitting on the shelf?
    No. The majors can turn around a new CD pressing in a week. They can run lean and mean and the consumer wouldn’t materially know the difference.

    The issue is Direct Shot’s ineptitude. We received Ray Alder’s solo album after street date. Why? Because Direct Shot lost the inventory. Sony actually ordered more discs pressed because DSD couldn’t find the discs in their warehouse. They finally did - pretty much on street date so they had to overnight them to us.

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