So, I must get an email every couple weeks asking for instructions on how to get an LP or 7" manufactured. Instead of continuing to answer each request individually, I've decided to put together this blog post. Hopefully you will all find it helpful. I've made quite a few records over the years, and I've worked with a number of different plants. After much trial and error, this is what I've come up with. The manufacturing path outlined below is best suited for those of you making records in Canada. If you have any questions or advice to add, please feel free to comment. I'm always looking for ways to improve.
1. Acetates/Plating - Aardvark Mastering
This first step is getting your master made into stampers so that the pressing plant can manufacture the actual record. The process is quite involved, so look on the Aardvark site for specifics. Basically, Paul at Aardvark will make an acetate of your master tape/disc. This will be express shipped to his plater (Mastercraft, I believe) who will then make stampers for the pressing plant. You have a few options through Aardvark, including the choice of a one or two step process. The one step process will save you a few bucks, but the stampers are usually only good for one run (or up to 1000 records).
I have been using Aardvark for years. They are one of the most affordable mastering companies around, and the quality of their work is always fantastic. I've had problems occur in this process that were totally of my own doing. Aardvark have been great to deal with in these situations, usually offering to re-plate even for the smallest issue. Highly recommended. 3-5 weeks turn time.
2. Pressing (labels, test pressings, records) - SAMO
On the Aardvark order form you will have to specify where you want the plates sent to be pressed. There are a number of good plants in the USA and a few in Canada, many of which I have worked with over the years. However, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, so good customer service is essential. I've had many problems over the years. On one of the first records I pressed, the plant got grease all over the labels. It looked awful. They wouldn't return my emails or my calls. In the end I had to pack up a record and write a hand written letter. Not a timely way to deal with such a problem when you have distributors waiting on product.
Anyway, I just started using SAMO. They are a Canadian broker that get their orders manufactured at a plant in California. In the past I've shied away from middlemen, but once I did the math, I had to give them a try. One big cost for making vinyl in Canada is shipping and brokerage from the USA. On a 600 run of LPs it can cost around $600 or more to get them here, especially if you use a plant on the west coast. SAMO gets your order into the country and only charge for shipping from Toronto. All the other costs are comparable to most other plants. And the quality is great, with regular pressings being 145 grams or more (not the case with many plants). And of course, the big selling point with SAMO is customer service. Emails are answered right away. Last minute changes are no problem. I know I'm not the easiest person to deal with when making a record, but I've never had any issues when dealing with this company. Gord (aka Deranged Record boss) is my rep. Great guy. Highly recommended. 2-4 week turn time.
3. Jackets - Imprint
Obviously, there are lots of DIY options for jackets. For 7 inches, a trip to Staples will usually do the trick. You can screen print blank LP jackets, make homemade folder sleeves, glue a photocopy to some old Bee Gees' cover, whatever. But if you need 500+ LP jackets and you want them to be at the standard of most LPs in your collection, I'd recommend Imprint. Like Samo, they are also a broker, but they get their printing done in Montreal. You are are not charged any shipping fees and the turnover is fast. It costs about $1 a jacket. You can't beat that. I even tried to go direct with the plant they use in Montreal, but it was more expensive. Imprint also have great customer service, always letting you know where your order stands. 2 week turn time. Highly recommended.
There you go. Best of luck with your record! If you have questions, get in touch. Contact info here http://divorcerecords.ca/mainpages/info.html