Keeping Track of Bad Timing’s Information
I had no way of knowing how much information would come in and out of Bad Timing Records when Thomas and I started the label back in the winter/spring of 2013. Two-plus years later, the information that we deal with has greatly evolved, from top to bottom. Keeping track of that information has only become more vital as time has gone on, and it’s become essential for us to manage data in a few specific ways. Thomas, Emily and I have, over time, each come up with systems to track all of that data. I’m sure we’ll have reasons to expand, contract and think up new ways to wrangle everything, but for now we have Catalog, Variant, Costs, and Invoice sheets.
Every release Bad Timing puts out requires some or all of this information:
- Catalog Number
- Catalog Title
- Song Titles
- Song Lengths
- Digital, LP, 7″, CD, Cassette UPCs
- ©/℗ Lines The Catalog sheet is our newest tracker, born out of frustration with our continual need to input repeated data into ADA, Limited Run, Bandcamp, Tunecore, one sheets and other destinations. It’s now incredibly easy for any of us to pull up relevant information for our entire catalog. I wish we had done this a year ago; it was well worth it do it now. Bad Timing uses Google Apps, but you can download an Excel grid of the Catalog sheet here.
Thomas is our variant guru and it’s important to both of us that our different releases and repressings stay as unique as possible. Creating a Variant sheet was necessary to avoid ordering duplicate variants for different catalog numbers. At the end of the day, there are only so many variants that make financial sense, but looking at our past pressings is the best way to keep our future releases as close to a snowflake as possible. You can download an Excel grid of a Variant sheet here.
When the label started, we were incredibly lucky to have the majority of our releases sell out via D2C (Direct 2 Consumer) sales. Aside from dipping our toe into retail once with Hot Topic (they took 500 copies of Acceptance’s Phantoms), it took until the spring/summer of 2014 to really dig into managing all the costs and sales points of the label’s catalog. By then, bands on our roster were touring heavily and they needed product. We had signed a distribution deal with ADA (via Jade Tree) that enabled us to distribute our catalog via record stores. It became important for us to track all the different sales points for our releases out of a need for consistency and organization (a theme, it seems).
- PPU (Price Per Unit): If we order 1,000 copies of a record, and the total cost is $4,584 with shipping, the PPU for the format would be $4.58.
- Buyback: The amount we charge a band to buy back a format from us to sell on tour. That amount is typically priced above the PPU.
- Wholesale Cost: The amount we charge a record store to buy a single format of music from the label. Those retailers then, based off of wholesale cost, charge consumers a higher list price in-store to turn a profit. Wholesale cost is typically priced above both the PPU and the buyback cost.
- Variant/Misc: Can help inform record stores about any special information pertaining to a format they might be taking stock of, like an exclusive variant, screenprint/etching or booklet. You can download an Excel grid of a Costs sheet here.
Did you know that Drexel requires music industry majors to take at least six math courses? I had so much trouble with math and numbers that I had to sit through at least ten math-related courses over my four years. Anyway, numbers are hard and I am not allowed to touch them. Wonderful Emily manages Bad Timing’s finances, and she put together a simple-but-effective Invoice sheet that helps Thomas and I quickly assess the money coming in and out of the label in any 30- to 90-day period. It’s my job, every Friday, to be the bad guy who hunts down open invoices owed to us, and this simple, frequently updated sheet makes that easy. You can download an Excel grid of an Invoice sheet here.
That’s a lot of information. I hope it was helpful to at least three of you. If anyone has any questions or tips, feel free to tweet me.