The Funky Moose Vinyl Subscription

I started to write a blog post on the new variations on record-of-the-month clubs – aka – vinyl subscription services.  Well it’s been quite the rabbit hole to dig my way out of, and I haven’t made it out yet.  Unlike say cellular phone services where there really are not that many variables to consider (phones available, coverage, minutes, texting, data and monthly cost pretty much cover it), vinyl subscription services have a wonderful array of unique and pretty quirky offerings.  The Turntable Kitchen stands out as one of the most unique pairing music and food.  Their subscription services sends a monthly pairing of music and food.  You get an exclusive 7″ vinyl,  digital mixtape, 1-2 premium ingredients, 3 seasonal recipes and tasting notes.  How cool is that?

 

So you can see right off the challenge of giving a concise overview of all of the services.  That said, it is coming, but in order to get my head around what all these services have to offer, I’m going to write about each one individually and then try to wrap it all up somewhere in 2018.

 

So let’s start in my homeland of Canada.

 

Funky Moose Records started as an on-line vinyl store selling both new and used vinyl.  Funky Moose is Mark Poppen.  The company is based in Bellevue Saskatchewan.  Let’s be fair, this is not the epicenter of music in Canada, so I asked Mark how he and Funky Moose ended up in the parries.

 

I moved to Canada from The Netherlands in 2007 with my wife, who is from the Bellevue area. In a nutshell: we met online, she came to live with me in Holland for about 6.5 years and then it was time to move to Canada. Since she has most of her family here, Bellevue was the obvious place to move to.
Mark must have picked up on my confusion about the whole “The Netherlands” and “Holland” thing? and sent this great video link that explains it all with some great wit.  The Netherlands and Holland?

 

 And what about that name, Funky Moose Records?

 


When I started the store, I needed a name. I didn’t want anything cliché, so I started thinking about something quirky. Because I wanted to focus on the Canadian market and artists, it needed to represent something Canadian. Eager Beaver Records was an early idea, but I scrapped that when I started thinking about the alternate meanings.

A moose is pretty Canadian and it needed an appropriate adjective. “Funky” was filtered from a long list of other options.

 

 

Mark is not new to the music industry.  He grew up  visiting the local Dutch radio station that his dad work for and later worked for the same station right up until the week before he and his wife left for Canada.  Mark also tells of his introduction to classic rock via his grand mother the Queen fan, “I remember playing “A day at the races” over and over.”

In addition to his love for vinyl and classic rock, Mark had some pretty significant web design skills which he turned into full time work upon arriving in Canada.   Jump forward five years and Mark sees the opportunity to combine web design skill and his love for vinyl into Funky Moose Records – online sale of new and used vinyl.

I did wonder how Mark goes about finding his used vinyl since Bellevue had a population of 111 according to the 2011 Census.

A friend of the family loves hunting treasure at flea markets, garage sales and auctions. We got together, I taught him what to look for and how grade records on the spot. He’s in charge of the buying process of used records.

Judging from the selection of used vinyl, Mark`s friend has learned the vinyl crate digging craft very well.

Funky Moose`s vinyl subscription service is currently in the beta testing phase and I was curious about the club.

Can you give me an overview of the club? Are there any numbers that you can share regarding your early numbers of subscribers?

 

Every business owner knows it’s great to have a steady recurring income. Since subscription services or clubs like Vinyl Me Please and VNYL seem to be doing alright, I figured there might be a market for it in Canada.

 

The premise is to let subscribers discover new music they generally wouldn’t consider buying in the store because, in a store, you often have to just a record by its cover. I’m trying to get as much Canadian content in the boxes as possible, but it’s not limited to.

 

Right now, the selection is made up of existing or new releases until there are enough subscribers to justify exclusive pressings. These exclusive pressings would be mostly by Canadian indie artists (indie in the sense of artists not on a major label, not the musical genre) and would be limited to the number of subscribers we’d have. 150 subscribers = 150 exclusive pressings on a special colour record.

 

The proceeds of the records would help press additional records of the same album (on non-exclusive vinyl) or help them fund their next album.

 

I can’t share exact numbers yet, but we’re not quite at the level where we need to be to start pressing records. I’m still ironing out some kinks and making sure the process isn’t throwing any surprises at us down the road.

 

I understand you are still in the beta phase, what are you hoping to achieve during this phase?

 


When the service launched, I called it the “Pilot”, where I hand-picked the initial subscribers based on their location (for the sake of cheaper shipping) and the genre they’re interested in. Those people gave me a good indication of what would be possible and what the actual cost would be to get it off the ground.
The beta phase is the same, but with the difference that everyone can sign up. I’m still expecting to receive valuable “intel” to mould the service into something that’s going to be a staple in the music industry (I know, those are big words, but in business, you need goals).

 

What other models did you consider? What helped you make a decision to go with this model?

 


I considered doing a box of the month without a subscription model. People would order the box before a certain date, I would order the records on that date and ship them as soon as they’re in. The downside of that model is that it’s a very volatile number of records that you’d be ordering with your supplier. A subscription model is more predictable. Perhaps it’s harder to sell, but that’s a sacrifice I was willing to make.

 

Once you are past the beta phase and releasing new pressings, not just catalog pressings, is it correct that you’ll only be releasing Canadian artists? Does this limit you or is it something that gives you an edge?

 

Not quite. The focus will be on Canadian artists, but I wouldn’t pass up an album by an artist from outside the country. Also, after the beta stage, we will still release catalog records, simply because it takes a lot of planning to get a record pressed. Timing is crucial. I would rather send a killer catalog title than a rushed exclusive.

 

How will you go about selecting artists to release?

 


Ideally, artists will find Funky Moose Records, but I’m actively making connections with small record labels around the country (which is terribly difficult, to be honest) to make them aware of the service.

 

To the readers of this article: If you know an artist we should be working with, be sure to shoot me a message!
The current catalog releases is a partnership with our distributor. My sales rep has his ears open in the music scene and sees requests from record stores all over the country, so they have a good idea of what’s popular. Every month, we get together and go over a list of potential releases. It then comes down to my ear to see what the best-suited release is for the next month.

 

Is there any information that you can share with me about the financing of releases?

 

[T]he financing will come from the subscriptions and the regular sales on the website. The pressing plants I’m working with have procedures in place to make the whole process as smooth as possible and created special packages for the service. No outside financing went into Funky Moose Records, and I’m going to keep it that way.

 

This is also where the catalog releases come in. They will help create a buffer and a fund to press records.

 

Funky Moose Records will be using three Canadian companies for pressing their exclusive records: Precision and Microforum in Toronto and Kaneshii in Prince Edward Island.

 

Mark has done a few podcasts and interviewed both Alex from Viryl and Paul from Precision which helped make his decision to use Precision Pressing.  Both Kaneshii and Microforum use the Warmtone presses manufactured by Viryl Technologies helping make them excellent companies for pressing Funky Moose records.  Mark also told me that he knew someone at Kaneshii and like Microforum’s connection with The Lacquer Channel, who will master all the exclusive releases.

 

I’m giving myself an early Christmas present – a Funky Moose Vinyl Subscription – you should too.

 

So what do you get and how much will it cost you?

 

For $39.95 CDN monthly you’ll receive a limited edition album.  Here’s how The Funky Moose details it:

 

How it worksEvery month, you’ll receive a record in the mail from a curated list of new and recent releases. This is how we roll until we have enough subscribers to justify the pressing of exclusive releases.

These exclusive releases are albums by Canadian artists.

  • The records in the subscription boxes, pressed through Funky Moose Records are going to be limited to our subscribers. If we have 150 subscribers, 150 records (+ a few extra to replace defects) will be pressed on coloured vinyl.
  • If no artwork is provided by the artist, the artwork will be done by Canadian visual artists
  • Pressing will be done by Precision Pressing OR Microforum OR Kaneshii (all in Canada)
  • Mastering will be done by The Lacquer Channel to ensure a consistent quality output.

Current selection

You’ll see the latest releases a little further down on this page, but currently, the boxes that are being shipped will contain music in the indie rock or alternative rock genre. However, we do need your input, even if you’re not a fan of these genres.