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Why Go With SAMO?
Our position as a broker, maintaining a large amount of units cut, processed and pressed, means we enjoy valuable privileged relationships with our suppliers. We use these to provide cheaper prices and a greater allowance on timeframe concerns for our clients. In addition, and most importantly, as a broker we focus on being the most available, courteous, knowledgeable and accommodating reps in the industry. We can give you as much individual attention as your project needs, while most plants are not usually equipped to be of such service.

1. How do I compare a SAMO media quote with a competitor?

#1: BOTTOM LINE: Make sure to double-check all possible set up costs from competitors. Our quotes do not contain any hidden fees, so make sure you've looked at competitor quotes with a critical eye.

#2: CURRENCY: Are you a Canadian client? If so, we will quote you in Canadian dollars (otherwise you will be quoted in USD). Make sure you are comparing the actual costs including the exchange rate fees you will have to incur when importing vinyl from the US. At the time this FAQ is published, the Canadian dollar is worth 15% less than its US counterpart. You will have to pay that exchange rate unless you work with us: since we pool our US dollar purchases, our "USD Surcharge on Goods Rendered Stateside" will have you paying less than half of that figure, no matter what the current rate is.

#3: FREIGHT: Considering that a start-to-finish 7", 10" or 12" project in Canada is not currently possible, freight costs are a reality of purchasing vinyl in this country. We make it easy by shipping skids every Friday, dividing the freight costs amongst every completed project for the week, resulting in as much as 70-80% less than what you would pay if you shipped vinyl across the border on your own. Plus, you never have to deal with the border and all of that paperwork ever again! Let us do that for you, and save extra money there.

How it works is, all finished projects for the week are organized together, palletized and stretch-wrapped. These skids are trucked over the weekend, and arrive at our office each Wednesday. This is the safest, cheapest and quickest way of shipping by ground. Of course, if you can't wait for the nearest Wednesday and your project is done at the plant, we'll work to make alternate arrangements so your deadline can be hit.
2. What does SAMO do to make sure my project is looked after and prioritized? Are you monitoring my project daily?

Yes we are. We have 2 hour production meetings every other day at 11AM where all departments (art, shipping, packaging, production, sales and management) get together to discuss every single project in the queue. It takes 2 hours because we usually have about 180-200 projects ongoing at any given time, so it's critical that we routinely monitor the status of each one to ensure it is getting the attention it deserves, no matter how big or small the order is.

Every day whether there is a meeting or not, each shipment is tracked in the morning by Tabi, our freight coordinator. Notes are made on our Project Report spreadsheet regarding its status: if it's out for delivery that day, or if the ETA has changed, or if there are any exceptions impeding timely delivery. In the case of an exception, a note will be sent to your rep who will contact you for alternate arrangements. All of this ensure your shipments arrive smoothly, and when there is an issue we are firmly on top of it.

Krissy, our production manager, is in daily correspondence with our plant rep regarding the week's updates and scheduled titles (tests and final run). She receives 3 main updates a day (morning, afternoon and early evening) which we update on the Project Report so we can follow the various stages of a project with exact detail. Pressing plants can ebb and flow so nothing is on press until its actually on press! As Krissy is monitoring the daily progress of a project with an imminent pressing date, she will work hand in hand with our rep to fix any inconsistencies or iron out any kinks along the way. Since we have such a close and intimate relationship with the plant, we are privy to a degree of detail that most clients do not receive, and we use this to our advantage to be the most organized and proactive we can possibly be.

We really have too many protocols to name, but an important one that comes to mind is our "Spec Approval" process. Since pressing vinyl is a thorough process with many steps and people along the way, we have learned that accuracy and confirmation are virtues. Before you approve your tests, we will ask that our plant rep repeat the pressing specs (ie. quantity, colour, 12" weight, 7" hole size, packaging instructions) found on the PO back to us, and we will share those with you for final confirmation. This ensures that all parties involved are on the same page and that you will get the exact order you requested. If a mistake has been made due to miscommunication or human error, we've left plenty of time to make sure the correction is verified by sending you a second spec approval with your revision in place.

Being a broker means we are doing much of the work outside of pressing the records themselves, which we have left to the experts. Pressing plants are occupied with what they're best at and so are we - our strengths are organization and detail, procedure, and customer service. Any hole we've exposed during our production process is analyzed and fixed, and we welcome your feedback too.

Our critical thinking and daily monitoring means that you are leaving your project in the industry's most capable hands. Especially in the current high-volume climate of record pressing, your project needs an advocate and we hope you'll choose us.
1. What is lacquer master cutting?

This is the process in which grooves are cut by a cutting stylus onto an acetate coated aluminum disc. This is the first step in the process of putting your music on vinyl.

In terms of the way the audio is handled, if you're providing digital files, our primary concern is to transfer the information from digital to analog with as much consistency as possible. Factors such as program length per side, and frequencies that translate differently from CD to vinyl like excessive high/low frequencies in the material, are also considered while striving for the best fidelity and volume during playback.

Please note that we are not "mastering" the material or making aesthetic decisions along the way. This service is also offered for an additional rate - please get in touch with us (info@samomedia.com), or contact your rep, for more details.
2. What do I need to provide to get the lacquering process started?

Here is a quick reference list of the pieces and information we need to begin:

Audio Master
When sending digital files, you can either provide them as individual tracks or as side-long tracks.

If you are sending individual tracks make sure each file name is numbered and titled (like 1 Song XXX, 2 Song XXY, etc). If your tracks are titled but not numbered they will appear in alphabetical order and not in sequence when viewing in a Finder window.

Side-long tracks means a single album will have a side A track and a side B track. This is perfectly acceptable as well but it's mandatory that we receive a "PQ sheet" from your mastering engineer to accompany your audio. A PQ sheet while provide all of the necessary sequencing information so our cutting engineer will know where each track begins and ends. This is important because the visual track bands on a vinyl record that indicate to the listener where to place the needle to find a particular song are made by the push of a button. Without a PQ sheet (or a suitable alternative) we will not be able to create track bands.

You can either come by our office to give us your master in person (via USB key or CD-R), or send in your files electronically. To do so, please go to our WeTransfer channel, which is:


The default option on the WeTransfer channel is to send your audio to production@samomedia.com. Please do so and then notify your rep that you have just sent it off. We will also accept your Dropbox link, or any other third party hosting source that you trust.

Please ensure that your folder is compressed. Any folders that aren't compressed will be rejected, as we won't be able to check for potential corruption in the upload or download process.

For information on what analog sources are conducive to our process, please email or call us.

Catalogue Number
This is your 'project identifier' and is usually a short alphanumeric phrase. For example, if SAMO were to make our first vinyl record, we might call it SAMO001. The catalogue number can be anything you like, and it doesn't need to be registered anywhere. We can't proceed with lacquer master cutting without it because this catalogue, or "matrix" number, will be scribed on to the lacquer and will be used to identify it once it gets to the electro-plating stage.

Track Split
Unless this is a one-sided record, we'll need to know which tracks go on side A and side B (as well as C and D, if it's a double album).
3. What is a reference disc and do I need to order one?

A reference disc (also called a dub plate or acetate) is a lacquer, just like a lacquer disc that will be used for production, except instead of being sent off for electroplating it will be used for you to check out your material before we proceed to cutting masters. Since this lacquer has grooves cut into it, it is playable just like a record and can therefore be played on a turntable.

Yes it's true you will receive test pressings as part of your production run, so why order a ref? If you have a long side which might compromise the fidelity of your cut, or if you are uncertain as to how your digital master will translate in the analogue world, then ordering a ref is a terrific insurance policy. Test pressings are made after your lacquer masters have been cut and electroplated, so why wait until all of those costs are incurred to discover you're not as happy as you could be? If there is an issue discovered on the test which is determined to be the result of your master source or the result of a long side, then any replacement lacquers, plates and tests will be billable.

A reference disc is a cheap alternative to fine tuning your cut after a test rejection, and even if you aren't concerned about any potential issues, it is still the safest way to ensure your record is getting the best representation on vinyl possible.

For pricing and turnaround information, please contact your rep.
4. What is the ideal time per side for my 7"/10"/12"?

The relationship between your program length and fidelity of the result is intimate. The less time you have per side, the wider your grooves are, resulting in greater clarity, less distortion, and optimal dB levels. Here are a few recommended time per side scenarios given the medium's most common RPMs:

7" 45 RPM - 3-4 minutes
12" 33 RPM - 12-14 minutes
10" 33 RPM - 9-10 minutes

For other suggestions and scenarios, please contact us and we'll be happy to provide our input.
5. Where are SAMO's lacquers cut?

Our lacquers are cut exclusively by the incredible team at Infrasonic Sound. Pete Lyman, Phil Rodriguez and Nick Townsend are audio engineers and vinyl experts with a mountain of discography credits between them.

Having worked with various studios over the course of our decade plus history, we can honestly say that these guys might be the strongest link in our chain.

To sample some of Pete's credits, click here.

For a wider list of the records we have cut with Infrasonic, please contact us. To name a few: Fucked Up, Feist, METZ, Arcade Fire, Blue Rodeo, Sloan, Shad, Death From Above 1979, Boston Strangler, White Lung, Austra, etc. We do tons of punk and hardcore, indie rock records, hip hop and electronic music, to noise, reggae, and beyond. Nothing is too challenging!
6. What is electroplating?

This is the second stage in vinyl record production. Your lacquer masters are too malleable to affix to a vinyl press mould and withstand the intense pressure and temperature that occurs during manufacturing. Because of this, we need to create metal "stampers" from your lacquers.

To do this, the lacquers are first meticulously cleaned and then sprayed with silver nitrate, making them electro-conductive. Once finished, they are placed in a tank of nickel solution and introduced to electric current, which causes the silvered lacquer to bind with the metal and create a removable solid plate. When this plate is separated from the lacquer it looks like a reverse image of the original (called a father) - as in, the grooves are now ridges instead of being inward. This metal plate goes back into the tank, and gets plated again so that we again produce a positive with the grooves back on the inside. This positive is called a "mother". It is from this mother that we can make multiple copies of a new negative, using the same process, which are referred to as a stampers. It is with these stampers that we can press records.

Beware of the suggestion to do "1-step plating" on low runs. This is when the plant uses the initial negative plate as the stamper, bypassing mother creation. While cheaper, we strongly recommend against it because of the risk involved. If a stamper cracks during production, and the lacquer is unable to go back in the tank due to wear and tear from electro-plating, new lacquer masters will have to be produced and the client will be billed. Sometimes stampers hold out for hundreds or thousands of units, but other times they can crack on press within the first few moments of the process.

At the primary plant we work with, if a stamper cracks and a mother has been produced (referred to as "2-step plating"), you will not be charged for replacement stampers. We also work with another plant who provides faster turnarounds, and a set of stampers needs to be generated for each increment of 500 records.

To determine which plant you'd like to use through SAMO, please contact your sales rep.
7. What does the over/under run note found on my quotation mean?

This is industry standard for vinyl pressing; it is possible to have up to 10% extra or less of the ordered number of records come off the press. This is done for quality control purposes. 10% more than the desired number are pressed and then the entire lot is examined for spoilage, so that we end up with the closest number of perfect units to the amount ordered.

For example, if you order 500 and 10% extra (550) come off the press passing quality control measures, this is what you are billed for.
8. How long does vinyl production take?

This is the big question. Since 2008 the demand for vinyl manufacturing has risen steadily and it's arguable that since 2013 it has actually outstripped current capacity resulting in elongated turnaround times across the board. Because of this, vinyl turnarounds often fluctuate depending on the month and current volume at the plant. This means you are advised to leave extra time!

We have two distinct channels for vinyl pressing: our main option is our most economical one, which carries a 16 week turnaround. However, if turnaround is your primary concern, we also have a secondary relationship that is approximately 10-15% more but about 6 weeks faster. Talk to your rep in regards to your budget and turnaround needs and we'll fix you up with the best solution.

Vinyl production is very intensive and consists of a lot more steps than CD manufacturing, so while we can't guarantee any time frame, we are very successful at hitting realistic release or tour dates. Please let us know well in advance, if possible.

Lastly, please understand that all turnarounds are approximate. As your project progresses your rep will provide you with a 1-2 week window for completion, but even with that, if your project does not pass quality control, or a new stamper set needs to be created mid-press, extra time may be added.

We encourage you to call us or email for further information, as turnarounds change throughout the year and helpful tips and target dates for submission can be determined based on the individual specs of a project.
9. What are your payment terms?

All projects are paid on a 50/50 basis. A 50% deposit amount will be detailed on your official quote and is due at the start of your project. The balance is only due prior to shipping or upon pick up of the final product.

If you are paying in Canadian dollars, our preferred method of payment is Interac E-Transfer sent via online banking, paid to paul@samomedia.com. Please make the catalogue number (in lower case letters) your security answer. Otherwise we accept cheques or money orders made out to SAMO media and sent to the address found on our contact page.

If paying in US dollars, we accept cheque (or "check" as you folks say) or international money order. Please note that a regular money order is not cashable if you are sending from a US address, it must be an international one which does not cost any extra to buy.

We also accept PayPal with a 2.5% surcharge added (as this is the fee PayPal takes from us), paid to payment@samomedia.com. Please include a note with your payment indicating which project (by catalogue number) you are paying for.

We do not accept US credit cards, and Canadian credit cards are occasionally taken by request at the discretion of our accounts receivable department. Interac E-Transfer is preferred!
10. What will be different from quote to invoice?

Once you and your rep have settled on the particular specs of a project, you'll receive a quote for approval. This quote is a line by line account of the process showing item and cost each step of the way. We don't do lump sum quoting, we prefer that you see and understand the details of what you're paying for.

This quote will be identical to your invoice except for two things:

1) THE 10% RULE: please view the FAQ on this subject for an explanation, which you'll find above. Essentially the final quantity is dictated by this principle and you are billed in accordance with this figure.

2) FREIGHT: You and your rep will determine the final destination of the project during the quoting process. This will help us figure out if it's cheaper and more effective to ship directly from the plant or from SAMO. If your project is being picked up from SAMO, the tests and finals will hit one of our weekly skids for a small and extremely competitive "Freight to Toronto" charge (which will appear on the quote). Any other shipping for tests or final product will be billed additionally. It is our policy to provide an estimate each and every time we ship (unless you elect to bypass that) and to receive approval before proceeding.

Any change to your project made along the way will result in an updated quote for approval, to make sure that no charge on the final invoice is a surprise. Nothing is worse than hidden costs and we make sure to employ a transparent process meaning that the only costs on the invoice are the ones you are expecting.
1. Where do I find templates?

Our templates can be found here. Please only use our templates; for anything you can't find, please contact us and we'll set you up right away.
2. I have a question about templates/formats/technical details...

Please consult our art guide here. It's important for all designers submitting art to SAMO to go through the check list found at the bottom of the PDF. If you have a question not covered by the guide, please contact us.