The Spacelab9 team at New York Comic Con 2015 (l-r): Dave Amcher, label manager; Michael Andriani, publicist/marketing manager; and Jarrod Kolnos, graphic designer.
The annual New York Comic Con is a pop-culture phenomenon. Drawing an estimated 150,000 people yearly to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, the four-day event brings together people from all walks of life to indulge their love of comics, video games, movies, TV, books, sci-fi, costuming and more. Given all that visual media, it might not seem like a place you’d find an audio-oriented company, but for Spacelab9, NYCC was a perfect fit.
An indie label focused on the soundtracks of cult-favorite properties, Spacelab9 was exhibiting at the convention for the first time, presenting records culled from TV shows like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Outlander; films such as District 9 and The Lego Movie; and the video game Fallout 3, among others. “Coming here was an opportunity that popped up,” said label manager Dave Amcher. “We thought we’d give it a shot, but we really had no idea what to expect, didn’t know if anyone was going to care. Opening day, Thursday morning, we got stuck in traffic and were late, and by the time we got here, there was a sizable line of people waiting for us—so that was a very nice surprise.”
Of course, some of those folks on the line were waiting to snatch up convention-only pressings that ranged from a “Blood and Guts” variant of The Walking Dead (pink/purple vinyl) to an “Emmet” edition of The Lego Movie (blue and orange vinyl). The most popular exclusive, however, was a 50-year-old TV soundtrack: “The Addams Family, by a good margin,” Amcher reported. “The show exclusive is Black Pumpkin [orange splatter vinyl] and I believe we did 200 of those. It was really more of an afterthought, because [the soundtrack] was primarily made for Barnes & Noble with the glow-in-the-dark variant; we did the Lurch green vinyl variant for Newbury Comics; and we did the Cousin It brown vinyl variant for Hastings. Our version was going to be a web-only version on our site, but then we were going to do Comic Con, so it became the Con version. The reaction’s been unbelievable, really surprising.”
The label had plenty of time to change its plans, however, because as is the case throughout the industry, vinyl-pressing lead times are only getting longer and longer. “Years ago, it was maybe two-and-a-half months tops turn-time, and now we’re looking at anywhere between seven and 10 months,” said Amcher. “With a few recent exceptions in Europe, there’s been no new record pressing equipment manufactured since the early Eighties. There’s dedicated teams that keep these things running—house machinists and so on—so all things considered, it’s pretty incredible that you have any records these days.”
With that in mind, Spacelab9 works with a variety of pressing plants, both domestic and overseas, depending on the needs of a particular project in terms of specs and timeline. One near constant, however, is the company’s choice of mastering facility: “We have a guy that does fantastic work; his name is Dan [Randall] with Mammoth Sound Mastering in California. He’s our go-to guy unless there are contractual restrictions, because sometimes the composer wants his own guy on it and nobody else, and we respect that.”
In the coming weeks, the label is releasing multi-LP sets for The Book of Life film soundtrack and Fallout 3 video game, and a deluxe version of its MegaMan picture disc. On the horizon, Spacelab9 will be releasing an extensive box set dedicated to the long-running BBC sci-fi series, Doctor Who, said Amcher: “Last year, we released a single-LP picture disc for Hot Topic; it was a truncated collection of the last three Doctors [the show’s main characters from 2005 to 2013]. This box set is going to represent 50 years of Doctor Who from 1963 to 2013, so it’s a very expansive collection. A four-LP set in a slip cover, and a quad-fold, gatefold jacket with a 16-page booklet—it’s going to be quite the volume! We’re very excited; it came out spectacular.”
But on the New York Comic Con show floor, the guys from Spacelab9 were focused on connecting with everyone they met, from curious passers-by, to hardcore vinyl collectors, to people dressed as characters on the label’s picture discs. “The whole weekend has been unbelievable,” said Amcher. “Getting to interface with fans, getting to talk about what they like about the records, about what we do, to see their excitement and hear their suggestions—it’s just been awesome, the whole experience.”
New York Comic Con