INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING IS KILLING THE HOME TAPING INDUSTRY
One of the most enjoyable parts of my journey with EMT has been sending tapes to other countries. A few people in Italy dug the SUNRAM tape. People in Finland, Argentina, Australia, Japan, and many others bought Pretty & Nice tapes. When I swung by the post office to ship Birthdays pre-orders, I came face to face with what I had been dreading since USPS rate hikes were announced, it costs A LOT more to send a tape internationally. While the up to 50% increase hurts everyone shipping physical media, the addition of the mandatory tracking flat fee REALLY hurts those shipping lighter packages (i.e. tapes). Last time I shipped to the UK, it cost about $6, which is the same price as the tape. Now it costs almost $10 to send that tape. Assuming that mailers are free (which they are not), the recipient has to pay two and a half times the list price to get it in their hands across the pond. It’s not like any of us are in the tape business to make money, but these rate hikes make it harder to just break even and offer our product for a fair price.
We’ve finally got the utopia we’ve been begging for since we were misspelling Metallica in Napster searches; we can stream almost every song ever recorded via Spotify and Bandcamp for free. We can also pay money for that same music if we feel so inclined. It’s never been easier to record music and have people all over the world discover it, and it’s never been easier to put your music out in a physical format. However, increasing international shipping rates loom over all of this; are we transitioning into a period of physical media isolationism? Has the internet made the import redundant? Is it more important for us to support domestic labels and give a higher percentage of our money to the people making/putting out music rather than to the USPS?
On the plus side, it still costs less than a small coffee to send a tape to California.