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'Candle' Causing Backups for CD Producers

Music: Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana is in such hot demand that smaller competitors are having trouble filling orders for other compact discs.


The rush to produce over 10 million copies of Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana has left some smaller-run CD and CD-ROM producers like--well--candles in the wind. Coupled with the typical pre-holiday production rush for record companies and CD-ROM manufacturers (for whom Christmas is the biggest selling season), John's single is causing backups for the little guys.

"Between the Elton John CD and America Online, it seems like all the excess [CD production] capacity in the country is gone," says Rudi Behnke, president of a company that produces custom CD-ROMs for big corporations.

Behnke's Lawrenceville, N.J.-based Perceptrix usually produces 200 to 500 CD-ROMs on a one-week turnaround. "I finally found a plant in Canada to produce 500 CD-ROMs for me, but even that's going to take at least 10 days," he laments. Behnke says he is on the verge of losing at least one customer over the situation.

"Whenever you try to deliver 10 million of anything--especially at the Christmas rush, which seems very busy this year compared to last--you're going to have some repercussions," says Marc Feingold. Feingold is national sales manager for Megasoft Inc., a Freehold, N.J.-based company that acts as a middleman for people like Behnke.

Feingold says Megasoft has had four or five competitors call in a near panic looking for production capacity. "It's feast or famine," he says.

Meanwhile, it hasn't been easy for those producing John's CD--all proceeds of which go to charity. Says Dan Martello, vice president of sales for A&M Associated (a Polygram company that distributes John's Rocket Records): "We've been using our four regular pressing plants 24 hours a day, and then we're still farming some [production] out. The orders coming in are just unparalleled."

Martello says that for the release date this week, the company had managed to ship about 4 million of the CDs ordered. They're still rushing to meet demand for the other 6 million.

That's likely to mean another couple of weeks' delay for people like Behnke. "I never thought the death of a princess would affect my company," he sighs.

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