An open letter to Monkees fans:
I am overwhelmed by the response to The Monkees BluRay box set, literally. I cannot keep up with the IMs, kind or otherwise.
I need to be clear in the most polite way that I do not work for Rhino and I cannot be of any real help in your customer service issues with them of any variety. I do not have any real advice or special number to call. Please contact them directly.
To be clear, my business with Rhino is project by project and has been for the better part of our 27 year relationship. I feel terrible that I cannot be of more help and or answer every question, but my day & night job is producing The Monkees' concert tours and we have more dates this year than any year that I have been privileged to work with them. I am extraordinarily proud of their continued activity and stature as significant music makers.
I come to Facebook, much like you, as an escape from my work. However, some have found it rude that I do not answer every IM, I simply cannot and will not. Again, I am truly sorry. I am proud of The Monkees' BluRay set and particularly the incredible work of Dan Wingate (you can thank him for all the 33 1/3 outtakes and upgrade) and John Hughes for shouldering a mountain of issues - they are my co-producers and this set would not have been as great without them.
I want to close by saying how grateful I am for your support in my various projects, especially The Monkees. It is an incredible year in their history and I hope that we can all put that in perspective in the way we communicate with one another.
UPDATE 11/18/2017: Today on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums, Andrew further addressed concerns brought forth by some fans regarding the Monkees Blu-ray set:
I will address a couple of BluRay issues now that some time has passed:
1) The Jerry Lee Lewis part was excised because the publishing of the song was in dispute between two parties (neither of them Sony or Rhino). I suggested that Rhino put the money is escrow until the dispute between these parties was resolved, but they countered that they were opening themselves up to a lawsuit - which is true. They said either take the TV special off the box, or edit out the few seconds of that song. When I explained that the special was essential and so was this song, they rolled their eyes - it was a legal issue that I had no control over.
2) Rhino had good intentions about including the repeat songs in the set, but they assumed they could just dub in the tracks from the stereo album masters. When I explained that the mixes and edits were unique, and we could only do this if the material was found through Sony, we went back to Sony and there was no willingness on their part to allow us to review every source they had to find these or if they even still had them. FYI - the rerun versions are not labelled, which is why they randomly showed up in syndication and on the Japanese laser disc. Frankly, Sony only had one obligation: that was to deliver to Rhino the 58 shows with original music selections. Sony own the rights to syndicate the shows and with such a small number of episodes, their chances of making back the money of their restoration are slim. Each show cost about $5000 to transfer and that was before clearances of the songs. Rhino hasn't sold that many sets, so they aren't making back their money either. That makes any further projects very difficult.
Every additional song from the reruns required a new publishing clearance, and that was something that Rhino did not understand from the outset. We had many calls and discussions about this - the more I drilled down into the details of the 1969/70 reruns with the people at Rhino & Sony, the more they found it necessary to tune me out. Sony didn't have the hours to deal with these requests, they were on a deadline to deliver the HD versions of the show. Rhino's business and publishing people had no idea from the outset what the myriad of variations were in this property - this was one of dozens of projects they had to clear and they had to choose their battles.
They did generously allow me to transfer my personal 35mm's of the rerun songs and Ed Reilly also loaned me all of his 16mm film reels - neither of us were paid to do this. We did this to preserve what we could of the show. I also purchased other film outtakes and donated them to the project - I was happy to see these legitimately and professionally presented. That was payment enough.
3) The packaging: I had no involvement in the design or concept of the packaging. I saw a sample of it and that was it. I assumed that Rhino knew what they were doing. Hey, I didn't like the Good Times packaging either - but it was a hit record and the cover was just one element in a complex and delicate project. My main goal was getting Sony & Rhino to agree to the investment on restoring the show which was about $250k - that took several years. I know for $200 you expected more, and I am sorry, I did not get involved in that end of things. Most of my dealings with Rhino on this set were by phone or email, I did not have access to their customer service, nor could I provide replacements parts. I personally own 3 sets of the box, and 2 of them have issues that I have never gotten fixed - I haven't had the time. Unfortunately, I am the last person for a speedy resolution given the few hours I visit Rhino every year - I honestly do not have an office there and I am only allowed in the building when called for a meeting or appointment. They have security and technically I am a former employee. I know this is obvious to most people here, but for some it was not. I think that they imagine I am getting money for every box sold or I had some financial incentive with the preorders - I only did the promo and hype because I didn't want Rhino to regret their investment after so many years of waiting and watching the film elements degrade. Bottom line - Rhino owed you fixed boxes, I hope everyone got them.
4) I wanted to address a few of these things personally at the time, but they piled up and when I lurked in to see what was going on, I too got upset. My message to fans was after getting some quite troubling personal and private notes, that I will not share. You may judge that I should have been there more for people, that it was my obligation after sharing my excitement for the project publicly. I understand your point of view, but I did as much as I could under the circumstances. A few fans made it quite clear that I owed them and they owned me - they bought my book, so therefore I was obligated to answer every question they had. If I honestly did not know the answer, they could become quite aggressive and insulting. I too have watched a very small group of people on the road become aggressive and mean with The Monkees and it breaks my heart. So many great people out there, but some fans feel they own this thing and the people involved. It makes me feel bad when I see this, because it switches from love to hate very quickly and it is shocking.
Maybe this explains a few things, whatever the case, you may now go back to MOTM.