Sunday 13 November 2016

Vinyl Futures: Where Next?

Last night I posted on social media about a couple of record pre-orders I'd picked up Boss Tuneage Records. I posted about it because the pre-orders were part of Boss Tuneage's "Made To Order" series, where they only press the amount of copies that have been ordered. I thought this approach was pretty clever from the label an it got me thinking about whether or not it could be way forward for bands and labels with limited funds and whether it might help to solve pressing plant capacity issues and release time delays.

Independent labels and bands alike will tell you that there's a shortage of pressing plants, which is indeed true. The so-called "vinyl resurgence" has meant that pressing plants are struggling to cope with demand and thanks to the shambles know as "Record Store Day" many smaller labels are seeing their orders pushed down the list and delayed horribly due to the volumes demanded by major labels.

This creates an issue because a lot of smaller labels and bands don't have the income to invest in a run of records, that they then have to wait two-three months for to be pressed and then are stuck with dilemma of whether to start pre-orders so soon or risk not receiving a return on their investment or income to help with other expenses.

For a single label or band wanting to release 300-500 records, they're looking at a significant financial outlay. One way that some bands have been raising funds is through the use of Crowd-funding. However; it isn't viewed by many as a popular way to buy records and in nature it also leads to delays in people getting the finished product, because usually a band wants to reach a set target financially before they send a release to press.

This is where I think Boss Tuneage's "Made To Order" model is quite an innovative solution. They put a release up for sale online for a set period. Once that period is up they count up the total orders, send the record to press and then send the finished product out. There are no represses and they know exactly what their financial outlay will be before they start. It's more effective for a label to do this than say A) press such a small number of records that they sell out so fast, then command a ridiculous price online later on or B) press too many in the hope that they'll sell, only to be unable to break even and be left with too many records that take up space.

I'd be really interested in hearing your views on this issue, whether you run a label, are in a band or are just a fan that buys records. Thanks for reading.

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