Architexture

The notebook of Jamie McCue. A collection of pieces from around the web that inspire my work and thinking.

Challenges of making a vinyl record

Refract

Can anyone enlighten me into why such little dub techno gets pressed to vinyl?

Arakaramian asked this question on Discogs.com so I weighed in with a response based on my experience with releasing vinyl under my label Silent Season.

Releasing vinyl comes along with a number of challenges. Sure i’d love to put out all Silent Season releases on vinyl but I don’t think it’s realistic nor should it be. Each format, CD, digital or vinyl, has it’s own time and place for enjoyment.

There are a few challenges with the production and selling of vinyl records:

Costs: The upfront cost to produce a 12″ is about $1500-2000+ (200-300 records) plus mastering and other expenses such as design or materials (oh and don’t forget to pay the artist). There is no guarantee you are going to sell them all (in a reasonable amount of time) so you have to be ready to lose money.

Manufacturing: USA or Europe are where the last remaining pressing plants are located. This adds another challenge. For example: I’m in Canada and our dollar is weak against the £ or € so it’s going to cost me more to manufacture a record in another country.

Sales & Distribution: For smaller labels this is a challenge. Tools like Bandcamp help with sales and distro but there is still the looming shipping costs. The record might be easy to sell but it still needs to be shipped.

Shipping: To ship a record is expensive no matter where you live. It all adds to the final cost that the customer has to pay. A high shipping cost may change their mind and result in a lost sale. Shipping a 12″ to Germany from Canada via airmail costs about $12-$15 (same price as the record they want to buy).

Customers: Small labels have a smaller fan base to support releases. Niche markets are challenging (but also the most rewarding in terms of connecting directly with fans).

Marketing: Press and promotion trying to sell records takes time, money and energy. I’m fortunate that my background allows me to design and manage digital assets (pre-press, layouts, website, etc) with ease. Some label owners may not be so fortunate so they have to pay (or trade) someone.

As you can see making a record ain’t easy, but maybe that’s the point.

That said, as a collector I’m happy to pay full price plus shipping to enjoy a special vinyl release. Each record needs to be planned and well thought out along the above considerations. In that sense it makes the vinyl even more worthwhile knowing the efforts involved.

I’m happy to release music on vinyl, custom CD, but also digitally because peoples listening environments change. For example I stream music all day or play CDs in the car and enjoy vinyl at night. Long format listening is just easier with a CD or digital.

Releasing vinyl with Silent Season has been for the most part a break even venture. It is a labour of love to so speak. Anything less than 300 copies and you’ll start to lose money. No one I know is getting rich selling vinyl.

I truly thank every person who has supported Silent Season over the years. Stay tuned for more beautiful vinyl releases from our artists this Fall. Taken from the original article at Medium.com

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