Why Vinyl Pressing Plants Keep Raising Red Flags

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The simple version is that growing demand for vinyl will result in more capacity to handle that demand.

Certainly makes sense over the long-term, though right now, it’s just not that simple.

For starters, there are a lot of sticky production and expansion issues surrounding the recent surge in vinyl, including a deep suspicion among pressing plants that this is just a fad.  And when it comes to capacity, there’s a ceiling to consider.  “What a lot of people don’t understand is vinyl sales are going to get a lot slower before they get a lot faster,” said Nick Mango of Limited Pressing, specifically part of a recent discussion surrounding Lyor Cohen’s expressed adulation with wax.  “There’s only a certain amount of pressing plants on the planet.  No one is making new pressing machines.  Very soon plants will reach full capacity and vinyl will become increasingly hard to get pressed.”

The problem surrounds the still-niche appeal of vinyl, and some potentially misleading growth statistics.  In terms of growth, percentages seem larger because the base number of LPs purchased is still relatively low.  But compared to the overall amount of recording purchases, both physical and digital, the percentage of vinyl remains quite small.

Which means that volumes are still not convincing investors or plants to commit capital towards greater pressing capacity.  And that could create a production problem – and even short-term price increases – in the near future.  “Once this happens sales will level out, prices for pressing a record will increase, then hopefully people will take the plunge and try and pay to have new pressing machines built,” Mango continued.

But that’s assuming this is more than a fad – and who’s ready to gamble on that?  “Lyor might be right, and this is how the artist wants their fans to hear the music, but that doesn’t means sales will increase. It’s about the capacity of the vinyl pressing industry hitting super-saturation in the near future, and will owners have the confidence in the future of vinyl, or will they continue to think it’s just a fad, as they do right now.”