How to Double Vinyl Record Sales In 2 Years or Less (Guaranteed!)

Vinyl records in a field

(1) Fix the production glut.

There aren’t enough plants.  And every vinyl production facility in the world is maxed out.

But it’s worse than you think.  Plants are actually turning down production requests from bands and labels.  I’ve heard this from the owners themselves.  Warner Music Group is willing to buy in bulk, but indie label XYZ can’t.  So they get turned away.

Even bigger artists are experiencing major delays in turnaround.  If you’re a tiny indie or unsigned act, you might have given up.  Yet fans are dying to buy vinyl product at shows, on Amazon, and at indie record stores.

So you have tons of demand, and limited supply.  Which is discussed in page 2 of your Introduction of Economics textbook.

Seriously: this is an industry that — yes, literally — cannot make the amount of vinyl records that people want to buy!  That’s like Safeway running out of hot dogs on July 3rd.

Sony Music just opened a plant in Japan.  And you’ve heard about that tiny little plant that opened in blah blah.  None of that is enough!

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(2) Get over the ‘Vinyl’s a fad’ mentality.

Ringback tones were a fad.  So were hula-hoops.  The vinyl records resurgence isn’t.  It’s been growing for 12 straight years, in more than one country.

BuzzAngle just reported that vinyl record sales have grown more than 20%.  In the first half of this year!

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Which means this is a format experiencing double-digit growth after more than a decade.  It’s not crashing in year 13.

Are hardcopy books a fad?  Absolutely not.  Just hop on a plane and you’ll see them everywhere.  Turns out that people were getting overloaded with digital!  And they didn’t want to frantically charge their Kindles while waiting for their seat row assignment.

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(3) Stop being terrified to invest.

And here’s why the fad mentality is killing the growth of vinyl.  Everyone’s scared to invest!

Sure, Sony made a monumental decision to fire up a plant in Japan.  But the Big Three need to put more investment capital down.   And control this format just like they controlled CD production back in the day.  They can even pay themselves on the mechanicals!

Otherwise, the supply glut will continue.  Why?  Outside investors are too timid to make serious commitments here.  They’re unwilling to take the risk. But that just means that whoever does take the risk gets an even bigger reward down the line.

And in 5 years, the less adventurous will regret it.  Mark my words.

(4) Stop destroying the environment!

Right now, the production process for creating a vinyl record is brutal for the environment.  But vinyl record production doesn’t have to be stuck in the 1970s!  There are better, cleaner ways to produce vinyl records.

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There’s already r&d happening on laser-generated ‘HD Vinyl’.  It doesn’t involve hand-etching stampers and burning vinyl in a multi-step, highly-toxic process.  And the people that want vinyl the most — upper-income, environmentally-conscious art lovers — are dying to buy vinyl that’s more eco-friendly.  There’s no denying that one.

(5) Start issuing more re-issues.

Make more vinyl to replace the old vinyl? Exactly.

Jaws just re-released its soundtrack on a double-vinyl.  And they made it ten times better than the original LP from 1975.   Back in the day, the soundtrack was just an afterthought.  But this is a serious release.  The 2XLP is even the color of water!  And it’s totally re-edited, remastered, and full of extras.

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So if used is your biggest competition, outdo it!  Chances are it’s hard to find anyway.

(6) This isn’t your father’s vinyl market.

Back then, you bought a vinyl record because you had to.  Now, you buy it because you want to.

There isn’t one vinyl buyer that can’t hear the exact same music on another format like streaming.  Sure, maybe vinyl has a warmer glow.  It’s more impressive and has a snap-crackle-pop.  But it’s actually far less convenient and far more expensive than streaming (or downloading, or even CDs).

The real story here is that vinyl is happening alongside the surge in streaming, not in spite of it.  In fact, you could even argue that streaming has caused the vinyl comeback in the first place.

(7) Stop smashing pirates.  And start growing vinyl.

The RIAA, IFPI, and XYZ trade groups need to justify their existences.  The head of the RIAA makes millions!   So of course they need a war to fight.  But streaming is killing piracy, not lawsuits.  And Google is about to kill whatever’s left.

Even YouTube videos are on the decline compared to on-demand streaming platforms like Spotify.

So where is the industry’s money best invested?

Piracy is going fringe.  So let those people enjoy their music on the fringes!  And when they get a real job, watch them buy your highest-priced items: concerts, high-end headphones, instruments, and yes, vinyl records.

See how this works?

 

 

 

12 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Christian

    Pirates Press’ turnaround times are stellar (generally 4-6 weeks from test pressing approval) and they apparently don’t turn any customers away. The factory has BRAND NEW pressing machines. I’ve seen that they press for the majors, the indies, and the people doing projects out of their bedrooms. Not all plants are bottlenecked!

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Versus

    “streaming is killing piracy, not lawsuits. ”

    Is it? I thought some research showed piracy was not declining.

    Furthermore, piracy (including sites like YouTube) artificially depresses the music market, including pricing of streaming services and thus potential income of musicians and everyone else involved. That is, streaming services keep their pay-outs obscenely law with the argument that : “If we charged more, everyone will go pirate instead”.

    Enforcement of the law in a fair and consistent manner would help.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Versus

    Regarding environmental effects, there is some debate. Vinyl takes resources in its manufacturer and disposal, and in its shipment, but digital files also take electricity in storage. Per Slate’s article, for example:
    “When it comes to digital files, the environmental costs come from the energy consumed by data centers, those rooms full of servers and network equipment that serve as the backbone of the Internet. Plus, you have to consider the electricity used by your home computer and some (tiny) fraction of the resources associated with manufacturing it.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2009/10/world_music.html

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    music stowaway

    It’s an interesting point of view and statistics.. but for songwriters, producers and
    non-gigging artists – vinyl is an expensive exercise with many hurdles..

    1. Distribution
    2. Getting paid by the distributors
    3. Getting retailers to stock your record
    4. Warehousing the stock and all the returns
    5. Managing Inventory

    Sure if you’re a major player with global hit artists and fan demand then it
    makes sense to press and sell vinyl.. but for others I think it could amount to
    throwing your money down the drain..

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Tim Teipel

    Why not stopping issueing every record as a 2LP, so you could double the pressing ressources. For me personally, sound quality isn’t the number one reason why listening to vinyl. It’s the time I take for the music and the haptic experience. And I am not convinced that sound quality is so much better when pressing 2LPs instead of pressing it on one LP if it isn’t too long.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    Tim Teipel

    In addition – I don’t buy records just to collect them. I am listening to them. That means it sucks if I have to flip each side after 10 minutes ;-(

    Reply
  7. Avatar
    Taishi CMO Qrates (@taishivinyl)

    Hi Paul and thread!

    Taishi, CMO at Qrates (https://qrates.com/) here. You’ve raised many great points here, but I couldn’t resist adding my 2 cents here.

    1. Investing in vinyl is a pain and risk→true, but ever since crowdfunding has been around, that risk is optional. We made Qrates as the world’s first on-demand and crowdfunding platform dedicated to vinyl records.

    2. Indie artists are getting turned away from pressing plants→sometimes true, but moreover, producing records can include the involvement of many more vendors (shipping, warehousing, e-commerce, etc) We wanted to propose an alternative that collapses all those steps to one.

    We would love to play a part in doubling vinyl sales in the next 2 years 😉

    Reply
  8. Avatar
    Anon

    I’m sorry but vinyl sales are already decreasing. Something like 95% of vinyl sales come from catalog titles. Yes there still is a ton of catalog that could be released but most of these titles won’t sell more than 1,000 units at best. Almost all the key catalog titles from major artists are already available.

    Reply
  9. Avatar
    Michael

    ” And the people that want vinyl the most — upper-income, environmentally-conscious art lovers — are dying to buy vinyl that’s more eco-friendly.”

    Hahahaha. Get the fuck out of here you pretentious cunt.

    Reply

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