Worldwide Vinyl Shortage Delays Production, Prompts Artists to Consider Other Physical Formats

record vinyl sales
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record vinyl sales
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Photo Credit: Victrola

Factors including supply-chain disruptions, heightened chemical prices, and unprecedented demand are contributing to a vinyl shortage – prompting some artists to opt against releasing music via the resurging format.

More than a few creators and professionals have commented on the far-reaching effects of the ongoing vinyl shortage, in terms of both manufacturing delays and increased costs. A number of artists recently acknowledged that they’re turning to the comparatively easy-to-make CDs and cassettes to satisfy fans’ desire for physical releases, for instance. And the Vinyl Alliance early last year identified “the broken supply chain” as the space’s “biggest issue.”

Chesapeake, Virginia-headquartered Vinyl Alliance’s unsettling observation arrived shortly after COVID-19 lockdown orders went into effect – drastically limiting air travel – and Apollo/Transco burned down. The Banning, California, facility was one of two known establishments (the other being Japan’s MDC) that created the lacquer discs used to form vinyl master discs, from which additional record copies are pressed.

Consequently, vinyl’s manufacturing woes began even before the pandemic’s onset, and continued supply-chain difficulties appear to be exacerbating these existing challenges.

Nike, for instance, has seen cargo vessels’ journey from Asia to North America increase from about 40 days to roughly 80 days “as a result of container shortages, port congestion, rail congestion, and labor shortages,” according to Yahoo Finance. The point is proving significant for vinyl given the above-highlighted limited supply of lacquer discs as well as the format’s decidedly global manufacturing process. (It also bears mentioning that stateside manufacturing solutions have emerged, and other such options seem likely to debut moving forward.)

Plus, the price of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – which is used in vinyl, credit cards, pipes, certain medical devices, and more – “has rocketed 70%” amid the pandemic, per the Associated Press.

Addressing the many obstacles that the energy and chemical sectors (besides different spheres yet) have faced since 2020’s start, Jeremy Pafford, Independent Commodity Intelligence Services’ head of North America, market development, indicated: “There isn’t one thing wrong. It’s kind of whack-a-mole – something goes wrong, it gets sorted out, then something else happens. And it’s been that way since the pandemic began.”

As noted, the vinyl shortage is being compounded by unprecedented demand for records. Vinyl revenue nearly doubled in the U.S. during the first half of 2021, according to the RIAA – with 2020 having delivered a 23.5 percent year-over-year revenue hike for the global vinyl industry, per the IFPI. As a result, 2021 appears poised to keep alive the more than decade-long trend of growth for vinyl.

In the most recent testament to the extent of the vinyl shortage, Universal Music announced all manner of 30th anniversary editions of Nirvana’s Nevermind, which released on September 24th, 1991. However, the most expensive of these anniversary editions, which includes “8 180-gram LPs,” isn’t expected to ship until late May of 2022 – nearly eight months from now.

12 Responses

  1. Tom Hendricks

    The Big Three Labels that control the entire music industry have cornered the market, indies out again. Here’s another reason to support the music revolution against them, that DMN is afraid to mention even one time,

    • Higelerto

      FYI, Tom, there is no music revolution. People are too lazy.

      • Anonymous

        Yes there is, and I encourage you to be a part of it share the news like others are doing.
        Here is a summary of the Peaceful Music Revolution; 3 old men control 80% of music. (No women, no minorities.) That’s bad for everyone. The music revolution against it, that’s great. This music revolution is opening the doors to thousands of musicians, and lots of new music in every style. Share this news with your favorite media source!

        3 CEOs (Warner, Universal, Sony – all men no women in one of the worst glass ceilings anywhere) control 80% of the music industry, only support the same aging teen pop stars – where 1% of musicians make 70% of the money and all the rest make about minimum wage (15K). (Without these pop stars, there would be no mainstream music industry: Swift, Beyoncé, Drake, Bieber, Kanye, Perry, GaGa, Sheeran, Grande.)

        The major 3 make the art, distribute it, promote it on the media outlets they own or their parent companies own, and then give themselves great reviews. No musician has a chance, no matter how good you are!!!

        For best music quality, there should be thousands of competing companies, not three; and about half should be run by women. The quality and variety of mainstream music is at an all time low and hasn’t changed much in 10 years. Radio is just ads and nobody is listening, concert tickets are a rip off and hassle, vinyl prices are ridiculous, the music media is just press releases of what they want to promote, awards shows seem fake, best selling music charts can’t be trusted, online streaming sales never get to the musician, music never changes – always the same few promoted over and over- and there is never news of the alternative to all this. Music sales have barely caught up to those of 1999! Most money goes to a few over promoted aging pop stars. (70% goes to 1% of musicians.)
        90% of streaming money, the main source of revenue, goes to 1%.
        For a musician to make minimum wage on Spotify he has to have 235,773 streams per month!

        Where is the music media? What story could be bigger? Corporate media, you can’t pretend this is not happening anymore.

        Reader, who do you support, 3 businessmen, or all musicians?
        Show some courage and demand better for yourself and all musicians. This is not a time to hide your head in the sand!

        The Music Revolution should bring these developments to every musician!
        1. Fair chance to be played on all radio stations due to the quality
        of the music.
        2. Fair guaranteed reviews for all recordings.
        3. Pennies for Play, each time someone clicks on your recording on any website.
        4. Fair, unbiased, ad free, music media.

        There is a music revolution going on and you can decide which side you want – the side with 3 CEOs that control 80% of the music business and the music media, or all the rest of us.

        Do something! Do anything! Just about everything you do will help all musicians.

        Help by these very small things.
        1. Pass the word that 3 CEO’s control music – all men with no women allowed in key positions – and have done great harm to music, radio, concerts, music media, and music online, as well as ruining the careers of thousands of musicians. Just talking about it helps all musicians everywhere.
        2. Support the Dallas musicians or anyone else that is actively against all this.
        3. Lift a finger, literally, and LIKE your favorite songs and videos. Show you care, lift a finger.
        4. Talk to your favorite music news site and ask why they won’t talk about the music revolution.
        5. Support Pennies for Play, a way for any musician to stream music for pennies on his website without record companies or any corporations.

        The music business is auto tuned!
        Musea, since 1992.

        • Higelerto

          This is not a revolution. It is, in most situations you mention an evolution.

          The current state of music is terrible. There is more “content” out there than actual music. It’s a terribly messy situation where anyone with an iPhone that has Garageband and some loops/beats is an artist. Please! This is grotesque, at best.

          The distribution of audio content is the Wild West, and not in a good way. The so-called revolution is seeing more artists not get paid (on a percentage) than ever.

          The pandoras box has been opened, so just ride the wave. It will all, eventually, even out as everything is cyclical.

          Reality check time.

        • Ty

          I get sick of reading about the big 3 companies bragging about what they grossed this and that year,it’s time for them to give whatever royalties owed to songwriters,artist ,producers etc.the industry is in a sad shape,open up the vaults and give them what’s owed to all who deserve their fair share.

          • Blake

            Bragging? No, it’s called reporting and all public companies do this.

            I get so tired of hearing people bash record companies. They have a purpose and artists use them, just as they use artists. Stop fooling yourself and wise up to this fact.

  2. Remi Swierczek

    Music can be locked up in virtual walls and we can have $300B music industry by 2025. Just get NEW FAIR USE ACT and prevent Apple/Shazam, Google and few destitute lyric ID folks from PIMPING MUSIC FRO FREE to society of FREELOADERS.

    Stream and play SUB FREE and AD FREE just charge for addition to personal play list AT THE DISCOVERY MOMENT!

    Music industry as of today, with all success nonsense is juste at 33% of 1999 CDs sold only in US, EU, Japan, Australia and Canada.
    We can serve today to 4billion folks at 20 to 90c/tune

    • Anonymous

      Yes, and the Music Revolution idea of a penny per play on any online site, would get rid of record companies and advertising.

  3. Richard Ingram

    Music industry of old, went from vinyl LP to CD for one reason, MONEY. Production cost were less, retail cost went from 11.98 to 15.98, then 16.98. Bands/ artist/ etc signed to labels still received their $1 or $2 commission each …and we’re pleased at time because buyers were rebuying in lesser sound quality than LP. Labels even reissued in mono on CD and sold millions. Vinyl is better quality sound. CDs are convenient in vehicles and camping, beaching, etc. Vinyl is classic because it remains the best.

  4. Guy who works at a record label for 30+ years.

    What is the evidence that vinyl problems “Prompts Artists to Consider Other Physical Formats”??? This headline claims a fact without any support. Typical of DMN. Customers won’t start buying CDs again, because vinyl takes longer to manufacture. No artists think this will happen.

    • Eunice Brown

      Common sense would dictate that if one format isn’t readily available, artists would seek out other options, as opposed to not do anything.

      Customers are still purchasing CDs.

      If you do work at a record company, you should be fired for not knowing your job and industry. Jeez. Amazing, really. Such a strong opinion and statement with zero rationale.