Friday, October 7

Jack White urges major labels to build own vinyl pressing plants

Jack White has shared a video and written an open letter to major record labels, urging them to build their own vinyl pressing plants.

The White Stripes frontman owns the Nashville-based Third Man Records, who have their own pressing plant and opened a new London store last year. His letter comes after the vinyl industry has experienced huge delays due to COVID, meaning many smaller artists have been forced to delay album releases due to wait times at pressing plants.

READ MORE: What’s causing the vinyl delay? “Adele is not the problem”, say music industry insiders

“At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out asking me to help expedite their vinyl record manufacturing,” White’s message began. “It’s a natural thought… knowing that I own a pressing plant and have my own record label, ‘if anyone could help, it’s this guy!’”

In the written message he went on to call the idea for major labels to build their own plants a “no-brainer,” writing: “We have ALL created an environment where the unprecedented demand for vinyl records cannot keep up with the rudimentary supply of them.”

“We’re all on the same team with the same goals,” he added. “I truly believe that with a good faith investment in the infrastructure that got us here, we can continue on this upward trajectory and further inspire the worlds around us. Now is the time.”

Watch the video and read the full written statement below.

“At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out asking me to help expedite their vinyl record manufacturing. It’s a natural thought… knowing that I own a pressing plant and have my own record label, “if anyone could help, it’s this guy!”

With industry-wide turnaround times for vinyl currently leaning towards the length of a human pregnancy, it’s obvious, in a world so contingent on being of-the-moment and timed just right (a single, an album, a tour etc.), these timelines are the killers of momentum, soul, artistic expression, and far too often, livelihoods.

I’ve done everything within my power to help. Third Man Records began a concentrated focus on vinyl in 2009 with hopes of exposing its wider potential to the farthest reaches of the music industry. In 2017 I furthered my commitment by opening Third Man Pressing… a plant which has always been open to anyone and everyone who walks in the door and wants to press a record, from bedroom hip hop artists to field recording documentarians. And in the last year, I’ve doubled down and invested in even more record presses, more employees to run them, and more shifts to try and accommodate the insane growing demand for vinyl product.

There are people who will say – isn’t this good for Third Man? More demand than you can handle? To which I say, even though Third Man benefits in the short term, in the long term it ultimately hurts everyone involved in the vinyl ecosystem given the bottlenecks and delays. Something needs to be done.

While the entirety of vinyl investment and framework in the past decade has originated from independent companies and investors, the bigger problems we now see require major solutions.

In this spirit, I turn to our collegial big brothers in the music world, Sony, Universal, and Warner, and politely implore them to help alleviate this unfortunate backlog and start dedicating resources to build pressing plants themselves.

To be clear, the issue is not big labels versus small labels, it’s not independent versus mainstream, it’s not even punk versus pop. The issue is, simply, we have ALL created an environment where the unprecedented demand for vinyl records cannot keep up with the rudimentary supply of them.

Across the globe, there are now a handful of NEW companies, building both automated and manual vinyl presses. It’s easier to purchase a vinyl press now than it has been in four decades. And with more ancillary innovators popping up every day helping advance every facet of the industry, this isn’t a difficult decision to make. It’s a no-brainer.

We’re all on the same team with the same goals. I truly believe that with a good faith investment in the infrastructure that got us here, we can continue on this upward trajectory and further inspire the worlds around us. Now is the time. Thank you.

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Jack White performs from a balcony on Marshall Street to celebrate the opening of Third Man Records’ London store in September 2021. CREDIT: Jo Hale/Getty Images

Late last year, figures from the music industry spoke to NME about what’s really causing the delays in manufacturing vinyl and artists getting their albums made – arguing that the blame does not lie at the feet of Adele.

Reports have emerged in recent weeks of a crisis facing vinyl-lovers, with sources telling Variety that more than 500,000 copies of Adele’s long-awaited new album ’30’ have been pressed – causing a huge backlog and problems in the production line for others wishing to get LPs manufactured with the world’s limited resources.

“Even without Adele, the problem would still be there,” Chris Marksberry – MD of worldwide vinyl manufacturing broker Sound Performance – told NME. “As the demand becomes bigger, people order more so everybody’s initial order will be bigger than it would have been 12 months ago.”

Last year saw vinyl sales hit their highest since the 1990s, having seen huge growth for the 13th year in a row. Figures revealed that nearly one in five (18 per cent) of all albums purchased across 2020 were vinyl, with 4.8 million LPs being purchased. The new numbers are 10 per cent up on 2019’s figures.

Back in January, it was announced that a new vinyl pressing plant – Press On Vinyl – will be opening in Middlesbrough in the coming months and aims to focus on independent artists and labels, small-run releases, and musicians local to the plant in the North East.

Elsewhere, Taiwan-based vinyl record pressing plant Mobineko recently announced a new service which aims to fulfill smaller orders by record labels with a fast turnaround time.

The post Jack White urges major labels to build own vinyl pressing plants appeared first on NME.

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