The uprise of the online world has arguably made physical music sales a thing of the past, with streaming services taking the reigns over CD sales in the last few years. There is just one physical platform that isn’t falling in sales. A blast from the past sees vinyl sales booming around the world, with the US posting a 50% increase in sales last year. There is something about the purity and nostalgia of vinyl records that have music fans digging deep into their pocket to gain a physical LP. It’s true what they say; everything always sounds better on vinyl. With the annual Record Store Day passing for another year, we want to keep the celebration going by helping your band get your forthcoming EP or full length on to vinyl, and into the ears of music fans alike.
Master … Master!
A lot has changed in the last 20 or so years since the CD became the dominant media for music. When producing an album, the masters for a CD are usually incompatible with vinyl; therefore you must make a decision early if you want to release your music on vinyl. There are important factors that need to be considered when pressing on vinyl; playing times and volume being one of them. Vinyl discs have limitations on side lengths, which vary according to the recording technique used. The longer the sides, the quieter the music has to be cut. Check the table below for the typical dB levels (via Zenith Records).
Now when submitting your master, it is also important to know that it is a MUST to have at least 30 seconds of silence between sides A and B. The best way to do this is to record a 30 second "silent" track that the pressing company will insert between sides. Phasing is the last issue that you need to know about with vinyl. When a recording is "in phase," the stylus moves nicely from left to right. When it's "out of phase," the stylus moves up and down, causing it to jump out of the groove. With the rise of digital media, phasing has become irrelevant for new forms of technology. This can cause headaches in the studio, as a lot of producers may not have access to a ‘phase correlation meter’. So, how do you avoid phasing issues? Make sure you mention to your producer your intentions of pressing on vinyl before you get into the studio, they will find the best solution for you!
Home Grown or Overseas?
Now that you’ve got a killer recording, it’s time to decide with whom you are going to press with. Unfortunately, with the decline of vinyl due to digital media, there are very few vinyl pressing factories in Australia. Therefore, don’t expect it to be cheap. Zenith Records are the largest manufacturer of vinyl in Australia, and are located in Melbourne, Victoria. With Zenith, you are able to press on various colours (at an additional cost), and vinyl labeling and outer sleeve printing is available. A minimum of 100 vinyls pressed is required, and a cheaper rate is applied with the more you order. For a standard pressing with no labels and no covers, expect to pay around $8.50 per 7” and $14.50 per 12” (contact Zenith for cover sleeve quotes).
It is strongly argued that there is a huge quality difference between Australian pressed and internationally pressed records, due to the improved factories abroad. Sourced internationally, Implant Media is a Melbourne based company that provides high quality press at a reduced cost. Working in partnership with MPO France, Implant Media ensures the finest quality of vinyl produced. With lacquer cutting carried out by the legendary SST cutting facility in Germany, MPO has gained a reputation for producing sharp sounding records in all genre’s since 1958. There is a minimum of 300 vinyls per pressing, with plenty of optional features available. A standard pressing with printed casing comes to a total of around $10 per 7” with a printed casing, and around $15 per 12” with printed casing.
No matter where your vinyl is pressed, ensure that a download code is included before distribution. This can be set up for a small-added cost by the manufacturer, or you can consider using a different hosting site such as Bandcamp (which comes with 200 free codes upon sign up).
It is essential to order a test press before committing to a bulk order. As mentioned above, there a number of factors that needs to be considered before pressing your album. When you are forking out the funds from your own pocket, there is no room for error. From the quotes we received, a test press will cost you around $100 dollars (depending on the number of tests ordered).
Whether you admit it or not, your band is an investment. Look for profits where opportunities are presented. Before committing to the idea of vinyl, make sure you have weighed up the cost to profit ratios. It may not be the right move for your band as vinyl can be an expensive investment, and you might not be able to sell them at a premium price. If you think you can pull it off though, consider distribution deals. Contact local record stores and try to strike up a deal. You can also contact the vinyl manufacturer, who may provide some options/pointers for distribution. This gives your band an added sense of security, as it ensures your vinyls will be moving off the shelves and into the homes of your devoted fans.