“SIX MONTHS?”

It’s on the high end of the spectrum, but that’s how long a friend of 5 Mag’s was told it would take to press his next record.

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″] Record Store Day and the so-called “vinyl boom” is built upon the conceit all vinyl records are created equal and thus should be equally celebrated. They’re not, and they shouldn’t be. [/quote]

It isn’t a complicated order, nor a very expensive one. And that is probably why nobody seems able to get vinyl made in a decent amount of time anymore.

Few people were willing to speak on the record, citing existing business relationships. But you don’t have to stand around long to hear accounts of endless delays, blown deadlines and a nightmare of schedule changes. Week- or month-long delays stack up until it’s become difficult for an independent label pressing a modest amount of records to get a firm and reliable release date at all. It’s gotten bad enough that I’ve even heard one vinyl diehard (one who has has never released digitally) say that the inability to schedule reliable release dates has called into question vinyl as a viable medium for distribution, despite the “vinyl boom”.

What’s going on? Production and demand. And one person who brokers vinyl orders for labels in the United States lays partial blame, ironically enough, on Record Store Day.

“Record Store Day was a desert in the calendar,” he says. “Everybody knows you don’t send something to the plant in March expecting a normal turnaround because of it. Last year, projects sent in February started to show up in May. Now we have projects from December and January that are backed up.”

There’s almost certainly more vinyl sold on Record Store Day than any other day of the year. It’s Christmas for the industry (in fact, vinyl sales on Record Store Day are better than actual Christmas sales – true of practically no other commodity.) Unfortunately, the folks up the hill have a richer Christmas than others. As the three major labels dump cash into vinyl pressing plants for “Record Store Day exclusives” like Van Halen and Led Zeppelin deluxe sets, dance music labels – with typical micropressings of 300 to 800 units – are increasingly being handed a raincheck.

Record Store Day and the so-called “vinyl boom” is built upon a certain conceit, it seems, that all vinyl records are created equal and thus should be equally celebrated.

They’re not, and they shouldn’t be.

Artists coming up or in their prime are inherently more valuable for the long-term health of the industry than records getting their third “deluxe reissue” in as many years. One makes a lot of money today. The other ensures money will still be coming in ten years from now.

But this is the problem when a large share of the total vinyl production capacity is being devoted to what are essentially speculative collectors’ items.

Whatever the long-term effects, it doesn’t appear that the plants’ increasingly lengthy production cycle is going to change anytime soon. It might make for a nice viral news story, but there isn’t a long line of industrialists waiting to open new record plants. Yet based upon the amount of frustrated customers, they’d make a mint.