The Global Shortage of Vinyl RecordsMusic memorabilia or media format
You may not have realised, but within music circles it is well known that there is a vinyl records and LP shortage.
Most of what we have written lately may seem to you (as it does us), quite negative. Shortage this, crisis that, decline in this etc… But actually the vinyl record shortage might actually be good news for fans of the format. And a sign of a resurgence for the media.
Era of the vinyl record over
In the late 1980s sales of compact discs or CDs overtook vinyl records and LPs for the first time. Within the music industry it looked as if the era of the vinyl record was over.
By the early to mid 1990s, vinyl production was a fraction of it’s highs. The media sustained only by hardcore fans and obscure DJs. Aside from dance music genres the demand had all but ceased.
Vinyl pressing plants either closed or made the transition to CD production. But then in 2006 sales of vinyl records started on a steady trajectory upwards.
The vinyl comeback
Anecdotal evidence time… we have only ever framed two CDs. But vinyl record framing is a memorabilia staple!
In the digital age vinyl records are on a real comeback. In fact thanks to digital downloads vinyl sales are predicted to overtake CDs in 2022. If the holes in the the supply chain can be plugged at least.
Thanks to digital downloads when people want to purchase a physical music media, vinyl is the one! It is nostalgic, and some say it sounds better and has more ‘soul’ than CDs.
The nostalgia train may as well be the bullet train. Kate Bush is number 1 in the charts. Stranger Things is the top watched series on-demand TV right now. And Tom Cruise has finally dropped the Top Gun sequel. Smashing box office records in the process. So is it any wonder Vinyl records are on the comeback too?
How is the vinyl shortage being dealt with
Vinyl pressing plants are opening back up but demand still out-strips supply. And the process is slow, with much of the old equipment and expertise in the industry lost. Having been moth balled and scrapped years ago.
This means new machinery has to be designed, manufactured and installed. By engineers who likely are entirely new to the format and technology.
But we need yet more pressing plants. All around the world.
And when they do open staff shortages are the issue. With staff qualified to set up the machines and keep them operational in short supply. Due to the lack of demand for so long.
Short to medium term prognosis
More and more bands are requesting their latest album be pressed on to vinyl. A keepsake for themselves, a great money spinner and memento sold at gigs. And they get to jump on the vinyl popularity bandwagon. Potentially selling more copies of their latest album.
However the lead times for production currently sit at 6 months. In an industry which is used to a more ‘Just In Time’ approach. Bands and their management cannot risk waiting 6 months to release the music. It could be leaked for a start. And the opportunity cost is too great.
Even so, demand is still on a stratospheric rise. Even with vinyl pressings of new albums lagging behind the digital download and CD release by 6 months or more.
You see the vinyl record is seen less of a media, and more an item of memorabilia in this day and age. Few vinyl records are played regularly. Some never.
The future of vinyl records looks bright
Bizarrely digital downloads may have just secured the future of vinyl.
Vinyl records are now pressed with complex designs upon and in bright colours. Because A&R departments recognise vinyl as memorabilia. Designed to be shown off, held, displayed and played on a special social occasion. Digital obviously lacks these tangible properties entirely.
Bands are signing framing deals with framers such as the Shirt Framing Service. To create collectible memorabilia to be sold at concerts. The value (monetary and sentimental) of which can be increased. By the framing presentation and even the addition of signatures. which is impossible with digital music.
Yet the digital download offers benefits vinyl never could. It is much cheaper. Typically less than a tenth of the price. Available to buy immediately via any internet connection, indestructible. And obviously offers portability and ease of availability of music,
So unlike the previous generations of music media, digital and vinyl compliment each other. And can co-exist in harmony.
Long live vinyl records and LPs. Viva la vinyl.
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