The antique tech shortage that hurts the vinyl boom

As the vinyl record resurgence continues, the problem is that there simply aren't enough record pressing plants to meet the demand. Indie labels get pushed to the back of the line when the majors place a big order.

From the New York Times:


It is now common for plants to take up to six months to turn around a vinyl order — an eternity in an age when listeners are used to getting music online instantly.

"The good news is that everyone wants vinyl," Dave Hansen, one of Independent (Record Pressing)'s owners and the general manager of the alternative label Epitaph, said on a recent hot afternoon as the plant geared up for production.

"The bad news is everything you see here today," he added, noting that the machines had to be shut down that afternoon because of the rising temperature of water used as a coolant. To replace an obsolete screw in one machine, Independent spent $5,000 to manufacture and install a new one….

For the music business over all, vinyl is still a niche product, if an increasingly substantial one. According to Nielsen, LPs now represent about 9 percent of sales in physical formats. But for indies like Epitaph and Secretly, vinyl has become essential: Both now take in nearly as much revenue from LPs as they do from CDs.

Mr. Hansen started Independent as a 50-50 partnership with Secretly (Group) to serve other independent labels — companies that often find themselves squeezed out of the production line by bigger players.

"One of the problems that independent labels are facing," (Darius) Van Arman of Secretly said, "is that some of the bigger plants might get an order for an Eagles box set, and everyone else is put on hold."

"Vinyl LP Frenzy Brings Record-Pressing Machines Back to Life" (Thanks, Jean Hagan!)

Below, how vinyl records are made: