Vinyl LP Manufacturing Issues
July 15, 2021
As pretty much everyone knows, vinyl is back. Big time. What a lot of people don’t know is that, for small record labels like APF, releasing vinyl has become a bit of a nightmare of late. We wanted to share this with you, because for the foreseeable future it’s going to have an effect on our vinyl release dates. And it’s hurting some of our friends at other small labels too.
If you’re waiting for a pre-ordered LP from us, it might not be arriving on time. We are sorry about this, it’s out of our hands, for reasons I’ll explain. Keep an eye on our website store and the APF Bandcamp page for changes in vinyl release dates.
Why is this happening? The following info comes from several articles you can find on the interweb, combined with APF’s recent experience.
Vinyl demand at the moment is so great that it’s actually at least double that of the entire worldwide manufacturing capacity, and that’s a real problem. The global capacity for manufactured vinyl albums currently sits at 160 million, yet the demand is estimated at more than double that at 320 million – rising this year to as much as 400 million.
No new vinyl pressing plants of any significant size have been built in the past decade, just a handful of small boutique ones. A crisis point has been reached.
During the pandemic, vinyl sales exploded, growing 28.7 percent in 2020 alone.
Though there were issues with the vinyl supply chain even before the pandemic, the reality is that the entire industry cannot keep up with skyrocketing demand, especially with COVID-related constraints. Due to the pandemic, some factories couldn't maintain their production capacity due to social distancing measures, lockdowns and labour shortages, and big artists and major labels who held off on releasing albums during the pandemic are all now releasing LPs this year and next.
Then there’s material shortages. From lacquer masters, to the PVC pellets that become the actual disk, to the printers that make up the sleeves and jackets, everything is in demand or running behind. The recent demand for different coloured vinyl slows down vinyl manufacturing too, as the vinyl stampers must be cleaned after each use.
Add in worldwide pandemic-related logistics issues (some of them related to the bastard boat getting stuck in the Suez canal, some to COVID), Record Store Day, Brexit-related custom issues, supermarkets and Amazon getting in on the vinyl boom….
Back in the good old pre-pandemic days of vinyl pressing, the wait time for manufacturing was 2 to 3 months. APF only had to wait 6 weeks for Video Nasties Dominion first run vinyl to arrive in 2019. Now it can be anywhere from 8 to 12 months from when a small record label orders vinyl from a manufacturer to when it gets to us.
The situation will only significantly improve if more vinyl pressing plants are built.
So bear with us. And bear with all small labels who have the same hassles. You’ll get your LP eventually, we promise. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.