Jack White urges major labels to build their own vinyl pressing plants

Jack White shared a video and wrote an open letter to major record labels, urging them to build their own vinyl pressing plants.

The White Stripes frontman owns Nashville-based Third Man Records, which has its own pressing plant and opened a new store in London last year. His letter comes after the vinyl industry has experienced huge delays due to COVID, meaning many smaller artists have been forced to delay album releases due to wait times at vinyl factories. pressing.

“At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out to me asking to help expedite the making of their vinyl record,” White’s post began. “It’s a natural thought… knowing that I own a pressing plant and have my own record company, ‘if anyone can help me, it’s this guy!'”

In the text message, he went on to call the idea of ​​major record labels building their own factories a “simple idea”, writing, “We have ALL created an environment where the unprecedented demand for vinyl records cannot keep pace. the rudimentary supply of vinyl records. their.”

“We are all in the same team with the same goals,” he added. “I truly believe that with a good faith investment in the infrastructure that brought us here, we can continue on this upward trajectory and further inspire the worlds around us. The time is right.”

Watch the video and read the full written statement below.

“At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out to me asking to help speed up their vinyl record making. It’s a natural thought…considering that I own a pressing plant and that I have my own record company, “if anyone can help me, it’s this guy!”

With industry-wide turnaround times for vinyl currently leaning towards the length of a human pregnancy, it’s obvious, in a world so dependent on the news and the right time (a single , an album, a tour, etc.), these delays are the killers of momentum, soul, artistic expression and, all too often, livelihoods.

I did everything in my power to help. Third Man Records began focusing on vinyl in 2009 in hopes of exposing its wider potential to the farthest reaches of the music industry. In 2017, I deepened my commitment by opening Third Man Pressing… a factory that has always been open to anyone who walks through the door and wants to press a record, from bedroom hip hop artists to on-the-ground record documentarians. And over the past year, I’ve doubled down and invested in even more record presses, more people to run them, and more teams to try to keep up with the insane growing demand for vinyl products.

There are people who will say: isn’t this good for Third Man? More demand than you can handle? To which I say, even if Third Man benefits in the short term, in the long term it ultimately hurts everyone involved in the vinyl ecosystem given the bottlenecks and delays. Something has to be done.

While the entire investment and framework for vinyl over the past decade has come from independent companies and investors, the biggest issues we see now require major solutions.

With that in mind, I turn to our big college brothers in the music world, Sony, Universal and Warner, and politely implore them to help reduce this unfortunate backlog and start devoting resources to building pressing plants.

To be clear, the issue isn’t big labels versus small labels, it’s not indie versus mainstream, it’s not even punk versus pop. The problem is simply that we have ALL created an environment where the unprecedented demand for vinyl records cannot keep up with the rudimentary supply of them.

Around the world there are now a handful of NEW companies, building both automated and manual vinyl presses. It’s easier to buy a vinyl press today than it has been for four decades. And with more and more ancillary innovators popping up every day to advance every facet of the industry, it’s not a difficult decision to make. It is obvious.

We are all on the same team with the same goals. I truly believe that with a good faith investment in the infrastructure that brought us here, we can continue on this upward trajectory and further inspire the worlds around us. The time has come. Thank you.

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Jack White performs from a Marshall Street balcony to celebrate the opening of Third Man Records’ London store in September 2021. CREDIT: Jo Hale/Getty Images

Late last year, music industry figures spoke with NME on what’s really causing the delays in vinyl manufacturing and which artists are making their albums – arguing that the blame doesn’t lie at Adele’s feet.

Reports have emerged in recent weeks of a crisis facing vinyl enthusiasts, with sources saying Variety that over 500,000 copies of Adele’s long-awaited new album ’30’ have been pressed, causing a huge backlog and problems in the production line for those wishing to have LPs made with the world’s limited resources.

“Even without Adele, the problem would still be there,” said Chris Marksberry, managing director of global vinyl manufacturing broker Sound Performance. NME. “As demand increases, people are ordering more, so everyone’s initial order will be larger than it would have been 12 months ago.”

Last year, vinyl sales reached their highest level since the 1990s, after experiencing huge growth for the 13th consecutive year. The figures revealed that almost one in five (18%) of all albums purchased in 2020 were vinyl, with 4.8 million LPs purchased. The new numbers are up 10% from 2019 numbers.

In January it was announced that a new vinyl pressing facility – Press On Vinyl – will open in Middlesbrough in the coming months and aims to focus on independent artists and labels, small series and local musicians of the plant in the North East.

Elsewhere, Taiwan-based vinyl record pressing factory Mobineko recently announced a new service that aims to fulfill small orders from record labels with a quick turnaround.

Jack L. Goldstein