Tuesday 26 May 2015

Vinyl isn't a limited edition

Eighteen months ago, this blog warned you that labels will "start pressing 7” singles in runs of 200 or even 100. The basic break-even price on that is about £6. Plus postage." And so it's come to pass.

You know how many copies there are of each Odd Box 100 Club release. One of my favourite singles of the year. Degustation by Point Being, is in a run of 130. The record label, Mystic Olympic, didn't advertise that because it's not a "limited edition". It's a realistic pressing of a debut single.

Any indie label advertising their releases as limited edition is being disingenuous. These 7" singles are products made for a small audience. "Limited edition of 300" for an indie is the same as Atlantic saying "limited edition of 1.5 million" for the next Ed Sheeran album. Both indies and majors press what they think they can sell. The only difference is a major can afford to lose money. Indies need to sell all their stock to pay for the next release.

Art Is Hard started their Hand Cut Record Club this year, making 25 lathe cuts and selling them for £6 each. I've no problem with this. That might be in part because I've been able to buy the releases I wanted. If either of the two I bought had sold out before I got my mitts on a copy, I'd be pretty pissed off. But not as pissed off if the label shut down after losing a shedload of money on pressing too many copies of a record.

I looked into the costs of making lathe cuts. Art Is Hard are making no money from this venture. So why do it? "It might be archaic but we want people to still care about owning music and to treasure and collect it." They said that about their Postcard Club (an MP3 sent to you on a postcard). It holds true for the lathe cuts and their Pizza Club.

A fortnight ago they tweeted after seeing the Sarah Records documentary and Q&A:
"I don't understand why anyone would ever release vinyl in 2015". Thanks to the founder of Sarah Records for a really inspirational Q&A. NOT.

I understand why Art Is Hard (and Odd Box and Mystic Olympic) are releasing vinyl in 2015 and they understand why we're buying it. The year's greatest song is surely Can't You Feel by Bruising. It's on a compilation tape. Art Is Hard did the next best thing and released two new Bruising songs on the 12" vinyl Family Portrait pt II ep. Because it looks great, it sounds even better and it's more real.

All record labels are figuring out ways to sell records without losing (too much) money. I'll keep on buying them. Just don't call them limited editions.

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