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Record Store Day is cause for celebration for music fans everywhere, but some artists might not realise how far in advance they must plan. We asked our UK manufacturing partner Key Production what measures artists and record labels should take in preparation for this event.
When should artists and labels start thinking about their Record Store Day releases?
The sooner, the better! Record Store Day will be on April 18th this year and all submissions for releases need to be made by February 28th according to the website, however the manufacturing process needs to have been started before then. Most artists and labels will need to have their stock with their distributor 2 to 3 weeks prior to RSD – please check beforehand with your distributor – and allowing for approximately 8 weeks total manufacturing time, orders and parts should ideally be in place within the first week of February.
What is the normal lead time for a vinyl project and how does that compare during this season?
The production process usually takes 15 working days for test pressings and 20 working days for final pressings (upon approval of test pressings), therefore our planners recommend allowing at least 8 weeks for vinyl manufacturing. The good news is, that even in this hectic period, we’ve managed to keep our vinyl turnarounds exactly the same by securing extra capacity with our suppliers.
And in case you were wondering, coloured and shaped vinyl have the same production time as standard black vinyl.
Why does vinyl take longer to make than it used to?
With sales growing, record labels and artists have shown more interest in vinyl as a format and, as a result, have started producing more and more vinyl releases, but the number of pressing plants has remained the same. Therefore with sales and orders up and capacity the same, the time it takes to produce vinyl has gone up. There are various suppliers who are starting to invest in new equipment, so maybe this will have a knock on effect on turnaround in the near future.
What’s the one thing most people don’t realise about vinyl manufacturing?
Vinyl manufacturing is a process that hasn’t changed in the last 50 years, so it has its limitations and flaws, but that’s also what make it beautiful. Every piece feels, and at some level is, unique. Your vinyl pressing won’t (and shouldn’t) sound exactly like the CD version.
Is there a difference in quality between vinyl pressing plants? What makes one plant differ from another?
You’ll frequently hear people preferring one plant to another, but it depends on personal taste. With our 25 years expertise in the business, we always know where to go to fulfill a customer’s needs and deliver the kind of product the way they imagined it to be.
Why do you think people love vinyl so much?
Well, you can’t hug a download and there’s no satisfaction in hugging a CD. People love vinyl for the warm sound and because it looks beautiful. It starts with the sleeve artwork, the packaging and then you play it: the needle swishes, the music starts. It’s magic.
What’s your favourite piece of vinyl?
As you can imagine, here at Key Production, a lot of vinyl releases come in and each and every one is our favourite for a different reason. The Pixies “Indie Cindy” was the best-selling album of last year’s Record Store Day, but for beauty, we’ll have to go for Heavenly Recordings’ King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard “Head on/Pill,” a picture disc with a swirling artwork by Oliver Hibert released in only 300 copies.
What now? Where does an artist or label go to get their vinyl release manufactured?
They can click here for our detailed manufacturing guide, where artists and labels can find all the information they need about formats, artwork and how to submit an order. Or they can contact us or their Campaign Manager for any further information.