An old stack of records sits in front of a shelf full of vinyl in a local record store.
Vinyl

Releasing records on vinyl is getting too expensive for indie musicians

A million years ago when I was in university and shopping for music at places like Krazy Kelly’s on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, I remember being shocked at seeing a new single album on sale for $10.99. Prices had been creeping upwards–$6.99, $7.99, $8.99–for the last few years but to see one selling for beyond ten bucks (about $30 in today’s money) and being outraged.

Fast-forward to today and despite the continued rocketing popularity of vinyl, it’s never been more expensive. It’s almost impossible to find new vinyl for $30 today; we’re more likely to spend $40 and beyond. I’ve seen Tragically Hip albums in the bins priced at $70 dollars. Why?

The usual excuses are trotted out. Supply chain issues. Lack of pressing plants to fulfill all the order. Superstar acts are commanding pressing schedules. But let’s not discount pure greed on behalf of labels. All of this is conspiring to hurt indie musicians who certainly could benefit from the margins realized by selling vinyl.

How? A survey of 1,000 indie artists in the UK revealed that the majority of them (54.4%) aren’t releasing music on vinyl because production costs are too high. Another 28.7% say that their fanbase just isn’t into the format (because of cost, perhaps?), followed by the frustrating wait for production (9.9%).

The survey also revealed that rock acts are the mostly likely to release music on vinyl (14.9%) followed by alternative (13.8%), and electronic (13.6%).

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “Releasing records on vinyl is getting too expensive for indie musicians

  • I agree with the cost of new vinyl, its outrageous. $40-$55 for a new single LP! yikes! I have to really really really want a new LP in order to pay that. And stores are uping the price on their used vinyl too.

    Reply
  • The Hip (or their record company) increased the wholesale cost of their catalog a little over a year ago. One of my local record stores said the cost went up $13-17 overnight.

    Reply
  • Yes. I listen to the album on Tidal to decide if it’s worth my money.

    Reply

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