The captions “Order now and get it in a few months”, “Not available” or “Out of stock” have become very common in online stores if you have wanted to buy a new vinyl record in recent months. It has been a constant disappointment for collectors to learn that the expected releases of their favorite artist will have to wait another three months or more due to the capacity of the production plants. If you are not an artist of the stature of Ed Sheeran, Adele, Taylor Swift, ABBA O The Beatles, you will surely have to wait up to a year or more to be able to make your next album in this format. Supply problems hit the music industry as well and this has prompted many artists to start questioning the feasibility of releasing their music on the resurrected vinyl format.

The fact that Taylor Swift have decided to edit Red (Taylor’s Version) in a four-disc format at 45 RPM playback speed – which caused real confusion among those who purchased the disc – is not entirely the cause that a small grouping of Bandcamp you have not been able to edit your album in a limited edition. The plants to manufacture this format are scarce in the world and are at the limit of their capacity. This problem is also compounded by the irreparable loss that the industry suffered in 2019 with the Apollo Masters fire, which for two decades was responsible for supplying 75% of vinyl masters worldwide.

In 2020, vinyl record sales grew nearly 29% annually, with revenues of $ 626 million, surpassing sales generated by compact discs for the first time since 1986. In the United States alone, 22.9 million vinyl records were sold. Vinyl record sales became one of the safest income for artists in the year we were confined without international tours or concerts.

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On the other side of the stereo, compact discs reached their worst level of sales in the almost four decades they have in the market, reaching only a 4.4% share in the sales of physical formats, according to the records of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA, for its acronym in English). In 2020, 31.6 million compact discs were sold, 33.6% less than the 47.5 million discs sold in 2019. Digital sales also fell in 2020, another sign that consumption continues to be dominated by streaming.

Since the remuneration to artists from streaming platforms is really low, the only way for many artists to receive a fair payment is through the sales of vinyl records. And if it is still not so easy to do concert tours, due to the pandemic that has not gone away, the problem really worsens and the outlook becomes more bleak.

According to the musician and academic Damon Krukowski, the music industry suffers from the same challenges as other industries: “The control of the supply chain and distribution by the largest players, the methodical elimination of competition through the advantages of scale, the maximization of market share by a few corporations and technology platforms ”.

“Nine thousand LPs are nothing to Ed Sheeran”, Krukowski wrote, “But they are a means of survival for an artist like me. My records are not sold at Target and Ed Sheeran’s do not appear in what I consider record stores. ” But if a mega-popular artist decides to release their next album on vinyl, a small artist will have a harder time getting their limited run to physical production due to a lack of raw materials and surviving in this industry. Is it time to reconsider the CD renaissance?

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