Major Labels Exacerbate Vinyl Shortage
Nov 13, 2021
With other goods experiencing supply and demand issues, it would be easy to assume that the shortage of vinyl to press LPs would naturally be part of the pandemic-related shortages consumers are currently experiencing. In fact, the shortage has existed pre-Covid.
The rise of CDs in the 90s led to the closure of laquer-producing plants until only two were left -- Apollo Transco in California and MDC in Japan. With digital downloads and streaming overtaking most of the business, vinyl was left to indie artists and niche markets. The Apollo Transco warehouse fire in early 2020 further reduced manufacturing capacity. Then Covid hit.
Supply chain issues continue to be a factor with all consumer goods, but vinyl's comeback is growing at a faster rate than expected. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC, a component in vinyl records), has skyrocketed in price by 70%, according to USA Today.
Major labels who walked away from the format decades ago have now decided it's necessary to bring it back for artists like Adele and Taylor Swift. Independent artists can't compete with the large runs that Sony can afford. Managing demand is also problematic for colored vinyl, often created as special versions for big box stores.Indies are making do with cassettes and CDs to sell at gigs while the "audio connoisseurs" who snatch up the new Adele record will feel super trendy until everyone forgets about LPs again.