Vinyl sales are up, and more and more of your fans want those really awesome LPs to add to their collection. But before you can get them in the hands of your fans, you have to order them.
Ordering vinyl records can be a little complicated. We want to take some of the mystery out of the ordering process, so we’ve outlined the six things you have to keep in mind when placing your vinyl order.
1) Who’s your audience?
The first question to ask when you’re thinking about ordering any merch item is “Who will be buying this?” Take a look at your core audience and find out what they want. You could even send out a poll in your next e-newsletter (you do have an email newsletter, right?) asking if fans want vinyl, and if they do, would they prefer a turquoise record, or extended liner notes?
Doing some initial market research and reaching out to your listeners before you purchase vinyl will help to ensure better sales down the line, and will set the stage for fan engagement when you do release the record.
2) Get Your Music Mastered For Vinyl
This is the MOST IMPORTANT step in the vinyl manufacturing process.
Normal mastering for CDs and online distribution is completely different than mastering for vinyl. Vinyl is a truly analog medium, and the mastering techniques that make your music sound radio-ready will have the opposite effect on a record. Normal digital mastering can make your music sound washed out on vinyl, and can even cause skips and other playback problems.
It is VITAL to have your music mastered by an engineer who is experienced in vinyl mastering. Be sure you figure the costs of mastering into your purchasing budget for vinyl.
3) Time Limitations in Vinyl
A CD can play about 74 minutes of music. A digital release will play for as long as you want it to. But vinyl is different. Each side of a vinyl record has a strict amount of playing time that can’t be exceeded.
The reason for these strict time limits–besides the actual physical space allowed by the record– is that closer to the center of the album high frequencies become distorted, and volume level decreases.
4) Keep Vinyl in Mind When Creating Your Track Listing
The closer you get to the center hole of the record, the quieter the volume becomes. If you know in the beginning stages of the album release process that you will be releasing on vinyl, try to order the tracks on your album with the limitations of vinyl in mind.
Ballads or other soft tracks will sound better towards the inside of the record, and loud, boisterous tracks are better suited to the record’s outer edge. Try to arrange for your soft songs to be in the middle and at the end of your album so they will be cut towards the center of the LP. If this isn’t possible, you will want to have less than the maximum allotted time, so there are less discrepancies in volume and EQ.
5) Have Great Artwork
When your album is only released digitally, sometimes album artwork can be an afterthought. Fans don’t really see the artwork, and if they do, it’s usually on a tiny screen. But with vinyl, your album artwork is on full display. It’ important to invest in making your album artwork fantastic.
Spend some time making sure your art is in the correct format for printing, that the art is high quality, and has proper bleed. You also need to make sure that your album artwork is representative of your music and brand.
6) Keep Turn Times in Mind
Digital distribution can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 weeks. CD manufacturing usually takes between 3 and 15 days. Vinyl manufacturing takes a solid 4 months (16 weeks). If you want to release digitally and on vinyl at the same time, you will need to do some serious planning in advance to make sure you can get your vinyl before your release date. If you need vinyl sooner, Nationwide Disc has created a way for you to get vinyl in as little as 30 days. Click Here for more information.
Have any other tips for ordering vinyl that you think other musicians should know about? Let us know in the comments below!