Posted: Aug 31, 2020
**Guest post by Conor Farrell of Solid Merch, a comprehensive source for independent artists and record labels to stock their merch tables and web stores, and engage with their fans and communities.
"Over the past decade, vinyl records have re-claimed their title as the premier music format. Vinyl record sales have been growing steadily in the United States since 2007, reaching new heights in 2019 with almost 19 million units sold. With nearly a 15% increase from 2018 sales, vinyl continues to be the only non-streaming music format with positive sales growth since 2009. And with concerts halted for the remainder of 2020 and possibly beyond, cuddling up with the warm sound and collectible packaging of an LP should only increase in appeal.
For artists and record labels, vinyl’s resurgence presents an opportunity to provide fans with a unique and timeless way to experience and engage with their music. What’s more, with new records retailing for an average of $25-30 per unit as of last year, there is plenty of room for return on your investment to help fuel your next release.
But, with increased demand comes increased competition. So how can artists make their record stand out, and increase its value for themselves and their fans?
One of the factors contributing to vinyl’s renewal has been creators’ focus on unique releases that become collectible works of art on their own, distinct from the creativity contained in the grooves. While black vinyl has been the standard option for much of vinyl history, most pressing plants have expanded in recent years to include more color choices, and some even have the ability to combine multiple colors into eye-popping designs.
Producing an eye-catching and elegant release isn’t just for major-label artists anymore. Colors and visual effects are available in runs as low as 250 units from some plants. Even choosing a single strong color can go a long way toward making your release stand out. What’s more, adding colors and effects to your vinyl release can increase the value of your record without adding significant manufacturing cost. Colored vinyl can cost as little as $1 or $2 extra per unit, but raise the retail price by as much as $10 or $15.
You can also easily press different colors or effects throughout the run, which can be promoted as special or limited edition releases in conjunction with social media or engagement campaigns. Other options such as heavy weight 180-gram vinyl can not only improve the sound quality of your record, but entice fans, audiophiles, and collectors alike.
Use the medium to your advantage and incorporate a carefully selected vinyl color into the design of your album’s package:
Add a splatter color or two for some extra pop and not much extra dough:
Combine multiple colors together, inside of each other, or side-by-side:
Some plants also offer an “Eco Mix” color option at the same price as black records using leftover trimmings to create a random color. While you won’t have control over the final color, it produces some genuinely unique results:
Like many aspects of the modern music industry, as vinyl production and sales continue to grow, it becomes more accessible to independent artists. While accessibility provides freedom from financial and creative constraints, it also provides both the opportunity and necessity to separate your work from the pack."
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