The music industry is currently going through unprecedented changes, with an emphasis on digital media instead of the old physical ones. Whereas CD keeps losing market share year-after-year, vinyl has been experiencing an amazing resurgence for nearly a decade.
The thing is, increase in sales doesn’t necessarily mean vinyl is still a suitable platform in a society that relies heavily on digital services. Hence the question: why are some artists still releasing music on vinyl in 2016?
Wax Is The New Trend
Online distribution services guarantee any artist, even independent ones, distribution of their music to every online musical platform (from iTunes to Spotify, including Tidal and Google Play). Vinyl releases have no assurance that their music will actually reach an audience. With high production costs and much lower exposure, vinyl doesn’t seem to be a sound investment at first sight.
Yet everyone knows that money is not the only issue ruling music production. Vinyl production offers strong material and graphic assets – in this instance: large artwork, strong sleeve, and a warmer sound. By engaging the senses, vinyl goes beyond the musical framework.
Unlike vinyl, CDs have become incapable of attracting customers in stores today. Why would they bother buying an album when they can enjoy unlimited access to music on their computer for the same price? In contrast, vinyl managed to keep them interested in buying music thanks to its classy and appealing nature.
Vinyl is far from being a trivial format. Not only can it be a selling point for artists, but it can also help them distinguish themselves from their peers. By offering their fans the opportunity to buy their music on vinyl, they develop their identity beyond the boundaries of music. Graphic design, packaging, or thematic concepts are some elements that help define their universe – and make vinyl still very popular.
Collectible items, synonymous with vintage and their reputation for sound quality are all reasons that explain the strong comeback of vinyl.
Vinyl sales skyrocketed overseas, with a staggering 1,250% growth between 2005 and 2015 in the US alone! The vinyl market has never been so healthy since its heyday back in the 70s. Vinyl increasingly reinforces its status as music enthusiasts’ favourite physical medium.
What Vinyl Solutions Are There For Artists?
A stronger consumer demand that pushes market players to increase their annual output. However, it’s quite hard for artists to stay competitive without financial support from labels. Although self-production can be an alternative, there still are both major and obvious constraints:
- There is currently no reliable way to predict sales for vinyl records, which can lead to under/overproduction.
- Artists generally cannot afford to pay for the high production expenses of vinyl pressing.
- Similarly, they generally receive very little support from industry’s professionals.
- Market fragmentation makes it hard to find the best partners, making the production process much more difficult.
Direct involvement from fans within that process is an interesting solution since there’s almost no intermediary. Funds raised by crowdfunding campaigns are fully invested in making a project successful. This makes the financial relationship between an artist and their fans closer as the fans get to directly support the artists they like.
The growing number of successful crowdfunded projects highlights the efficiency and popularity of crowdfunding. This is an appealing model for artists and labels alike, the latter only having to promote and distribute a finished product without funding its production.
The great majority of “regular” platforms only raise funds for a project’s production without actually promoting or distributing the final product afterwards. By connecting artists, labels and fans within a pre-order platform, Diggers Factory aspires to match supply and demand and offers a real alternative to the traditional vinyl distribution circuit.
An Online Pre-Order Social Platform
The artist, label, or rights holder submits vinyl on the platform and sets a sales objective and price. Then the community comes into play. Diggers Factory and its members (“Diggers”) are the ones who bring projects to fruition.
People can support a production project by pre-ordering one or more records from the artist. As soon as the sales objective is reached, Diggers are notified, production is launched and the artist earns their margin. Should the sales objective not be reached on time, Diggers are fully refunded, free of charge.
Pre-orders alone provide the funds for a project’s production and distribution under the condition that it reaches its sales objective. Diggers are then guaranteed to get their orders by home delivery, wherever they are in the world.
By reducing intermediaries between artists and fans, Diggers Factory aspires to make vinyl more accessible whilst favouring independent music. It’s now up to Diggers to unite to produce and fund tomorrow’s promising artists.