Colored vinyl records is the shiz and making them is a thousand times easier today.
What’s up with the craze?
Musicians and fans are crazy for the good ole custom vinyl record format. They have been releasing vinyl albums left and right, some in the fanciest colored vinyl records and printed inner sleeves.
We can’t blame em…vinyl is so hot right now!
Over a decade ago, in 2006 to be exact, vinyl made a comeback but last year was a milestone for vinyl because vinyl sales surpassed CD sales for the first time in 35 years!
If you’re a musician, I’m sure you’d want to give it a try because custom vinyl pressing records are awesome and you need to earn somehow (It requires 24,250,000 Spotify streams to live above the poverty line).
Here are some stuff you should know about pressing colored vinyl records:
WHAT IS ON-DEMAND/ SHORT-RUN VINYL PRESSING?
We all know how vinyl is a very expensive audio format and so it was very impossible IN THE PAST to have custom vinyl pressings with no minimum order.The lowest minimum manufacturer could offer was 500 units. However, on-demand or short-run vinyl pressings are achievable today. You can now order for as little as one record pressed (not the most economical but it’s possible).
Thanks to the rapidly improving technology we have, almost everything is possible now. Due to the internet, it has been easier to receive and send digital materials needed for a vinyl pressing.
Artworks, audio files, and more can be exchanged now through emails. Moreover, the internet has also improved the business concept of pre-ordering so you can have a clearer estimate of how many records you should press.
Here’s an estimate of how much it would cost you to press 100 vinyl records.
If you’re not familiar with pre-orders, then let me explain it to you. Pre-order is the concept of having your customers, in this case your fans, order the goods in advance. This way, you will have an estimate of how many vinyl records you will order for pressing.
This concept has been greatly improved by the internet because fans won’t need to visit your physical stores or call you to place their order.
All they need to do is visit your online store and click a few buttons. Then all you’ll ever need to do after ordering would be to wait for them to be finished and then manage the direct shipping of the vinyl albums to your fans.
And you won’t be waiting for them for long. Since your order is an on-demand one, they will arrive faster than your orders with thousands of unit.
But of course we have to thank the vinyl manufacturing companies the most. They are the main reason why such a thing happened. Because of their lower minimum or no minimum for vinyl pressings, we can order in a much smaller quantity.
Why is it a good idea though? Well you will be able to save more money if you do this. You can also test out if your vinyl would have a good response from your fans and from others without spending too much. But I can not guarantee that the first set of custom vinyl pressing for an album would be cheap. It would still be pricey because, as I’ve said, it is a luxurious and expensive audio format.
The production of the materials needed for the pressing, like lacquer and stamper, won’t be cheap at all, so ready yourself still.
What I can assure you though, is that the next succeeding orders for the same vinyl album would be much lighter than the first one.
Since the plant already has all the needed materials for the custom vinyl record pressing for your album like the stamper, you won’t need to pay for their production. All you need to pay for is the production of the custom vinyl record, the packaging and the shipping.
WHY ARE COLORED VINYLS AWESOME?
Surely you’ve already seen colored vinyl records. That would be quite a shock if you haven’t since they are very popular with the latest vinyl record album releases.
What’s cool about colored vinyl records is that you can have many different designs on the record itself without thinking much of what to incorporate and such.
Furthermore, it makes the album much livelier than having the original plain black color of vinyl records.
Let’s take for example, Harry Styles’ Fine Line album. He had many different vinyl record designs for this album and above are two of them. Both colored vinyls do not have much color, but they still look cool.
The first one on the left side is a transparent white vinyl record fully splattered with black and white colors. The other one is a transparent green vinyl record. What’s great about this transparent vinyl record is that you can incorporate other materials into it too, to make it cooler. Materials like leaves, blood, hair, glitters and more.
Next we have one with solid colors. This one is a vinyl release for Bob Marley’s 30th Anniversary.
What’s so cool about this design is that it has the same three colors, green, red and goldish yellow and the same sequence where red and green are always on each of the goldish yellow’s sides, but its proportions will not always be the same.
Let’s say for the record above, the red and green and colors have lesser space, while on other records, these colors may have almost equal proportions, or both red and green might be sandwiching the goldish yellow one. This design is a very unpredictable one and that’s what makes it awesome.
Lastly, we have the plain colored vinyl records. They may look plain, still they are a good step up from the original vinyl records. And in this age, we have a wider range of color we can choose from unlike in the first years of the colored vinyl record.
What’s another cool thing about this plain colored vinyl records is that just like the photo above, you can release your albums and have custom vinyl record pressings for them with a color sequence in mind.
Let’s say you will have an album trilogy, you can have your vinyl records colored based on the theme of your trilogy. Like shades of green and brown if it’s all about nature, red and pink if puppy or happy love and more.
How to have colored vinyl records shipped directly to your fans?
STEP 1: Have your tracks mastered
Before having your vinyl records pressed, you will have to have your tracks mastered for vinyl.
This is a very crucial part before ordering your vinyl records. You have to have your tracks mastered, and not just mastered for anything, alright? You need to have them mastered for vinyl.
Having them mastered for another audio format and then pressed on vinyl would be a disaster. So make sure to find a good mastering engineer to do this. But if you can’t find any, then you can ask the company you’ll have your vinyl pressed from if they offer mastering too. That would be easier too, but expect some additional payment.
STEP 2: Get a Quote from pressing plant
Next step is to order your vinyl records from a reputable plant. Choose from the options your vinyl pressing plant has offered, such as your preferred jacket (single, gatefold, etc.), inner sleeve (plain white, printed, etc.), vinyl record design (black, mono-colored, etc.), and even your preferred production time. After doing so, get a quote from your pressing plant.
STEP 3: Send your master copies
After getting a quote, you can now send the master copies they will be needing for your vinyl records’ production, such as the master copy of your tracks mastered for vinyl and the artworks for your jacket and/or inner sleeves. Always be ready for the company’s staff to contact you because there might be some minor problems here and there and it would be best to be updated.
STEP 4: Review test pressings
The next step is to review the test pressing they will be sending to you. This test pressing is the initial pressing of your vinyl records and you have to check if there are no problems with the music produced by the test pressing. If there are problems, then you have to tell them about it so they can improve it and make another one.
This is a crucial part in the production of your vinyl because this will be the last chance for you to correct and improve the mistakes and shortcomings of your music. After you give your approval, the pressing plant will press those vinyl records already and there will be no turning back.
STEP 5: Sell them to your fans
And the last step would be to sell them to your fans (but it would be awesome if you start marketing them months before). You may have them posted on your online music or merch store and have a pre-order period.
If you did a pre-order, then you can have your pressing plant ship them out to your fans for you. If you don’t have enough space for your vinyl albums then, if your pressing plant offers it, you can have them stored in their warehouse and have them ship it themselves.
Of course, those would have additional payment. If you had some copies delivered to you, it would be good if you have your own physical store your fans can go to.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA