How Publishing Vinyl Records Can Help Artists’ Careers
Despite what you may have heard, the music industry is still alive and well—thriving, in fact. Not only that, but it is still possible for independent artists to obtain some measure of success and notoriety even if they don’t log a million streams per day. You can advance your career by selling your music online, touring regularly, leveraging music discovery tools to your advantage, and—most importantly—creating music that people want to consume.
But there’s another ingredient that’s helping artists to grow their careers, and it’s surprisingly old-school: vinyl publishing.
Why Vinyl Is Essential for Growing Artists
Vinyl is thriving. Discogs lists more than 8 million vinyl records in its inventory, and new vinyl sales accounted for nearly $400 million in 2017 alone. In fact, vinyl has even pulled in more revenue in recent years than advertising from popular streaming services. So while streaming platforms continue to receive all of the hype, vinyl is proving to be the real rock star.
But what do these figures mean for the average independent artist? Basically, if you’re creating music but not publishing vinyl, you’re missing out on a huge segment of the market. Not only does this affect your overall sales, but it means that fewer people will likely find and engage with your music. In today’s highly saturated music market, you need every advantage you can get.
How Vinyl Helps Your Bottom Line
Some up-and-coming artists make the mistake of relying on streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc…) to do all of the work for them. But unless you already have a massive following, these platforms will do nothing to promote your music. And if you’re hoping to make a living, forget about it. Average per-stream payouts from Spotify and similar services are between $0.006 and $0.0084.
With vinyl, you have the potential to earn much more for your music—with less engagement from fans. You can even use your streaming accounts to market your vinyl records and redirect listeners to your shop page.
How Vinyl Helps You Expand Your Fan Base
Despite its surging popularity, vinyl is still a less competitive markt than online streaming. When you showcase your music on a popular streaming service, you’re competing for attention with every semi-tech-savvy guitar player who’s ever rhymed “girl” with “world” (by the way, those words still don’t rhyme, no matter how frequently artists use them).
With vinyl, you’re dealing with a smaller pool of serious musicians within your genre. Less saturation equals more exposure. Even those fans who don’t ultimately purchase the vinyl may otherwise seek you out on streaming platforms and in concert. If you can make your albums available in neighborhood record stores, you open up even more potential.
As long as you use every major avenue available to sell and market your vinyl, and as long you create high-quality music and killer cover art that turns heads, you will have a major competitive advantage in your market.
Tips for Publishing Vinyl
If you currently have a recording contract, you’ll need to discuss the terms of vinyl production with your label. However, if you’re recording and distributing music independently, you’re in a prime position to release your music on vinyl. You don’t have to share the royalties with a third party, and you can publish completely on your own terms.
These tips should help you get the most from your publishing:
1. Record vinyl-friendly music. If you’re re-releasing music that has already been recorded, you can opt for vinyl-friendly remastering. However, if you’re just heading into the studio, consider how you might make your release vinyl-friendly. For instance, despite the increasing emphasis on multitracking, live band studio recording is actually better. It will help you achieve that authentic sound once the vinyl is pressed. Also, don’t over-compress the music, and always ensure that each track is mastered for vinyl.
2. Be mindful of the production costs. Selling your music on vinyl can be extremely expensive if you aren’t careful, eating up all of your profits and then some. If you don’t have record label backing and can’t justify printing 50,000 copies, you can work with an independent vinyl producer like intheclouds or I Want My Vinyl. Make sure to stick with reputable vinyl producers.
3. Create mind-blowing cover art. Part of the appeal of vinyl is the visual aesthetic. If you want your vinyl to sell (or even just get people’s attention), you need to produce cover art that’s eye-catching and meaningful. Consider working with a professional photographer or graphic designer to create the perfect cover. It will make a huge difference in your vinyl sales.
Market your vinyl. You’ll want to promote the record heavily on your website and consider selling it on alternative outlets like CD Baby and Discogs. If your neighborhood record store showcases local artists, see if you can get your album featured. There are also clever ways that you can sell vinyl to fans who otherwise might just stick with Spotify streams. For instance, consider adding a couple of “vinyl only” songs to the album, or create vinyl-exclusive cover art that’s unique and attractive. Finally, don’t forget to add those vinyl records to your merch table when you’re on the road.
4. Releasing your music on vinyl won’t automatically raise your profile. You do have to do your part to make your vinyl desirable, visible, and accessible. But if you’re diligent about creating and marketing a quality product, you’ll have a major competitive advantage over the throngs of musicians who are just publishing music digitally.
Why People Can’t Get Enough of Vinyl
The resurgence of vinyl (once considered a dead or at least dying medium) has stunned industry analysts, but when you break it down, it really should come as no surprise. There are several reasons why vinyl remains popular. For instance:
- The nostalgia factor. The rise of digital-only music formats has resulted in some pushback from fans who long to recapture the experience of sifting through physical media in a crowded record store in search of the perfect find.
- The quality factor. Your grandpa was right. The warm analog sound of vinyl is just better. It more effectively captures every nuance of the recording. Compare that to the egregiously compressed formats used by most streaming services.
- The aesthetic. Fans take tremendous pride in collecting and displaying their vinyl records. Pinterest is loaded with DIY tutorials for building wood-crate vinyl cabinets and elaborate vinyl wall displays.
When you consider why vinyl is so appealing to fans, your next step should be a no-brainer. Make vinyl a part of your musical masterplan, and give your fans another reason to get excited.