Top 5 tips for artists to cut the costs of releasing custom vinyl records
If you’re an indie musician today, I’m sure you’ve heard about the vinyl records revival. Every artist you know has released custom vinyl records and of course you want to make one for your band, too. However, you’re worried you’d burn a hole in your pocket.
Here are some tips on how you can dramatically cut down the cost of releasing custom vinyl records:
#1. Do vinyl pressing in small quantities
Although manufacturing more of something makes the individual price cheaper, this might be too risky especially when it’s your first time to press some records. No matter how much you try to find hacks on how to cut down vinyl pressing cost, if you’re producing more than you can sell, you will lose money. Tons of money!
There are vinyl record plants that offer short run vinyl records and pressing in small order so this isn’t a problem. The problem is when you overestimate your sales. How you determine the right number isn’t so hard. Just pull out the data of your previous sales even if it’s just CDs or merch. Did you sell hundreds? Thousands? How long did it take to sell them all? Do you now have an increase of 100k followers so you’re more confident pressing 500 instead of just 100? As a rule, it’s much better to underestimate because you can just re-order once you sold out everything anyway. Once the master, lacquer, and artwork are all set up, every record you buy after is cheaper.
And oh, there’s what we call a pre-order. Let your fans reserve a vinyl so you know exactly how to get a good estimate of how many records to order.
#2. Choose the classic black vinyl
The fancier colored vinyl records cost more than the classic black so if you’re really trying to cut corners, this is it. Black doesn’t mean boring. There are so many badass vinyl record designs that maximize the beauty of black. You can put a catchy center label/ sticker or make the vinyl sleeve complement the black vinyl. You gotta be creative even if, or especially when you choose the black vinyl.
#3. No matter how tempting, lay-off the add-ons
Booklet? Glitters on the record? No matter how much awesomeness they add to your record, you gotta remember that they will add up. If you’re serious about cutting down expenses, then get rid of the frills. You can get more experimental and creative once you’re not reading articles like this anymore. For now, do some meditation and be content with the kind of vinyl you’re going to make. It will still be pretty! You don’t need all those extras if you have a very solid concept (and really solid music, of course)!
#4. Take it easy on the vinyl packaging
This is pretty much like #3 except this is for the vinyl artwork and packaging. Instead of choosing a gatefold jacket, choose the single jacket if you only have one record. You might want to skip on the booklets, posters, postcards, and whatever prints you want to add. Instead of throwing in random elements because they might be cool, it will be beneficial for you if you hire a good art director and graphic designer who will help you design a conceptual but affordable vinyl artwork and packaging. Tell them you want something catchy but cost-efficient. They know design hacks– like choosing a more white background instead of colored, choosing an affordable but sturdy material, finding a good printer, etc– that hiring them will be worth every penny.
#5. Don’t rush orders
Vinyl record plants in the US are turning down clients because they’re booked for the year. There’s just very few of them and many musicians today want to press some records. Last year, vinyl record sales beat CD sales and the trend is predicted to remain the same in the years to come.
Because of this, don’t set a release date if you still haven’t contacted a vinyl pressing plant. Vinyl pressing, if you can find a plant that will take your order, usually takes 7-8 weeks. If you want to rush it, the earliest you can have them is 6-7 weeks at a very high rush fee. Not worth it. Might as well plan your timeline properly and just be patient.
Pressing vinyl records is not really cheap. There are some ways to cut a few dollars here and there but you still have to prepare a good amount of money. It’s definitely not like making CDs. Do you think pressing vinyl is worth it considering it is quite expensive and time-consuming?