November 29, 2021

Vinyl Is Selling So Well That It’s Getting Hard to Sell Vinyl

“We noticed during Covid that we got a lot more mail-order complaints like, ‘The jacket has a 10th-of-an-inch bend on the corner,’” said Brian Lowit of Dischord Records, the Washington label behind post-punk icons like Fugazi. “We ask them if the record is playing well and they’ll say, ‘I don’t know, I just keep it in the shrink wrap.’”

For artists, especially ones without major-label backing, sticking with vinyl has now become a question about whether it is worth the trouble.

“Right now vinyl feels legitimizing,” said Cassandra Jenkins, a singer-songwriter in Brooklyn whose last album, “An Overview on Phenomenal Nature,” was a surprise vinyl hit — it started with a pressing of 300 copies and eventually went to 7,000.

“It’s an investment for an artist,” she added. “I want these objects that I can sell, so I am going to invest in that.”

For some musicians like Jenkins, that investment has now begun to affect the creative process. After the release of her last album, in February, she began working on follow-up material. But the long turnaround time for vinyl meant she had to get started immediately, with a tight deadline, to get her music in the manufacturing pipeline.

In Jenkins’s case, the pressure had a positive effect. She recorded an EP of new material, due by the end of the year on vinyl only. Another release, “(An Overview on) An Overview on Phenomenal Nature,” with outtakes and a new track, will come out on CD and digital formats next month — with vinyl to follow in April.

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