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“We’ve sold more books about Galaxie 500 than LPs this year CAUSE WE CANT GET ANY STOCK OF OUR LPs,” tweeted musician Damon Krukowskithis weekend, as one of the most prominent critics of the streaming economy turned his attention to the challenges that the current vinyl boom presents for independent artists.

“We’re in the merch business now that we’ve been shut out of the record business,” added Krukowski, noting that these problems have affected his current group Damon & Naomi as well as his old band.

“Last year we released a new album but could only get a book printed as well,” he wrote, noting that this meant the LP was not available when the reviews of the album were published 11 months ago. The central problem here? A pile-up at vinyl-pressing plants, including competition from the biggest artists.

“Reply guys tell me we’re just not popular like TS and Adele and Ed Sheeran (like I didn’t know?)” continued Krukowski. “But the point is we’re now stuck operating in their world, competing for slots at the pressing plant and on streaming platforms. And it’s no competition. We and all indies have lost.”

The TS there is Taylor Swift, whose new album ‘Midnights’ is at the centre of this discussion, with its four different vinyl editions (plus a ‘Vinyl Clock’). Krukowski is braving the wrath of her superfans on Twitter by focusing the debate on Swift.

As Newsweek explained in a follow-up piece, this is less about any one star ‘queue jumping’ to get albums pressed, and more about bigger music companies’ ability to block-book pressing capacity months ahead of time, to ensure their key releases’ LPs are ready for release day.

Vinyl was a $1.4bn business globally in 2021 according to the IFPI, with sales up 51.3% year-on-year. In the world’s biggest market, the US, that growth has continued in the first half of 2022: up 22.2% to $570.2m. The boom has been celebrated, but the challenges – particularly for the independent artists and labels who stuck with the format through its lean times.

Krukowski’s desired solution – “Get your own pressing plants, like the majors used to have before they junked them” – mirrors an opinion voiced by fellow musician Jack White earlier this year, calling for the three majors to “help alleviate this unfortunate backlog and start dedicating resources to build pressing plants themselves”.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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