If you had your pennies set aside for a brand new vinyl copy of your album of the year this year, we're sorry to announce that you might have to prepare to be disappointed. According to Variety, an order of 500,000 copies of Adele's upcoming new album 30 has caused major delays in vinyl pressing plants across the industry. So, if it's not breakup ballads by the UK's favourite potty-mouthed hit-maker you're after, you might be in for quite the wait.
In fact, many artists could be waiting up to nine months to get their hands on a physical copy of their latest material, leading to many disappointed fans. The delay, which was first caused by the pandemic, arrives in the midst of a vinyl boom, which was why Adele was reportedly instructed to finish up her forthcoming record more than six months ago. Last year, the value of vinyl sales even overtook the value of CD sales for the first time since 1986, with figures continuing to rise throughout 2021.
“A lot of people were looking for ways to keep themselves entertained at home during the pandemic” and bought turntables, as well as the product to put on them, says David Macias, head of the indie Thirty Tigers label. “As a configuration, it’s gone from the cool factor to a huge chunk of the business. In 2019, Thirty Tigers did about 295,000 units of vinyl, and this year we’re on pace to do 800,000. It’s crazy how much it’s blown up in two years.”
While larger artists such as Elton John, Coldplay and ABBA were some of those scrambling for slots amid the race for vinyl-pressing, it's the smaller bands and independent artists who will be experiencing most of the disruption, with the earliest dates available – if they hand in their master recordings to a plant right now – in August 2022.
Speaking of the tight deadlines that many artists are being faced with in hope of getting their albums pressed, Macias continues, “If you miss your album street date by three or four months, it can reduce your vinyl sales to 30-40% of what they otherwise would have been.”
Of course, it's not entirely Adele's fault, as delays and shortages have been worsened by the demand for colour variants, commonly sold in large retail stores, chains like Urban Outfitters and artists’ web stores. Sean Rutkowski, a VP at New Jersey’s Independent Record Pressing plant, explains, "The more colour variations there are, the more chance there is for delays. We’ve had records with seven-plus colour variations announced out of the gate.
"And in the environment we’re in now, it makes it really hard to hit those deadlines across the board for all those records at the same time, unless the labels are really working super far ahead."