We have a problem.
The music industry has been celebrating a surge of interest in one of its most beloved artifacts: the vinyl record. Major labels are returning to their old business model and are quickly saturating clothes stores, online shops, electronics outlets and international vinyl-themed holidays with reissues of old classics.
It’s easy to get swept up in the hype – after all, this is surely a worthy alternative to streaming for the music fan with a fondness for physical objects. However, the vinyl boom is hiding problems that could have disastrous implications for popular culture. Vinyl production worldwide is currently operating way above its capacity, and expensive materials, expert knowledge and antiquated techniques have led to to supply shortages and quality problems.
For independent labels, especially those specializing in electronic music, who survived the last two decades by focusing on vinyl in a time when CDs dominated, the resurgence of interest has resulted in more disadvantages than advantages. In fact, their very existence is now in jeopardy. Thaddeus Herrmann, long-standing label owner and editor of German online magazine Das Filter explains why this is the case, what the actual problems are and why the survival of the humble vinyl record is in danger.