With global vinyl sales reaching unprecedented figures recently, we certainly saw this crowdsourcing startup for indie artistes/labels to press vinyl coming…
First, let’s establish that this isn’t a trend. We’re at the final frontier of marketed-music formats, digital, and we’re not going back to any physical formats anytime soon. Whether you’re an audio enthusiast, or simply enjoy holding music in your hands and glossing over the album artwork, vinyl is here to stay. Vinyl’s resurgence in the market has introduced a whole new catalogue of otherwise un-pressed music from new artistes.
If you’re a bedroom musician, or even running your own someday-going-to-be-Factory Records, there’ll be hurdles in pressing a vinyl version of your release (so far, we can only think of a handful of local acts, of recent times, who have done it). Blame it on the shortage of printing plants, material and skilled labour, the vinyl pressing industry cannot cope with the demand today and there’s a strong chance you won’t be entertained (or delayed) for a good time by the pressing plant.
Enter QRates. A crowdsourcing vinyl-pressing online service that’s as easy to use as a vinyl player itself.
The way it works is pretty simple; you upload your tracks and album artwork to the site and create a project page where you can set the retail price and details like shipping, download codes, etc. You’ll be able to get an estimate of the cost as you’re personalising (or vinylising) your release. Your music should preferably be mastered for vinyl but don’t worry if you don’t have jalan with that, they’ve got an outsourced sound engineer in France to help you.
It’s still a bit heavy on the wallet for a Malaysian act to finance, but if you have the followers to support it, why not? The minimum order is only 100 copies and with minimum specs it costs about RM4.5k+ to execute last we checked. Going for extra flair like coloured vinyl, patterns on the vinyl, or making your vinyl 180g, will increase the cost naturally. Shipping can be worked out as a separate cost for overseas buyers or you can opt to distribute the vinyl records yourself and have QRates ship everything to your home studio/mom’s house, or you can just let QRates handle everything to do with shipping (including to Malaysian customers).
Your project will be printed once it reaches the target you’ve set. 100 being the minimum amount for the target, the cost of production will go down if you increase your target. There’s a period of three months for your project to reach its target, after which you’ll be given a choice to either forget about the whole damn crazy idea or to buy up the remaining copies yourself at cost price (so you can sell them at gigs or at shops here). Most importantly, you don’t have to come up with a single cent until your project is completed, and that’s only if you don’t manage to reach the target and are buying the balance.
One more for thing for the casual music listener, if you browse through QRates’ online shop (which has all the projects from across the world), you’re going to be spending a good half a day listening to fringe sounds from dance to funk to indie rock to folk to field recordings. It’s a pretty nifty way for you to get random music (although some may be just snippets), and if you’re a musician with a project up there, to introduce your music to niche set of new listeners.
As far as online music marketing tools go, QRates has teamed up with Jet Set, HMV, and Technique in Japan, and Juno Records in the UK to launch their Store Delivery service which could potentially eliminate the need for a music distributor/label for indie acts. With Store Delivery, artistes can be their own managers (how fun it that?) and deal directly with music stores (physical and online) across the globe. You can even put your back-catalogue or any vinyl you’ve pressed before this up for sale here, eventually making QRates a combination of eBay and Kickstarter so your music can be vinylised for eternity. Or until the next format revival.
Check ‘em out at qrates.com.