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Record Labels and Vinyl Philosophy

I’ve begun reaching out to friends and various record labels to enquire about their philosophy with regard to vinyl releases. I’m fucking sick of limited editions and special colored vinyl, and it’s time to get some answers from people. Unfortunately, the consensus from friends, record store proprietors, et. al. has been that collector vinyl is just that, for collectors at the expense of those of us interested in simple and expansive vinyl releases of albums. Let’s hope there’s some intelligent and respectful conversation, and that ruffled feathers can be learned from. Here’s the letter I sent to Profound Lore this evening:

Howdy PL!

You folks are putting out some great records these days, but I’m having a hell of a time finding some of them on vinyl. I find the metal community is especially egregiously guilty when it comes to releasing extremely limited vinyl editions of albums and I simply don’t get it. Why put out 500-1000 colored vinyl records when you could press 1000-2000 (or more) on black so they get into the hands of more listeners? Unfortunately, it seems like the days of SST pressing 20000 Black Flag records are over. Remember, it’s easy to say how important and famous they are now, but they couldn’t give them away at the time. What’s your philosophy on the matter? Was the Man’s Gin record ever pressed on vinyl? Either way, any idea if it’ll be pressed/re-pressed? I’ll never (ever) pay for a CD or download again in this lifetime so I’m hoping the answer is “yes”.

Thanks for your time and continued effort to release great music. Please know there are those of us listening and appreciating the work.

Best,

Marmon Hammer
Austin, TX

I’ll be sending a similar version to Southern Lord in a few minutes, but with a more specific critique of their particular habit of releasing 500 records for the collector community only.

Here’s the Southern Lord letter:

Howdy Southern Lord,

You folks are releasing some great records these days, but I having a hell of a time finding some of them on vinyl. I find the metal community is especially egregiously guilty when it comes to releasing extremely limited vinyl editions of albums and I simply don’t get it – why put out 500-1000 colored vinyl records when you could press 2000+ (or more) on black so they get into the hands of more listeners? Unfortunately, it seems like the days of SST pressing 20000 Black Flag records are over. Remember, it’s easy to say how important and famous they are now, but they couldn’t give them away at the time. I find you folks to be one of the worst when it comes to limited vinyl editions of albums that seem to be directly marketed to a relatively small group of record collectors, not the majority of listeners/fans that simply want to listen to releases on vinyl. If a record is going for more than it’s initial price (on eBay, for example) then you didn’t press enough. From an outsider’s perspective this seems obviously calculated as opposed to a series of innocent miscalculations. What’s your philosophy on the matter?

Thanks for your time and continued effort to release great music. Please know there are those of us listening and appreciating the work.

Best,

Marmon Hammer
Austin, TX

UPDATE: 4/7/2011

I still haven’t heard from any label. Perhaps they don’t like being called out on their bullshit, perhaps their too busy at the moment. To keep the ball rolling I sent the following note to Rise Above, a fucking great record label out of London that is horrible about printing extremely limited runs of very desirable records.

Howdy Rise Above,

You folks have been releasing great records for years, but I having a hell of a time finding some of them on vinyl. I find the metal community is especially egregiously guilty when it comes to releasing extremely limited vinyl editions of albums and I simply don’t get it – why put out 500-1000 colored vinyl records when you could press 2000+ (or more) on black so they get into the hands of more listeners? Unfortunately, it seems like the days of SST pressing 20000 Black Flag records are over. Remember, it’s easy to say how important and famous they are now, but they couldn’t give them away at the time.

I find you folks to be one of the worst when it comes to limited vinyl editions of albums that seem to be directly marketed to a relatively small group of record collectors as opposed to the majority of listeners/fans that simply want to listen to releases on vinyl. I saw the first Witchcraft album on evilBay today for $400! If a record is going for more than it’s initial price (on eBay, for example) then you didn’t press enough. What’s the point? What do you get out of collector editions? More importantly, what does the band get out of it? From an outsider’s perspective this seems obviously calculated as opposed to a series of innocent miscalculations. Would you even know about half the music you loved and listened to growing up if there weren’t a decent number of records pressed? What if Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus pressed 500 copies of all of their records, that would be a dirty shame, huh? Perhaps most telling is that the new Blood Ceremony LP came out just recently and it’s already sold out.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on the matter – what’s your philosophy?

Thanks for your time and continued effort to release great music. Please know there are those of us listening and appreciating the work.

Best,

Marmon Hammer
Austin, TX

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