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6 Tips for indie music artists to reduce custom vinyl record pressing costs

Since vinyl made a resurgence in 2006, many big-name artists from Lady Gaga to Slayer have released limited edition vinyl records. Indie musicians are slowly catching up but many are still hesitant due to the perceived high vinyl record pressing cost.

When you hear the word “vinyl”, what instantly comes to mind if you’re a musician aside from it being the coolest music format ever made is the expenses. We all know it’s not as cheap nor easy to make as CDs or cassette tapes. But now that vinyl records are selling like hot cakes again (in 2020, vinyl sales topped CD sales!), it’s about time we seriously consider releasing an album in vinyl record format.

If you’re a musician and you want to make your very first vinyl record but you’re worried about the vinyl pressing cost, don’t fret! Vinyl record pressing can be affordable if you know where to get cheap vinyl pressing quotes and use these vinyl pressing hacks:

#1 Try 100 units, not 1000. If it’s your first time to press a record, less is safer…for now. You don’t want to press 2,000 pieces and only sell 200. Yes, as with any product, the price per unit is cheaper if you order more but each unsold unit costs a lot! You can, however, try to pre-sell your vinyl records on your website or Kickstarter or Patreon and just order once you have a good estimate of the number of records that will surely be sold. If you’re going on a world tour, then of course press more than 100 but not thousands.

#2 Choose the classic black vinyl. The standard black vinyl is much cheaper compared to colored vinyl. And it’s definitely much cheaper compared to the colored ones with splatter or glitter or quirky add-ons. You might find it meh because it’s too basic. There’s nothing modern about it or striking. However, a quick google search of black vinyl records would show you that black doesn’t mean boring at all. Incorporate it to your design so black can be cool. Heyyy, it’s cool. We just get so used to it because it’s the standard. If you want to significantly cut down on vinyl pressing cost, start here. This is quite obvious. The fancier the item, the more expensive it is. The simpler the item…well, you get the drift. Keep it simple but find a way to still make it cool.

#3 Opt for the 140 gram record instead of 180. It seems like we are made to believe that if it’s not 180 grams, it’s crap. But many mastering engineers say this is rubbish. 180 is heavier and therefore might seem more expensive and better but in fact, less than 180 might actually be better and more economical. 180 just seems more special but there isn’t much difference if there’s any at all.

#4 Don’t rush! You really can’t rush vinyl orders because they’re a multi-step, meticulous process that requires a lot of testing and correcting. The earliest you can get your vinyl order is eight weeks but you can pay for rush fees to make it six weeks. But really, why don’t you just schedule your release properly so you don’t have to rush things and pay fees? Don’t throw away $300 or more to rush things.

#5 The simpler the jacket, the cheaper it is. Again, this is like in #2. If you want to save money on vinyl pressing, then keep your artwork and jacket as simple as possible. Go for a single jacket and not a gatefold. Use ink, don’t emboss or use materials that are harder to source, don’t put too many add-ons. One trick is to also use white instead of black or multi-colored designs. The cheapest artwork to make is probably The Beatles’ White album which is just a white jacket with a grey “The Beatles” text printed on it. But guess what? It’s one of the favorite album artworks of all time by many art directors and graphic artists.

#6 Save the box set for later. If it’s your first time to release a vinyl record, don’t make it too grand by making a box set. You still have no idea if it will all be sold out and so it’s better to test it out with just a few units and keep things simple and affordable. If you go crazy and make box sets at $500, it’s not the wisest thing to do. It’s tempting to make cute box sets with all the goodies but if you want to cut down vinyl pressing cost, don’t put too many add-ons for now…and don’t even think of a box set yet. Or, if you really want to and you are confident that if you make 1000 box sets you’ll sell them all, approach a record label so they could fund your album release. Just make sure you know the difference between independent vs major record labels so you know which one you should approach.

Do you have other tips on how to make vinyl pressing more affordable? Leave a comment to help other indie musicians!

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