Manager of Skeleton Records, Ben Savage, holds nothing against Adele personally, even inviting her to the store’s 50th birthday next year Image: Ben Savage
Adele is about to dominate popular culture with her new album 30 – but indie record stores hit by major delays ahead of its huge vinyl release are saying hello from the other side.
One shop in the north west of England has announced it will boycott the record completely because the 500,000 pressings ordered have apparently taken over global vinyl production and pushed back releases by other artists by months.
“She’s got half a million copies of her album pressed at a time when everybody’s struggling to get individual copies pressed,” manager of Skeleton Records Ben Savage, who has run the store in Birkenhead for six years, told The Big Issue.
He added the decision to press 500,000 copies of 30 was “incredibly selfish” and to show support for smaller artists struggling to get their music onto vinyl due to the global shortage, Skellies, as the store is known locally, will not be stocking it. Savage is also encouraging other indie shops to do the same.
“I know a couple of artists whose albums are now seven months late because they just can’t get them pressed,” he said.
“We’ve been missing out on sales because we haven’t physically been able to order copies of them.”
Rock musician Ian McNabb is one of the artists whose records have been pushed back.
“I turned it in to the factory three months ago,” he told The Big Issue. “And then my guy’s told me I won’t be getting the album until towards the end of March, beginning of April next year, so it’s really serious.”
This eight month wait is far from normal, explained McNabb, who always puts his albums out on vinyl.
“Just because one artist who is obviously a global sensation is releasing an album, does this all mean we’ve got to sit on the bench and wait six months before we can put anything out?” he continued.
On the record store’s boycott, McNabb, who is from nearby Liverpool, added: “He’s making a stand there, and he’s making a good point.
“But Skeleton Records, they’re a real specialist shop… I don’t think anybody’s ever walked into Skeleton Records in Birkenhead and said, ‘Alright mate, you got the new Adele record? On vinyl?'”
We would like to thank the “overly enthusiastic” Adele fans for the free publicity we’re receiving for the boycott. You are all invited to our 50th anniversary party next year, as is Adele herself if she’s free
Two years ago there were only two plants in the world were making the lacquer discs – the base for a master plate that presses vinyl records.
And one of those, Apollo Masters Corporation, was destroyed in a fire, sparking fears back in February 2020 that vinyl supplies might be seriously impacted, as reported by Vulture.
Then, like many industries, production was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequent social distancing measures and sick workers exacerbated those delays, meaning vinyl production is still suffering.
The popularity of vinyl boomed during the global pandemic, as people indulged their love for music by spending money on physical records rather than the experience of a gig. For the first time since the 1980s, total revenue for vinyls overtook CDs.
Some 4.8 million LPs were purchased in the UK in 2020 – a leap of nearly a tenth on sales in 2019 and a 13th consecutive year of growth since 2007.
“What we need, is more pressing plants,” McNabb added.
Ahead of the release of 30 on November 19, Adele has revealed she had to hand it over to manufacturers six months in advance because of the existing delays.
“So many CD and vinyl factories bloody closed down even before Covid so I can’t print them anywhere.”
Stumpy Frog Records, an indie video game music label, said they’ve been getting into “heated arguments with the pressing plant about why they’re letting 500,000 copies of the new Adele album cut the vinyl pressing queue.”
While Savage isn’t suggesting that Sony Music bumped Adele to the front of the queue as such, half a million copies is a pretty large order to make.
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