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An independent record store is boycotting Adele's new album in a row over vinyl

A whopping 500,000 copies of Adele's 30 are being pressed during a global vinyl shortage, and Skeleton Records in Birkenhead is taking a stand.

Ben Savage stands outside Skeleton Records vinyl store in Birkenhead

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?'”

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.

“I’m printing CDs and vinyl but there is a 25-week lead time,” she told Radio 1’s Greg James

“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. 

Back in May, Taylor Swift managed to sell 40,000 wax records of her album Evermore in just three days, breaking the record for most vinyls sold in a week in the US. 

So to put Adele’s half a million into context, if 30 sold as many records as Evermore, at the same record-breaking rate of 40,000 in three days, it would still take 2.5 months to sell out. 

Ed Sheeran has also felt the squeeze, claiming he had to finish his album Equals two months early to get in there before Adele.

“Adele had basically booked out all the vinyl factories, so we had to get a slot and get our album in there,” he told Australian radio show The Kyle and Jackie O Show.

So with the biggest names in the businesses jostling to get their albums put onto vinyl, it’s no wonder smaller artists are struggling.

To accommodate the massive order, sources at Sony Music reportedly told Variety the label has had to push other titles off overseas pressing plants to ensure there won’t be any shortage of 30.

But it’s not as if Adele will be rolling in the deep as a result of Skeleton Record’s boycott. 

“We would only have sold about three copies in total if we were stocking it, so it won’t make any difference to her whatsoever,” said Savage. 

Sony Music has been approached for comment. 

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