These days, it often feels like metal music comes in two forms: digital or vinyl. Metal fans are either listening to their favorite artists on Bandcamp or they’re ordering some super-deluxe gatefold record that’s made from candy corn-colored vinyl and comes with a limited-edition patch. But as more bands and artists get in on the vinyl game, the plants which press said discs are being stretched to their limits. And now, one pop star has officially overwhelmed the industry — soulful singer and millennial mom favorite Adele.
As reported by Louder, an order for 500,000 vinyl records was put in for Adele’s upcoming album 30. And while COVID certainly set the supply chain back significantly, apparently Adele was aware that her vinyl order would take forever, and as such was instructed to finish 30 six months ago.
On top of that, while big artists like ABBA and Elton John are working hard to secure places at pressing plants, smaller indie artists — including all of your favorite underground metal bands, of course — who turn in their masters right now can hope to see the final products by August 2022, if they’re lucky. This, of course, hurts these bands’ bottom lines, as not having vinyl at the ready by their sale date can decrease sales significantly.
“A lot of people were looking for ways to keep themselves entertained at home during the pandemic,” says David Macias, head of indie label Thirty Tigers. “As a configuration, it’s gone from the cool factor to a huge chunk of the business…If you miss your album street date by three or four months, it can reduce your vinyl sales to 30-40% of what they otherwise would have been.”
That said, it’s not entirely Adele’s fault, and in fact metal bands might shoulder some of the blame here. Apparently, all of the color and special-edition vinyl being asked of plants right now is part of what’s causing the shortage — so every time you get a blood-splatter edition copy of a death metal album, you’re setting things back ever so slightly.
“The more color variations there are, the more chance there is for delays,” says Sean Rutkowski, VP at New Jersey’s Independent Record Pressing plant. “We’ve had records with seven-plus color variations announced out of the gate. And in the environment we’re in now, it makes it really hard to hit those deadlines across the board for all those records at the same time, unless the labels are really working super far ahead.”
Words by Chris Krovatin