The industry is at its strongest since the advent of the CD, so why has it become near-impossible to get music pressed onto wax?

It’s been difficult to avoid the colossal success of vinyl over the past two years. Sure, sales have been steadily rising since its initial resurgence in the early ‘10s, but after another record breaking year in 2020, our consumption of vinyl has more than doubled in the first half of 2021 alone. Despite this, reports of huge increases in wait times to get records pressed, errors in manufacturing and labels abandoning the format altogether are rife. So why is the vinyl industry in such a state of chaos?

Overwhelming demand at pressing plants, rising shipping costs, a worrying lack of materials, and a renewed interest from major labels have pushed a manufacturing process that was already in decline to breaking point. Despite its historic significance within dance music, the current impediment in producing vinyl records has put a spotlight on its role within the scene. Does music really have to be pressed onto wax to be legitimate? Is vinyl the only way you can physically release? Is it time to look at more sustainable avenues?

“I love vinyl, that’s what’s so crushing about all of this,” says Tomas Fraser, who runs Independent label Coyote Records. Fraser, like many small label owners, has been forced to stop pressing onto vinyl, having done his last run on wax in 2019. “ I don’t know how it’s gonna fix itself. I just find it really irritating, to be honest. No one seems to care either.”

So, how long is it taking to get a record pressed currently? In an email to customers, Lobster Theremin’s distribution service is currently giving estimates of 20 weeks, though, from labels and artists that we spoke to, estimates from manufacturers varied from just 10 weeks to an entire year. None of this accounts for delays, mistakes or shipping problems.