Vinyl resurgence creates difficulty for indie artists

In a world where there is more demand for vinyl records than there are pressing plants, DIY indie bands like The Cherry Bluestorms are being pushed to the bottom of the barrel.

By Courtney Meloche, Staff Writer

After a slow resurgence over the last 10 years,  multiple news outlets are now reporting that vinyl records have not only officially out-sold digital downloads for the first time ever in the United Kingdom, but the sales increase from one year ago is 100%.  Vinyl’s comeback is not just a story that struggling music companies want to find solace in–it is now happening in a big way.

When vinyl popularity began to decline after the introduction of CDs, many plants shut down, as there was not enough business to sustain them, though a few remained open to serve the artists who were still making limited-run records for niche audiences.  Due to the complexity and specificity of the technology, very few new plants have opened over the last decade to take some weight off the surviving plants.  Over the last year a few small start-ups have begun developing new technologies and opening small plants, but these companies are few and far between.  The reality is that there are not enough manufacturing plants to handle the current demand and indie artists–the niche who initially kept vinyl alive–are getting pushed aside to accommodate major label orders, making it difficult to get their lower budget, limited-run products pressed and released to the world.

Case in point: The Cherry Bluestorms.

The Cherry Bluestorms are a Studio City-based indie band that has been receiving some buzz on the Los Angeles live circuit and as well as some radio play.  They are not signed to a label and don’t have the agents or management team to help handle their business affairs.  Most of that work is done by singer Deborah Gee and her assistant.

When they finally received the shipment of their first 7” vinyl single, “See No Evil/Dear Prudence,” it marked the end of a year-long saga.

“It was a nightmare,” said Gee when asked about the band’s experience.  “We were told that the process would take four months.”

The records were to be pressed in Europe, where the bulk of pressing plants still exist, but when it became apparent that the records would not be ready within the time frame given, the project was sent to a Canadian plant. The band was told that the product would be of higher quality and delivered sooner than the European plants had promised. Unfortunately, when the test pressings finally arrived from Canada, the band was in for a  surprise.

“They were awful,” says Gee.

Christmas was fast approaching, and the indie orders were being pushed back to make way for major-label rush orders. Due to the band’s dissatisfaction with the Canadian plant’s poor quality product, the manufacturing company moved the project again, this time to a plant based in Los Angeles. The band was told that they would have their product in time for Record Store Day in April—eight months after the originally promised delivery date. But alas, it was not meant to be.

“We were pushed back again, because the plants were giving priority to the big names who were putting in their Record Store Day orders,” says Gee.

April became May, and May became June. Fans who had pre-ordered the single the previous June were beginning to question the band and voice their frustrations. Finally, on June 30, the shipment arrived. Gee and her assistant immediately jumped into action to ensure that it would be available online the following day, July 1. Over the course of that week, the pre-orders were finally shipped across the globe.  The single has received positive reviews and airplay in Los Angeles on KROQ, as well as globally, including: England, Japan, South America, Canada, and France.  It, and many other indie vinyl records, can be found at Freakbeat Records in Sherman Oaks, Amoeba Music in Hollywood, and Vacation Vinyl in Silverlake.

“We are thrilled that we finally have the single available,” says Gee. “The long wait was not good, but we are happy with the end product. That said, we probably won’t be doing any more vinyl for a long time.”

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