Socialist Worker

Vinyl shortage shows the music industry needs to change its record

Issue No. 2775

Can we turn the tables on Spotify?

Can we turn the tables on Spotify? (Pic: SanderSmit from Pixabay )


Christmas serves the same purpose for both the music and chocolate industries—it’s a chance to unload tonnes of regurgitated crap.

This festive season we can expect tosh from Abba, Elton John and even Duran Duran.

But more than just polluting our ears, the dominance of big artists and labels has a terrible effect on small bands and less popular genres.

All the world’s remaining record pressing plants are running flat out.

The Universal Music Group, Warner and Sony have effectively bought out all the production slots for the rest of the year.

The problem has now been made far worse by a global shortage of PVC, which puts the V in vinyl.

Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf of Mexico last month with such ferocity that it stopped petroleum production across the region.

As a consequence, it wiped out up to 60 percent of the US’s PVC production.

The effect of this twin crisis of too few plants, and too little raw material is already having a devastating effect on new music.

Lots of artists are unable to release new material, and are delaying already recorded albums for months, if not years.

Why should vinyl matter in an age when most of us consume our music digitally?

The problem is that streaming services such as Spotify barely pay a penny per track to artists for their work. Small outfits survive by selling physical records where profit margins are higher, and that’s one reason why a new vinyl album can cost £30.

The unfortunate truth is that vinyl is an ecological disaster and hoping for more pressing plants and cheaper PVC is not sustainable.

Instead, there needs to be a challenge to the dominance of the streaming industry.


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Tue 5 Oct 2021, 12:58 BST
Issue No. 2775
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