|United Record Pressing. Photo: Numero Groups' visit to URP, worth a read|
While we've been seeing an upward trend in the vinyl record industry for years now, those increases are becoming more noticeable, and this latest news from United Record Pressing reflects that in a tangible way. The company's new location is a 142,000-square-foot warehouse in Nashville that it bought for $5.5 million.
United Record is attributing the good times to digital music sales. "Our belief is that it's being driven by the rise in digital," Jay Millar, the company's Director of Marketing, told The Tennessean. "People who want something tangible and the best sound quality and experience are going to vinyl as opposed to CDs."
Millar also told the paper that the company is currently working its 30 presses 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Nielsen's SoundScan reported that 6.1 million vinyl records were sold in 2013, up from 4.6 in 2012 and under 1 million in 2007. But as the New York Times reported last year, “manufacturers, specialist retailers, and critics argue that SoundScan’s figures represent only a fraction of actual sales” and perhaps only account for as little 10 to 15 percent of total vinyl sales, because Nielsen tracks records sold, rather than records pressed, and many vinyl manufacturers don't print bar codes on their record sleeves, so sales from independent shops that don't report to Nielsen don't get counted."
United Record Pressing handle Jack White's Third Man label, Numero Group, Daptone Records, and many others. One other reason for the expansion may be due to reports that the majors have been monopolising pressing plants for months at a time ahead of Record Store Day, making it impossible for indies to get their own RSD releases pressed.
Another point on RSD releases - they are often non-returnable, meaning the shops have to buy them outright. As Phil Hebblethwaite of The Quietus points out, value is ultimately in the eyes of the consumer but he also points out that: "in the UK in 2011, there were 277 exclusive Record Store Day releases. This year there are 643."