Want To Make Your Own Record... How
To Press Your Own Vinyl.
All sorts of people have
pressed up records off their own back and been very successful. People
like Wu-Tang started out like this and it can be the first step on the
road to big sales and recognition. If you are truly successful you can
challenge established labels or indeed attract investment or buy-out opportunities.
You can do it too - all you need is a small amount of capital and lots
of energy to make it work.
The basic procedure that
you will be looking at is getting your material recorded. This is easier
said than done, but with modern technology it is very cheap to get
professional results at home on some relatively cheap equipment. Once
you have your tracks recorded and you are happy with the results you
have to purchase the services of a Record Manufacturer, such as the Independent
Pressing Company. The manufacturer will take your master tape and
a couple of weeks later they'll deliver to you a stack of records in
sleeves ready for you to market and sell. And this is where the really
hard work starts, but even though you may have some struggles there are
several advantages to this independent approach.
Basically you will have
to trade some of the recording, marketing and distribution expertise of
the established Record Label against increased control over the finished
product, budgets and advertising. It is possible that you would question
the wisdom in ditching a long established player in the field, but you
are much more streamlined than a large record company and you can target
your market more directly and respond to trends faster. There would also
be no record executives, A & R, or any label people at all to drain
your resources and you wouldn't be tied to a limiting record contract.
There are no record label people to deal
with and because of this you have total artistic control. You will not
be able to say that the label ripped you off or that the label made you
put out commercial rubbish. The only person to blame
for any mistakes would be yourself, but conversely you would get all the
acclaim if your project was a success.
Although you will
probably not make much money to begin with, any money you do make (or lose) is your own.
Really if money is your only objective it might be better to try and sign to a
But, ideally after making a profit the money can go right back into your
It is also feasible that you
would wish to use the record you have pressed up as
a marketing tool in order to obtain a record deal. Having your own vinyl
looks much more professional than a demo tape and will draw much more
attention at a radio station or on an A & R persons desk. It can
also help in your efforts to secure live performances. If promoters want to hear something in
advance, you can send them a copy of the record.
Back to Top
First you need some
material to record or a group that you want to work with. Once you have
your material down you need it recorded. DAT is
currently the most accessible format and probably the best mastering
medium for you to use, however 1/4 inch open reel tape will be acceptable.
It is not really advised to use compact cassette to send to a mastering plant. That
will most likely result in a very poor quality reproduction and is
therefore a waste of money and time. More
Back to Top
So the next part is
mastering and you need to find a company such as the Independent
Pressing Company to master your
stuff. Remember your stuff will only sound as good as the weakest link
in your chain, so the quality of the mastering is very important.
The mastering people will 'cut' the 'lacquers' from your DAT and
subsequently do the metal processing. Then everything is set up to
press the records. For example the Independent
Pressing Company have specialist technicians who can undertake
both the mastering and pressing of your project for your convenience. More
Back to Top
After the mastering has been done the
next step is to have the plates (Metalwork) made. This is also referred to as metal
processing. Next you need to decide
what you want to do, 12-inches, 7-inches, colored vinyl? How many do you
want to press? What do you want to do for covers? This is all up to you.
To test the water it is prudent to commission a relatively small first
press run. That way if you
can't get rid of them all you won't have thousands of records all over
your house. Also if you need more you can always do a re-press which
will cost a great deal less than the first press because set-up has already been done and paid for.
Depending on the number
of records you choose to press, new 'Stampers' (metal work) will have to
be made from the 'Mother' periodically (maybe every 2000+) to keep the grooves well defined and stop the
quality of the resultant records deteriorating. More
Labels: When the record is ready to be pressed. the pressing plant will send you sheets in which you design your own Side A and Side B
labels. Be creative, make them stand out and make sure you put an
address and/or telephone number where people can get a hold of you (in
case they want more).
When the pressing plant
is in possession of the all the required material (metal work, labels
and sleeves etc, they'll then commence pressing up your records.
Sleeves: These can also be designed by you, but there will be
additional costs for the manufacture. You can use plain white or black
pre-manufactured disco-bags and possibly make them stand out with the
use of a sticker and/or shrink wrapping.
Back to Top
Once the records are
pressed up they will be delivered to your designated address and it is
then up to you to get the records out there for sale and to try and
create a buzz with in your desired market.
Distribution: Definitely send out as many promo copies
as you can to relevant magazines that review records, club DJs and radio stations. This costs money but it can get the music out there. Be sure
to address your records to particular DJs who have a specialist musical
taste which your record fits into. Also dish out lots of concise
biographical and promotional material with your records. You can ask your local radio station people for their list of
stations and contacts throughout the radio community and get promotional
copies off to them too. If it is possible to get street DJs that do parties/clubs/mix-tapes/pirate
radio behind you, they can get your stuff heard by the right people and so it
can be worthwhile giving them copies. Some DJs will want two
copies and it may seem, sometimes, like you are giving all your records
Once you have stirred up
a demand amongst the public, you need to get out there and sell the
records. Get to know your local record shop managers if possible, most of
them will be glad to take some records on a S.O.R. (Sale or Return) basis. Try to
obtain a list of the distributors they buy through and get copies to
them too. If they like your product and think it has potential they may
undertake to distribute your record and this will hopefully get your record out all over the country.
Distributors and Record shops can also be found in the Yellow
Pages/Thompson telephone directories, music magazines and the trade
press etc. You can sell them at shows, put advertisements in various music related publications and do mail order.
You can even be like Blade and walk the streets selling them out of a
possibilities are endless, but basically it'll be up to you to make it
Back to Top