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Universal Music Turns To Crowd Sourcing For Vinyl Fans

Vinyl has seen resurgence in recent years. The once defunct platform is now seen as a token of being “serious” music listener amongst enthusiasts. Thanks to major record shops such as HMV now stocking the platform, and the success of “Record Store Day”, vinyl is marketable once more. It comes as no surprise that major record labels want to become involved as heavily as they can. However, the way Universal Music has chosen to do this has raised some eyebrows.

Universal Music, the second largest American music corporation, announced that it will be launching a crowdsourcing project that releases “rare and deleted records”. The project resembles Kickstarter in some ways: essentially, people place pre-orders on vinyl’s, which are released once they have received significant interest. The project is still in its infancy, and may also include art prints and digital downloads.

With this announcement came two major criticisms. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is the questioning of why one of the world’s largest record labels would need to crowdsource to release albums. Perhaps it goes towards helping the labels “indie cred”. Former Dresdon Doll and adored solo singer Amanda Palmer saw this work for her, as she managed to retain her independent credibility through crowdsourcing musicians for her 2012 tour. Or perhaps the recession is hitting one of the world’s largest corporations as much as everyone else, and releasing albums in this way helps the label to gauge whether printing certain albums would be a profitable investment.

Another complaint issued towards the project is what Universal considers “rare”. Some of the records that are being considered to be released through what Universal has dubbed “The Vinyl Project” include Nirvana’s “Unplugged In New York”, Sonic Youth’s “Goo” and Pulp’s “His ‘N’ Hers”. Whilst vinyl is not in print for these albums any longer, it’s hard to argue that an album from one of the biggest bands of all time, and that is available on eBay at fairly reasonable prices, can be considered “rare”. Perhaps it is the case that Universal has just announced some of the biggest names involved in the project to drum up interest. It is also important to point out that these records are just examples, and rarer records that are owned by Universal could also become available through the project. Still, “rare” may have been a poor choice of a word to use.

Of course, the project is still in its infancy, so it is far too early to brand it a failure yet. Whilst having one of the world’s largest record labels crowdsource is questionable, whether this marketing tactic works remains to be seen. It has, however, worked for a similar project, known as Beat Delete, which has seen the release of records from artists such as Roots Manuva and the Cinematic Orchestra. Whether audiences will be willing to trust a major label in the same way remains disputable.

Sean Lewis

Vinyl has seen resurgence in recent years. The once defunct platform is now seen as a token of being “serious” music listener amongst enthusiasts. Thanks to major record...

Sean Lewis - 23rd July 2013

Article Ref: #UniversalMusicVinylCrowd