Jack White has issued a new open letter and video calling on major labels to build their own vinyl record pressing plants.
“At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out asking me to help expedite their vinyl record manufacturing,” writes White to begin his letter. “It’s a natural thought… knowing that I own a pressing plant and have my own record label, “if anyone could help, it’s this guy!”
As the founder of Third Man Records, White has become one of the leading advocates for and producers of vinyl records. Over the years, several major artists — including JAY-Z and Dave Chappelle — have partnered with Third Man to press their releases on vinyl.
But, as White goes on to explain in today’s letter, recent supply chain issues and manufacturing bottlenecks have led to turnaround times “currently leaning towards the length of a human pregnancy.” “In a world so contingent on being of-the-moment and timed just right (a single, an album, a tour etc.),” he notes, “these timelines are the killers of momentum, soul, artistic expression, and far too often, livelihoods.”
White continues to invest in his Third Man with new record presses and more employees. However, he adds, “the bigger problems we now see require major solutions.”
“In this spirit, I turn to our collegial big brothers in the music world, Sony, Universal, and Warner, and politely implore them to help alleviate this unfortunate backlog and start dedicating resources to build pressing plants themselves.”
White strikes a similar tone in the companion video released today. Speaking from Detroit’s pressing plant in Detroit, White says, “It’s 2022 now, and [vinyl] is no longer a fad. Vinyl records have exploded in the last decade, and their demand is incredibly high. A small punk band can’t get their record for eight to ten months.”
Watch the video and read White’s full note below.
White’s public plea came ahead of the release of his two new albums: Fear of the Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive, which will be released on April 8th and July 22nd, respectively. He’ll support both albums by embark on the “Supply Chain Issues Tour.” Tickets are available to purchase via Ticketmaster.
Jack White’s Statement:
“At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out asking me to help expedite their vinyl record manufacturing. It’s a natural thought… knowing that I own a pressing plant and have my own record label, “if anyone could help, it’s this guy!”
With industry-wide turnaround times for vinyl currently leaning towards the length of a human pregnancy, it’s obvious, in a world so contingent on being of-the-moment and timed just right (a single, an album, a tour etc.), these timelines are the killers of momentum, soul, artistic expression, and far too often, livelihoods.
I’ve done everything within my power to help. Third Man Records began a concentrated focus on vinyl in 2009 with hopes of exposing its wider potential to the farthest reaches of the music industry. In 2017 I furthered my commitment by opening Third Man Pressing… a plant which has always been open to anyone and everyone who walks in the door and wants to press a record, from bedroom hip hop artists to field recording documentarians. And in the last year, I’ve doubled down and invested in even more record presses, more employees to run them, and more shifts to try and accommodate the insane growing demand for vinyl product.
There are people who will say – isn’t this good for Third Man? More demand than you can handle? To which I say, even though Third Man benefits in the short term, in the long term it ultimately hurts everyone involved in the vinyl ecosystem given the bottlenecks and delays. Something needs to be done.
While the entirety of vinyl investment and framework in the past decade has originated from independent companies and investors, the bigger problems we now see require major solutions.
In this spirit, I turn to our collegial big brothers in the music world, Sony, Universal, and Warner, and politely implore them to help alleviate this unfortunate backlog and start dedicating resources to build pressing plants themselves.
To be clear, the issue is not big labels versus small labels, it’s not independent versus mainstream, it’s not even punk versus pop. The issue is, simply, we have ALL created an environment where the unprecedented demand for vinyl records cannot keep up with the rudimentary supply of them.
Across the globe, there are now a handful of NEW companies, building both automated and manual vinyl presses. It’s easier to purchase a vinyl press now than it has been in four decades. And with more ancillary innovators popping up every day helping advance every facet of the industry, this isn’t a difficult decision to make. It’s a no-brainer.
We’re all on the same team with the same goals. I truly believe that with a good faith investment in the infrastructure that got us here, we can continue on this upward trajectory and further inspire the worlds around us. Now is the time. Thank you.