Did Major Labels Kill Vinyl? Plus: Vinyl-Only EP Label, 3D Printing Fisher Price Discs

Last-shop-standingThe vinyl resurgence continues with not only a variety of releases, but even some revisionary history via the documentary Last Shop Standing. The film focuses on indie record shops in England and includes an interesting theory regarding vinyl's premature death. In other vinyl news, Guy Garvey of Elbow is planning a label that will release only EPs on vinyl, and Fred Murphy shares an "instructable" on 3D printing discs for the Fisher Price toy record player.

Did Major Labels Kill Vinyl?

Last Shop Standing Trailer

Last Shop Standing is a new documentary on indie record stores in England that was released on DVD on Monday. As you can see from the above trailer, it includes in-store interviews with numerous shop owners and guest appearances by musicians such as Paul Weller and Johnny Marr.

I find out about it due to an interesting claim made by some in the film that major labels knowingly sabotaged the quality of vinyl releases in order to facilitate the move to CDs in the 1980s.

Paul Quirk, current chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association and former shop owner, states:

"It took a few years but vinyl suddenly vanished and nobody wanted to talk about it…What frightened us, in a way, was that Woolworth's was saying, 'Bring your vinyl, stick it in the bin'. They were devaluing it completely and they were taking their lead from the record companies."

Graham Jones, who interviewed shop owners for the doc and wrote the book on which it was based, points out:

"If you go back to the Eighties as well, the vinyl that we had was all recycled vinyl. So the actual quality of vinyl recordings had started to diminish. The records were thinner and more flimsy. Everything was designed for us to switch our music collection over to CD."

It's an interesting possibility, one that only those who ignore corporate history could dismiss out of hand, and it would be interesting to talk to manufacturers and their suppliers to gather more information. Whether or not it was simply a cost cutting measure by companies that felt the CD would inevitably kill vinyl sales or a secretive shove over the cliff remains to be seen.

Elbow's Guy Garvey Planning Vinyl-Only EP Label

The Making of the BBC Olympics Theme Song

Guy Garvey of Elbow (BBC Olympics theme song and performance in closing ceremonies) recently announced plans to launch a vinyl-only label.

While this isn't radical news it is another indicator of the strength of the vinyl revival. What really caught my attention is that he's planning to release only vinyl EPs:

"Each EP – which also comes with a free download code – will have four tracks, where one must be an instrumental and another should contain spoken word."

Though the spoken word requirement sounds a bit odd, the vinyl EP concept makes a lot of sense on many levels including business concerns. Says Garvey:

"Young bands that are perhaps self-financing and have to make money through touring can release three EPs rather than one album…That's three times as much excuse to tour, so it's working commercially."

Alt Vinyl: 3D Print Your Own Fisher Price Playable Plastic Discs

CNC Milled Plastic Disc Playing Star Wars Theme

Back in May maker fred27 (Fred Murphy) shared an instructable describing how to use a CNC mill to create a plastic disc for the Fisher Price toy record player from the 70s. One of his test pressings is shown in the above video.

In August fred27 returned with an instructable on 3d printing FP playable records.

If you decide to put out an actual release in this format, hit me up at the email address below. I'll help make you a star!

Not your style? Then consider the possiblities of screenprinted paper records or wax cylinder recordings.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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1 Comment

  1. Sony and Philips killed Vinyl. The manufacturers of Vinyl pressing equipment (e.g. Alpha Toolex from Sweden) were required to stop building record presses as a condition in licence contracts for the production of CD manufacturing equipment. Furthermore the customers of the equipment manufacturers were forced by contract to scrap their Vinyl presses (if they had any) as a condition of purchase of CD manufacturing machines.
    And yes, the major labels also liked the idea of re-releasing all their back- catalog on CD.

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