Have you always wanted to put your band’s albums on vinyl, but lacked the funds and know-how to accomplish the task? Meet Qrates, an all-in-one source which assists with funding, pressing, and sales of original vinyl records. The solution comes in the midst of a vinyl resurgence (to the tune of 9.2 million records sold in 2014). Even as streaming digital music rises in popularity, people are still hungry for a medium they can sink their teeth into — and Qrates is here to help.
The platform follows the crowd-sourced, direct-to-fan model while aiming to simplify the vinyl-making process as much as possible. The site’s interface allows musicians and labels to design a record from start to finish: From the site you can upload music, design the label and sleeve, choose a preferred playing speed (33 or 45), chose the weight and color of the record, and the quantity to produce. It then gives you an estimated cost — but you don’t have to pay. Instead, Qrates allows users to attempt to fund the new record with pre-orders from fans through the site. Orders are only pressed when the funding goal is reached. The service then fills order by working with a regional pressing plant.
Beyond ease of use, Qrates’ selling point is in its ability to make pressing vinyl a feasible option for smaller artists. The service gives users the ability to press as few as 100 records, and while it does take a 15 percent cut of revenue, it doesn’t charge any other upfront costs. Small labels can also simply fulfill the orders themselves, and simply order a limited run of a particular album, and artists can sell other merchandise with their records from the site, as well.
The service is certainly still in early stages and currently doesn’t assist with order fulfillment, or distribution to record stores. According to Fact Magazine, Qrates is building a vinyl mastering center, the site will soon be able to ship ship records directly to fans, with future plans of allowing users to sell records to record stores at a wholesale price in the future.
Vinyl records are certainly still a niche segment of the music industry — making up just 3.6 percent of all albums sold last year. That said, there are still millions of vinyl record buyers (including many music fans under 35) who want to explore new music on the physical, retro format. For those listeners, and musicians with the dream of selling their next record on vinyl, Qrates may be an option to consider.