THE VINYL REISSUE MARKET has a new model – the emergence of the crowdfunded rerelease, where record enthusiasts pledge online to buy unavailable LPs, and get newly pressed versions when enough requests make it viable. The most recent development came via Universal records, whose Vinyl Project got off to a creaky start when it proffered new vinyl by Nirvana, Pulp and Björk before temporarily mothballing itself, last week.
But the disc is spinning more surely over at Beat Delete, an arm of the Ninja Tune label, which since February has allowed vinyl heads to crowdfund new editions of LPs by Coldcut, DJ Food and others, with 150 orders needed to secure a repress.
The notion was hatched by Ninja Tune’s Martin Dobson, who was left despondent when a raft of indies lost irreplaceable stock when Sony’s warehouse in Enfield was burned down in the riots of 2011.
“So many small but great labels had lost everything and wouldn't have the cash flow or the demand to repress their whole back catalogue,” he says. “It was so sad to think of all those classic and niche albums never seeing the light of day again. I woke up one day and the idea was fully formed. I don't see it as anything too original – crowd funding has been around for a good amount of time now. It was just a eureka moment when I realised it could be used to get some of these destroyed products back on the market.”
There are now 23 labels involved, including Domino, Beggars Archive, Ghostly International and Celluloid, with more to be added in the next few weeks and another 15 in talks. But how do they select the designated albums?
“We log all the suggestions we receive and then if we have the label on board we will send the suggestions over to them and see if they want to put the album up on the site,” he explains. “If we aren't in contact with the releasing label, we’ll get in touch and see if they’re interested. We've put up around 10 to 15 of our customer suggestions so far, and three of these have already been funded.”
So far, the most popular resurrected albums have been Take Me To Your Leader by King Geedorah (AKA MF Doom), Quantic's The 5th Exotic and, most coveted, Adventures In Foam, Amon Tobin's first record as Cujo, which has been enla
rged to a three-LP set. Indeed, many of the new versions come in expanded editions, featuring bonus tracks and remixed artwork, while others were previously only available digitally. Wherever possible, the original platework is used for pressing.
But does he mind that Universal borrowed the concept?
“We don't mind at all,” says Dobson. “We're glad they liked our idea. It's another crowd funding platform which is out there to try and breathe even more life into an already rejuvenated format. If Universal are looking to bring back some of their amazing, obscure back catalogue, then who are we to complain? As is usually the case in the music industry, the independents lead the way and those loveable majors come join the party a little bit later.”
Sadly, Dobson admits his personal fantasy vinyl reproduction is unlikely to appear.
“I still want an original pressing of Blue Monday where Peter Saville and Brett Wickens’ die-cut floppy disk artwork cost way more to produce than Factory actually sold it for,” he says. “Unfortunately Beat Delete can’t help with that. Maybe we can get them to press it again, but this time as a picture disc!”
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