Vinyl has once again become the medium and the message. Sales are on the rise every year and its fetishizing and praising has become so huge that music nerds have begun to mourn Record Store Day and complain that they’ve become 'too mainstream'.
Nevertheless, it's true that the medium of the vinyl is still limiting from a financial point of view – not only from a fan's perspective, but also especially from that of that artist’s. When you're a small label without funding, there are many obstacles to overcome before you can put the needle to the groove of your own record. Most manufacturers don't want to press small amounts of vinyl due to the expenses. And pressing thousands of records is not only expensive, but also quite risky, unless you don’t want to be stumbling over piles of dusty 12”s in the future.
This is where QRATES comes in. This new platform is so simple and yet so smart, that we don't know why somebody hasn’t come up with the idea before. The Japanese startup has applied the same business logic behind funding platforms such as Kickstarter to vinyl production. The genius of QRATES lies specifically in the amount of copies you can get pressed: the minimum lies at only 100!
Furthermore, since the process is so simple, artists can handle the whole process themselves and not via a medium, therefore they don't have to pay extra expenses. Simple service, intuitive design and individual customisation with the option of selling digital music and merchandize – all under one roof. There's even a 3D design tool to simulate the vinyl, sleeve and labels. DJBroadcast reached out to Greg, one of QRATES founders, to talk about some of the possibilities and services of QRATES.
When did you have the first idea of starting such a platform and where did it come from?
As a team of music professionals having worked for years in production, label management, music retail and distribution we wanted to build a tool to make vinyl releases as easy and affordable as possible and started to work on the QRATES project about a year ago.
What is the exact process from ordering copies to getting the physical ones?
Let's say you run a vinyl funding campaign of 100 vinyl copies. You can run it from 30 to 90 days and once it has been completed with pre-orders, we start the vinyl production. You can also self-purchase some copies at the pressing cost for yourself to sell at your shows or in your other stores. Right now the pressing turnover is about 12 weeks for 100 and 200 copies, 8 weeks from 300 copies and all quantities will be about 8 weeks from September 2015.
Are the copies first sent to the artist or are they sent to those who pre-ordered them directly?In a few weeks we will be able to ship the records to the people who pre-ordered the vinyl directly on behalf of the artist or label, we are finalizing the prices and process right now. For the time being, the records will be shipped to the artist or label, and we will provide addresses of the customers for shipping the records to them as well as the postage money you have set up in your campaign.
How did you find manufacturers and distribution partners who are able to press even such small amounts of vinyl?
It took time but we have found some who can see the potential of such small quantities for so many people who want to release vinyl but could not until now due to high minimums. And we are speaking with more manufacturers to be able to press records in different parts of the world and purpose the best prices we can.
According to the info, funding the pressing is not necessary - it's just possible to use QRATES as a mediator of finding a suitable manufacturer, is that right? What other possibilities regarding pressing do you offer?
For now, if you wish to order normal vinyl pressing, you have to first build a funding project and self-purchase all of the copies at the pressing cost. A special place at QRATES to order normal pressing without building a campaign at first will be available soon, we are working on it! We are also working on purposing an analogue vinyl-mastering center at QRATES by partnering with a studio in Paris with more than 15 years of experience in this field.
Apart from vinyl pressing, you also offer a feature for artists to sell their own merchandise and digital music. How does this exactly work?
Yes, you can also sell your back catalogue at QRATES without a problem. Digital can be sold as well but not individually, this has to be related to a vinyl funding project or back catalogue record. Then you can sell your records with anything you want: events tickets, T-shirts, etc. The idea is to purpose something special to your fans, which they can't find somewhere else. Soon we will also have the option to purpose your records at a wholesale price to sell them to record stores that would like to stock some in their shop. More news about this soon.
Is QRATES completely international?
At the moment we have 27 countries in Europe, Asia, America and Oceania where we can ship the record stock to, and we are implementing more countries right now. Customers can buy records from anywhere in the world. We want to make vinyl releasing easy and affordable for anybody in the world.
For more information visit https://qrates.com/