Below you can find a personal collection of tips and advice on putting out a vinyl record. Please mind the grammar and writing style – I know I use a lot of (brackets), but it’s because there are quite a lot of details to consider/cover and I want to share all of the stuff I’ve noticed (and lessons learned from my mistakes) during the process of putting out four vinyl releases. If you think you have more current info or you want to correct some mistakes or add something, please feel free to contact email@example.com.
First off – you can check out a short clip about the production of vinyl records (it’s not too technical).
Step 1 – Getting started
If you have the plan even before the material – definitely take into account the maximum amount of audio material possible to fit onto a record (side) right from the beginning of the process. Try to put tracks with the most dynamically demanding sound(s) at the start of the record (sides), cause sound quality may deteriorate (become more distorted) towards the centre of the record. Especially if you pack near maximum amount of material onto a record (for example – the letter “s” starts to hiss in the vocals etc).
These above are theoretical maximums and must be considered with different styles of music (i.e. sound dynamics). Basically – sounds with deeper, wider atmosphere and more amplitude need more space on the record (it’s like a three dimensional waveform – much like the 2D one you see on Soundcloud (stereo = left to right; volume/amplitude = down to up)). It is advised to use 45 rpm speed, which should theoretically be of the best quality, though it all still depends on the original audio material (it’s quality, length, mixdown, master etc) and cutting engineer’s choice. 7-incher with a 33 1/3 speed is considered to be of the worst quality.
Step 2 – Mastering
After you have recorded the audio material (that is – sound waves) that you want to have pressed onto a vinyl disc you might also need to think about mastering. It depends on a lot of things, but before most on your ability to initially produce the sound that you really want to hear and secondly on the quality of the recording. Basically – if you did not record in a studio with a professional engineer, your material probably needs even a little bit of post-production/tweaking (for having the best tone for vinyl). The latter is also usually done in the pressing plant when converting digital signal to analog (that is – cutting the lathe) by cutting engineers. We have worked together with Tanel Roovik from Estonia.
Step 3 – Choosing a pressing plant (list mostly courtesy of monoequipped)
When choosing a pressing plant you might first want to think about your location. Shipping prices between different mainlands will be much more expensive than for example inside USA or within Europe.
* have had dealings with
** not pressing vinyl anymore
† seems to be not working
Ameise Vinylpresserei (Germany)
Celebrate Records (Germany)
Optimal Media Production (Germany)
Pallas Group (Germany)
Master Media Productions (Germany)
Dr Dub (Austria)
GZ Vinyl (Czech Republic)
Pirates Press (Czech Republic & USA, California)
Record Industry (Netherlands)*
Magnetic Mastering (France)
Disco Elite (Italy)†
AGR Manufacturing (Essex)
Breed Media (Sheffield)
Curved Ltd. (London)*
Dropzone Records (Glasgow)
Vinyl Factory (London)
UK Discs (Oxfordshire)†
Quick Press Productions (London)†
Total Vinyl (London)†
A and R Record Manufacturing (Dallax, TX)
Alpha Music MFG (Plantation, FL)
Archer Record Pressing (Detroit, MI)
Bill Smith Custom Records (El Segundo, CA)
Brookln Phono (Brooklyn, NY)
Capsule Labs (Los Angeles, CA)
Cravedog (Portland, OR)
Crystal Clear (Dallas, TX)
Dynamic Sun (East Newark, NJ)
EKS (Brooklyn, NY)
Erika Records (Buena Park, CA)
Furnace MFG (Fairfax, VA)
Gotta Groove Records (Cleveland, OH)
Groove House (Woodland Hills, CA)
Morphius (Baltimore, MD)
Musicol Recording (Columbus, Ohio)
Palomino Records, Inc. (Sheperdsville, KY)
Pirates Press (San Francisco, CA & Czech Republic)
Rainbo Records (Canoga, CA)
Record Monkey (Torrance, CA)
Record Pressing (San Francisco, CA)
Record Technology, Inc. (Camarillo, CA)
United Record Pressing (Nashville, Tennessee)
Retro Activo Records
Step 4 – A quick guide – when asking for a quote try to specify:
 size x quantity = for example 12” x 300 (you can also ask what is the minimum quantity they offer)
 amount of test presses (3-5 is usual, you might want to consider ordering more for sharing for an early promotion or make a contest between fans and have it as a prize, sell them, or have them as an insurance if the finished run won’t make it on time etc)
 color of the vinyl (or maybe a picture disc) – black is common
 weight of the record (the most common for 12″ is ~125g; above that – 140g, 180g etc ones are considered to be more serious quality aimed and more expensive)
 the duration of the material / per side (have you thought of dividing your (continuous) audio material (mix) between vinyl sides?)
 the amount of colours used for printing vinyl labels (using digiprinting is cheaper but with a lower quality; it is recommended to let the vinyl pressing plant to print/handle the vinyl labels)
 inner sleeves – do you want and/or what kind (don’t forget to specify if with centre holes or not etc) – the most frequent used is “generic white inner sleeves (with holes)”
 outer sleeves i.e. covers – how many colours for printing, width of the spine (the place where the cover has been folded) – usually its 3 mm or 5 mm (or might be totally without – the thin outer sleeve); with holes or without
 mention the catalogue number for the release
 mention the engraving you want to have on the record (the catalogue number of the release and sometimes the cutting engineer’s name is usually already scraped into the lathe by default); something funny or dark like “getting off to camp!”, “pension plan”, “universe is cool” – whatever message you want to send out there; but beware – though usually its free, some pressing plants may charge extra money per letter
 if you want the finished record to be covered with plastic film i.e. shrink-wrapped (good if you plan on selling the records in (lots of) stores, so the record and the cover would be protected from smudges and fingerprints); instead, you might also consider using generic open-end thicker protective plastic sleeves or resealable “japanese” plastic film bags
 shipping cost, both – the test presses and the final bunch to your address/country (don’t forget to mention zip code and city) – “[City] [zip code], [Country]”
 mention if you are VAT registered company/or not (inside the EU it’s very easy – they just won’t charge you with tax if you provide them your company’s VAT registration number)
 timeframe of the production, usually calculated in three phases – a) when can the pressing plant start production (that assumes crediting you at least half amount in front) b) when can you receive the test presses (if these get your “OK”, you can move to the next point) c) when can you have the finished run – always take into consideration time buffers when for example planning for a record release party; the common timeframe from crediting to receiving the finished run is about 8 weeks +/- two weeks variation (depending on season, different pressing plants etc); hint – ask if they can make the finished run for a certain date (and plan your record release party 2-3 weeks after the provided date, or start with the planning after you have OK-d the test presses), cause anything can go wrong, even with the best of planning – believe dat!
 ask if they need any documents/permissions from either (local) authors’ societies or phonogram unions.
Step 5 – Consider:
 printing prices might start from per 500 pcs (especially for the outer sleeves/covers – if you order 300 – they have to charge you for 500, since it’s pointless for them to make print preparations for such a small amount)
 ask printing prices (for multicolour covers, inlays) from your local factories (use templates when asking, so they’d know to consider preparations for printing, cutting (punch plate), folding and gluing the covers). Templates: courtesy of GZ Digital Media.
 instead of printing the covers, there are some other (cheaper) options:
[3|a] order generic (white, with or without holes) covers together with the records from the pressing plant, make a stencil design, buy spray paints, ask from your friends for a well ventilated roomy location and start “printing” away, rather inside than out, since the paint needs to dry for a while + rain and wind may occur outside. Check out pictures of OSM006EP cover making for example:
or James Pants’ Strange Woman’s Room single cover
[3|b] order generic (white, with or without holes) covers together with the records from the pressing plant and use silk screen printing (it comes in handy if you have friends in the field, since it actually might be quite expensive and it’s hard to quality silk screen print on already folded/glued covers)
[3|c] order generic (white, with or without holes) covers together with the records from the pressing plant, make a sticker with the release info and put it on the cover
[3|d] order a lot of (600 – 3000) simple, but custom designed (e.g. with your label logo and contact info) covers (without spine, you can use them without even inner sleeves), put a sticker on it with each different release details (or even cheaper – just use the printed vinyl labels for release info); with this option you can save money on printing (more in one bunch is cheaper) and still maintain your label’s characteristics, though you have to be sure that you put out enough releases and don’t certainly require different design for each release.
[3|e] cheaply accumulate old record covers from somewhere – use your imagination and sticker, print, spray-paint, glue, design or whatever you want make out of the covers, it doesn’t just have to be 2D you know!
 calculating/planning production cost per record in advance – it is a very good point from where to move on, adjust to your needs/possibilities, plan a selling price/strategy – you might need to consider taxes when selling (with or without invoices) the records; depending on the digital platform/physical shop the commission might range from 10%-80% (+ separate taxes in some occasions); if you have a distributor, talk it through already at the beginning, since they want to have the buy-in price for the records as low as possible (you/they once again need to take into account the shipping cost – if you are not ordering the whole production from one place, local taxes etc); so basically just to get even when selling all the records you usually have to have production cost to selling price ratio of about 1,6, to make some profit it should be strongly above 2. As with all produces – the more you order the lower the production cost per article. Also take into account the freely distributed promo records (depending on your choice, usually 5%-15% of the finished run) and again the shipping cost.
 what is the right amount of records for your music/release, I’m saying this from an experience not money on my mind – you have to have even a shady knowledge of how many records you want to or can sell (how much fans/support do you have etc); in the end you don’t want to be sitting on 500 unsold records in your home/storage. And bear in mind that good music very often don’t just make it on its own only because it’s pressed in vinyl, it’s all about people and connect!
 minimum amount for industrially produced/pressed (not dub plates cut one by one) records starts from 100-200 records, but then you can reckon with 6£-7£ (7-9 EUR) price per record (without printed covers), or up to 8£ (10 EUR) with printed covers – check out straight package deals from Curved or Only Vinyl in the UK. For quantity of 300, ppr with printed covers comes in tightly around 5 EUR (4£). For 500, its about 3 EUR (2.5£). Usually the price divides as (for an order of 300):
30-40% – (basic mastering during) lacquer cut and metalworks for two sides (320-450 EUR);
20% – pressing vinyl records;
10-15% – printed vinyl labels;
10-15% – shipping cost (testpresses + final run, from UK to EU, this may vary);
5-10% – generic inner/outer sleeves.
Basically everything else except lacquer cut/metalworks is dependant on quantity of the order.
Remember to take your time and:
 Always listen through the music material before finally sending it to pressing plant (for any kind of faults that might have occured during or sending it to mastering/recording, tone differencies, digital distortions etc) – remember that anything is possible in tense situations.
 Make sure that everything is in sync (if that’s your thing) – actual track names/lengths, order of the tracks, catalogue number, distribution of sides etc matches the design/graphics. All the text is exact and (grammatical) error/even multiple spaces free.
 If possible and you have the time – make/print out a model of the design (yes, meaning cutting out the dimensions of the covers, comparing it to record size etc), that way you get a better idea of the final design, how it looks and feels etc.
Courtesy of GZ Digital Media.
Topics to (maybe) cover in the future:
Setting up/registering a company, authors’ societies and phonogram unions, publishing.
Promotional/distribution tools/platforms, things to check out (all in one place):
Lastly – thank you for reading and remember: if you want to succeed and/or be satisfied – it’s all about planning ahead and knowing exactly what you want and where/how to get it.
If you have any questions or something to add (or to correct), please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.