Japanese on demand crowdfunding platform QRATES is looking forward to reposition vinyl from a nostalgia and vintage related item to something actually embedded in the future of music. Artists, labels and brands can in fact access its online tools and design, fund, press, sell, fulfill and distribute their vinyl worldwide. Qrates’ founder and CEO, Yong-Bo Bae, a long-time club music fan, like many Japanese music fans is obsessed with vinyl collecting and made a business out of his own passion.
Solving the problem of limited manufacturing capacity for vinyl was key to QRates, which blended crowdfunding, on-demand and analog principles to revolutionize the traditional logistics of the sector. Once a crowdfunding project is published from an artist, Qrates offers it for sale in its online store and can also add it to its wholesale catalog (retailers working with the likes of Juno, Fat Beats, HMV and Technique can order Qrates vinyl) and it only presses music when told to do so by rights holders, thus avoiding a recurrent pitfall in the business: the cost of licensing music from rights holders. Still, maneuvers start as soon as a project is published online: that's when QRates starts ingesting the information and when a certain threshold of support gets reached, its manufacturing pipeline is contacted. When one plant looks like it’s near capacity, they reach out to our other partners to distribute the burden and can keep their turnaround short.
“Music tech has been shunned by investors lately, due to the high licensing risk. We don’t deal with any of that. We have a strong connection to the two growing formats in music, vinyl and streaming, because many of our artists are being discovered on streaming platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify, and others”, explains Taishi Fukuyama, Qrates’ Chief Marketing Officer. “With streaming, you have the component of scale and its benefits if you’re an investor. If we’re speaking, on the other hand, about revenue for labels and indie artists, vinyl has equal opportunity for return in the mid to longer term.”