Vinylize.it launched on July 12, and the company works to bring artists and fans together to inspire each other—and then get that inspiration on wax. The site interacts with SoundCloud, lets you get on board with other fans of the music, and then lets the artist or label know what you want. It emulates crowdsourcing vinyl, flipping the production process on its head (though artists have the final call about what goes to pressing).
“Fans get to decide what they want, instead of labels calculating what makes the most sense,” explains Taishi Fukuyama, Vinylize.it’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Artists and labels can go into this, knowing there are people who want these records, already signed up. It has profound implications. We’re basically introducing vinyl on demand.”
The way other apps and services match drivers and riders, or extra bedrooms and weary travelers, Vinylize.it matches vinyl-hungry listeners and musicians, tailoring manufacturing to demand. “While only musicians or the people who own the recordings can press a record,” Fukuyama notes, “fans get to have their say.”
The process for music lovers aims for simplicity. You can import your favorite tracks or playlists from SoundCloud to Vinylize.it. Then you can call all your friends and fellow fans to get on board. When the campaign reaches critical mass, usually around 20-30 supporters, Vinylize.it searches out the artist. If they want to proceed and they upload high-quality vinyl-ready files (not streams or mp3s), you can buy your dream record.
This new approach to vinyl comes from Qrates, the Japan-based company that merged crowdfunding and small-batch, just-in-time vinyl production. Their logistics team makes sure that records are pressed quickly and sound amazing, solving a problem that has long plagued the music industry.
Another dilemma: Gauging actual demand before embarking on the expensive, sometimes extended, journey of making a vinyl record. “We’re tapping into SoundCloud API. You can search their database, pull your music into Vinylize.it and that becomes a project on our platform,” says Fukuyama. “Although, the minimum crowdfunding quantity on Qrates is currently 100, once you have 20 people wanting a certain track, we’ll notify the artist via the SoundCloud platform. They can click a button and start a crowdfunding project, to gather pre-orders.”
“Lots of artists don’t know what it takes to press vinyl,” Fukuyama states. “We have worked hard to make the process simple. They also don’t know that fans want vinyl from them. Now, we’re working to solve that problem. We dream that artists will respond to these calls for vinyl, and create cool releases that add other tracks to what fans love.”