Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

The cost of building new record-pressing machinery is prohibitively expensive, so greater volumes are being pumped through ageing machines

The crackle of a vinyl revival has been getting louder this year as dropping the needle on a record becomes ever more in vogue. But what has been championed as a victory for music purists is putting a strain on a creaking industry.

Pressing plants are struggling to meet the increased demand for records. The cost of building new record-pressing machinery is prohibitively expensive, so greater volumes are being pumped through ageing machines in the few plants left.

Lead times for pressing records have been pushed back from a month to three in the past two years as orders stack up globally, frustrating labels, artists and fans. The world's largest vinyl producer, GZ in the Czech Republic, reported its busiest-ever day this year, pressing 42,000 in a day in February. The company has recently bought six ageing machines in an attempt to increase production, but is reportedly unlikely to get more than half working.

And there appears little sign of vinyl's reborn star waning. The frisson of excitement that rippled across the internet was palpable last week when the reclusive electronica artist and nerds' favourite Aphex Twin revealed that a ballot will run on 200 copies of his long-awaited new album on triple vinyl.

Record sales were up 40 per cent in the first half of the year, according to SoundScan research, even disregarding records sold directly from music labels. Findings by ICM Research earlier this year showed that 15 per cent of those buying physical music do not intend to listen to it, but only collect it. The 12in and 7in slabs of music are back in mainstream fashion, making a beat-up Dansette player as trendy as craft beer and a beard.

"People are dusting down their turntables from the shed or the attic and their kids are interested in owning something tangible," says Adam Teskey, manufacturing director at the Vinyl Factory, over the hum of pressing machines at its plant in Hayes, Middlesex. "Vinyl sales have some room to grow yet," adds the Vinyl Factory's creative director, Sean Bidder. "A huge swathe of teenagers have fallen in love with vinyl, despite the fact that this is a demographic that have grown up only knowing digital music."

The Vinyl Factory presses everything from innovative special editions by The xx to Elvis classics, on machines built in the 1970s. These begin as puck-sized pieces of PVC and are squashed under 90 tonnes at 200C, coming out at 14in before being trimmed down.

The plant itself has history. Images of a 14,000-strong workforce pressing records and making gramophones for the music industry giant EMI on the 58-acre site dominate a small museum in an adjacent building. King George and Sir Paul McCartney beam from old snaps of the plant, which was bombed in the Second World War when it was commandeered as a munitions factory.

But Teskey, who is taking on three apprentices this year, is frustrated by references to vinyl's heyday when the industry is booming. "I like the history, but we employ people, we are an innovative, forward-thinking business," he says.

It's a feeling shared by Shane Whittaker, co-founder of mastering and manufacturing firm Curved Pressings. "I'm still thriving in an industry that does not exist if you go to a bank manager," he says, speaking from his new Ibiza office. "I expect vinyl just to get bigger and bigger until production capacity reaches breaking point."

According to Teskey, Record Store Day has become "the new Christmas", replacing the traditional peak from October to December. "For the vinyl collector to change that huge peak is quite something," he says. "Usually there’s been a blip after Record Store Day but this year it just carried on.”

But the labels are facing a constant conundrum. “Do they press more than they originally need as it would take time to get a second run,” asks Record Store Day organiser Spencer Hickman. “Or risk it selling out, waiting two months for more and the interest waning? If you’re sending a band out on tour, timings are crucial.

“The problem is everyone wants colour, picture or splatter vinyl and it’s very time consuming to make."

Vinyl has defied the odds once to return to prominence, but with production close to snapping, fears are growing that prices could spiral and the expense could edge out the newly indoctrinated. For now, however, musos are enjoying giving their records another spin.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea