|Universal appeal? Ah, never mind|
I've blogged on this before, with many big-name artists and film-makers turning to this model for funding, generally offering promotional packages rather than financial returns for this funding - signed copies, chance to appear as an extra, extra tracks, deluxe packaging, etc.
So much for levelling the ground for the little guy: news comes of Universal's (rather smart to be fair) wheeze to take any risk out of the recent trend of re-releasing albums on vinyl, reflecting the steep increase* in vinyl sales (and the long tail theory). So, instead of taking a punt on which album to expensively re-press on vinyl, Universal instead put it to fans: if enough of you provide advance funding, we'll do it - advance publicity and sales in one go, and premium pricing to boot. Cynical, but smart.
*Vinyl sales doubled from 2012 to 2013, with David Bowie and Daft Punk releases amongst those seeing sales of the format soar.
Here's Sean Michaels on the story:
Universal Music will use a new crowdfunding website to work out which "rare and deleted" albums it ought to reissue on vinyl.
According to online magazine Fact, the Vinyl Project will allow fans to register their interest in the re-release of certain LPs, with Sonic Youth's Goo, Björk's Biophilia, Pulp's His N Hers and Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance currently being considered for the project. More importantly, backers will have to vote with their pounds and pence much like Kickstarter, where users have to promise to buy a copy if the proposal goes ahead.
As the world's biggest label, Universal has a large catalogue of vinyl records. But for every new Disclosure LP or reissued Five Leaves Left, a hundred records remain the sole purview of eBay hawkers and crate-diggers. For a taste of the treasures in Universal's vaults, we can look at the project's own marketing survey: according to the Vinyl Project, questions included references to Tom Waits's Swordfishtrombones, the Jackson 5's ABC and Erykah Badu's Baduizm.
As Fact pointed out, a crowdfunded reissue site isn't a new concept. Earlier this year, Ninja Tune Records launched Beat Delete, which helps labels such as Ninja Tune, Domino and Beggars Banquet gauge which of their out-of-print albums and singles are in high demand. Lots of these labels' vinyl stock was destroyed in the 2011 Sony warehouse fire, and about 150 pre-orders are required to justify a repress. LPs by Caribou, Roots Manuva and the Cinematic Orchestra have been among the beneficiaries thus far.
Universal has not yet announced a launch date for the Vinyl Project.