On-demand vinyl platform elasticStage has announced the latest closing of its seed round, which has now raised £3.5 million in total for the UK tech start-up.
Ahead of its launch, elasticStage is billed as the world’s first on-demand vinyl manufacturer that uses revolutionary techniques new to this industry (via its patent-pending technology).
It comes at a time of concern about global capacity issues for vinyl. As revealed in Music Week, vinyl sales dipped in Q2 by 0.7% compared to the prior year quarter. The industry consensus is that, even with increasing prices of LPs, the problem is supply rather than demand.
According to a statement, the latest investment for elasticStage represents industry confidence in the start-up, which is set to present all types of artists with “an innovative way to create vinyl, offering a better commercial opportunity in physical sales”.
Following six years of development, elasticStage is readying the launch of its service to manufacture and distribute vinyl which the company says is both sustainable and ethical.
With an on-demand D2C solution, fully packaged vinyl products can be dispatched immediately from the point of creation and in large volumes. This offers the music industry short lead times, with a minimum order of just one, enabling commercial demand to be met instantaneously.
At present, the industry-wide problem with long lead times means it can take up to 12 months for an LP release. According to elasticStage, artists can essentially sell vinyl on the same day when making a release available on the elasticStage web-platform, which can not only boost revenues, but potentially bolster crucial chart positions based on physical sales.
Rather than pressing vinyl, each record manufactured by elasticStage is a first-generation recording. By eliminating the pressing of vinyl and offset printing, the new method provides a more sustainable and ethical way of creating records as heat and energy from pressing is removed. There is also no issue with unsold stock.
“Importantly, the use of an alternative to PVC, digital printing and the eradication of harmful chemicals sets a new standard in this field,” said a statement. “All this is achieved without compromising the quality of the sound or the artwork.”
The company has secured investment from leading producers Paul Epworth (Adele, Paul McCartney) and Dan Grech-Marguerat (Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, Tom Grennan), artist managers Ryan Walter (Lewis Capaldi), Tim Parry (co-founder of Big Life Management), Ed Millet (co-founder of Tap Music) and more.
We have truly modernised the vinyl manufacturing process
The investment from the latest funding round will help the company to achieve its growth plans, continue developing its technology, and to enter into key industry partnerships with labels and DSPs.
elasticStage will also launch its first London-based production and fulfilment centre in Q4, which will give a selected number of artists, labels and DSPs the opportunity to join a trial run. Pricing for the vinyl will be “competitive”, with zero up-front cost.
Steve Rhodes, CEO and co-founder of elasticStage, said: “We have built a revolutionary way to manufacture vinyl that will soon replace the current outdated, traditional method that uses harmful chemicals and a lot of energy, along with long lead times and unnecessary warehousing. We are already in talks with a major DSP for integrating our tech and we can’t wait to help the industry in meeting commercial demand for vinyl at speed.
“At the same time, rights-holders can considerably increase the number of catalogue titles available, which will help boost revenue. We have truly modernised the vinyl manufacturing process and are also perfectly situated for the growing number of creators, estimated to reach 50 million by 2025, that currently have no or little access to vinyl.”
Paul Epworth said: “The sound of the vinyl is a significant upgrade from the established 50-year-old manufacturing process. There is sharper definition in all frequency ranges without losing any of the vinyl character. Largely indistinguishable from the original master in blind tests, on a sonic level it brings the vinyl process into the 21st century, which is why I have invested in elasticStage as it represents an overhaul to the way vinyl will now be created.”
Dan Grech-Marguerat added: “The future of vinyl is here. With a next day turnaround time, gone will be the days of waiting months for vinyl production. The high-end sound quality and incredible definition will shock any avid record lover. With less noise and an excellent stereo image at low frequencies, this is the vinyl manufacturer the world has been waiting for.”