Jack White urges major labels to open vinyl pressing plants

Third Man Records owner and vinyl champion says the major labels need to step up and help ease burden on the few remaining vinyl pressers.

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Jack White is making a plea to the three major record labels to build their own vinyl pressing plants. 

In a video released Monday, the Detroit rocker asks Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to help shoulder the burden on the vinyl industry. White opened his own vinyl pressing plant at the Cass Corridor site of his Third Man Records in 2017. 

Jack White is calling on major labels to open their own vinyl pressing plants to help ease the burden on the vinyl industry.

"Vinyl records have exploded in the last decade, and their demand is incredibly high," says White, sporting his current dyed-blue hair. Noting the strain on pressing plants, he says small punk bands face backups of eight to 10 months in order to get records pressed, and he asks the major labels to once again open their own pressing plants to help bring those turnaround times down to more manageable levels. 

"As the MC5 once said," White says, "you're either part of the problem or part of the solution." 

Sales of new vinyl records in 2021 doubled over 2020, to more than 42 million units, outpacing sales of CDs for the year. Adele's latest album, "30," has alone sold more than 300,000 copies on vinyl. 

But producing that many vinyl albums just for Adele has created a strain on the few available vinyl pressers, and has made it difficult for artists not named Adele to get their albums pressed. 

"At least once a week, without fail, someone will reach out asking me to help expedite their vinyl record manufacturing," White said in a statement that accompanied the video release. "It’s a natural thought… knowing that I own a pressing plant and have my own record label, 'if anyone could help, it’s this guy!'"

White, whose Detroit pressing plant has beefed up its staff in recent months and is planning to add another shift to increase productivity, says it's not just about him or his company, it's about the industry in general. 

"There are people who will say – isn’t this good for Third Man? More demand than you can handle? To which I say, even though Third Man benefits in the short term, in the long term it ultimately hurts everyone involved in the vinyl ecosystem given the bottlenecks and delays. Something needs to be done."

White says it's a "no-brainer" for the record labels to invest in infrastructure to press more vinyl, noting both automated and vinyl presses are easier to purchase now than they have been in the last four decades. 

"The issue is, simply, we have ALL created an environment where the unprecedented demand for vinyl records cannot keep up with the rudimentary supply of them," he says.

White is releasing two new albums this year: "Fear of the Dawn" will be released April 8, and "Entering Heaven Alive" is due on July 22. 

White's 2022 tour kicks off with two nights at Detroit's Masonic Temple on April 8 and 9.