Industrial Design & Market Research
For the first time since 1989, record sales have topped out as a $418 million industry*. As popularity continues to rise, record consumers are looking for novel, inventive ways to participate in the vinyl trend. The few operational vinyl presses remaining worldwide find themselves overburdened, turning away new clients and adding round-the-clock shifts to meet demand*. At the same time, small artists and collectors are unable to produce the comparatively small runs of vinyl that their fans desire.
Few remaining record pressing businesses are able to meet customer demand, and orders under 300 units are considered logistically impossible to fulfill due to set-up costs. A start-up in the Netherlands offers a single copy lathe-cut record for $80; but at this price point, it is only an option for serious collectors. This leaves small artists and labels unable to fulfill their fan's desires for a vinyl album.
*Fortune, Vinyl Record Sales Are At A 28-Year High, 2016
*Plastics Today, Vinyl Really Is Back From The Dead, 2016
Put control back into artists hands by offering an in-house method to record production. This would enable small artists to cut, distribute, and fulfill fan's requests, without the long lead time and high cost of traditional pressing.
Industrial design, market research, first-person user research, final presentation design.
Tools & Methods
First-person interviews, secondary market research, sketching, storyboarding, Solidworks 2017, Keyshot, Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop.
I reached out to local record store owners to talk about their clientele and community. They taught me about what collectors look for in vinyl and how to tell the difference between Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and Shellac mediums, as well as how to look for scratches.
At Pirates Press in Oakland, California, I was walked through the record mastering and pressing process. We discussed how the quality of vinyl affects the final sound and about modern resin records. The industry standard of black PVC is considered the best quality material by collectors; however, colored and clear PVC can reach the same level of quality. The industry's perception of colored vinyl being low quality lies not in the material itself, but in the quality control process that all records undergo.