Are you a huge fan of Frank Ocean’s sophomore album and want to pick up a copy? Are you left flabbergasted at the price and left asking yourself ‘why is Blonde vinyl so expensive?
Well, you are in the right place, for today we will be looking at 6 of the central reasons why. Of course, though there are a whole bunch of reasons, one of the more central ones has to do with the pressing plant climate today.
With the labor and materials shortages in pressing plants throughout the western world, producing vinyl records has become pricier. As such, producing the Blonde vinyl would have required a huge investment, and the producers would only have been compensated if they sold Blonde vinyl at a higher price.
The Story Thus Far
Everything seems to be more expensive than it once was, and this is at least in part due to escalating rates of inflation as the years progress, and vinyl records are far from exempt. Even during this second era of the vinyl record, there are still so many production costs to consider.
It is believed that back in the original heyday of vinyl record labels who would press records as their primary export things were cheaper. More accurately, the prices for everything were a little different as rates of taxation have affected different consumables differently.
A lot of those who reminisce about cheaper prices neglect to consider the fact that during the 60s in England there was still a different form of currency altogether, and though it was on the way out at this point it still would have affected the rates at which such consumables would be sold off.
The local record shop, still, was kind, and what they said and what vinyl albums they decided to push on their store front would be what the masses would listen to. Anyone who did not like the vinyl releases their local record store was pushing might just as easily start their own record stores.
Now, there are of course still record stores, but there is far more of a market for records online in the vinyl revival we currently find ourselves in. People flock to these online vendors for reasons of affordability, being able to find rare records and common records for a cheaper average price than their local store.
And yet, the prices still seem extortionate for a new single record, no? Are the major labels not laughing at the lay folk as they tot up their vinyl sales chart? And why is this also the case for Frank Ocean?
Why so Expensive?
In calling something expensive, we are automatically comparing it to the price of something else without even realizing it. In this case, it will be with other audio formats deemed to be cheaper, namely CDs and digital streaming platforms.
The simple answer is that the manufacturing process enacted in pressing plants in the production of so called expensive vinyl records is a far more thorough and labor intensive process than simply mass manufacturing a whole bunch of nameless and faceless CDs and then scanning a bunch of digital files onto them.
Digital streaming platforms elide the scanning part of the process altogether and simply transmit the digital files through the airwaves into the ears of the consumer.
So, while these methods have been readily available for a while and have been adapted to meet the demand of the modern consumer, the vinyl record in its unexpected second coming has not been adapted to.
Though vinyl sales have rocketed in the previous decade or so as a result of a burgeoning culture of nostalgia, the means to meet the supply and demand of the medium have not been met. The vinyl industry is still working as though records are not exploding in popularity.
This means that all the old pressing plants are having to do much of the heavy lifting with records for the overall vinyl production. This is largely the reason why so many pressing plants are entirely backlogged with new vinyl releases, and why some have even closed their doors entirely until such a day when they can actually catch up.
Record shops, thus, are not able to provide for their consumers, the consumers get angry and buy the goods elsewhere for more money, and the whole ugly cycle repeats anew.
Why is Blonde Vinyl so Expensive?
Now for all the more abstract reasons listed above, there are a number of reasons that are specific to this release and to its producers, reasons that have made this one of the most expensive vinyl records brand new, even more expensive than the official Channel Orange vinyl!
No matter how if it is now a rare record or any of the other reasons why this might be the case, the album itself was hotly anticipated after the veritable success of his previous album Channel Orange. Fans were already foaming at the mouth at the prospect of another Frank Ocean release.
Even streaming platforms like Apple Music were not really prepared for the sheer influx of listeners that this new release would bring, to this streaming platform and others like Spotify.
The weight of the demand and expectation for this new record almost rivalled that of Ocean’s contemporary Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, swelling all forms of forum with praise and moist undergarments as though this were a repeat of the kind of mania that propelled Elvis Presley into catatonia and the entire country into a new age of pop music from which it has yet to return.
Yet this demand was not met with the product it desired, leaving many fans disappointed that they could not purchase their own copy of Frank Ocean’s sophomore album.
Whether this was intentional or not remains to be seen. Some believe that the producers and labels were not able at that time to fulfill their usual full scale vinyl production owing to problems with the pressing plants at the time. Some, however, feel as though this was an intentional marketing move on their part to render the record a more highly coveted item.
Atop the already seething anticipation and the limited supply of the record, the official Blonde vinyl actually satiated the desires, not only of Frank Ocean fans but also the music industry at large.
Many believe it to be a stellar album, one of the all time greats in fact. This personally seems to me to be a little far fetched, especially as we have yet to have enough retrospect to fully see the scope of its cultural impact.
The importance of this album to his fanbase is, though, undeniable and continues to be kept in the rotation of many who could just as easily have moved on to the next hot thing on the market – this, I suppose, is about as much of an exemplar of their enduring appeal as any you are likely to get in today’s market.
So, atop the already brimming anticipation of this record by his fans and the music industry at large, the limited availability of the record, and the fact that the resulting record was actually good, there was the fact that it was only available for 24 hours before disappearing forever.
This was a choice, too, for when the official vinyl was announced it came with a notice that it would only be available for 24 hours and then would disappear for good.
Adding a countdown clock is always going to make people go crazy, racing to bid however much it takes to beat their fellow fans and get their own copy of the album.
The ticking of the clock breeds all sorts of behavior that might not otherwise fly were it not there ticking away in the background beckoning all sorts of misdeeds from behind the scenes.
So, atop the already brimming anticipation of this record by his fans and the music industry at large, the limited availability of the record, the fact that the resulting record was actually good as well as the fact that it was only available for 24 hours before disappearing forever, it is no surprise that the resale prices are through the roof.
These resellers can appear in two categories: those who are actual fans of the music and those who are simply in it because they smell a profit.
This latter group you will always find on the very outskirts of a music venue attempting to shift ever so slightly overpriced tickets to punters who were not otherwise able to get a ticket.
The former will have been there on the frontline battling other fans for supremacy over their own copy of the album.
It is obviously impossible to really tell which is which online, though, and it is precisely this anonymity that renders the internet both the greatest blessing and the deepest curse.
All of this sidesteps the obvious fact that vinyl is expensive to make. Both the process of how vinyl records are made and what vinyl records are made of ought to be considered if we are to truly understand the query at hand.
The process of producing and pressing records is inherently more expensive than manufacturing CDs (which always adds coals to the fire between CD vs vinyl), and certainly far more than the streaming of music files digitally.
There is a very real and very physical aspect to the vinyl record that for a lot of consumers is precisely the reason they tend to gravitate towards it instead of these other formats; they can feel it, touch it, and look directly at the enlarged rendering of the album cover, pause, wonder, reflect on life’s mysteries or simply do an elongated fart in the company of a favorite artist.
So, there you have it!
Hopefully, your wish to know more about why the Blond vinyl is so expensive.
Perhaps you have even left here today with a bit more knowledge of some of the intricacies of the record industry and how manufacturers use psychology to fold the will of the people to their bidding like capitalist origami oligarchal satanists with horns beneath their toupees.
FAQs Why is Blonde Vinyl so Expensive
How many copies of Blonde vinyls were made?
It is unknown precisely how many copies of the album were made, though many suspect that the release of the record on vinyl formats was limited to a batch of only 1000, hence the fact that the record was only on sale for 24 hours. No matter the specific number, no one is going to deny that they were produced in a limited supply, whether intentionally or not.
Why is vinyl so expensive right now?
While some believe that the price of vinyl is rather extortionate in this day, there are many who believe that the price should be looked at relatively and compared to other such products. Mark Whelton, for example, believes that while ‘vinyl appears expensive compared to CD’s’, ‘the production costs are greater… However it is my belief that vinyl is now relatively cheaper than ever in the UK compared to the other of my passions, beer, gigs and football… In the 60’s a LP cost the equivalent of 20–25 pints of beer. When I started going under-age in the 70’s to the local pub a LP cost the equivalent of 15 pints.’
Why is some vinyl so expensive?
There are a whole host of reasons that might factor into the price of a record: the relative rarity of the release, the desirability of the release, and the artist’s popularity (whether in the present day or in retrospect), etc. Some manufacturers can use these aspects to their advantage – as in the case of Frank Ocean’s Blond, which was only sold put on sale for 24 hours and sold in very limited quantities to drive up sale prices, though not without an element involving the pressing plant climate today.