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Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
16 May 2024, 13:09

77% of vinyl collectors would pay more for sustainably produced records, survey shows

Heavyweight pressings were also called into question, signalling a potential shift in priorities

Sustainable vinyl demand increases

A new survey of vinyl collectors has revealed two-thirds would buy more records if they were more sustainably produced. Meanwhile, 77% would pay a premium for wax with a reduced environmental impact. 

The research, conducted by the UK's largest broker for physical music production, Key Production, also shows uncertainty around the value of 180g heavyweight pressings. 70% of vinyl buyers either saw no advantage to the product, or were uncertain it offered tangible benefits. 

A previous study had revealed that Gen Z - those in the 18-24 age bracket - were not only listening to more vinyl, CDs and cassettes than any other demographic, but were also willing to pay more for music on record if it had been made with more environmentally-friendly materials and processes. 

"As consumer awareness of environmental issues continues to grow, it is evident that there is a substantial market opportunity for eco-friendly vinyl records. Regarding 180g records - while this is often seen by the industry as a more sought after product, this survey shows that the industry is actually getting it wrong as consumers aren’t valuing the weight as they think," said Key Production CEO, Karen Emanuel.

"High quality records can be made at 140g, and this slightly lower weight can have a hugely positive impact across the whole supply chain," she added. 

Lower impact vinyl production is becoming increasingly visible. Billie Eilish's latest album, 'Hit Me Hard and Soft', reportedly had its own sustainability plan. This included the music being pressed onto reground or bio-attributed plastic for physical releases. 

A number of pressing plants now specialise in sustainable processes, such as Amsterdam's Deep Grooves, which featured in DJ Mag's January 2020 long read on wax and the environment, and Green Vinyl. And, last year, the "world's first" biodegradable vinyl was pressed — a 14-track collaborative compilation from Evolution Music and Bye Bye Plastic, the non-profit run by Canadian artist BLOND:ISH. 

"What we’re seeing is a consumer shift towards a demand for physical music made with reduced impact. Vinyl can be made more sustainably with new compounds which replaces the fossil-fuel ingredients, and packaging can be made with completely recycled materials," said John Service, Strategy & Sustainability Directory at Key Production Group.

While vinyl sales continue to grow — 2023 marked the 16th consecutive year-on-year market growth — consumer demand is increasingly at odds with the reality for artists. According to distribution company DITTO, just 12.8% of musicians can afford the cost of releasing music on record. Further to this, 54.4% of respondents said prices for pressing and logistics were too high.