Last year, I recorded The Turn, my third album with my longtime jazz quartet featuring Ben Monder, Joe Martin and Ted Poor. Renowned engineer James Farber recorded us all in a room at Sear Sound in New York without headphones, live to two track analog tape, the way records used to be made. The record has just come out on Bee Jazz in Europe and on Sunnyside in the US, on CD and download.
Here is a presentation video of the music:
You can listen to a song in its entirety here:
My goal is to get the album cut for vinyl by mastering legend Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab. Doug has already mastered the record for digital and has cut some of the best sounding LPs of the last forty years, so he would be the perfect person to handle the cutting. We will then press 500 copies at Quality Records Pressings, one of the very best plants for pressing records in the USA, and one that presses many of the very expensive audiophile reissue LPs. As much as I am proud of the way this record sounds on CD and download, I think it will sound even better on vinyl. Most importantly, it will also be affordable: $20, including domestic shipping.
Besides my personal interest in pressing vinyl, a lifelong dream, I also would love to show that vinyl can still be a viable option for newer jazz artists. Today, anyone with a computer can listen to music for free if they don’t want to pay for it. A lot of people also listen to music streaming, which generally sounds rather bad, thereby cheapening the experience of listening. Furthermore, the paltry rates paid to recording artists by the streaming companies don’t allow artists to recoup the costs of recording a decent sounding album, at least not in niche market musics such as jazz.
I think vinyl can help us bring back a better, more fulfilling listening experience, and can also be part of a business model that allows for the creation of new music.
For the listener, vinyl, when done well, sounds profoundly better than streaming or listening to a CD. And because vinyl records are beautiful, tangible objects, I am betting that we collectively are still willing to pay for them, thereby allowing artists and small jazz labels to keep creating and recording new music. Most people who don’t think twice about illegally downloading any record will likely never steal that same record on LP from a store. Vinyl sales are up. Collectively, we are starting to long again for the physicality of vinyl, in the same way that some of us might sometimes tire of looking at a screen all the time and realize we want actual human contact.
I know that personally, as a fan of the music and a vinyl enthusiast, I would like nothing more than to be able to buy new jazz records by artists I care about on vinyl at a reasonable price, as opposed to expensive reissues of the same classic albums from the 50’s and 60’s, which constitute a lot of the vinyl offerings in jazz these days. I think this is an achievable goal. With that in mind, I am trying to make my album as affordable as possible ($20 including domestic shipping) while also making sure it will be produced in the best possible way. I am hoping that if this Kickstarter campaign is successful, it will encourage other jazz artists to try similar endeavors.
That said, the LP set will also come with download codes, which will be available immediately at the completion of the Kickstarter campaign, so you can enjoy the music in the digital format of your choice. We live in 2014, after all.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any additional questions.
The Fine Print:
Because the record is 56 minutes long, and because of the way the songs break down per sides, the record will be spread over 4 sides at 33 RPM. I plan on pressing it on two 150g LPs (180g LPs cost a lot more and don’t necessarily sound better), tuck the records into nice rice paper inner sleeves that won’t scuff them, and package the album in a thick cardboard color jacket. It will be a numbered limited edition of 500 albums, done with the utmost care by the best of professionals. It should sound and look awesome.
- Cutting the lacquer at The Mastering Lab: $1080
- Reference Pressings at The Mastering Lab: $484
- Pressing the record at Quality Record Pressings: $2270
- Printing labels at G and M: $380
- Printing jackets at Stoughton Printing: $816
- Shipping: $320
TOTAL = $5350 + 10% estimated Kickstarter fees: $5885
Oct 19: End of the Kickstarter. Delivery of download codes to all backers. Cutting the lacquers at The Mastering Lab, printing jackets and labels
Nov 1: Sending lacquers, jackets and labels to Quality Record Pressings
March 1: Records ship
March 7: The album arrives in your mailbox!
Risks and challenges
Pressing vinyl takes time. The pressing plant (Quality Record Pressings) is very good and therefore also very busy. Their estimated turnaround is 12 to 16 weeks once they have the lacquers and the jackets. The company that prints the jackets is also pretty busy. Based on my interactions with both places, I think that March 2015 is a realistic delivery date for the records. However, delays could occur. I do think it's worth it to use the best pressing plant possible, as it's not really more expensive and will dramatically affect the quality of the vinyl.
If any delays occur, I will of course inform backers at once.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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