With vinyl sales and global temperatures both hitting historic strides, labels and collectors are struggling to protect their records from the effects of climate change.
If a record you recently purchased arrived warped or otherwise damaged, you’re far from the only one. According to statements from a number of independent labels, climate change is making it difficult to protect their orders from heat-induced damage. And (echoing the conclusions of literally decades of climate science,) there isn’t much in the way of relief on the way.
To head off the discontent (and to a certain degree, liability,) some banners have offered customers the option to delay shipments while they wait out regional heatwaves. Some, like Joyful Noise Records, are adding “DO NOT LEAVE IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT” disclaimers to orders. Others have been less empathetic. Hello Merch, a distributor for hundreds of artists, inserted an addendum to their terms of service, refusing to process refunds for packages that sustained some damage from being exposed to extreme heat.
Collectors, of course, are no strangers to the effects of gaudy temperatures on wax. But that doesn’t appear to be slowing down sales in the least bit. In fact, 2021 is set to be vinyl’s biggest year in decades, up over 100% since this time last year when acetates officially eclipsed CDs as the highest-selling physical music format. Should it stay the course, vinyl sales will break the billion-dollar mark in 2021 despite widespread delays in manufacturing due to booming demand and a labor shortage caused by the pandemic.
So if you’re hoping to preserve the integrity of those grooves (and, you know, the planet,) it may be best to stick to your local shops and hold off on purchases of new albums on vinyl for now. Better to switch to a seasonal purchasing schedule than to risk being the latest climate change casualty.