- R&S Records calls the plant's delays the "worst there's ever been."
The French vinyl manufacturing facility MPO is experiencing severe delays that are affecting the schedules of dance music labels and distributors.
Like many pressing plants, long waiting times and delays are not unusual at MPO, which is one of Europe's biggest and oldest facilities. The industry as a whole is under considerable strain as major labels move to capitalise on the increasing consumer interest in vinyl. While numerous new plants have opened and modernised cutting manufacturing tools are being developed, many plants are being pushed beyond capacity. But sources tell Resident Advisor that a recent delay has been particularly disruptive.
Andy Whittaker of R&S Records, whose relationship with MPO goes back over 15 years, said the label's release schedule was "a total mess. It's the worst it's ever been by a long way. MPO have offered apologies but they have made some bad business decisions this year." Above Board Distribution, which represents the likes of ????, Red Ember, Cómeme, Dance Mania, Hotflush and Versatile, has said: "Our entire schedule is ripped apart. We've all been in the dark for weeks now. Many releases pencilled in for 2017 are pushed back into 2018 with no further notice."
MPO sent a letter to its customers in October that acknowledged the delays. The letter, seen by RA, describes the plant's attempts to meet demand by increasing production capacity. Four additional production lines were scheduled to be built between now and December but unforeseen order increases over the summer forced them to increase their lead time. "We understand fully that this will impact on your planning," says the letter, which was written by the president of MPO's management board. "I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are fully aware of your continued faith in us in spite of a level of service which does not always reflect what we would like to offer."
Kompakt's Michael Mayer told RA that the situation is symptomatic of an industry-wide problem. "Ten years ago, the turnaround of record was three-to-four weeks," he said. "That was before the majors discovered that they can make a fast buck with vinyl reissues. Now it takes up to 12 weeks until we get finished product. MPO should not be finger pointed here as Kompakt is working with a larger array of pressing plants—big and small, new and established. We find that none of them work significantly faster."
MPO works with a wide range of independent distributors and labels, as well as major record labels. The plant presses up to 40,000 units daily.
MPO has yet to respond to RA's requests for comment.