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Universal Music Group to Crowdfund Out of Print Vinyl Records
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Universal Music Group to Crowdfund Out of Print Vinyl Records

The Universal Music Group (UMG), a giant in the music world, is developing a crowdfunding platform for out of print vinyl records.

It’s the latest large enterprise to experiment with crowdfunding, joining the likes of Microsoft, Dodge, and A+E Networks.

- How Crowdfunding is Altering the Role of the Consumer  

Little is known about UMG’s forthcoming service, but CMU reports that it will operate as part of UMG’s UVinyl site. The platform isn’t live yet, though there is a landing page where interested users can submit their contact information and register for the “latest news.” Here’s how the landing page describes the platform:

We’re currently developing a crowd-funded vinyl service that makes use of Universal Music’s extensive catalogue to offer sought-after deleted records to be re-pressed in this great format. Funders will become owners of limited edition rare records, which will also include digital downloads & personalized art prints.

Some of the UMG artists whose records are being considered for re-printing are Jackson 5, Bjork, Elton John, Nirvana, and Def Leppard.

As CMU points out, this isn’t the first such initiative in the music world: Ninja Tune, a record label, created a similar platform earlier this year called Beat Delete. It’s no secret that vinyl is thriving, with sales at their highest since 1997, and initiatives like Beat Delete and UVinyl are seeking to capitalize on this trend.

It’s a low-risk, low-reward move for UMG. The company can set the minimum number of pre-orders to the break-even point, ensuring that it doesn’t lose money on the re-prints. But vinyls accounted for only 1.4 percent of album sales in 2012, so UMG isn’t likely to make a killing off this project. At the very least, though, it's a way for UMG to gauge market interest around certain artists.

More significantly, the platform represents yet another large enterprise making use of crowdfunding. If these nascent efforts prove fruitful, we could see more interesting – and lucrative – efforts in the near future.

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