Vinyl & Pressing
Once your mixes are finished, you'll need to get your audio mastered for vinyl. We recommend having your music mastered by an experienced engineer who is familiar with RIAA standards for vinyl mastering. Having your music mastered specifically for vinyl ensures that the high and low frequencies have been optimized for best performance on a record (imbalanced low frequencies or too much sibilance can diminish the quality of the record substantially).
Once your songs are mastered, two lacquers will be cut (A and B side). A lacquer is an aluminum disk covered in a soft material much like nail polish, which is cut on a lathe. Once cut, the lacquers are sprayed with liquid silver and then nickel plated to form stampers that are used to press the records. The stampers are then inserted into the press and the first test pressings are made to be reviewed by our audio QC team and then sent off to the artist/label/management for approval. Once you've approved the test pressings, your order will move to our production queue to be pressed.
You'll need to make sure you've got all your artwork ready to go and formatted per the appropriate templates at time of of order confirmation. Artwork can be a major bottleneck in the order process, and we encourage our customers to make sure they have all printed materials squared away as early as possible to avoid any delays to their production timeline. A dedicated Project Manager will be assigned to you upon inquiry to help guide you through the process and keep your project on schedule.
Before getting your order on the floor for production, we'll send you test pressings for final approval. Before shipping your test pressings to you, they'll go through a process of audio quality control by our team. By default, we supply customers with 5 test pressings, with additional units available on request (at additional charge). Listening to multiple test pressings helps to ensure that the audio is consistent from record to record.
With 2 step plating, the lacquer is sprayed with a thin coat of silver, and then dipped in a bath of nickel, which adheres to the silver coating to form a stamper. A Mother is then made from the initial stamper, and from that mother, additional stampers are made. The downside of this process is that one mother can be used to create approximately 10 sets of stampers before it degrades and becomes unusable. Once the Mother becomes unusable, you will need to recut additional lacquers to press additional quantities of the record, which is time consuming and accrues additional cost. We only recommend this option to customers on a budget who are looking to press smaller quantities of records (10,000 at the very most).
With 3 step plating, the lacquer is sprayed and put into the tank, but instead of creating a stamper, a Father plate is made. The Father plate is in turn put back into the tank to create a Mother, from which the stampers will then be made. This is the ideal plating process as it can be used to press larger quantities and you can make up to 10 Mothers from 1 Father without the need to recut lacquers. With 3 Step plating, you can press up to 100,000 records before needing to recut lacquers and have new plates made.
The RIAA has a published set of guidelines that we follow. The basic formula is the shorter the record, the louder the volume and the more bass that can be reproduced.
7": 3 minutes per side @ 45rpm / 6 minutes per side @ 33rpm
12": 16-18 minutes per side @ 33rpm / 9 minutes per side at 45rpm
Records that exceed the suggested length may have additional charges added as more time is spent trying to maximize the volume and low end.
Yes. There are two options for ordering custom print components.
The first is customer-supplied print whereby the customer oversees the proofing and print process of all packaging components with a printer of their choice. Once printed we ask that your orders be shipped to us directly for final assembly. Should you require any print vendor recommendations, we're always happy to help.
Alternatively, for a more turnkey experience, we can place the print orders on your behalf. We will walk you through the process from templates and proofing to final delivery and assembly. Should you wish to go this route, please note all prices are available upon request only and will incur a 30% upcharge to the cost of the print.
The minimum order quantity for all orders is 200. If you are ordering multiple vinyl colors, the minimum is 200 per color.
Current turnaround times can vary based on capacity, order quantity and complexity. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Yes. If your music was mastered by an engineer who's experienced with mastering to RIAA standards for vinyl production, then your audio shouldn't need any additional EQ or compression (i.e., we won't be altering how your music sounds). If you choose to have your lacquers cut in-house as part of your order, our mastering engineers will simply take your finished masters and optimize them to work as well as possible on a vinyl record. This means determining how much space will go between the grooves, how deep the grooves will be, and how much volume you'll be able to get from your record based on the actual frequency content of your music. Think of lacquer cutting/mastering as the opposite of playing a record on your turntable; instead of physical vibrations being converted to electrical signals that are amplified and reproduced through your speakers, the electrical signals are turned into physical vibrations in the cutting head that are cut into the lacquer on the lathe. This is a physical process and it's very important that the audio is optimized by an experienced engineer so that the stylus will cut the lacquer properly for playback.
Send in whatever format you mixed your record to. Cassette, ¼”, ½”, 1” tape to 32 bit float 192 audio files. We have a wide variety of well maintained playback machines. Send us what you've got and we can make it work!
Yes! Please note that, if sending us stampers, they will need to be crimped and coined to the specs of our presses. If you wish to provide production metal from an electro-plater of your choice, please contact us prior to placing your order for required stamper specs.
Black vinyl is the standard and will always provide the highest fidelity. Because color vinyl has additives and custom color combinations are different vinyl stocks mixed together, the noise floor will be ever-so-slightly higher with color vinyl. That said, color vinyl still sounds great, not to mention being an attractive addition to your merch table.
We offer the option to receive reference lacquers before having your plates and stampers made. This just means our engineers will cut test lacquers (1 for each side of the record) and ship them to you for you to listen to and approve before having fresh lacquers cut and plated for production. This can help identify and isolate any audio issues that may need to be addressed before moving on the plating process.
No, we do not currently offer rush or expedited order processing.
TMP does not offer international shipping. Any overseas shipments require the customer to arrange pickup and provide ALL required paperwork. TMP assumes no responsibility for any international shipments once they leave site. All customer arranged international shipments will require immediate pickup upon completion to avoid flooring fees.
A matrix number is a string of letters and numbers used to identify your record. If you are signed to a label the matrix number should be part of their internal release schedule and you shouldn't have to worry about it, but if you are self-releasing your record, you will need to make one up. So let's say this is your first release and your band is called HIS NAME IS ALIVE, a good number may be HNIA-001. The matrix number will be etched into the run out groove of your lacquer after it has been cut. It will appear on the record itself after it has been pressed.
Jackets are the outermost cardboard packaging of the record, where the album art is printed. Sleeves go inside the jacket and are made of paper.
No. Third Man Pressing is a separate entity from the Third Man Records storefront, which only stocks Third Man releases.
Third Man Pressing does not sell records. However, you can visit the Third Man Records online store to browse and purchase Third Man titles that we've pressed. Additionally, the Third Man Records retail storefronts (located in Nashville, Detroit, and London) carry many Third Man releases that were pressed at TMP.
Yes, we will dropship orders to two addresses with no additional fee, and for every address over two, there will be a $25 fulfillment fee.
Licensing & Copyright
For all orders, please ensure that you have the rights to your audio and that any samples are properly cleared and licensed before submitting your order, or it will be be rejected. Our copyright compliance form must be signed and submitted before we will process your order.
You will need to obtain Master and/or Mechanical licenses for any samples in order for us to process your order. Licenses are obtained by contacting the owner of the recording as well the the publishing agency. For Master licenses, you will usually need to contact the record label, artist, production company, etc., and mechanical licenses can usually be obtained through Harry Fox Agency. If you aren't able to obtain mechanical licenses through the Harry Fox Agency, then you will need to contact the publishing company.
Since you are the artist making the recording of the cover song, you don't need to obtain a Master license for covers. You do, however, still need to obtain a mechanical license in order to ensure that royalties are properly paid to the owner of publishing.