In this episode of The Label Machine Podcast, host Nick Sadler chats with Chris Muirhead, Label Production Manager at Disc Manufacturing Services (DMS).

Discover insights into the current vinyl and CD market, best practices for new bands, minimum units for tour sales, and the future of physical music products. Get an insider's look into the world of disc manufacturing from one of the industry's leading experts.

Don't miss out on this deep dive into physical music media!

Background and Journey:
Chris Muirhead shares his journey into the music industry, starting from his early days at a not-for-profit rehearsal and recording studio in Plymouth. DMS began as a small operation with a couple of CD duplicators and inkjet printers, eventually growing into a leading producer of vinyl and CDs. Over the years, DMS expanded its services to include design and audio teams, allowing them to offer comprehensive production solutions.

Role of a Label Production Manager:
Chris describes his role as encompassing everything from initial concepts to final delivery. He works closely with artists and labels, helping them realize their vision within budget constraints. His work includes suggesting print finishes, vinyl effects, and packaging innovations like hot foiling and die cuts to enhance the final product's appeal.

Market Trends and Changes:
The conversation highlights significant changes in the vinyl and CD market over the past decade. Vinyl, once a niche product, has seen a resurgence, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. More artists are now producing vinyl in larger quantities and experimenting with unique designs and effects to create special editions that appeal to collectors. Similarly, CDs are experiencing a revival, particularly among younger audiences who find the format retro and novel.

Innovative Packaging and Effects:
Chris discusses various innovative packaging options, such as hot foiling, spot gloss finishes, and die cuts. He explains that these techniques can add a unique selling point to physical music products. The trend towards more deluxe and experimental vinyl effects reflects the increasing demand for unique and collectible items.

Importance of Preparation:
One key takeaway from the interview is the importance of preparation and planning in the production process. Chris emphasizes that artists and labels should plan their releases well in advance, particularly given the longer manufacturing times for vinyl. He also notes the value of staggering promotional efforts to build anticipation and engage fans over a more extended period.

Environmental Considerations:
The interview touches on the growing interest in eco-friendly packaging. Both vinyl and CD production are seeing a shift towards more sustainable materials and practices. For example, there is increasing use of recycled plastic for vinyl records and biodegradable shrink wraps.

Challenges and Advice:
Chris offers practical advice for bands and labels. He stresses the importance of investing in high-quality mastering and being mindful of vinyl's limitations when deciding on track listings. Communication is crucial throughout the production process to avoid delays and ensure a smooth workflow.

Future of Vinyl and CDs:
Looking ahead, Chris is excited about the continued innovation in vinyl and CD packaging. He mentions new folding techniques, the use of transparent and glamour papers, and intricate designs that add value to physical music products. The trend towards multi-format releases, combining vinyl, CD, and cassette, is also growing, allowing artists to cater to different segments of their fan base.

The podcast concludes with Nick and Chris discussing the significance of physical music products in the digital age. Despite the convenience of streaming, vinyl and CDs offer a tangible connection to the music and a way for fans to express their musical tastes. Chris invites listeners to explore DMS's offerings and highlights the company's commitment to quality and innovation in music production.

For more information, Chris directs listeners to the DMS website ( and their Instagram (@DMSVinyl). He encourages anyone interested to reach out, emphasizing DMS's passion for music and their readiness to collaborate on new projects.

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