Press Clipping
Alexis Castiel, co-founder of on-demand, community-led vinyl production site Diggers Factory, explains how the platform is fostering communities, informing labels of in-demand vinyl records and how its model differs from crowdfunding

The numbers for vinyl are better than ever; according to research published by eBay this week, a quarter of 18-24 year olds purchased records in the last year, while the BPI figures released in January detailed 2016 sales of vinyl as reaching a 25-year high and outstripping that spent on digital downloads for the first time. There’s no denying it, there’s a market. Although keen to capitalise on the once-again-popular format, Diggers Factory was created from a passion for the tradition of crate digging, the frustration of not finding what you’re after and the welcome new discoveries that are chanced upon in a bricks and motor shop experience. The aim of the French start-up is to recreate the diggers’ community whilst facilitating a way for labels and artists to forecast demand and manage sales before production, ultimately leading to less wastage and money saved. Much like a crowdfunding site, labels, artists or fans can create campaigns for records they hope to produce, or see produced, and when the target is met the process begins – with Diggers Factory taking 15%. However, by forget it, and we also take care of the shipping when the production is finished, all as part of the service. We also have a distribution network so record shops and distributors can buy records directly from the Diggers Factory marketplace at wholesale prices. You’re marketing yourself as a community, how do you foster that environment? We have functions that allow users to ‘follow’ friends or artists that they like, which in turn will alert them when friends buy a new record or artists launch a project. We also have a wishlist feature, which is good for the community because they can vote for the best and if there is a popular record that should be produced, we contact the label and let them know that people want to buy it. It’s a good way to join a community and allow them to speak a bit louder. What percentage of success are you seeing on campaigns? At the moment, we’re seeing around a 40% success rate. There are two reasons that isn’t higher right now, one is an artist’s lack of community and the other is lack of communication. For the majority of the ones that haven’t worked it’s because they don’t have the fanbase to support it, if an artist has 20 fans on Facebook we know it will be difficult to raise the interest. The main goal when you launch a project is to communicate, and if an artist doesn’t have the time to do that it’s really difficult to complete. working with a network of factories, mastering studios and distribution networks, the platform looks to provide a “full turnkey” solution to the procedure, rather than just a pre-order website. Following a positive first year in business, including a place in the Midemlab finalists list this year, labels such as Get Physical, Tru Thoughts and Animal Records using the system and a number of artists seeing individual success, the site has now launched its own marketplace - facilitating business and communication between distributors, record shops and individuals everywhere in the world. Co-founder Alexis Castiel explains the benefits of the business in more detail. What separates Diggers Factory from crowdfunding sites? The main difference is that we only specialise in vinyl, so the people who use it will only be looking for vinyl. On Kickstarter you have a lot of different things and people can get a little bit lost in the project. It’s really important for us to specialise because when you are passionate about vinyl, the community each discover new music. When vinyl lovers go to record shops, they dig through lots of different boxes to find the next record, it’s the same on Diggers Factory, but online. We also offer different services because we manage the money and the steps after that. We work with 10 factories across the US, France, Germany and the UK to find the best factory for your project. We work with mastering studios because mastering is a really important step for vinyl and some people How do you overcome the delays that come with pressing times? It’s the biggest problem and we can’t do anything about that now. Too many people want records and there just aren’t enough factories. A US company launched a new machine to press records a few years ago, so I think a lot of new factories will open in the coming years and the problem will be solved by itself. People understand that there is a market now and I think within three years, give or take, these issues won’t be there. Is this a one-off marketing tactic for the artists who use it? It’s definitely not a one-off marketing quirk, we’ve seen it work for the same artists more than once. Hip hop artist Kyo Itachi has already seen two successful projects, with runs of 200 and 300. French label Animal Records do all of their releases on Diggers Factory now and every time it works. I don’t think this is a oneshot solution, I think this can be used over and over again, especially as your fans will then be on the platform and aware when you launch another campaign, thanks to the alerts. How do you expand going forward? The marketplace launched a few weeks ago but going forward we will have more partners on the platform. At the moment we have 10 factories and 10 mastering studios, we’d like to work with all factories available so that when a record is produced we can more effectively locate the best factory for it. We’d also like to implement recommendations based on the previous projects backed and purchased.