Diggers Factory is an online community offering vinyl record pre-orders. Its concept is simple: the records are produced only if you reach an objective of pre-orders. The artist or label chooses the minimum pre-orders needed to launch the production and sets the project online. If they reach their goal in good ...
Diggers Factory Combs the Vaults of French Radio to Find International Icon’s Lost Performances--Then Gets Them on Vinyl
New tech-driven vinyl-on-demand service specializes in rarities and indies, in batches as small as 50
France’s Institut national de l’audiovisual (INA) is a treasure trove. The archive of radio and television harbors fantastic performances from some of the world’s greatest musicians--and now they are publicly available for the first time, on vinyl. Thanks to a partnership with Diggers Factory, fans of Ray Charles, Serge Gainsbourg (in one of his first in-studio performances), and Cairo-born pop icon Dalida can hear their favorites in rare form.
“I’ve loved Serge Gainsbourg since I was a child, and when we heard the Ray Charles set, we couldn’t wait to share it,” explains Diggers Factory co-founder Alexis Castiel. “There were a lot of projects honoring Dalida this year, as she passed 30 years ago, and we thought releasing this performance was another great way to pay homage.”
The Diggers Factory/INA partnership is built on an innovative model: Diggers Factory collects pre-orders from interested fans before printing a limited run of LPs. Once orders have reached a certain number, the LP gets pressed and mailed to fans.
The unique releases are an extension of Diggers Factory’s vinyl-on-demand service. With batches as small as 50, DF sources vinyl from factories around Europe to guarantee turnaround times and quality. The platform works closely with labels and artists to move with minimal friction from mastered files to fulfillment. “All the label or artist needs to do is upload the files and artwork, and set their margin, and we take care of the rest, right down to mailing pre-ordered vinyl to supporters and providing wholesale prices for stores and distributors.”
Alexis Castiel had a business degree and a background in IT. He did an apprenticeship with IBM. But he really loved music, and he was drawn to ways it might support communities. He founded an internet radio at his business school in Lille, a place where students started to share and talk about music and playlists. He also got involved in a music festival that raised awareness and gifts for a children’s charity. Once he had degree in hand, he decided it was time to do something that brought all these elements together.
“Always wanted to create my own company. I really liked the idea of making things for the community. I appreciated crowdfunding as a model but I didn’t want to create a platform. We wanted to extend crowdfunding to support artists at every step, to help artists manage everything. We decided to start with the tougher moments in artists’ businesses.”
That led him and his partner, developer and college mate from the Universite Paris-Dauphine Victor Périn, to vinyl, the fastest growing physical format for music, sales-wise. They saw how they could minimize risk and hassle for musicians. They launched a fully functional site in April 2016.
They went on to win a spot in MIDEM’s highly competitive startup competition, Midemlab. “All the people competing against us had decades of experience. So it was pretty wild,” says Castiel.
DF plans to continue its collaboration with INA, and to work closely with several artists this year, as the wild ride continues.