Why do so many new vinyl releases come with cheap paper inner sleeves?
The campaign For Poly-lined Inner Sleeves for all new Vinyl Records
For examples please watch the video above
This is the Now Spinning Magazine campaign to have polylined inner sleeves supplied as standard and ideally a move towards ‘anti static archival sleeves which could actually be part of advertising blurb!
This campaign was created due to the messages, emails and comments we have been getting about the effect these sleeves are having with vinyl albums with Paper dust, scratches, pops and clicks, static problems etc.
Most of these can be eradicated by cleaning the vinyl or buying a polylined inner sleeve, but why should you have to?
Vinyl albums are luxury products, the advertising blurb states, what care and attention has gone into the release, with gatefold sleeves, 180gm vinyl, even signed by the artists but this the whole thing is let down by these cheap inner sleeves.
Let me know what you think in the comments or get in touch via email or messenger and I will start to compile your thoughts. Phil Aston
Recent comments from Now Spinning Magazine Members / Subscribers
I completely agree that a good quality poly lined sleeve should be standard for all releases.
I’m working through replacing all the sub-standard inner sleeves in my collection. I’d like to think that in future this will not be necessary, for new purchases.
This is yet another aspect of putting the fan first.
Thanks again for your attention to detail and support for us fans. Andy
THANKS FOR THOSE WORDS ABOUT INNER SLEEVES. It really is a problem on many releases, and not only because of paper dust, but also that many cardboard/paper inner sleeves are so rough that you have scratched records already the first time you take them out of the sleeves. I always clean my new records before playing them, but in some cases it doesn’t help since they have been scratched by the sleeves. It’s such a pain to get a brand new record and it already has visible and audible scratches from just taking it out of the (tight) inner sleeve, and maybe even from the factory who put it in. And you’re right; For the price they demand they can afford to do things properly. If that can sink in, then maybe they can also learn to center records right, and avoid other pressing errors before they end up killing the format all over again.
The default should be anti-static. Often one’s hair stand straight up when handling new records, and you know how it sounds. The Sound Rookie
Phil, you are absolutely correct. Often times I will buy an album to replace one that is older and has become crackly due to many years of playing. I don’t expect that a new album that I buy to replace the older album to sound worse than the one I am trying to replace. Extremely frustrating. Polylined or archival sleeves definitely the way to go. Lee
Hi Phil, I remember years ago working in a record shop, opening order boxes and putting a record straight onto the turntable and playing it for customers. Every record was so clean, but there was an issue with some labels with the paper sleeves even way back then. Getting an album out was reasonably easy but it was a push and shove to put it back inside the cover., eventually causing visible scuffs. Since I have started buying records again, I have found it absolutely neccessary to clean evey new record before playing. Some paper sleeves have residue literally falling of it as you handle them while some records I’ve opened recently, look they have been dusted with flour. The other problem is static from the thick cardboard picture sleeves. I have had to literally wrestle the record out of its sleeve because it feels like its stuck in with super glue. My solution to this issue was to buy poly inner sleeves on eBay and insert them into every paper sleeve I come across. Record companies are again not thinking of the consumer but have their minds focused firmly on profit. Lex
On the sleeves debate, last year I bought a cleaning machine and set myself the task of washing my vinyl collection, about 1500+ albums. I bought new antistatic liners to replace any card or paper ones, and all I could think of as I was doing it was what a waste of money spent on empty sleeves that could have been spent on acquiring more music instead, had the record companies thought ahead. Yes, individually they are relatively inexpensive – but not so much when you need them in such a quantity. Tight sleeves too are a nightmare, but that equally applies to the cheap cd sleeves that often tear when you attempt to remove the disc. Suggests a certain absence of quality control processes during development, design, and manufacture. Simon
Hi Phil, I like the polylined paper sleeves best of all. I feel disappointed if I buy an LP and it simply has a non-polylined sleeve, especially when the label has gone to the trouble of remastering – or remixing – the record. Nowadays I keep a supply of polylined sleeves in reserve, just in case (but sometimes the damage has already been done and the record is not only dusty but is also scratched). Anyway, thanks for another excellent Chart Watch. Glad you’ve kept this going. Clive
To be honest, a vinyl album that is not stored in a poly-lined sleeve can do a lot more damage than just having paper dust on it Phil. It can leave surface marks and those that come in cardboard sleeves that are not poly-lined can even end up scratching the record. I think it’s a disgrace with the price of vinyl these days that companies are treating the product like dirt in many respects when they do things like this. Lee
The inner sleeve debate is somewhat annoying considering the price you pay for an LP, I have bought a good few packs of poly inner sleeves over the years, if I buy 50 for around £15-£18 that’s about 30 to 40p a sleeve! That’s not a lot for the record companies especially as they would buy in thousands, the record is an expensive item and it should come in a protective sleeve, take note please record companies! Chris
The “hidden” part of the problem is the thickness of the record itself. It barely fits in those cheap sleeves, it barely fits in the cover, it strains the cover, it’s extremely wasteful in terms of resources, and for no particular reason other than labels being able to claim 180g. The heavy vinyl does not magically house “deeper grooves” or anything like that—it would sound just the same on regular thin vinyl. P
I have a box of white and a box of black poly lined sleeves. When I buy a new album and it arrives in a plain paper sleeve the pps goes straight in the paper recycling bin and it is replaced with a poly lined sleeve. If the record is in a solid paper/card inner sleeve with lyrics for instance I will keep that but not hold the actual record within it but rather swap it for a poly lined sleeve. This can lead to a very tight fit situation with a double album in gatefold sleeve to then all go inside an outside polythene sleeve. Sjhue
Hallo Phil, “why so many cheap and bad for the Vinyl inner-sleeves” ? that is what I thought many times when I watched a new Vinyl release on your channel or when I bought a new Vinyl and I cannot remember that we had such paper sleeves in the 70s or 80s, on my wish list I have also an order of 100 polylined inner sleeves to buy and good quality has a price, is it intention from the companies ? thanks that you mentioned this problem and we hope some responsible persons from the companies watch your important contribution ! Jogi
Poly lined inners please – save me a fortune in buying inner sleeves – i buy a lot of used vinyl and a lot of it has been gathering dust in peoples houses for years – I originally invested in a spin clean which improved a lot of records playback – for my 50th my wife got me a vacuum cleaner by project (VCS2) which takes it to another level – it can’t cure scratches but all my vinyl (new and used) goes thru it and I get lovely quiet vinyl playback – I wish I’d had one of these in the 80’s ! It’s saved a few albums that were skipping by removing gunk that you just can’t see or remove any other way – Gavin
I added anti static inners to a double album I got today that had the card picture inners, nice to have a colourful sleeve but yet again I’ve had to place the vinyl into a protective inner, it really can’t cost much to make this happen and I live in hope of our success! Keep up the pressure, we’re behind you 100%! Chris
Thanks again for doing the inner sleeve campaign. Recently I spent a fortune replacing inner sleeves on my entire collection (and outer sleeves too). As someone mentioned, imagine that money spent on records instead. That’s something for the record companies to think about: For just a few pennies, that money could have ended up in their pockets instead, and they would have had a happier customer who would enjoy buying more music instead of having to spend hours switching sleeves. I for one don’t care about a lot of pictures and booklets etc. along with the records. I’m in for the sound quality, and a nice polylined/antistatic inner sleeve without all the fuzz is just perfect for me. The pictures I wish to see are those flashing for my inner eyes when listening to the music, without being disturbed by pops and crackles caused by sloppy pressings thrown into cardboard sleeves that damage the records all the way from the plant to my turntables. SR
Thanks, Phil. Voting heck yes to polylined inner sleeves. 💯. I just bought some MOFI sleeves to replace paper sleeves so I would pay a pinch extra if the labels determined that they just have to pass along the cost. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want printed information and photos as well. I guess that I am spoiled. 😃. It is a wonderful time for me being a classical music fan. CDs and vinyl in this genre are bargains in my Sunshine State town. This past weekend I added two classics to my collection. One vinyl and one CD. They seem quite happy in their new home and my stereo seems to relish them. Heather
It would be interesting to hear from Cherry Red, for example, their reason/cost basis for not using Polyline Inner Sleeves. As you point out again, the cost of vinyl today should demand nothing less. Jerry
the poly lined sleeve campaign must succeed, I got a new LP yesterday and although I’ve not played it yet I can see some light scuffing which I hope won’t cause a problem, I’ve put it in an anti static inner immediately! Chris
I often have to rely on buying anti static inner sleeves for new vinyls. Its not on!
Its similar to some turntable tone arms that use cheap spade terminals for connecting up the cartridge. Why? Just add a couple of quid onto the price of the tone arm for good quality spade terminals. Why invest no end of money in R&D and production is you are going to use cheap components? Rising Star
MY VIEW ON MODERN LP PACKAGING
I’ve been a music fan all my life and have been collecting LPs since 1962, over 60 years. Now whilst there has always been the occasional album full of static on purchase and dodgy inner sleeves, the current state of the market is a disgrace. So often these days, brand new LPs are so full of static that removal from the sleeve is difficult and to add more problems, they need cleaning before playing. A lot of this is down to the poor quality paper inner sleeves that are used which have remnants of paper dust inside. A worse case scenario can result in minor scratches the first time the record is removed.
Why has this become such a problem with the “vinyl revival” and why aren’t decent antistatic polylined sleeves provided with the product. Cheap hasty manufacturing is the answer in my opinion which is a disgraceful situation. Like so many LP fans these days, I buy my own supply of quality inner sleeves which I use as replacements for those provided as necessary.
As someone who was brought up on playing LPs, and still loves the format, it annoys me intensely that so little care goes into how the final product is packaged. In any other commercial undertaking, the business would fail if brand new products had to be adapted at the buyers expense to make it fit to use.
The music industry owes its loyal customers a decent product with decent packaging. We need, no demand antistatic decent sleeves to keep our LPs in pristine condition. Graham
Given the prices of new vinyl – it really isn’t much to ask to replace a paper inner for something poly lined – I buy 50 rounded poly inner sleeve that fit inside the paper sleeves for less than £8 – so we can’t be talking huge additional costs ….… unless the companies that make polylined inner sleeves want to make us buy both – sell paper to the labels and polylined to the consumer – double money – Gary
Hi Phil, the polylined sleeve campaign is definitely gaining some traction which is great news, I think they should be standard and they could still enclose a Paper/Card inner printed on both sides with lyrics and info etc.. so using half the amount of said Paper/Card and saving money surely, the poly sleeves are not expensive and really should not add cost. keep up the good work! Chris Harris
Hey Phil, once again from Australia. I received a vinyl copy of Walk On Water by UFO in the post today and was so keen to unbox it. The hype sticker proudly said it was remastered on 180 gram vinyl. A good start, then I opened it. True to form the record was in a thick picture sleeve without a poly lining. As is usually the case I toddle of to my study to get a pre bought poly inner sleeve from the cupboard. The problem was I could not remove the record from the cardboard inner sleeve. I could almost swear that as I was pulling the record out it was fighting back! Eventually I succeeded and had to go through the process of cleaning and removing the static. What an unnecessary process! As you said previously “why should I have to!”. Lex
Cleaned everyone of my vinyls and placed them in anti static inner sleeves and outer sleeves, the record companies should place a removable sticker wether the album is placed in a paper sleeve or anti static sleeve, when your paying £30 for an album which may be scratched or damaged the record shops should be accountable as they should be asking the record companies are the batch of albums they are receiving are in anti static sleeves or paper, this will not happen as the consumer ( me )would not buy that album and purchase it on cd instead. Record companies and shops take note, it’s your livelihoods at stake not ours.Good subject phil to bring up. Blueberry Red
Hi Phil. What business model it is? It’s the model of greed, stupidity, and scam. That’s what it is. Unnecessary overuse of plastic to make people believe that 180 grams is audiophile quality, although it’s actually the exact opposite, and instead saves the ultra thin layer of plastic which means that the miserable sound of their sloppy pressings at least isn’t caused by a crappy inner sleeve. The lack of a proper inner sleeve is the same as publicly admitting to be a careless greedy untrustworthy company, and the same goes for all the stickers with 180 gram, limited edition (which it rarely is) etc etc. that only newcomers fall for. But fortunately newbies also learn, which means the days of biting the hands that feeds these companies are coming to an end. The companies that doesn’t start getting their act together is gonna go down. And the sign of that is the increasing protests, the increasing number of people returning BS pressings, the warnings (like the one you mention on ebay), and more and more reviewers who flat out says it when a release sucks. The time has come for the record companies to get serious. The kids has grown up. They won’t be tricked any more. And the days of toys made of thick colored plastic are over. The demand is grown up 120 gram black vinyl that connects properly to the platter, proper quality pressings, and proper inner sleeves that doesn’t scratch or fill the grooves with paper dust. Give us what we want and pay for, or ride into the sunset. Pressing plants wails about being overburdened. What a load of BS. Do a proper job or don’t do it at all. There’s absolutely no excuse for wiping of that pile of junk on the customers, and there’s only one word for what they are doing. Musicians should start showing an interest in the quality of their physical medias as well, since this eventually will blow right back in their faces too. Refuse to participate in the loudness war, or the scam with bad pressings. Phil, you’re the man. Can’t thank you enough for running this campaign or for being the awesome dude you are. All the best from Denmark. Ps. A couple of honorable mentions: Records from Music On Vinyl always comes in poly lined inner sleeves, and the pressings are normally quite good. Vinylpladen dk always gives free top notch inner and outer sleeves with each and every record they sell. A thing other record stores can learn from if the record companies won’t. SR Denmark
I bought The Rolling Stones in Mono boxset which cost over £300. Not one record in poly lined sleeves. Ridiculous. I also bought the Billy Joel boxset of his first 7 albums – no poly sleeves and every album was unplayable! I sent it back and didn’t bother asking for a replacement Disco
What defies belief is that the record companies must take pride in their artists, pride in manufacturing that artist’s latest album, pride in creating the sleeve to house it and yet find it acceptable to then put that product in a ‘not fit for purpose’ paper bag seemingly not caring about the fan’s enjoyment of a probably defective, crackly record. Surely the artists themselves should be concerned about their end product meeting a quality standard?. In terms of pressing standards, going off message but still related, I’ve come across a number of vinyl pressings with scratches and artifacts in the vinyl unrelated to sleeve scratching. I believe the rush to cash in on the ‘vinyl revival’ has questions to answer regarding quality standards of the pressings themselves as well as the poly sleeve protection as standard question…. Ian
I really hope all record companies pay attention to this. I was relieved to discover the recently released Pink Floyd TDSOTM Live at Wembley LP – unlike last year’s remix of Animals – came in a poly-lined sleeve. They really do make a big difference. Did anyone get a perfect vinyl copy of Animals? I somehow doubt it. Such a shame. All that effort spent remixing the album, creating the new artwork, etc, and what do we get. A scratched LP thanks to a rough paper inner. Strange, as all previous Pink Floyd reissues had poly-lined sleeves. A blip, perhaps, but a pretty major one. Even better were the David Bowie remasters from 2015/2016 which included a reproduction of the original printed inner bag along with the LP itself in a poly-lined paper sleeve. Perfect! The LPs were not over-priced because of it either. Clive
I picked up the Greg Lake anthology couple of years back , the inner sleeves themselves are too thick and static nightmare. V crackly – Graham
I’ve just returned my White Stripes ‘Elephant’ as it was unlistenable due to crackles and distortion. Makes me wonder if it’s worth buying vinyl! Steve
When the record industry realised it had shot itself in the foot with digital and began releasing vinyl again I had a good twenty year run of perfect new records. I didn’t have any problems till post covid shutdowns. Now it’s every record dirty, some scratches and even shards of vinyl found Inside inner sleeves. David
Agree 100% on the vinyl quality issue – after going back to records 15 years ago, I’ve pretty much abandoned it again due to too many hassles with poor quality control. As well as scuffs and scratches, I find modern re-issues just don’t sound as good as the original vinyl I had from the 70s and 80s – I swear the pressing plants have just forgotten how to cut a decent sounding record! DafMore
Buying a vinyl release has (likely always will be) a game of chance … I dreaded putting on a brand new LP back in the day to see if it would be, at least, ok. … let alone wonderful …. CDs, when “done” properly work … but the packaging can suck sometimes … as can the sound when little care has been taken …. however, I do like the potentially emerging trend of getting a physical HiRes release at a reasonable price … e.g. the Alan Parsons Project Turn of a Friendly Card on BluRay for £14.99 + postage … there should be enough volume in the physical package to have a reasonable booklet, etc plus a disc with super high quality audio … and the ability to play such discs is getting easier … I have bought several of the SDE Releases from the Super Deluxe website and these are great (Dylan Time Out of Mind and Tubular Bells due soon) … just some thoughts ... CMcG, Aberdeen, Scotland
Hi Phil…great video. I’m very happy to hear you speak about the whole inner sleeve issue.
I have spoken about this very topic numerous times on various podcasts that I Co host (Kissfaq podcast & The Yes Music Podcast)…as well as my own bands channel Projekt Gemineye.
As an independent artist who releases his own music on CD and Vinyl…I find it incredible that major labels still have the nerve to releases new albums with crappy paper inner sleeves. There is no excuse for it. .I have released 6 albums on vinyl and every single one of those albums came in anti.static inner sleeves. Sure it costs a few cents more…but it will.keep the album in much better condition over time.
Oh one last thing. ..I’m also a big supporter of the CD format. ..I think it gets a bad rap these days. It’s still a fantastic sounding medium and has definite advantages.
And I can say based on sales of my own albums…CD’s are definitely making a come back in sales. Mark
Maybe someone should remind the record companies of the good old days where piracy put such a dent in their economy that it almost forced them to their knees. Remember the campaigns from companies and musicians back then? If they keep pumping out crappy pressings, sending out dirty scratched records in junk inner sleeves, and keep demanding high prices for that garbage, the golden days of piracy can come back before they know it, and they sure will have it coming. Scam works both ways.
History have a tendency of repeating itself. They killed off vinyl and got digital piracy in return. If they do it again what do they think will happen? (If they think at all). Force people to go low-fi and the money stream stops.
Stay cool Mate.
All the best from Denmark.
I would rather read on a hype sticker “Inside a Poly-Lined Anti-Static inner sleeve” instead of “180gram vinyl” that you see on all vinyl. That would be a bigger sell for me. Great video Phil.
I skewered Metallica on Twitter due to the abysmal quality of the packaging of 72 Seasons. The music is great. However, the paper sleeves suck. When I ordered the deluxe limited edition smoky swirl vinyl I expected better. Yes, I cleaned the records and placed them in polylined sleeves I purchased, but I shouldn’t have to do that. If Metallica can afford to buy a pressing plant, then they can afford to pay a few pennies to properly package the records for their fans. Laura
I love my vinyl but all I’ve bought lately is CD. The price of vinyl plus you never know on the quality of the product is off putting. Stephen
I have returned Miles Davis – Kind of Blue UHQR 2 x lp 45rpm 3 times. GZ Vinyl is a nightmare (dirty, warped, etc). I also returned Miles Davis – Kind of Blue 2 x lp from Mofi 2 times now. So i have gone back to cds, just sold a lot of my vinyl albums, buying them again on cd. I heard someone returned Taylor Swift – Midnights 4 times (don´t know if it was MPO or GZ Vinyl pressing). I think i will buy the Metallica album on cd this time…. JRGen
Had to clean my 40th Anniversary Moving Pictures vinyl prior to listening. Afterwards, it sounded great, and I love having inner album art and liner notes, but I had to scratch my head that it didn’t come in a polybag but instead had all that paper dust. Dave
I am all for the campaign to get poly-lined sleeves on all releases. At the ridiculous price point vinyl is at, there is no excuse to receive a dirty record in a cheap paper sleeve. With the current price of vinyl, I also believe it should come with a CD thrown in plus a digital download. I would possibly buy more vinyl if I got a CD and download included. I admit I seldom buy new vinyl, because I could get 3 new CDs for the price of a new vinyl album. Brian
I recently bought the latest Seether album on vinyl brand new and it was scratched, fortunately it came from a high street retailer so returning, although a pain, was at least easier than posting it .
This was only my second new purchase of vinyl after a near 30 year gap. I buy a lot of CD’s from charity shops for between 10p & £1 each a lot of which are over 20 years old and yet still play perfectly so it’s not unreasonable to expect something brand new to play likewise.
Considering the cost of new releases on vinyl vs CD if quality control is going to be an issue with the added hassle of returning to online retailers too, then this will definitely affect my future purchase decisions. Stephen
Couldn’t agree with you more this is an issue that increasingly bugs me more and more. I’m if your vintage and back in the day vinyl was generally the standard go to format. Today though it is indeed a luxury item.
So my vote is as follows…
1) where the original just had a plain paper sleeve then give us an anti static archival quality inner instead
2) where the original hade a specially printed cardboard inner sleeve give us this but empty and slip the record into an archival quality sleeve alongside the original
Even poly lined paper inners would be better than nothing though sometimes these have a tendency to part detach from the paper one causing a right mess. So ideally a standalone poly is all they need consider. Paul
Please comment, share and join the campaign for Polylined anti static sleeves for all new Vinyl Records!
Just for The Record, demand Polylined Inner Sleeves for all new vinyl releases.
(Now Spinning Magazine)