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What’s going on with Billie Eilish and the vinyl backlash?

Singer songwriter Billie Eilish faced pushback online this week after criticising artists for releasing multiple vinyl variants. In response, she said she wasn’t targeting any one artist in particular.

Thred Media
4 min readApr 13, 2024


Billie Eilish made it clear last week that she doesn’t like artists releasing multiple versions of their albums on vinyl, describing the practice as ‘wasteful’ in an interview with Billboard last week.

The singer and her mother Maggie Baird had been discussing environmental activism and their efforts to make vinyl pressings more sustainable.

During the conversation, Billie said that she felt ‘it’s very important to some artists to make all sorts of different vinyl and packaging, which ups the sales and ups the numbers and gets them more money.’

‘I can’t even express to you how wasteful it is,’ she stated.

‘I find it really frustrating as somebody who goes out of my way to be sustainable and do the best I can. Then some of the biggest artists in the world make […] 40 different vinyl packages that have a different unique thing just to get you to keep buying more.’

These comments, while not deliberately targeted at any one act or artist, were largely taken as a dig toward Taylor Swift. Her team is notorious for using special edition vinyl prints for album drops.

Her latest record, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’, is scheduled to release later this month.

As part of its rollout, Taylor announced three different versions of the vinyl pressing in February, each one including its own bonus song. This effectively means that if fans want every song on physical vinyl, they’ll need to purchase all three.

She used a similar tactic with her album ‘Midnights’. The back cover of the vinyl sleeve included a clock face that was split into four parts. If you wanted to complete the image, all four needed to be purchased. Her merchandise store also includes six different colour vinyl variants.

Her previous record, ‘Folklore’, had eight vinyl variants.

A few years ago, we wrote about Jack White’s vinyl plea to major labels to address this problem.

He urged the big three to increase their vinyl production and prevent bottlenecking of materials and prints. This issue was partly caused by the pandemic, but was also a result of the world’s most popular artists clogging up resources and unfairly allocating factory time to produce hundreds of thousands of vinyl for one album.

Taylor and Adele were two prominent examples that were hogging up time and money — so much so that some independent record stores boycotted stocking Adele’s ‘30’ album.

Billie herself isn’t immune to some of this criticism. Social media users were quick to point out that her second album ‘Happier Than Ever’ had eight vinyl versions, though all of them were made with recycled plastics and encased in sugar cane shrink wrap.

You may be wondering, why do artists release all these different vinyl prints in the first place?

It’s mostly a chart and album sale tactic; vinyl purchases count for higher streaming numbers and are a significant contributor to achieving a number one record. Vinyl is a growing industry too, enjoying a 11.7% year-on-year rise in 2023 to 5.9 million units.

While vinyl sales are good for business and the music industry, particularly in the streaming era where the value of a single song has been reduced to almost nothing, it is hypocritical in the face of a growing climate crisis.

Vinyl is not sustainable, and isn’t an ideal choice even if an artist opts for recycled plastics.

Big artists releasing tons of different vinyl pressings isn’t only wasteful, it’s also an unfair monopoly on the industry. Smaller artists won’t have anywhere near the same level of resources or backing.

Artists like Taylor producing eight versions of one album is near-ridiculous, and further squeezes those lower in the food chain out of revenue.

Now, in response to social media pushback, Billie has stated that her original comments on vinyl were not aimed at any one particular artist.

Via an Instagram story, Billie posted that ‘it would be so awesome if people would stop putting words into my mouth and actually read what I said […] I wasn’t singling anyone out. These are industry-wide systemic issues.’

During her Billboard interview, Billie suggested a vinyl pressing cap on the amount of variations that can be printed for any one project. ‘I would love to see limits, like no more than four colours.’

Her call for an industry shift has been shared by music executives that have described some artists as being ‘hypocritical’ by calling for climate action while still producing tons of vinyl albums. One artist that comes to mind in this way is The 1975, a closely-aligned artist with Taylor Swift.

The band’s fourth album, ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’, drew attention to the climate crisis and opened with a five minute speech from Greta Thunberg. Yet, their follow-up project was released in multiple different colours, with some exclusively stocked at mainstream retailers. There was no mention of recycled plastics.

Billie’s comments on vinyl and the ensuing pushback online seems to miss the point entirely. It’s not necessarily Taylor’s fault alone that vinyl has become excessive and wasteful, but she is part of a wider industry problem that needs assessing.

We’re not saying that people shouldn’t buy vinyl, either.

Supporting an artist and physically owning an album can be a real source of joy. What we are suggesting, much like Billie, is that their needs to be some rules and limitations on how much a single artist can produce and where materials are sourced from.

Vinyl is back for good, of that there is no doubt. It’s time that the industry regulated and adapted to better reflect the environmental issues we currently face.

Originally written by Charlie Coombs for Thred.