Press Your Ashes into Vinyl: How It Works

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Cremation is one of the most popular options available today. It’s cost-effective, simple, and widely accepted. While some religious traditions don’t favor it, most people do. There’s still the all-consuming question: what happens to your body after you die? For most people, the decision is simple.

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Their ashes will be placed in an urn and kept on a loved one’s mantel. For others, it’s not so straightforward. Options like urns and columbariums seem boring. Some people want a little more pizzazz in their end-of-life planning. What else can you do with your ashes?

Some people want them scattered at sea. Others want jewelry made from their ashes. Some might want to turn their ashes into unique cremation stones with a service like Parting Stone. And others want their ashes turned into vinyl records.

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What is it and How Did it Get Started?

In the 1990s, UK resident Jason Leach founded a company called And Vinyly. Leach merged three things to create a successful business. These elements were family stories, his love of music, and an existential crisis he wasn’t ready to face head-on. Leach’s father and his grandfather were both cremated, and in both cases, they wanted their ashes scattered at sea. 

In both cases, tragedy struck. Leach’s uncle scattered the ashes on the wrong side of the ship. The wind was blowing hard, and the ashes came back onto the ship. Leach recalls family stories of having to sweep his grandfather off the ship’s deck. The same thing happened with his father. This time, Leach was there. In a video detailing the company’s origins, Leach remembers getting an eyeful of his father’s ashes. Those two stories provided the foundation for his company. 

Leach’s love of music was also influential. He’s founded other music labels since And Vinyly. And Leach has also been able to capitalize on nostalgia, as vinyl has experienced a major comeback in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

With both family stories rattling around in his brain, Leach had a foundation. Then, his mother became a funeral director. The combination of those things made him think. As a young man, he couldn’t imagine dying. But he knew it would happen eventually.

In his youth, all traditional burial options seemed boring. What other options did he have? Leach started And Vinyly as a joke of sorts. But when people entrusted him with their loved ones’ remains, Leach realized the importance and magnitude of what he created. Leach’s company first made headlines in 2010, when a man wanted to preserve his mother’s stories and memories that she recorded for him before her passing. 

If you’re curious about what you can record, the options are limitless. Maybe you would love your ashes being turned into a record that plays your favorite jams. Or perhaps you might like to record your own voice or record sounds from your favorite places, like the ocean.

However, Leach has warned that the sound might be different, due to the irregular-sized ashes preventing the record’s grooves from being perfectly smooth. This produces a slight crackle-pop sound when the needle goes over it. Part of the science of creating these records is knowing how much ash to put in. Too little, and you won’t be able to see it. Too much, and the record will be unplayable. After years of success, it’s safe to say that Leach has it down to an art. 

ยป CAKE FOR ENTERPRISE: Modern companies are approaching death differently for their clients. Learn how Cake can help.

 

How Does Pressing Your Ashes Into Vinyl Work?

Raw vinyl is typically referred to as a “biscuit” or a “puck.” Under normal circumstances, this raw vinyl will be pressed by plates, creating the classic grooves on records. Before this occurs, about a tablespoon of ashes must be sprinkled onto the vinyl. The pressure from the plates pushes the ashes into the record to preserve them permanently.

However, as the vinyl only uses about one tablespoon per “biscuit,” it may be worth considering what else to do with your remains as part of your end-of-life plans. What will be done with the rest of your ashes? Perhaps you’re content with putting the rest of your remains in an urn. Perhaps you’d still like to do something untraditional, like a coral reef burial.

Whatever you’d like, remember this option doesn’t utilize all of your ashes. Depending on what company you use, this may or may not be the case. Leach’s company, in particular, makes 30 discs. This provides 24 minutes of audio for someone’s listening pleasure. Bear in mind that ash amounts vary per person. There’s no guarantee that a little won’t be leftover. 

In addition, you can also add the option to have your family and friends watch your ashes being pressed into a vinyl record. If this sounds like something that might be meaningful, consider including this in your end-of-life plan. 

How Much Does It Cost?

Everyone knows that funeral costs are skyrocketing, particularly in developing countries. Sadly, pressing your ashes into vinyl isn’t cheap, either. The cost of cremation varies widely from state to state, but the average cost is around $2,250. The basic package from And Vinyly costs $3,700. If you live in the UK, like the company’s founder, it costs £3,000.

Consider what you’ll do with any leftover ashes. You might purchase an urn for ashes. Or, you can pay for more discs until your ashes are all used up. You could even order a custom urn shaped like a vinyl record or record player from a company like Foreverence. Be sure to calculate this into your funeral costs. 

Of course, there are many frills you can add to your record, such as getting original artwork as an album cover. And Vinyly pulls this off by taking photos provided by loved ones. If you plan ahead, you can have a “pre-death-sitting” which allows for your photo/artwork to be done then. Other packages include additional audio, above the twenty-four minutes that’s already provided.

And Vinyly also answers the burning question: what happens to your record? Of course, they’ll give it to your loved ones. But they also offer to distribute your record to vinyl stores across the globe. Whether you compose your own original track, or record the sounds of your favorite ocean spot, it can be distributed to other record lovers. 

There’s also another option available. Do you dread the thought of coordinating the funeral? And Vinyly is expanding its services by partnering with funeral homes worldwide. Their actual service offerings are growing, including the option to have And Vinyly coordinate the funeral for you for an additional $14,000.

Making Your Decision

Making big decisions about your end-of-life planning gets stressful. There are so many options, many of them costly. Which ones should you pick? Traditional or green? Cremation or burial?

It’s easier to think about your priorities. If you want a legacy, then vinyl is a great way to go. Think about your great-great-great-grandchildren being able to listen to your voice. Whenever your loved ones miss you, they can play a record with your voice on it. You can think of the perfect message to record, for when you’re gone.

This is a unique gift that shouldn’t be underestimated and an unconventional burial alternative. No matter what you want, there’s probably an option that covers it for you.


Sources

  1. And Vinyly. n.d., www.andvinyly.com/
  2. BBC. “Remembrance: Turning Cremation Ashes into Vinyl Records. 08 September 2016, www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0476srh?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=masterbrand_twitter&ns_campaign=pan_bbc_160916&ns_linkname=radio_link&ns_fee=0
  3. Lewis, Andrea. “Pressing the ashes of the dead onto records: odd novelty or tender remembrance?” Aeon.com. 01 August 2016, aeon.co/videos/pressing-the-ashes-of-the-dead-onto-records-odd-novelty-or-tender-remembrance
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