Vinyl records are making a comeback, and they’re not just for back-alley hipster record stores anymore! Record players are a popular fixture in homes all across the world nowadays, and in order to use them, you need…well, records. This uptick in demand has created new opportunities for online record stores, and as a result, sellers find themselves needing to ship tons of vinyl records all over the place. If you’re one of those shippers, we’ve got you covered. This guide is all about how to ship vinyl records, how to protect them from breaking during transit, and how to access the cheapest possible rates to save you the most money. Let’s get spinning!
Table of Contents
- USPS Media Mail is the Cheapest Way to Ship Vinyl Records
- Media Mail is Slower than Other USPS Services but the Cheapest for Vinyl Records
- Protect Your Records with the Right Kind of Packaging
- How Can I Get Media Mail Rates?
USPS Media Mail is the Cheapest Way to Ship Vinyl Records
Far and away, USPS Media Mail is the cheapest way to ship vinyl records. Media Mail was basically created to ship vinyl records (and other stuff, too, like books and printed educational materials), and rates start at just over $3 per shipment! Since rates are already so low, you won’t get any additional discounts from USPS on Media Mail rates…and you won’t find any cheaper services for sending records anywhere else.
The thing about Media Mail is that USPS is super strict about the kinds of items that qualify for these rates. If you include anything in your shipment at all that doesn’t qualify for Media Mail, USPS will disqualify your shipment, and you’ll need to pay higher rates for one of their other services, like First Class Package or Priority Mail. To see the kinds of items that qualify for Media Mail, check out the USPS website.
Media Mail is Slower than Other USPS Services but the Cheapest for Vinyl Records
Media Mail is the best way to save money when sending vinyl records, but on the other hand, it’s also one of the slowest services that USPS offers. Delivery takes anywhere between 2-8 business days, and depending on how far your package needs to travel, delivery can take even longer. In our experience, it’s not uncommon for these shipments to take up to 2 weeks! Still, if you’re trying to save the most money possible when sending out records, you won’t find cheaper rates anywhere else. You get what you pay for in the shipping world!
Protect Your Records with the Right Kind of Packaging
Here’s where it gets tricky. Vinyl records are fragile, and on top of moving around in their sleeves, they can also crack if they receive too much pressure. It’s up to you to keep your vinyl records to keep them from breaking, so it’s important that you use the right kinds of packing material—namely bubble wrap, and lots of it.
Use a Cardboard Vinyl Record Mailer
Before you do anything, don’t ship your record in the sleeve it comes with! Instead, use a dedicated cardboard vinyl record mailer. When you do, you’ll not only give your record a second layer of protection, but you’ll also have more room inside the record mailer, which leaves you ample space to add as much cushioning packing material as possible.
You can pick up dedicated record mailers on the ULINE website.
Wrap the Record Sleeve with Plenty of Bubble Wrap and Tape
The next step is to wrap the record inside of its sleeve with literally as much bubble wrap as possible. Wrap it once, twice, three times (or as many times as you can), and try to leave as little space as possible inside of your cardboard record mailer when you slide the wrapped record in. A good test is to shake it a few times when the record is inside; if you feel it moving around at all, you need more bubble wrap.
Once it’s snug and the record doesn’t move at all, tape the bubble wrap securely to itself, and you’re good to go.
Mark the Package as “Fragile”
Lastly, while this may seem like an obvious point, you should always mark your vinyl record shipments as “Fragile” on the outside. At the very least, you can write it on your record mailer with a sharpie, so that it’s large and legible. If you can swing spending a few extra bucks, you can also pick up the Special Handling sticker from USPS at your local Post Office, which lets workers know to be careful with the package whenever they handle it. You can only purchase these stickers at a Post Office location, though, so you won’t find them online!
How Can I Get Media Mail Rates?
You can access Media Mail rates at any local Post Office as well as anywhere you buy postage online, including through Click N’ Ship or any third-party shipping software. If you’re using online shipping software, you’ll need to select “Media Mail” at some point when entering your package information, or else you won’t be able to see these specially-discounted rates when you get a quote.
If you walk into your local Post Office, keep in mind that you probably won’t see Media Mail advertised on the big posters or at the counter; instead, you’ll need to specifically ask a clerk to access these rates. The postal worker assisting you may then inspect your package to make sure you’re indeed shipping a vinyl record, and nothing else. If they spot anything else inside of your package, you won’t be able to ship at Media Mail rates!