You’re always eager to expand your vinyl record collection, but sometimes you can’t find what you want at the local record store, hence why you’ve looked into Media Mail. In this article, I’ll tell you whether vinyl records are Media Mail.
Are vinyl records eligible for Media Mail? Vinyl records are eligible for Media Mail, as records are a sound recording, which USPS allows. The record cannot have any advertising on it though. Media Mail shipping is slower than you’d expect, but it’s inexpensive and is thus highly favored.
If this is the first you’re hearing of Media Mail and you’re curious to learn more about it, I’ll tell you everything you need to know ahead. I’ll also talk further about whether vinyl records are eligible for Media Mail, how to weigh a record, what you’ll pay in shipping, and how to prep your record for mailing.
What Is USPS Media Mail?
These days, you can ship just about anything through USPS and their equivalents, and that includes media materials.
USPS has a shipping service just for these media materials that’s known as Media Mail.
Media Mail is intended for only some types of media, more of which I’ll talk about in the next section.
By using Media Mail, you can reduce the risk of a fragile vinyl record or CD possibly arriving to the recipient broken because the shippers weren’t aware that they were sending media.
Your package is insured when you send it, which gives both you and the recipient peace of mind.
The biggest benefit of Media Mail by far is that the shipping rates are quite inexpensive.
I’ll go over the rates later, but I bet you’ll be surprised at how low they are!
Oh, and you don’t have to pay for a tracking number either when using Media Mail.
Media Mail does have its downsides, of course. The shipping speed is what it is, and it usually takes upwards of eight days for a package to arrive. You have no option to upgrade the shipping speed when you choose to use media mail.
That’s due to how Media Mail packages are perceived by USPS as low-priority.
As mentioned, you cannot include any forms of advertising in your package, and your package is subject to an inspection before USPS accepts it and ships it.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Media Mail? Do Vinyl Records Pass?
I’m sure I’ve piqued your attention and gotten you interested in using Media Mail. What kind of media can you send?
Per USPS’ webpage, the following media materials are eligible for Media Mail:
- “Loose-leaf pages and their binders consisting of medical information for distribution to doctors, hospitals, medical schools, and medical students.
- Printed educational reference charts.
- Printed objective test materials and their accessories.
- Sixteen millimeter or narrower width films.
- Computer-readable media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media.
- Printed music.
- Play scripts and manuscripts for books, periodicals, and music.
- Sound recordings and video recordings, such as CDs and DVDs.
- Books (at least 8 pages).”
Looking at the list above, a vinyl record can be categorized as both printed music and a sound recording. Vinyl records are eligible for shipping through Media Mail.
How Much Does a Vinyl Record Weigh?
Before I get into the shipping rates for Media Mail, I want to take this section to discuss how much a vinyl record weighs, as you will need this information going forward.
Vinyl records are available in three traditional sizes: 7 inches, 10 inches, or 12 inches.
A seven-inch vinyl record weighs only 1.41 ounces on average.
A 10-inch weighs 3.88 ounces and a 12-inch is 5.29 ounces.
If you’re curious how that translates to pounds, here’s the info.
A 1.41-ounce seven-inch vinyl record weighs 0.088 pounds.
A 3.88-ounce 10-inch vinyl record clocks in at 0.2425 pounds.
If you had a 5.29-ounce 12-inch vinyl record, it weighs only 0.3306 pounds.
What Are the Shipping Rates for Media Mail?
Keeping the weight of a vinyl record in mind, let’s now take a look at the 2022 shipping rates for Media Mail. All shipping rates are calculated by the pound.
- $3.19 for a one-pound package
- $3.82 for a two-pound package
- $4.45 for a three-pound package
- $5.08 for a four-pound package
- $5.71 for a five-pound package
- $6.24 for a six-pound package
- $6.97 for a seven-pound package
- $7.60 for an eight-pound package
- $8.23 for a nine-pound package
- $8.86 for a 10-pound package
- $12.01 for a 15-pound package
- $15.16 for a 20-pound package
- $21.46 for a 30-pound package
If you’re shipping one vinyl record, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $3.50 to do it. You would factor in the weight of the parcel as well as the weight of the record.
By combining the two weights, I’m sure that would push the package weight to over a pound.
Even if your package weighed two pounds, you’re still shipping a vinyl record for less than $5, which is an amazingly low price, especially when compared to non-media mail shipping prices.
For those who are into bulk vinyl record shipping, Media Mail is the way to go, as you’re paying less than $25 to ship a package weighing up to 30 pounds!
Shipping is bulk is now incredibly cost-effective.
Where to Buy Vinyl Record Shipping Boxes
Speaking of packaging, when shipping vinyl records, you want to use a very specific type of package, the vinyl record shipping box. Retailers often refer to these record shipping boxes as “record mailers”.
Walmart sells record mailers in small packages and in bulk. They sell both white and brown cardboard vinyl record LP and 45rpm shipping mailer boxes for 12″ and 7″ records.
These boxes are sized for seven-inch, 10-inch, or 12-inch vinyl records.
Where do you buy shipping boxes for vinyl records? They’re widely available from your favorite retailers, both online and at their brick and mortar locations.
If you do all your shopping on Amazon, this giant retailer offers vinyl record shipping boxes.
Always check out the Amazon reviews and read up on third-party sellers before purchasing. This way, you can be confident that your boxes will be high-quality.
Walmart has vinyl record mailers, as does 4Bubble.
You can also visit the website of many office supply stores, from Kinko’s to Staples and ULINE, and you should be able to find what you need.
If you’re shopping in person, you might be able to find vinyl record shipping boxes at the above retailers. These are certainly a more uncommon box type though, so you might want to save your time and simply shop online.
How to Ship a Vinyl Record
USPS will be made aware that you’re sending a vinyl record through Media Mail and will treat it gingerly. However, if you package the record incorrectly, then it could still sustain damage or even break while in transit.
Without further ado then, here’s how to ship a vinyl record.
Step 1 – Buy Your Vinyl Record Shipping Box
I just gave you a bunch of great options for procuring vinyl record shipping boxes, so you should have plenty handy.
Grab a shipping box that’s the same size as your vinyl record.
Step 2 – Add Packaging Material
Vinyl record shipping boxes, even though they’re intended for records, do not provide the snuggest fit. You don’t want the record shifting around in the box, so you need packaging materials.
Foam sheets are a great choice, as they don’t take up too much room in the box. If your vinyl record is still a little too loosey-goosey with one foam sheet in the box, you can always add another and even a third sheet if need be.
If not foam sheets, then bubble cushions are a good choice.
Both shipping materials, when pressing against your record, won’t damage it. As the vinyl record inevitably endures bumps during its travel route, the cushioning nature of the foam sheets or bubbles will prevent serious damage.
Step 3 – Take the Vinyl Record Out of Its Sleeve
I know what you’re thinking. This sounds strange, but bear with me.
The sleeve that your vinyl record came in allows the record to move about while it’s traveling. This can create damage to the outer sleeve, and–much more importantly–to the record itself.
How so? Depending on how overt the movement is, the vinyl record could snap or crack. The record can also push through the sleeve and tear it.
You can package the outer sleeve in the box, but not with the vinyl record inside.
Step 4 – Prepare the Vinyl Record for Shipping
Take your vinyl record out of the sleeve and lay the cardboard sleeve on a flat surface such as a table.
Then put the record on the cardboard sleeve and the paper sleeve atop the record. Keep bearing with me, as I know this seems odd.
Now grab your bubble cushions or foam sheets and wrap them around the vinyl record and the sleeves on either side. You should use two pieces of cushioning or sheeting of equal size.
Adhere the pieces together using packing tape.
Then slip the entire thing into the vinyl record shipping box.
Remember my point from earlier, that you should add an additional foam sheet or two if the record can move too freely in the box.
Step 5 – Seal the Vinyl Record Shipping Box
Using the included adhesive, seal the box.
Step 6 – Label the Package
The first label to add to the vinyl record shipping box is your shipping label. Write the recipient’s name and address legibly and accurately – no spelling mistakes!
Fill out the label before you stick it on the package. This way, if you mess it up, you can start over with less risk that your parcel could get sent to the wrong destination.
You also shouldn’t write directly on the package since you could damage the vinyl record inside.
The second label you need on the shipping box is a warning that the contents are fragile. I would add a “do not bend” for good measure as well.
If you have a sticker proclaiming your parcel as fragile, that’s best. Writing out your warning in big, bold permanent marker will also get the job done.
Step 7 – Drop It Off
Your vinyl record is officially primed for shipping.
Drop it off at the post office and let them know that it’s for Media Mail shipping. You’ll recall that your package might get inspected before it’s shipped.
Once the package passes inspection, then it’s off to its destination. It will get there in two to eight days, so sit back, track its progress, and be patient!