Firstly, we don't make then and none of us (to my knowledge) are artists or producers who have had a need to have them made, so we're not the best people to ask.
We've been asked this question a number of times so we've done a little research and this is what we can tell you. Bear in mind that companies come and go so some of these organisations may have changed what they do (or gone broke of course).
If you know of any other manufacturers or if you make them feel free to drop us a line. You will need a website address for us to link to.
Obviously the Japanese companies who produce these either manufacture these or have close ties with companies who do.
Here are some of those companies. Not all have English language websites etc. You may wish to contact their US or European parent / sibling companies.
- EMI/Toshiba (international sub-site) (Japanese only)
- Universal Music Japan (Japanese only)
- Air Mail Recordings (Japanese site but they do reply to English language emails). Note that among collectors Air Mail Mini LPs are not always highly regarded in terms of the quality of the packing versus the price asked. The covers tend to be thinner than other manfacturers and they are often cost 25%+ more than other makers. The covers may accurately reflect the original thickness of packing but many collectors prefer a thicker grade of cardboard for Mini LPs.
- Disk Union make the famous promo boxes and also make replica covers as promotional items. They do not ship retail product outside Japan but may assist with wholesale.
The following retailers from Japan may be able to assist and will reply to English emails.
Europe and USA
There are more and more mini LPs being made in Europe. I don't mean that the Japanese ones are being made in Europe (although I guess this is possible), I mean that there are European mini LPs. If you get your hands on a box set or any of the single releases you may want to check the current details.
- Megalodon appear to have a large variety of options.
- Sanctuary Records in the UK are now out of business but they released box sets for Uriah Heep (2002) and Black Sabbath (2001).
- The Uriah Heep box mentioned above was produced by Gilmour design.
- Burning Shed is an artist run company in the UK. They don't make Mini LPs as such but may be able to help (in this and other ways).
- SoundSourceCDs sell plastic outer sleeves - highly recommended if you are serious about having your product last for more than a few months.
Russia is reknowned for it's moderately high quality counterfeit Japanese Mini LPs. Obviously there are organisations who make these. There are also "genuine" Russian Mini LPs. It is not clear how legal these Russian CDs are. It's probable that if they are legal they may only be sold inside Russia but obviously they make there way outside. This is a whole (heated) topic in its own right discussed in the forum.
Regardless, SaleRussia.com sell Russian Mini LPs and may be able to assist with production.
In theory, any packaging company can make these but you would be wise to get them to make a prototype or show you an example of what they can do before committing your hard earned money to package your pride and joy.
Some useful basic quality tests are simply (1) the weight of them; (2) the guage of cardboard; (3) how does it look and feel to you? (4) compare it to something really top quality (Japanese versions of Steely Dan's first 6 CDs are (in my opinion) about as good as they get.)
You may want to take one along to the prospective manufacturer and ask them to duplicate the construction.
Also, it would be wise to buy the plastic outer protective covers directly from Japan or from someone who imports them (SoundSourceCDs in the US).
Sometimes they makers put the joins in the wrong place (in my opinion). If you look down into the sleeve (ie. so that if the CD were in there you could see it) and hold the top and bottom of the sleeve and then squeeze it. If you can see a ridge where the cardboard meets you may want to look for someone else to make them.
A cheaper way of doing the join is similar to the Russian Sgt.Peppers (clearly visible in this image - click on the image to see more details).
Given that this is one of the first ever gatefold covers this is probably true the original (I seem to recall it is) but this may not be the look you want.
Do you make these?
If you make Mini LPs then please let us know and we can add a link.