Geek Trivia

The “LP” In Record Labeling Nomenclature Stands For?

Label Promoted
Liquid Print
Limited Press
Long Playing
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Answer: Long Playing

Introduced in 1948 by Columbia Records, the LP, or “Long Playing” record was a big deal in the music business and, minor tweaks and improvements aside, has remained the standard for vinyl records ever since.

Prior to the introduction of LP records, nearly all phonograph records were made from an abrasive shellac compound that was noisy during playback and rough on the phonograph needles (single-use steel needles). Further, and most relative to our trivia today, limitations of the shellac-based records required a much larger groove which limited playback time to less than five minutes per record side (a later increase in record size and reduction in playback speed helped in mitigating the problem somewhat, but not completely). This made early records unsuitable for releasing multiple songs let alone an entire album or an extensive musical piece like a classical music concert.

The LP changed all that. Right out of the gate, 12-inch LP records could play for as long as 45 minutes (divided across the two sides). By the 1950s, improvements in the design and manufacture of LP records extended the time to 52 minutes. While 45 minutes would, more or less, remain the standard over time, there were exceptions where engineers would push the envelope of record design and pack up to 90 minutes total playtime onto a 12-inch record.

Today, music fans enjoying the resurgence of vinyl’s popularity are still purchasing records descended directly from the original LP record design.