Sitting here in our offices we get to speak to plenty of small (and many not so small) Record Labels. A common desire amongst them, and especially those labels that are into developing the same artists, rather than going for the obvious big tunes, is to release an Artist LP.
Of course we see the wish lists of labels wanting to get into physical formats.
The first, and cheapest port of call is to do a CD. If you master the CD yourself (this in its self is a minefield, and we only advise this if you have a proper grasp of what is involved) you can do this fairly cheaply. Many companies are available that will duplicate the CD's for you, so you can be in the game fairly cheaply.
To give you an idea, you can have 100 CD's replicated in a jewel sleeve with a four page full colour book for around £150 including the VAT. At the other end of the market 1000 CDs done from a professional Glass Master will cost you around £420 including VAT (without packaging)
Moving onto vinyl, things can get a lot more costly very rapidly. A two track 12" from a good mastering engineer will cost you approx £200 including VAT to get your cut done and delivered to the Pressing Plant. This will spiral to between £800 to £1000 if you want to get a 'proper' LP cut done with perhaps six tracks per side. (We will leave alone the argument for now that you get a lower quality record with this amount of music. My personal feeling is thats what the Gain knob is for!) This is a large amount of money for a small label to expend on a single release - if it doesn't sell you could see your label go under.
So, what can be done about it to lower the risk? We are seeing more and more projects coming along that split the LP over two or three 12" releases. Once the record buyer has bought them all they have the LP. You can further encourage your fans to buy an LP this way by providing the packaging with the first record that the subsequent records will slot into.
This method also makes the LP more enticing to stock for the shops, as some shops can be wary of these records - they only have a certain budget each week, and sinking a larger portion of it into a possibly less well known artists LP can be a step they don't want to take. Whatever method you chose as a label owner, don't be put off of releasing an LP, but just be creative with your methods of doing so. Good Luck.
Take a look at Well Tempered Vinyl Brokers if you want to get professional help with production.