Manufacturers Struggle to Keep Pace With Vinyl Record Demand – NBC Chicago

The arrival of the compact disc nearly killed off record albums, with vinyl pressing machines sold, scrapped and dismantled by major report labels.

Four decades later, along with resuscitated record album sales producing double-digit annual growth, manufacturers are rapidly rebuilding an industry to keep pace with product sales that reached $1 billion last year.

Dozens of record-pressing factories have been built in order to try to meet demand in North America — and it’s still not enough.

The particular industry “has found a new gear, and is accelerating at a new speed, ” said Mark Michaels, CEO plus chairman associated with United Record Pressing, the nation’s largest record producer, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Need for vinyl records has been growing in double-digits for more than a decade and mass merchandisers like Target were bolstering their selection of albums just as the pandemic provided the surprising jolt. With music tours canceled, and people stuck at home, songs lovers began snapping up record cds at an even faster pace.

Report album sales revenue grew a whopping 61% in 2021 — plus reached $1 billion for the first time since the 1980s — far outpacing growth rates for paid music subscriptions and streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Record albums nearly spun into oblivion with sales overtaken by cassettes before the particular compact discs brushed both aside. Then came digital downloads and online piracy, Apple iPods plus 99-cent downloading. Streaming services are now ubiquitous.

But nostalgic baby boomers who missed thumbing through report albums in their local record stores helped to fuel a vinyl resurgence that started about 15 years ago.

It coincided with the launch associated with Record Store Day to celebrate indie record stores, said Larry Jaffee, author of “Record Store Day: The Most Improbable Comeback of the 21st Century. ”

These days, though, it’s more than just boomers.

A younger generation is buying turntables and collections — and cassette tapes, too — and a new generation of artists like Adele, Ariana Grande plus Harry Styles have been moving to vinyl fabric, Jaffee noted.

Have you ever seen a vinyl record get made? Early within the process, plastic bits get heated up in to a “hockey puck” that will then gets stamped with your favorite tracks. Hear from the owners associated with Welcome in order to 1979, the totally analog-capable Nashville studio that puts artists on vinyl; and staff at Hand Drawn Pressing, a record press in Addison, Texas.

In Pittsburgh, taxi driver Jamila Grady will be too young, at age 34, to remember the heyday of record shops.

But she finds records to be irresistible. She created wall art from some of the album covers through nearly 50 albums she’s bought since 2019, starting with “Lemonade” by Beyoncé. She acknowledges it’s a good indulgence given that she already listens in order to music through Soundcloud, Apple company Music plus Pandora.

“For record players, there’s something so beautiful about taking the record, putting it on the payer, and dropping the particular needle, ” she stated.

Manufacturers had to start almost from scratch.

The major labels shuttered their plants long ago, but new ones are coming online. Report makers launching over the last 10 to 15 years include Toronto-based Precision Record Pushing, Memphis Record Pressing, Cleveland’s Gotta Groove Records plus Kansas’ Quality Record Pressing.

Jack White of White-colored Stripes, opened his own vinyl pushing plant, Third Man Pushing, in 2017 in Detroit, and pleaded using the major record labels to reopen manufacturing facilities.

There are now regarding 40 plants in the U. S. — most of them smaller operations — but challenges remain.

Nationwide, backlogs are usually six to eight months because of growing demand, and supply chain disruptions associated with raw materials, including plastic polymers, have caused problems, Michaels mentioned.

It’s not easy to launch a brand new pressing plant because there are only a handful of companies — none within the Oughout. S. — that make record-pressing machines. Those machines are backordered, as well.

People can debate the sound quality yet it comes down to an emotional reaction, not technical specifications, said Bob Ludwig, a multi-Grammy winner who created Gateway Mastering Studios inside Portland, Maine.

A friend who listened to Ludwig’s remastered version of Queen’s “Night at the Opera” called it “stunning” and “electric. ”

“I love the particular vinyl experience. All of it. To me, there is an electrifying audio when I play information that I don’t feel from digital, ” said Mark Mazzetti, an independent A& R executive who worked for Sting, Janet Jackson and others at A& M Records.

No one knows the ceiling for report growth because of the constrained supply, said Chris Brown, vice president with regard to finance in Bull Moose Records, a record store string in New England.

Taylor Swift helped pay for employee health care when Grimey’s record store in Nashville was closed in the coronavirus pandemic. Now the business is thriving thanks to high interest in vinyl, owner Doyle Davis says.

Brand new releases often fail in order to meet demand, and reorders take even longer, leaving little capacity for lesser-known eclectic albums, he said.

“Part from the fun of collecting records is being surprised, ” he said. “But midlevel stuff doesn’t get printed, or there’s a long wait. ”

Report producers gather this week in Nashville regarding their annual trade event called Making Vinyl.

Individuals in the business are usually excited about the development, and it is almost like “printing money” intended for manufactures because sales soar to new heights every year, said Bryan Ekus, president of Making Vinyl.

No one knows how lengthy the run will continue, so there’s a sense that “we should make hay while the sun shines, ” Ekus said.

In Nashville, United Record Pressing launched inside 1949 and never stopped producing records. It’s currently in the midst of a $15 million expansion that will triple its capacity within the middle of next year.

Michaels can’t help but to wonder how long the double-digit growth can be sustained, but he stated he’s optimistic about the particular future.

It is both heartwarming and good for business to see high schoolers and young adults showing an attention in records, he mentioned.

“I believe in music and We believe in the importance associated with music in people’s lives. I don’t think that changes, ” he said.


Sharp reported from Portland, Maine.


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