Nearly 300 professionals engaged in some aspect of vinyl record manufacturing from all over the world congregated at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Nov. 6-7 for Making Vinyl, the debut event conceived to celebrate the industry’s global rebirth.
The first day of Making Vinyl’s conference session explored the astounding comeback of a physical media format thought not long ago to be nearly defunct, only to reemerge as a deluxe product that has seen double-digit growth for 10 consecutive years.
“If you really want to show reverence and respect to the music, experience it this way,” urged vinyl champion Jack White, Day One’s keynoter, in a 40-minute conversation with Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell. “I don’t care if we lose money,” White admitted, of his vinyl plant Third Man Pressing, which he opened in February and served as the hometown sponsor of the event.
By having his own factory in Detroit, White streamlined his vertically integrated company’s supply chain. “Exposing people to beauty at any cost – that’s everybody’s job in this room,” White said, issuing marching orders. Making Vinyl attendees were scheduled to tour the Third Man facility, located a few miles away from the Westin.
Opening keynoter Michael Kurtz, co-founder of event partner Record Store Day, made the case that vinyl’s growth is much bigger that widely reported in the mainstream media.
“It was amazing to spend two days with people who actually make things,” said Kurtz. “The energy level and quality of discussions was refreshing and exciting. I cannot wait to begin work on Making Vinyl 2018.”
Kurtz analysis of how the vinyl comeback has been underreported by the mainstream media was then supported statistically with statistics from Border City/BuzzAngle and Discogs, the record online marketplace that processed 114,000 orders last week.
Rap pioneer Darryl (“DMC”) McDaniels opened the second day’s proceedings. “My life has been empowered by records,” he said, adding that listening to vinyl provides “an experience that you can touch and feel … it gives you a memory.”
Panel sessions include top executives from the world’s top pressing plants, including GZ Media, Optimal and MPO from Europe, Nashville’s United Record Pressing, and southern California’s Record Technology Inc. and Rainbo Records, all whom have stuck with vinyl through thick and thin.
“We had a hunch that we were onto something with a B2B conference devoted to vinyl’s comeback, and the outpouring of comments that it’s been the best business conference they’ve ever attended has been especially gratifying,” says Making Vinyl’s executive producer Bryan Ekus and president of Colonial Purchasing.
At the end of the two-day event, Ekus announced the formation of the Making Vinyl Alliance, to foster end-to-end collaboration in setting best practices for the vinyl pressing industry. The exploratory workgroup team includes experts from mastering through manufacturing, and includes: Matt Earley, Gotta Groove Records; Steve Sheldon, Rainbo Records; Clint Holley, Well Made Music; Tom Gross, Nipro Optics Inc.; Eric Astor, Furnace Mfg.; David Hill, Tapematic UK; and Bryan Ekus, Making Vinyl/Colonial Purchasing.
Also well represented in the conference were numerous entrepreneurs who recently built pressing plants and the new equipment manufacturers that have accommodated a growing market. “A week hasn’t gone by since we started taking registrations in early September that we’ve learned of a new plant,” says Larry Jaffee, Making Vinyl’s Conference Director.
Other sessions covered the fine art of mastering and lathe cutting, as well as the workflow involved in creating an audiophile record, to what labels are planning to fill in the pipeline and independent retailers grappling with inventory issues, slim margins and the importance of the twice-a-year Record Store Day holiday to their financial well being.
Coinciding with Making Vinyl is the return of the Alex Awards, a packaging competition last held in 2006 and revived as a vinyl-only contest, named in honor of Alex Steinweiss, who created the first album package for Columbia Records in 1939.
Produced by the Colonial Purchasing Co-op (www.colonialpurchasing.com), Making Vinyl will soon announce plans for a conference in 2018. Colonial Purchasing was started in 2004 to help enable media manufacturers to purchase collectively raw materials at fair market value and resulting in volume discounts.
For more, visit makingvinyl.com