The return of the vinyl era [Перевод]

The return of the vinyl era [Перевод]

The return of the vinyl era [Перевод]

There are only 21 vinyl record factories in the United States – one of them is Cascade Record Pressing, located near Portland, Oregon. Many factories closed with the introduction of CDs and MP3s.


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There are only 21 vinyl record factories in the United States – one of them is Cascade Record Pressing, located near Portland, Oregon. Many factories closed with the introduction of CDs and MP3s.

Obviously, there are many record stores in a hipster community like Portland – so many that Mark Rainey, owner of TKO Records in Huntington Beach, California, quickly decided to open another one. Rainey was looking for a new business to start working outside of California, and after hearing stories of supply and demand in the field of vinyl from his friends who ran the labels, he decided that he needed to open production.

Opened in May 2015, Cascade Record Pressing became the 21st active vinyl record plant in the United States (there are approximately 40 worldwide) and the first on the US West Coast.

“Moving in that direction seemed the most logical,” Rainey said. “Looking at Portland and the local culture, I realized that this is the place.”

Portland is known for local artists and small businesses as it has a strong independent music scene that formed decades ago.


Cascade Record Pressing works with small and medium-sized record companies, independent musicians and small circulation. Photo: Leah Nash for The Guardian

The Cascade plant, located in Milwaukee, Oregon, which borders Portland to the south, is the work of three partners: CEO Rainey, mastering engineer Adam Gonsalves and chartered accountant Steve Lanning. As music lovers and fans of vinyl, they knew that the demand for their services would only grow.

Between January and March 2015, vinyl sales were 53% higher than the same period last year, according to a Nielsen report. In 2014, sales were 9.2 million, up from 6.1 million in 2013.

Despite the hype around vinyl, sales remain marginal compared to digital downloads and CDs, accounting for just 3.6% of all U.S. album sales last year. However, vinyl sales have increased 260% since 2009.

Terry Currier, owner of the renowned Music Millennium in Portland, says the vinyl renaissance was due to a younger generation who discovered this retro kitsch at garage sales. The records require attention – the impression of the album is formed not only by the music, but also by the large-format illustrations for it, which are so lacking in the MP3 format and streaming platforms.

But Currier believes the watershed was the 2007 Music Store Day, an annual event celebrating independent stores. “Before the foundation of the holiday, the media wrote that they [музыкальные магазины] are doomed, but Record Store Day showed that this was not the case and contributed to the revival of records, ”said Currier.

Every April on this day, 400 exclusive records are released, which is why long queues line up in indie stores around the world. New albums and reissues on vinyl for collectors are released not only by indie labels, but also by large companies.

“This year alone, Universal Music will release vinyl editions of timeless classics from the Rolling Stones to albums by contemporary artists like Lana Del Rey and independent artists like Halsey,” said Candace Berry, executive vice president and director Sales Department at Universal Music Group. “Our research shows that consumers are looking for more than the digital music they listen to every day, and vinyl can help them do that.”

So, with a sharp jump in vinyl sales, there is a demand for its production. The trouble is, the record factories can t keep up with the workload. After the advent of CDs in the 90s, followed by the MP3 format, dozens of factories closed. Those that remain are inundated with unfulfilled orders. As a result, labels are forced to postpone release dates.

“We were forced to work a long way as the time between mastering and releasing the album increased,” said Tom Davies, head of marketing for Secretly Group, a group of American independent labels based in Bloomington, State. Indiana. The group includes Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans and the Numero Group, who represent the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver, Dinosaur Jr and Sharon Van Etten.


Cascade Chief Press Officer Dave Mendoza checks the records. Photo: Leah Nash for The Guardian

Davis says that due to the sharp increase in demand for records, their quality has also suffered. “Some vinyl records were terrifying,” he said. “The busy factories made it very difficult for the labels to get any good quality records.”

Cleveland-based Gotta Groove Records churns out 80,000 records a month – mostly new releases from indie labels and (very rarely) re-releases. The plant is currently three months behind the plan.

Vice President Matt Earley says the problem is partly due to the small number of companies making metal dies – negative versions of the original recording. Dies are used to flatten the vinyl “washer”, which later becomes a record. “The industry has needed matrices this year more than ever,” Earley said.

Gotta Groove has six presses, some from the 1950s. “I don’t know of a single plant that would buy new presses,” Earley said. “To cover the cost of the new press, the price of the records needs to be quadrupled.”

In recent months, only Record Products of America has produced new presses, supplying parts to all record factories in the United States. Two hand presses working in tandem will cost $ 130,000, according to Dan Hemperly, sales manager at RPA.

Currently, factories have been working with outdated equipment for several years, which has been mothballed for a long time. “You can t keep old equipment running around the clock,” Hamperly points out. “Then people will have to accompany it 24 hours a day.”

At the time of opening, Cascade was a small factory. They acquired six 70s Miller presses from Hub Servall, the oldest vinyl factory on the east coast, closed in 2004.

There are currently three presses in operation at Cascade, and the fourth is being tested. On average, 1,500 units are produced in an eight-hour shift (6,000 to 7,000 records per week).

They also managed to hire a press operator with extensive experience behind them. “It is difficult to find a qualified press operator now. It s kind of a craft, ”Rainey said. “The demand for presses should push more young people to learn this profession, because experienced presses are already retiring.”

The production time of one plate using automatic presses is approximately 35-40 seconds. After that, the recordings are taken to the inspection room, where 10% of the records are listened to and checked. 24 hours after the plate is packaged) this also happens at the Cascade factory.

“We are not the largest factory, so we are trying to compete on quality, not quantity, as well as excellence in customer service,” said Steve Lanning. “Our main goal is to find independent labels that we want to work with and strengthen our relationship, and the demand for vinyl is not that important.”

Cascade, as the only plant in the region, works with all labels on the West Coast – reducing shipping costs locally.

Lanning has his own vision of the future: “I hope that the existence of Cascade will push for the creation of new labels, because now there is an opportunity to produce records again – it is very inspiring.”


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The article is included in the sections:Factory reportsInteresting about sound

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