Chances are,if you’re not a record collector or follower of certain “niche”bands,you may not have heard the news:vinyl is back.
Well,sort of. As the record industry laments the decline of the CD —and along with it,the “purchasable object”paradigm upon which the whole industry was built —in deference to the “downloadable content”model,there’s something of a counter-trend going on. A small but growing number of musicians and labels are releasing their latest recordings on 12-inch-33-1/3-RPM-analogue-good-ol’-vinyl-records. And a small but growing segment of the market is there creating demand for the stuff. I don’t think anyone has delusions of a return to the days of LPs as the dominant mass-market format,but the trend is still significant.
The connection to archiving here is that the “purchasable object”for consumers has also been the collectible,shelvable,accessible,preservable object for libraries and archives. While digital content management for both preservation and access is clearly our future (and is rapidly becoming our present),the technological and legal issues entangling digital file-based content are legion. And they aren’t likely to be solved any time soon.
What’s not so clear is if and how the growing niche market for newly-minted LPs will impact library and archive collections. My guess is that,since most new recordings issued on LP will be rather limited pressings (the current model seems to be the release of a “collector’s edition”LP in addition to MP3s and maybe a CD),the only way they will be heard in a generation or two from now is if some archive has acquired and preserved a copy.
This has in fact been the case with many of the “ethnic”recordings issued in the first half of the 20th century and held here in the Ethnomusicology Archive:produced by specialty labels in limited runs and often meant only for consumption by a particular immigrant community in the United States,they quickly went out of print. Now,fifty to one hundred years later,many of these recordings are to be found,if at all,in either institutional archives or private collections. This is especially true of 78 RPM shellac records,which both wore out more quickly from playing,and broke more easily (think of dropping Grandma’s fine china on a sidewalk) than their vinyl successors,LPs and 45s. And as the private collectors die off,and their families decide what do do with all those records taking up so much space in the house,that leaves archives as the guardians of those bits of our cultural history.
Anyhow,about that evidence I mentioned…This was posted the other day by Tom Fine,one of the very knowledgable contributors to the ARSClist. Note that what’s important is that most of these plants are re-starting,or starting for the first time,pressing vinyl LPs because of the recent increase in demand:
Here is the finalized list of vinyl pressing plants I could confirm. There is allegedly an old Russian plant about to restart,but I could get no first-hand confirmation. Also,I would be very surprised if there are zero vinyl pressing plants in Latin America,Africa and Asia outside of Japan. That said,I could track down no first-hand information of such plants. This list may be used on your websites or blogs as you see fit.
CONFIRMED VINYL PRESSING PLANTS AS OF 4/8/09
RECORD TECHNOLOGY INC (RTI) –Camarillo,CA USA
UNITED RECORD PRESSING –Nashville,TN USA
RAINBO RECORDS –Canoga Park,CA USA
MUSICOL RECORDING –Columbus,OH USA
ERIKA RECORDS –Downey,CA USA
DYNAMIC SUN –Newark,NJ USA
CURVED LTD –Hackney,London,UK
ZENITH RECORD PRESSING –Albion,Victory,AUSTRALIA
ARCHER RECORD PRESSING –Detroit,MI USA
BROOKLYNPHONO –Brooklyn,NY USA
RECORD INDUSTRY –Haarlem,Netherlands
PORTALSPACE Records –Hayes,Middlesex UK
BILL SMITH CUSTOM RECORDS –El Segundo,CA USA
A&R RECORD MANUFACTURING –Dallas,TX USA
GZ VINYL –Lodenice,CZECH REPUBLIC
TOYOKASEI CO.,LTD –Yokohama,Kanagawa,JAPAN
PALLAS GROUP –Diepolz,GERMANY
OPTIMAL MEDIA PRODUCTION –Röbel,GERMANY
R.A.N.D. MUZIK –Leipzig,GERMANY
MPO GROUP –Averton,FRANCE
TAIL RECORDS VINYL –Göteborg,SWEDEN