New Ontario vinyl plant aims to be 2nd largest in North America

Precision Record Pressing plant expects to manufacture 4 million units in first year

A massive upswing in record sales has led to a new vinyl processing plant in Burlington, Ont. (CBC)

Southern Ontario is reaping the benefits of a worldwide vinyl resurgence, with a massive new record production plant set to open next month in Burlington, Ont.

The operation’s new dulcet analog tones come courtesy of a partnership between Canadian music distributor Isotope Music Inc. and Czech vinyl manufacturer GZ.

But getting the new 20,000 sq. ft. Precision Record Pressing plant operational wasn’t without obstacles, vice-president Gerry McGhee told CBC News.

McGhee had to scour the world to look for someone to sell him vinyl pressing machines — which is difficult when most processing plants are running at full capacity on 40-year-old machines, trying to keep up with an onslaught of demand for vinyl the world over.

“We definitely saw this vinyl resurgence,” McGhee said. “But nobody would sell us any machines.”

That led to the joint venture with GZ, which is one of the biggest vinyl companies in Europe, and also works with record companies Sony and Universal.

At the industry’s low point, GZ was pressing a mere 700,000 units a year, McGhee said.

After the Burlington plant begins operating, they expect to churn out four million units in the first year, with an expanded capacity set to hit 11 million units in phase two.

That would make the company the second largest vinyl plant in North America, McGhee said, and at its height, should employ 200 people.

Canadian record sales rose 30 per cent to 517,400 units sold last year, according to Nielsen Music data. LP sales in the U.S. hit a new record at 12 million units, marking the 10th straight year of vinyl sales growth. People are clamouring for records faster than they can be made.

“It never really went away,” McGhee said. “A lot of it is the quality of the sound, and one of the biggest parts is the kids are getting into it.”

On one end of the spectrum, you have people in their 40s and older recapturing the sounds of their youth, and spinning Led Zeppelin II on the medium for which it was originally intended.

On the other, there are young people buying their first turntables and embracing the tactile nature of having an LP in their hand, McGhee said. That combination accounts for the upswing in vinyl sales he says he has been noticing for the last three years.

There is no discounting the fact that digital music streaming is still the top of the industry heap. According to Nielsen, there were 25.66 billion music streams in Canada last year alone.

But vinyl has carved out its own niche among audiophiles the world over — and that’s not changing, McGhee says.

“It’s never going to completely disappear. It won’t be what it was, but it won’t disappear.”

Via CBC Hamilton

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