Nearly 300 professionals engaged in some aspect of vinyl record manufacturing from all over the world congregated at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Nov. 6th-7th for “Making Vinyl,” the debut event conceived to celebrate the industry’s global rebirth.
Making Vinyl’s conference sessions explored the astounding comeback of a physical media format not long ago thought of to be nearly dead, 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, in a 40-minute keynote conversation on the first day of the conference with Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell. A Detroit native, the Grammy-nominated rocker opened his vinyl pressing plant and label in February.
Also in attendance at Making Vinyl was rapper pioneer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels who stated “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.”
Opening keynote speaker, 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. In fact, Forbes Magazine has reported that vinyl sales are making tremendous gains nearly every month for a decade with vinyl sales up 260% since 2009. New subscription services are emerging like Vinyl Me, Please will send you a new album for $23, while VNYL allows subscribers to build a library and get three records a month. While in person, fans buy tons of vinyl at trendy stores like Urban Outfitters.
Experts cite the beauty of vinyl’s artwork as well as the incredible sound quality as a big part of the return of vinyl music, but they also warn that it is not a savior of the music industry. Instead, vinyl should be seen as a luxury item. As long as the economy is healthy, sales will stay healthy.
Making Vinyl highlights the importance of the resurgence of the medium. Independent record labels are creating and selling vinyl releases as deluxe add-on copies or events and the success has been tremendous. However, R & B labels are bringing up the rear as few titles are released on vinyl illustrating that the trend is still mostly popular with hipsters and not ordinary consumers of Black music. As vinyl is having an amazing resurgence, R&B and Hip-Hop artists have to commit to the production, marketing, and sales of their music in this medium in order to gain new fans and build a deeper engagement with those they already have.