Records Pressing Plants Look to Keep Up With Demand in Vinyl Resurgence

Record Store Day was just recently, where independent music retailers across the United States host concerts and sell limited edition pressings of vinyl records.  The interest shown on Record Store Day this year points to a small vinyl resurgence, however the antique machines that are used to produce these records are making it hard to keep up with increasing demand.  
Acoustic Sounds, a notable vinyl pressing plant in Salina, Kansas operated by Chad Kassem, is hoping to mitigate the problem of antique machines.  Kassem has been collecting records since he was a kid, but it wasn’t until he moved to Kansas in 1984 that his hobby turned into a business.  "You sell albums and you sell pre-owned albums and people are looking for particular albums nobody is putting out and they're very valuable. [So] you decide to reissue it," Kassem told NPR.  

Kassem assembled a staff and decided to start Acoustic Sounds.  He contacted record labels about reissuing classic albums and he actually only contracted out the vinyl pressings in the early stages of his business.  As his business grew, Kassem knew he would need to build his own pressing plant; this took him 20 years and $2 million.  He finally was able to buy his first pressing machines in 2010 from England and Los Angeles.  The machines required two experienced technicians to get them up and running.  Kassem’s first big customer with his new plant was the estate of Jimi Hendrix.  His plant, Quality Record Pressings, reissued the entire Jimi Hendrix catalog on vinyl in 2010.  In addition to Hendrix, Quality Records is also pressing records by Leonard Cohen, KISS, Pink Floyd, and The Doors.

Currently, there are around 16 records pressing plants across the U.S., and each one of them is trying to find the remaining unused pressing plants in the country to put them back into production.  Kassem recently bought 13 rusting presses from a guy in Chicago.  His technicians are currently in the process of stripping down the machines and rebuilding them for production.  Many parts need to be refurbished or replaced, but it’s all worth it for Chad Kassem.  "Basically, the first time you see these old, rusty presses, it looks like scrap metal," Kassem said. "But it's not scrap metal. It looks like gold to you once you've seen what they can do and make."

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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