First an Alex Award, Next a Packaging Grammy

The Voyager Golden Record impressed unanimously the Alex Awards panel of judges in early October so much that there was no question it was their choice as the Best Vinyl Boxed Set.

Coming on the heels of winning the Alex Award, the three-LP Voyager was also named among the finalists in the Grammy Awards’ Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package category.

The Voyager Golden Record gathers the music and “sounds of the earth” that astronomer Carl Sagan curated in 1977 and put on a copper record, which was included in the two Voyager unmanned space probes launched that year. The album was never released commercially until now by Ozma Records, a new record label and publisher focused on the intersection of science, art, and music to spark the imagination.

“We found out about it on Kickstarter and reached out to ask them if they had found a pressing plant,” explains Eric Astor, Furnace MFG. president, who accepted the Alex Award jointly Nov. 6 at Making Vinyl in Detroit with Jack Stoughton, Jr., whose company Stoughton Printing handled the packaging and printing of the boxed set.

“Luckily, [Ozma] hadn’t yet [found a pressing plant] and they knew of us already so it all worked out,” says Astor, whose partnership Pallas USA subsidiary procured the

vinyl pressing with Pallas in Germany, and also handled fulfillment and assembly of the boxed set, which included:

  • Cloth-covered box with gold foil inlay
  • Three translucent gold, heavyweight vinyl LPs in poly-lined paper sleeves
  • Three old-style tip-on jackets, black ink and gold foil
  • Hardback, full-color book
  • Lithograph of Voyager Golden Record cover diagram, gold metallic ink on archival paper, 12″ x 12″
  • Full-color plastic digital download card for all audio of the Voyager Golden Record
  • A Voyager turntable mat adorned with NASA/JPL-Caltech’s heliocentric view of the Voyager spacecrafts’ trajectories across the solar system
  • A high-quality enamel pin of that same diagram

“It takes a village,” notes Astor, whose Furnace periodically works with Stoughton “because they make the best old-style jackets in the industry.” On this order, Ozma ordered directly through Stoughton because of the complexity and their proximity (on the West Coast) to their print shop.

“Together with Stoughton Printing, everyone nailed it,” Astor adds, of the outcome, which was partly underwritten by more than $1.3 million raised by the aforementioned Kickstarter campaign.

Learning of the Alex Award victory, Voyager co-producer Lawrence Azzerad, a co-art director of the boxed set, commented: “What an honor, thank you. We truly appreciate it and are excited to receive the certificate.”

Spencer Drate, a judge for both the Alex Awards and the Grammy packaging committee, confirms that the Voyager he reviewed at the Grammy session was the same vinyl boxed set he voted for the Alex. However, the Grammy organization allows CDs to also be considered, as was the case with The National’s Sleep Well Beast, which was an Alex runner-up for its gatefold and a Grammy finalist in the Best Recording Package category.

And the Alex runner-up in the Best Illustrated category, Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy, is also a Grammy finalist.

Congratulations to Gail Marowitz, who moderated the Making Vinyl packaging session and won the Best Illustrated Alex Award for Aimee Mann’s Mental Illness. Marowitz’s art direction for Jonathan Coulton’s Solid State is up for a packaging Grammy, an honor she has previously won.

The Alex Awards, which until this year had been on hiatus since 2006, has a track record of predicting future Grammy packaging winners, such as Wilco’s A Ghost is Born.

The Grammy Award winners will be announced Jan. 28, 2018.


The Voyager Golden Record Kickstarter