On September 1st and 2nd, 2022, the “Who’s Who” of the leading European vinyl producers met in the Capitol in Offenbach for the “Making Vinyl Europe & Physical Media World Conference”. The organizers of the Media Tech Association and the US Colonial Purchasing Cooperative counted 180 registrations for the industry meeting.
The participants, exhibitors and speakers came from countries such as Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, but also from Thailand and Australia .
The event provided the latest information on expanding the press capacities of existing press plants as well as newly commissioned plants across the European continent.
Noisy Bryan Ekus, President Making Vinyl, there were only 35 or 40 pressing plants worldwide in 2013. He now counts over 170 companies that press worldwide. “Next year it could maybe be 200,” says Ekus.
Also Sonopress wants to boost vinyl production again in autumn 2022 after the company, founded in 1958, had not produced any vinyl records for the past 30 years. “I think in Europe it’s interesting to see big companies like Sonopress going back to vinyl. That was a real surprise for me,” explains Bernhard Krause, who organizes “Making Vinyl” along with Bryan Ekus and Larry Jaffe.
The three organizers met in 1998. “Looking back over all these years, we never thought vinyl would come back,” says Larry Jaffe, who puts together the conference program and recruits the speakers. The aim is to “bring a group of new people together to talk about the market”.
Just a few months ago there was a “Making Vinyl” event in Nashville that was more US focused. “When we came here we knew that we had to gear the program more towards the European market, even though the markets are very similar and we face the same challenges. But at least it’s a bit different here “says Bryan Ekus.
The participants in Offenbach also had the opportunity to exchange views on technological innovations that make the manufacturing process of records more efficient and sustainable. One of the pioneers in this field is Green Vinyl Records, headquartered in the Netherlands. Instead of using PVC, the pressing plant uses recyclable PET, which is a more environmentally friendly material for the production of records. Green Vinyl Records has even managed to reuse plastic waste from the ocean, but it is still a “complicated process” because the material is difficult to clean.
Even more interesting, given rising gas prices, is the fact that the Dutch company no longer needs natural gas to produce vinyl. Unfortunately, many traditional vinyl presses are still at a technical level from the last century.
“I’ve watched the technology go from analog to digital and back to analog again, which is actually pretty funny when you think about it,” notes Bryan Ekus.
Larry Jaffee, meanwhile, thinks that global vinyl growth has not yet peaked: “Two of the big continents, South America and Africa, could be another area of growth. Historically, India, for example, has been a big player in physical media. So they could catch up in the vinyl space too. I think we’re definitely not done with our growth yet. A large percentage of consumers, though not all, don’t want to rely solely on their phone when it comes to Entertainment goes. They like the physical nature of listening to records. I also find it amazing that young people are also fascinated by it.”
The next edition of “Making Vinyl” will take place on June 7th and 8th, 2023 in Minneapolis, USA. In about a year there will be a European edition again.