This from the Vinyl Vault in Holt (posted on their Facebook page):
THE PRESSING OFFICE
According to research firm Deloitte, total vinyl record sales in 2017 will hit 40 million worldwide, which would represent the twelfth straight year of consistent upswing, following the complete mothballing of this beloved format at the start of this century. It’s pretty clear – even to a notoriously risk-averse music industry – that the vinyl format is here to stay, after the mother and father of all comebacks. And it’s even clearer that 40 million discs is an awful lot for the few dozen up-and-running – or rather, creaking – plants and couple of hundred or so working presses worldwide to continue to supply without considerable further investment.
So, do you want to be part of the solution to this problem, and to be at the forefront of the vinyl renaissance in this, our music-loving Brexitannia? We first posed that question a month ago on this Holt Vinyl Vault page, when announcing our plans for a purpose-built vinyl pressing plant, using the latest technology, up here in the wilds of Holt. At the time we were blown away by the level of support expressed for the idea of us further morphing from Post Office to Punk Office to Pressing Office. We promised to keep those of you who wish to assist our small but determined group of vinyl devotees that is driving this project forward properly informed as to its progress.
The purpose of this post, then, is to give a bit more information on the background to the proposition that is The Pressing Office, ahead of the launch of a website in the near future, where people across the country will be able to register their interest in investing in this unique proposition, and turn it from dream to reality. It’s an opportunity for those of you who are used to communicating with us directly to ask further questions, express doubts or seek clarifications ahead of the project launch. For once it’s a genuine pre-sale, then!
The Vault began investing in new vinyl a couple of years ago, as the vinyl comeback had already reached the point that people were less willing to part with their old collections, leading to a shortage of vintage copies of classic titles. We’ve been impressed at the quality of this product, and the public enthusiasm for spending anything between 15 and 30 quid on brand new pressings of either classic or new titles, with or without that accompanying download voucher. What has become ever more apparent, though, is the struggle within the industry to continue to keep up with public demand. Titles by classic artists are continuously going out of print, and in the case of new artists, independent labels are finding it impossible to synchronise vinyl and CD releases, especially in the first three months of the year, ahead of the worldwide phenomenon that is Record Store Day in April, and in the final three months of the year, when pressing plants are tied down by the majors ahead of the Christmas consumer surge.
In the absence of transformative investment by the majors, most of the new vinyl on sale in the UK originates from surviving pressing plants in the likes of Germany, the Czech Republic and Russia, using 50-year-old kit with little remaining shelf life, yet working 24/7 in an unsuccessful attempt to keep up with demand. Turnaround times have inevitably lengthened, independent labels are squeezed and new unsigned talent has to pay through the nose to get records pressed to sell at their gigs. Brexit – whether soft or hard – will, of course, only make this worse.
In addition to nurturing new talent, it seems absurd that so much of the UK’s established music heritage has now to be imported to its place of origin, racking up millions of air miles in the process. Why should it not be manufactured here in the UK, for the continuing benefit of UK consumers, artists and independent labels? It’s what we do so well in this country, and it’s time we did more of it here.
This is where The Pressing Office comes in. By investing up to £500,000 in the latest technology, it is our aim to install two brand new pressing machines in our plant up here in Holt. These would have the capacity to press over a million records a year, using the same manufacturing process as the old pressing machines, but wrapped inside digitally-driven kit which is capable of producing each record within 20 seconds, and without manual handling. Rather than having to use online brokerages to book a production slot in Eastern Europe, and to face a minimum twelve-week turnaround, we would be able to turn pressing jobs around within a matter of days rather than weeks, providing the perfect solution for independent labels and distributors, and for artists looking to distribute their own product.
There’ll be opportunities for people who share our vision – both locally, and across the country – to help realise it through crowd-funding. We envisage issuing fixed-period bonds in multiples of, say, £500 as a major part of our funding mix. This will give you a stake in The Pressing Office, provide you with a fixed-term return, and make you part of a sustainable, ethical – and yes, quirky – venture that will give the UK music scene a much-needed shot in the arm.
The Pressing Office website will be open soon for registrations of interest. Lots of work has gone on over the past month to take the project forward. This is a further opportunity to ask questions about the project and to ensure that you’re alerted to that website when it’s launched, since we expect a high level of interest from potential bond-holders, and we’ll be looking to move quickly, for wild winds are blowing…