Making Vinyl Detroit 2017 Day 1

Bryan Ekus, President and Executive Producer Making Vinyl Detroit 2017 and Larry Jaffee, Conference Director have put together an outstanding two day Making Vinyl conference comprehensively covering every aspect of modern vinyl production. It would have been a shame had weak industry participation marred the event. Fortunately, the worldwide industry responded to the call producing hundreds of attendees from throughout the industry, including pressing plant owners and executives including RTI's Don MacInnis, Rainbo's Steve Sheldon, Optimal Media's Peter Runge, MPO's Alban Pingoet and GZ Vinyl's MIchal Sterba, who were asked to discuss why they never gave up on vinyl in a panel discussion run by Third Man Pressing's Randy Cholewa. The picture is the view from the podium during the panel discussion led by analogPlanet Editor Michael Fremer

The morning opened with a keynote address by Record Store Day Co-Founder Michael Kurtz, followed by a comprehensive "by the numbers" look at real statistics and market analyses by Buzzangle/Border City Media's Chris Muratore and Discog's Chad Dahlstrom.

After a short "networking break" record pressing veteran and original SMT designer Donny Eastland of, which now sells a new updated version of the class SMT press, ran a panel discussion called "What it Takes to Set Up a New Vinyl Plant". Participants included Noble Musa, Microforum Vinyl Record Pressing (Toronto), Gary Salstrom (QRP-Chad Kassem was unable to attend), Brandon Seavers, Memphis Record Pressing, Dan Yashiv, SunPress Vinyl and Eric Astor, Furnace Manufacturing. The discussion was lively and useful for those in the audience considering opening a pressing plant—and there were more than a few as I later found out. Mr. Seavers in particular was illuminating, discussing issues involved in running a pressing plant in Memphis's typically hot, humid weather. Eric Astor discussed his new soon to open Virginia pressing plant. During the lunch break I met two young women who are opening pressing plants—one in Austin, Texas and one in West Virginia (both will be interviewed in an upcoming video). Late in the afternoon I met two young men, Dan Lauricella and Remi Foulon, who just opened a one press plant in New Orleans.

There was lunch, and then Third World Pressing's Brandon Chrzanowski led a panel called "New Machinery and Materials Suppliers" in which participated Chad Brown of Canadian pressing machine manufacturer Viryl Technologies, vinyl pellet manufacturer RESINOPLAST's Pierre-Henri Constant, Pheenix Alpha AB's Per-Olaf Ragnerius and plating supplier Digital Matrix System's Alex Greenspan.

Next up came "The Audiophile Vinyl Workflow" panel that I moderated. The speakers were Iron Mountain's Greg Parkin, Analog Sparks' Mark Piro, Sterling Sound mastering engineer Ryan K. Smith and RTI's Don MacInnis. I led the group through a discussion of how an audiophile quality reissue gets produced. I chose Analog Sparks' fantastic "West Side Story" reissue, starting with locating the correct tape, through test pressing evaluation.

Following an afternoon coffee break came "Packaging Makes Music Sound Better" moderated by Visual Strategist Gail Marowitz, with Stoughton Press's Jack Stoughton, Ross-Ellis Printing's Nina Palmer (Steve Sheldon's wife),Dorado Music Packaging's Jennifer Freund and 344 Design's Stefan Bucher. The lively discussion centered around record jacket design and manufacturing and of course the album cover are renaissance.

The dais setting was replaced with a pair of easy chairs, after which Jack White and his nephew record producer Ben Blackwell appeared. Blackwell interviewed White about vinyl, vinyl culture and the entrepreneurial/artistic spirit. While was eloquent and inspirational and the audience loved it. White spoke for well over a half an hour.

Then came a cocktail/networking hour during which was served an excellent assortment of finger food including beef, lamb and vegetarian sliders, and a beer and wine bar the Alex Awards were presented. Those who left early thinking they weren't missing anything interesting missed out on yet another example of how well-produced was this show. The award is named after Columbia Records' graphic arts designer the late Alex Steinweiss, who is credited with in 1939 having commercialized the concept of album graphics. Examples of Steinweiss' cover art were shown and then his son and grandson came to the stage and discussed the artist's legacy. The awards were hosted by actor Craig Braun who is also an Grammy -winning album designer who worked with Andy Warhol on the famous Velvet Underground"banana" cover as well as the Sticky Fingers "zipper cover". Braun's other credits were impressive and he had many great stories to tell in between the awards hand outs.

That ended the evening of an exceptional day of great panels, networking and just plain fun. I was too tired to attend a party thrown by Viryl Technologies but not too tired to stay up and write this for you. There will also be a video that's now only partly edited. So glad I chose to participate in this memorable event. Tomorrow promises to be equally good!

mkrzych's picture

Hello Michael,
Thanks for the summary of the event, but one question could be how an audiophile BAD quality reissues gets produced nowadays. Why sometimes we are getting such bad pressings, with cheap, paper inner sleeves leaving lots of debris and dirt on the vinyl surface etc? If something is meant to be "audiophile" product it should have been done properly with good quality control, right? Not touching of course all the mysterious sources for the lacquer pressing and loud mastering techniques.

Netvvork's picture

Went to third man records about a year back a few months after the pressing plant was open in detroit. They had the whole thing up and running with a viewing area and everything. I asked the clerk "I would like to buy a record that was pressed here". "We dont have any records for sale that were pressed here" she said. Apparently, the only stuff they sell at third man are titles from that record label. They stuff they were pressing was for other customers. I left without a record.

Lincoln Matt's picture

I live 20 miles from the Book Cadillac hotel where this was held and did not hear anything of it until there was a story in the Detroit Free Press this morning about Jack White's talk yesterday.

My first thought was whether Michael was there, and now I know he is/was.

Michael Fremer's picture
An industry-driven conference. The public was welcomed but the entry ree of appx. $250 would probably keep away most consumers.
Michael Fremer's picture
An industry-driven conference. The public was welcomed but the entry ree of appx. $250 would probably keep away most consumers.
Record Reserve's picture

Hello Mr. Fremer!

The conference director Larry Jaffee is a close friend of mine, and also a great customer at my record shop. He did an outstanding job coordinating the Making Vinyl conference (plus the Alex Awards). Given the time constraint from its conception to realization, it's quite mind-boggling how he pulled it off!

I'm hungering for one or two of those vegetarian sliders. Maybe next year...

Tim Clair
Record Reserve

Michael Fremer's picture
Among the best run such conferences I've attended and definitely the best first effort.'s picture

What does Iron Mountain do?

Michael Fremer's picture
They archive and store master tapes, film prints and negatives, floppy discs etc. There are a few branches in CA and a big one in a PA mountain among others.
Aleko's picture

A very good initiative