At "Making Vinyl, Hollywood", Bernie Grundman Gets A Lifetime Achievement Award

Guitarist Steve Vai gave veteran mastering engineer Bernie Grundman a well-deserved Making Vinyl lifetime achievement award at Monday's Making Vinyl, Hollywood 2019, Blue Note Tone Poet reissue series curator Joe Harley delivered an 80th Anniversary Blue Note slide show and Phonocut demonstrated a home new vinyl cutting system. Those were only a few of day one's highlights at Making Vinyl, Hollywood taking place at the W Hotel, Hollywood.

The good news included continued double digit vinyl record sales growth along with some bad news about a recent distribution bottleneck that threatens the economic health of record stores and many companies up and down the distribution chain.

Over the past year, the major labels moved their distribution to a single midwestern company called "Direct Shot Distribution" that has proven to simply be unable to handle the load producing an enormous bottleneck causing month long and longer delays in the distribution of records and even turntables to independent record stores. This was part of the discussion in the panel I moderated Monday morning called "The State of the Business" featuring Record Store Day founder Michael Kurtz, Amped Distribution's Dean Tabaac, Tommy Boy Records president Rosie Lopez, Erica Records' Liz Dunster, and Copycats Media's Justin Kristal. Overall everyone was optimistic about vinyl's future growth and the conversation also touched on the continued popularity of CDs despite the plunging numbers, but the Direct Shot Distribution problem loomed large.

Musican/DJ/Actor Michael Des Barres gave an opening rousing and at times hilarious keynote followed by a presentation by Bandcamp's Andrew Jarvis explaining how the site has evolved from a digital platform for indie artists to one that now includes downloads and even vinyl record sales all enhanced by a social media platform.

Nielsen Music's Head of Analytics & Insights David Bakula discussed and used a slide presentation to demonstrate that vinyl record sales continue healthy double digit growth, even as I argued in a full page program guide editorial titled "Don't Believe New Vinyl Sales Numbers!" that these numbers seriously underreport the much higher sales numbers.

A new international vinyl advocacy trade organization Vinyl Alliance was announced that has already attracted major players in every related field including pressing plants and turntable and cartridge manufacturers.

Musical Surroundings in conjunction with Brian Berdan's Audio Element and Clearaudio hosted a programmed high end listening room with half hour presentations by, among others, Tom "Grover" Biery, Joe Harley, Chad Kassem, Danny Kaye, Thai Plastics' Casey Gibson, Brian Speiser (stage mixer for Tedeschi Trucks Band) and others. I presented "When reissue go bad" playing some examples of bad reissues that attracted mastering stars including Chris Bellman, Ryan K. Smith and Ron McMaster, among others. Was fun.Copycat Media sponsored a roof top cocktail party with food but chose to hire a DJ that played music at 106+ decibels so smart people either wore earplugs or ran from the room (my response).

Enjoy the video!

ChrisM's picture

Well deserved

mraudioguru's picture California? Hell yes! Hopefully they will be killer!

cdvinyl's picture

For sharing Michael.

Anton D's picture

If not for the volume, how was the Dj's sound?

Macrodynamics? Detail? PRaT?

I'm curious to see what they put together at an event dedicated to the highest level of audio quality!

Any idea what turntable or electronics?

Michael Fremer's picture
I got as close as 106dB and that wasn't close enough to see any of what you ask.
Anton D's picture

DJ sound at audio events is about like the banquet food at a convention.

redone's picture

@Michael Fremer , thanks for this.

I especially enjoyed the Blue Note segment of the video.

Curious, why so few reviews of the new Tone Poets / Blue Notes by you?

Also, are you aware there is some concern in a certain audiophile forum about the number of tape glitches affecting many of these Tone Poet / Blue Note titles?

Are their tapes completely shot after all these years?

Figure someone like you and analogplanet could help get to the bottom of this with your contacts :)

Don's picture

I'm also interested to hear your take on this ongoing problem Michael. Blackfire by Andrew Hill would be easy place to start - it has serious problems, especially noticeable with the piano. A shame because it is otherwise phenomenal. I was an enormous cheerleader for this series. Praying they sort it out.
Really enjoyed this video too. Was not previously aware of Mr Vai's eloquence.

jon9091's picture

Agreed on this. I’ve returned a number of titles from both the BN80 series and the Tone Poet series for this very reason. It’s maddening. For a great example of the problem, grab a copy of Herbie Hancock’s Inventions and Dimensions and listen to the last track on side 2. THAT warbly piano sound has been showing up all over the place on numerous listener’s systems. Not everyone can hear it though, or they are just not sensitive to pitch variations. Some of same these titles were just done a few years ago by KG, and DO NOT have the problem.
What gives?