Vinyl records are making a comeback. And as more turntables are spinning, new businesses -- including those Made in Vermont -- are jumping on board.
When Justin Crowther isn't busy with his day job, he's touring with his band Waylon Speed. Crowther's passion is making music, and he's doing it on and off stage. Welcome to the Burlington Record Plant, Crowther's brainchild after going through a record collection with his band one night. "I grew up listening to records and buying records and I looked at a vinyl record differently that night," Crowther said.
Crowther realized there was only 16 companies in the U.S. pressing vinyl, and none located in the Northeast. "I tour and play music, and it's in my heart and I thought, why not do it?" he said.
Crowther quickly found out why many people don't still turn out records -- it's a lot of work. Starting with the equipment -- it's old school technology. "There's no equipment really available and I had to scour countries all over the world to find it," Crowther said.
The 1960's equipment came from Germany. It hadn't been used for over twenty years, so Crowther had to get it spinning again. It all starts with metal discs called stampers -- those are like records in reverse -- with ridges that create the grooves in the vinyl. Burlington Record Plant buys those and then the stampers go in the press. Throw the record labels on and then a small pile of poly-vinyl chloride, or PVC, and the magic happens. Steam heats the warm vinyl and presses it against the stampers. Thirty seconds later, you have music. Any excess vinyl is reused.
"We pressed Waylon Speed stuff and Rough Francis stuff -- anyone local is a big treat to do," Crowther said.
Vinyl continues to grow in popularity with its authentic sound -- and so does business. "It's one of the finest inventions. It's from 1886 -- Thomas Edison -- and it's still being made," Crowther said.
After just two months making records, Burlington Record Plant is pressing around 600 a day, and orders continue to pour in from around the world.
For Crowther, pressing Waylon Speed's album was music to his ears. "It was recorded in Vermont, pressed in Vermont," he said.
Coming full circle with an old school twist on new music that's Made in Vermont.
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