September 26, 2023
A series of events has been facilitating discussion in the vinyl industry.
Founded in 2017 by Bryan Ekus and journalist Larry Jaffee, Making Vinyl has established itself as the first conference dedicated to those working in the vinyl industry. Welcoming a wide range of people, from record manufacturers, producers and record label executives and professionals to musicians, artists, record collectors and enthusiasts to its events, Making Vinyl’s main focuses are celebrating the resurgence of vinyl as well as providing a space for folks in the vinyl industry to coalesce, share information and move forward.
The initial inspiration for Making Vinyl came in 2013. “I received an email from a friend of mine about an art publication in the UK talking about the resurgence of vinyl,” co-founder Larry Jaffee explains. “Honestly, I had no idea it [the resurgence] was happening, but I was so impressed by the depth of the publication”.
Soon after this, Jaffee contacted Ekus about starting a “vinyl-only” conference, but he thought it was “much too soon”. Less than four years later, Jaffee attended a music business conference in Nashville, visited a record-pressing plant for the first time, and wrote about the experience in an article for The Audiophile Voice. “About four or five months later, Brian says to me ‘Remember that idea you had about doing a vinyl-only conference? I think we’re going to do it’,” Jaffee says.
Jaffee and Ekus connected with 15 existing vinyl plants from either side of the Atlantic and decided to base the conference in Ekus’ hometown of Detroit. Detroit, conveniently, is the location of Jack White’s Third Man Records, a fact that benefited Making Vinyl greatly when it came to guest speakers. “I had a wishlist of who would be the keynote speaker,” Jaffee says. That wish was granted when White was interviewed by Ben Blackwell for the event.
At the first Making Vinyl conference, there were 300 attendees. Within the crowd lay the 15 record plants that Ekus and Jaffee knew, as well as several others at different stages of development. “The vinyl trend was undeniable,” Jaffee says. “It was not a fad”.
Since then, Making Vinyl has gone from strength to strength, hosting two European events in Berlin and Offenbach and a series of online forums and discussions. To date, its keynote speakers have been as far-reaching as Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould, Nicholas Braun (commonly known as Cousin Greg in HBO TV show Succession) and singer-songwriter Jeffrey Lewis.
For Jaffee, Making Vinyl’s events are an opportunity for vinyl organisations to share information and improve the industry for all. “The process hasn’t really changed that much in 50 or 60 years–this is the 75th anniversary of the LP,” Jafee says “But there are things we can do to be more efficient–using non-toxic materials, looking at recyclability, sustainability. There are panels at our next event focused on it”.
That next event–a two-day conference co-locating with the Haarlem Vinyl Festival–is another opportunity for the industry to open those communication links with panels discussing topics like greenwashing, cassettes and the impact of Taylor Swift alongside a tour of [Haarlem vinyl factory] Record Industry. The conference embraces both the practical and philosophical issues facing the vinyl community, allowing attendees to exchange knowledge and improve their practice.
“In the CD business, the product was very competitive. With vinyl there’s a lot more sharing,” Jaffee says. “We need to help each other because it improves the overall product”.
The Making Vinyl Europe conference takes place in Haarlem from September 28 to 29, ahead of the Harlem Vinyl Festival. Registration is open now.