There is exactly one place in Canada where you can have a vinyl record pressed: RIP-V in Saint-Lambert, Quebec. Since reviving operations in 2009, the plant has been a roaring success. Actually, it’s been too successful, which is why it’s closing down.
Business has been awesome for RIP-V, with work coming from Universal, Merge, Epitaph and other labels. Like a lot of other vinyl plants across North America, it’s been running flat out to meet the sudden surge in demand for the format. In fact, people are buying more vinyl than any of the factories can make.
Terrific, right? Time to expand operations and grow the business. Not so fast.
RIP-V is very profitable, pressing 2,000 pieces a week and theoretically had the capacity to ramp that up to 3,000. But that would have required extra maintenance on the machinery. Most of this equipment is ancient. Parts are very hard to come by. And almost no one is making any new pressing machinery. They would have also reached the limit of their scalability.
And they’re not alone. The few remaining vinyl plants are falling apart. Larger plants are buying equipment from smaller ones, salvaging machines that still work and cannibalizing old machines for parts j. RIP-V’s six operational presses have been bought by a group who plans to dismantle everything and set up shop in New Jersey. The nine presses they had in storage had already been sold to companies in New York and Oregon.
And if that weren’t enough, there’s a labour dispute on the US west coast involving companies that supply PVC, the central ingredient to making records. That’s creating shortages and driving up prices–not what any pressing plant needs right now.
Bottom line is that RIP-V is too small to get bigger and to big to stay small. The time to sell is now.
What does this mean for Canadian companies who need to file vinyl orders? Time to take to Furnace Record Pressing in Virginia, United Press in Tennessee (I think that’s the one Jack White’s Third Man Records uses), Erika Records in California and Gotta Groove Records, the new owners of RIP-V’s gear.
Meanwhile, watch this cartridge drop on a record at 500 frames per second.