[This update reports additional details. -AC]
Just when we thought we had enough to worry about comes news about a fire at Apollo Transco (est. 1936), a manufacturing plant in Banning, California. Apollo is just one of two facilities in the world that produces the lacquer discs needed press vinyl records.
The fire happened on February 6–and it was apparently very, very bad. The fire apparently began in the facility’s chemical mixing area as the result of unknown causes. It took 82 firefighters three hours to get things under control. The 15,000 sq ft building has been completely destroyed along with all the equipment inside.
The company’s website reads “It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time.”
The only other lacquer manufacturing plant is MDC in Japan. And they were already under serious stress due to high demand.
This is not good. Lacquer masters are the discs used to create master discs. Vinyl records are then stamped from those masters. But no lacquer discs means no masters. And now you see the problem.
Vinyl pressing plants worldwide are freaking out. Some are worried that they’ll have to scale back or even shut down production completely.
There is an alternative called “direct metal mastering,” but it’s very tricky and expensive. Most pressing plants would rather avoid using that process, although they may not have a choice.
Bottom line? Vinyl fans should prepare for shortages and, inevitably, higher prices.
(Via Rolling Stone)