When monthly record club Vinyl Me, Please (VMP) launched in 2013, 6.1 million vinyl LPs were sold in the U.S. Nearly a decade later, and 2021 wrapped with a total of 41.72 million vinyl albums sold — which amounted to more than one out of every three albums sold in the U.S. being on vinyl, according to Luminate.
And while 2021 was the 16th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, it was the largest year for vinyl album sales since Luminate started tracking sales in 1991. Such steady, and continued, growth of the format has naturally led to longer-than-ever production delays as plants have struggled to meet demand — while also facing pandemic-related issues such as shortages of goods and staff, among other things.
(One bonus, however, is that the delays have helped a handful of artists rebound to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 when the physical product of their previously-released album finally ships. The most recent example of this is Tyler, The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost, which this week returns to the top of the chart for a second nonconsecutive week).
That is exactly why today (April 25) VMP has announced its very own pressing plant. Billboard has exclusively learned that construction is underway of the 14,000 sq. ft., audiophile-grade, Denver-based plant that will open by year end for production, tours and special events.
“Quality, control and availability are critical to maintaining and expanding our leadership position in the vinyl industry,” VMP’s CEO Cameron Schaefer said in a statement. “With this in mind, we’ve decided to press records in a way that provides an incredible experience for our customers and visitors to our plant.”
The VMP pressing plant will be led by Gary Salstrom, former general manager of the renowned Quality Record Pressings in Salina, Kansas. There, he oversaw the plating, quality control and pressing departments. “I’m thrilled to have the resources and partners required to make the best vinyl LPs ever produced, in a special place where the experience matters as much as the finished goods,” Salstrom said in a statement.
Artist, producer, and Acony Records co-founder David Rawlings will serve as partner and “chief groove officer” of the plant, adding: “It’s a dream to work with Gary refining and innovating to press the finest records possible. In an industry that has often been too focused on quantity over quality, VMP always aims to honor the music and the musicians that create it.”
In mid-2021, Billboard reported that VMP had 80,000 active customers. At the time, the company just finished its highest-performing quarter with a 74% growth in membership from the same time period the year prior.
According to the release, the VMP pressing plant will be an “experiential space” geared towards fans who are eager to see first-hand how records are made and “explore music together in this extraordinary environment.”